Stockholm is a city that’s “under construction” and that’s the biggest difference I noticed today between when I visited Stockholm last year and this year. Well, aside from the warm weather and the absence of snow, there’s a lot of construction work underway.
The biggest and most obvious development is the construction of a tunnel to link two of the main central islands, and with it, the re-development of Slussen, the major transport hub. I know it’s an important development, but it’s definitely and completely – albeit temporarily – reuined the view from Gamla Stan towards Stadshuset!
Elsewhere around the main part of the city, there seems to be a lot of construction and/or refurbishment going on. At the Royal Palace, for example, there are hoardings over what would appear to be a major cleaning operation. And there’s a significant amount of re-development underway at Kungsträdgården, which means the T-bana (subway) there is closed for a few months.
The other thing I really noticed today was the significant number of police in the main tourist areas, a response no doubt to the Oslo bombings. Sweden has its own issues with far-right politics. There was no shortage of tourists, though, with lots of Germans in particular walking around the city.
For me, it was a day to reacquaint myself with Stockholm, to go over some old ground, and to discover some new things.
Even if you’ve been to a place a couple of times before, you can always discover new things. I went on an archipelago boat tour earlier today and learned a whole lot more about the archipelago that I didn’t know.
I didn’t know, for example, the islands of the archipelago are actually rising. For thousands of years – during the last ice age – they were crushed down by a four kilometre deep covering. Since then, they’ve been rising at the rate of about 30cm per century, as the land-mass has begun to expand again. The tour guide for this particular tour – the Archipelago Race – was called Julia and she did an EXCELLENT job, and I told her so.
I also went on an ABBA Walking Tour. Yes, seriously. It’s a 2-hour walk around the central parts of Stockholm where you learn a little about the history of ABBA, and how that relates to the modern history of Stockholm. You visit spots where photographs were taken, you pay a visit to the outside of the flat in Gamla Stan where Benny and Frida used to live, and you listen to ABBA songs as you walk around.
In the midst of it all, I couldn’t believe how beautiful and warm the weather has been. “It must be all of the Australians visiting”, our ABBA tour guide joked at one point. Seriously, I think there needs to be a public inquiry into the Swedish Weather Bureau. They keep predicting rain, and it was overcast for a brief moment this morning, but the rest of the day has turned out to be fairly spectacular.
After a day of heavy sight-seeing I’ve come back to my apartment for a meal, a shower, and a bit of relaxation before heading out again to enjoy a spectacular summer night in Stockholm.