stockholm // day 2

After taking my dear 160 bus to Gullmarsplan and its buddy the 17 train to Slussen, I hope onto a ferry filled with local schoolchildren. Their presence can only confirm the fact that I’m on the right boat: they must also be heading to Djurgarden, an island filled with museums. Indeed, I run into these kids on a field trip once more at the Vasa Museum, my first stop for the day. Having previously seen Oslo’s Fram Museum and Viking Ship Museum, one would think there’s not much left to impress me when it comes to ships. WRONG. The Vasa is absolutely massive. It reminds me of those big ass ships in Pirates of the Caribbean. Though it’s not possible to venture inside the boat, the installations surrounding it provide great insight as to what life on board must have looked like, and even more interestingly, the reasons behind its sinking. I highly recommend watching the free film screening before you visit the museum. It features very well-made reenactments of the ship’s building and sinking, as well as fascinating footage of the Vasa’s salvaging and ongoing restoration/preservation efforts.

I then spend nearly two hours in the wonderful Nordiska Museum. On the ground floor, there’s a delightful exhibition about the history of sugar  (‘socker’) consumption. Whoever worked on the installation design was spot on: each room is both interesting and aesthetically pleasing. I can’t help wonder whether Wes Anderson was someone involved in this...

After ‘Socker’, I head upstairs for a great collection of Nordic furniture. My favorite pieces, as usual, are those after the 1920’s. There are also a few well-made reconstructions of more classical interiors. I really enjoy Nordiska’s fantastic corridor full of table settings from various time periods - it reminds me I still need to watch more episodes of the Supersizers! Other highlights include rooms dedicated to Swedish folk art, collection of dollhouses, and exhibit about the lives of old people, and a reconstruction of an entire 1949 Stockholm apartment.

On my way to lunch, I walk along Strandvägen, which gives me a great view of, on one side, the waterfront, and on the other, the wealthy buildings of Ostermalm. I also pass by the Royal Drama Theater, with its ornate golden statues and Grecian style, and step into a nice shop called Edblad.

I grab lunch at Max, a Swedish fast-food chain. I choose the place not because I’m craving a hamburger, but rather for the cultural experience. When in Sweden... Anyway, my meal (cheeseburger + fries + soda) is the same, exact quality as one I would get at Shake Shack, only WAY cheaper. And not only is it a mere 34 SEK, but the fries are thin-cut, unlike Shake Shack’s tasteless wavy ones (feel free to call me out on that statement).

Very satisfied, I head over to Hallwylska Museet next door. It’s a great look into the interiors of a bourgeois Swedish home, and only takes half an hour to visit. It’s slightly uncanny that all the employees are dressed as period maids and butlers, but that’s maybe just because the museum pamphlet features a group photo of the staff that makes me think of The Others.

Snack time! At a lovely bakery called Fabrique, I follow the cashier’s recommendation and select the cardamom roll (since I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, it’s perfect!). Pastry in hand, I visit Hemslojden, a boutique selling traditional Swedish crafts, Asplund, a cool design shop, as well as Hedvig Eleona Kirka, a beautiful church.

Because I can never tire of visiting food markets, I enter Ostermalm Saluhall. It’s as overpriced as Mathallen, but the Smorrebrod place and Vete Katten bakery do look very tempting...

I pass by Humlegarden, as well as the National Library of Sweden, before venturing inside the Wetterling Gallery and Norrbottens Ambassad för Konst. Both have great exhibits and are completely free.

After passing by the Royal Swedish Opera House, I enter the nearby Dansmuseet. The temporary exhibit downstairs, Sleeping Beauties, displays over two dozen costumes from performances such as The Firebird and Scheherazade. The designers featured include Léon Bakst, Giorgio de Chirico, Mikhail Larionov and Henri Matisse (whom I had no idea was in costume design). The permanent collection contains various artefacts that once belonged to Rolf de Maré, a leader of the Swedish Ballet in Paris during the 1920’s. I particularly enjoy the miniature set reproductions, which are accompanied by music when you pull the drawer below each of them.


I cross the Skeppsholmsbron bridge to the island of Skeppsholmen, where I first stop at the Swedish Center for Architecture and Design. In addition to its permanent collection of Swedish architectural models, there is also an exhibit entitled ‘Constructing Worlds - Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age’. It features works by photographers such as Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, Julius Schulman, Hélène Binet, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Andreas Gursky, Nadav Kander and Iwan Baan. Photos are forbidden, but I manage to sneakily take a couple of the gallery space itself, as it is particularly beautiful (which is to be expected, since it is an architecture museum, after all).

At 6pm, the adjacent Moderna Museet becomes free to visit. I speed through most of its permanent collection, since I don’t want to be late for dinner. There are some great pieces by Doris Salcedo, whose Atrabiliarios pieces have always been some of my favorite art works of all time, as well as by Lee Botencou and my dear Yayoi Kusama.

I make it back just in time to catch dinner with my host Monica and her book club friends. Monica has prepared a delicious risotto, which we all savor as we talk about various cultural happenings in Stockholm. It’s unfortunate that the four of them make the effort to speak in English, when I’m the only one who doesn’t speak Swedish! After the main dish, the ladies excuse themselves and begin discussing their current book in their native tongue. I completely understand - after all, they’ve kindly invited me to share their meal! I sip on my chai tea and granola verrine, trying to catch a few words of their conversion (not so successfully).