After spending too much time yesterday walking through the snow (hands up who sang that line), I elected to make more use of free public transport granted by the Stockholm Card. Today, I would check out one of the more impressive attractions in the city, the open air park (containing a zoo, aquarium, and working farms) called Skansen, which resides on the island of Djurgården (Google Translate tells me Djur = animal and gården = garden). I found a bus that can get me from Central Station to a stop called Djurgårdsbron. As the Swedish word bron = bridge, does Djurgårdsbron translate into “bridge to animal garden”? 1km later, I’m at the main entrance of Skansen.
The card gets me in free and it looks like I’m one of the first people to show up today, I see no one except a few construction workers and a couple of tracks of footprints leading away from the entry. It’s still freezing and snowing. Would the animals still be around? Yes, Skansen has climate-controlled indoor rooms to house some animals like monkeys and birds (perhaps needing warmer conditions during winter), while the outdoorsy animals, like bison and reindeer, might just have non-weather sealed shelter (like sheds/cabins).
It’s not just a giant zoo, it is large enough to encompass working farms, with cattle, horses, and reindeer. Some of the farmers even live on station in their own cabins, which also act as educational spots. You can go inside to see how they live today, in small quarters with no electricity. There are miniature villages, to replicate what life was like in the past, the buildings are cafes and craft and souvenir shops. However, most of them were closed the day I visited.
Skansen also has an aquarium, which weirdly has its own separate admission fee. The card gets me in free, but I still found it unusual. It’s not like it’s a separate film experience (like at a planetarium or 4D show), but all part of an animal exhibition. They had all kinds of frogs and crocs and fishes and spiders and snakes.
There are many food options around, all were poorly attended, there were probably more workers than customers at all times. One building holds a cafe and the free Tobacco & Match Museum. It discusses the history of matches and tobacco in Sweden, displays various artifacts and paraphernalia, and recreates a tobacco factory and the world’s longest cigar (made in Sweden).
As I left, I discovered that the light rail passes directly in front of Skansen, I jump on and the farthest it can take me into the city is in front of the Gallerian mall near Sergels Torg, which is plenty good. That’s closer to the hotel than walking from Skansen to the bus stop on the other side of the bridge and it’s faster than waiting for and taking the bus. On the way back to the hotel, I stopped for some Chinese food. Unfortunately, it was not that great. I’ve definitely had worse, and I guess one can’t complain when one eats in a train station food court. I saw other Asian cuisine restaurants in Stockholm that looked pretty good, so I would not say this is representative of the culinary scene at all. Remember when I said that I was disappointed that museums closed early during the winter? I was reading through the book while eating and found one that was open late (with free card entry), the Fotografiska Museum.
When I visited, they were showcasing the works of David LaChapelle. I consider him a well-known artist, perhaps most known for photographing pop culture icons and directing music videos. Blown-up versions of his famous photographs were displayed all over, one room cycled through some of the music videos he directed (with behind the scenes clips) projected onto four walls, and another room screened his film Rize, about krumping, on a loop. The top floor was a cafeteria with more artwork and a music stage for live music. This is probably why it is open late, it’s seems to be a hip/happening place to hang out.
Today had a lot of walking, and there is more to come. Fortunately, I haven’t felt the need to buy those rubber/chain/plastic things that fit over your shoe to gain traction on ice.