If there was one city in northern Europe that I could easily live in, I think it would be Stockholm.
The Swedish capital has over two million inhabitants and over 50 bridges connecting its fourteen islands. The city often ranks highly on the global “quality of life index” and has over one hundred museums, plus a lively culinary, theatre, music and sports scene.
If you enjoy boating, sailing and watersports, Stockholm has Lake Mälaren with more than 1,000 islands to the west. To the east of the city centre, the Saltsjön (Salt Bay) has a lengthy and picturesque archipelago with over 30,000 islands leading all the way to the Baltic Sea. With so many cottages and activities on these islands, they are a perfect getaway from the city hustle and bustle.
Stockholm’s old city centre is on the island of Gamla Stan. The area is full of colorful houses from the 17th and 18th centuries and narrow cobblestoned streets with interesting shops, cafes, pubs and bars. The Royal Palace, official residence of the Swedish monarch, can be toured and the popular changing of the guard is accompanied by a military band in the summer months.
Stockholmers enjoy a vast green space right in their city center on the island of Djurgården. The island is Scandinavia’s number one tourist attraction and a favourite for nature lovers, walkers, runners, hikers and cyclists. In addition to being loved for its green spaces, it is famous for having four royal palaces, popular museums, cafes, restaurants and a large amusement park.
The history of Royal Djurgården goes back to 1452 when King Karl Knutsson purchased the southern part of the island. It was a royal hunting ground for many years and over time was opened to the public and expanded.
In 1995, King Carl Gustaf XVI officially opened the world’s first national city park comprising the Ulriksdal, Haga, Brunnsviken and Djurgården districts. The 27 square kilometer park is eight times the size of New York’s Central Park.
On Djurgården, you can see over one hundred bird species and eight hundred varieties of flowering plants. You can easily spend a few days in Stockholm just visiting Djurgården. Here are my favourite things to do on the island.
When you enter Djurgården from the west on the Djurgårdsbron bridge, you will find the Royal Djurgården Visitor Center. The center rents bikes to explore the island, and there is a ten to twelve kilometer path that goes around the island. They also have kayaks, canoes or pedal boats. If you want to paddle all the way around the island, expect it to take about two to three hours.
The Sjöcaféet café is located by the visitor’s center and has a nice outdoor terrace overlooking the water. They have a reasonably priced menu with a variety of Swedish dishes plus they make a nice pizza. If you want a quick bite you may want to try the Korv sausage stand for a hot dog or their ice cream stand.
From the visitors’ center, the Vasa ship museum is easy to spot. It’s located right behind the imposing Nordiska Museum and the roof of the museum has a copper roof with ship’s masts coming through it. The masts depict the actual height of the Vasa when it was in the harbour over 300 years ago.
King Gustavus Adolphus ordered the massive warship built in 1626 during a wartime period against Poland-Lithuania. To match the kings’ prestige, power and ambitions, the ship was extravagantly decorated and armed with 64 cannons on two gundecks. The immense Vasa must have been a stunning sight with all the bronze cannons, ornate carvings, painted sculptures, large masts, sails set and flags flying. The problem, which was discovered during construction, was that she was unstable and top heavy.
Despite this knowledge, on the afternoon of August 10, 1628, the Vasa set sail from the quay in the Old Town. She sailed a few hundred meters, then a squall, or sudden gust of wind, forced the Vasa to list heavily to one side, but she returned upright. Moments later, a second squall listed the boat so heavily that water started to pour in through the gunports. As the water seeped into the ship, it was too much to recover from; the Vasa capsized and sunk. About 30 of the crew and passengers drowned in the incident. The sinking of the Vasa in Stockholm’s harbour on her maiden voyage must have been quite shocking for the thousands of spectators who lined the sea front for a glimpse of the new ship.
Shortly after it sunk, efforts were made to retrieve the valuable bronze cannons, and over 50 were recovered. As the years passed, a few unsuccessful salvage attempts were made but eventually the exact location of the wreck was lost. Amateur archaeologist Andres Franzen, after many years of searching, found it again in 1956. Plans were made and the Vasa was finally raised to the surface in 1961 after laying in the “Salt Sea” for 333 years.
For over 20 years, the ship was housed in a temporary structure while it underwent examination and treatment to preserve it. In the early 1980’s, the Swedish government decided to build a permanent museum and numerous architects submitted designs. A final design was chosen, and the Vasa Museum opened in 1990, displaying the almost intact 17th century warship. It is the most visited museum in Scandinavia with around 1.5 million visitors per year.
When you walk in to the museum, the sight of the ship is overwhelming. The ship can be seen from six different levels and there are exhibits, maps and models explaining how the ship was built, it’s sailing route and eventual sinking. The museum explains the situation in Sweden during the 17th century that required the Vasa ship to be built, and has a movie theatre with a film on the ship recovery.
The Vasa museum is an absolute must if you are in Stockholm for any length of time.
As you emerge from the Vasa Museum, you will face the back of an impressive stone building, the Nordiska Museum. It stands on an area called Lejonslätten, the lions plain, because Queen Kristina, daughter of King Gustavus who had the Vasa ship built, placed lions here during her reign in the 17th century. The Renaissance style building which was partially built for Stockholm’s World´s Expo in 1897 is the home of Sweden’s largest cultural and historical museum.
The Nordiska museum was founded in 1873 by Artur Hazelius, who also founded the nearby Skansen open air museum. When you enter the museum, you will see a large oak statue of King Gustav Vasa placed in the centre of an over 100 meter long open central hall with a ceiling that rises 24 meters. As you look up, you will see multiple stories surrounding the central hall.
The museum has over a million objects depicting the Nordic lifestyle and traditions from the 16th century to today. The collections of art, furniture, jewelry, fashion, glass, porcelain and interiors are interesting. The museum also has an area dedicated to the Sami, the only indigenous people in Sweden.
If you follow the main road in front of the Nordiska Museum, the Djurgårdsvågen, for about 300 meters, you will reach the entrance to the ABBA Museum. The Swedish pop group is known the world over, and their band’s name is an acronym taken from the first letters in the band members first names, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. They rose to fame in 1974 after winning the annual Eurovision Song Contest with the hit song ‘Waterloo.”
ABBA sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide during the 1970s and 1980s and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. In 1999, the musical “Mama Mia!,” which adapted ABBA’s music, became a smash hit along with subsequent related films.
The ABBA Museum opened in 2013 and at the entrance you will get an audio tour device that is easy to use on the self guided tour. As you go through the museum, you just tap the audio pad, and the audio begins. Much of the audio is actually the band members telling stories of their lives before ABBA, how they met, how they wrote songs, how they became the iconic super group and some of the experiences they had along the way. There are interactive areas where you can sing their music or dance with them on stage.
The exhibits are well done including a recreation of the Polar Studio, where they recorded some of their music. There is a helicopter similar to the one used in the album cover ABBA ARRIVAL that you can sit in to recreate the photo. In the museum you will see gold records, archival film footage, interesting stage costumes and the caricature style ABBA dolls that were used in a music video called “The Last Video.”
Before you leave, you enter the giftshop where you can get everything ABBA from souvenirs to posters, apparel and CDs. We all have listened or danced to ABBA songs over the years, and although I’m not a huge fan, the museum was very enjoyable.
When you leave the ABBA Museum, you can’t miss the sounds of the nearby Amusement Park.
In the late 1880s, on the south shore of Djurgården, nine acres were approved for the building of an amusement park. The park’s design had to incorporate the existing houses and commercial buildings that were already on the property. Even though the park has a small footprint on the island, it has 30 different attractions including roller coasters, free fall rides, and the “Eclipse,” one of the world’s tallest swing rides. The “Insane” roller coaster lives up to its name as the cars flip and spin and you travel along. In addition to the rides for the thrill seekers, there are rides for young children, and carnival games where you can win prizes like huge chocolate bars.
Grona Lund often hosts rock and pop music concerts, including on the main stage in the middle of the park. Bob Marley performed at Grona Lund three times, including in 1980 when he drew 30,000 fans.
If you want a quick bite, there are about fifteen food stands offering a wide selection of items including candy, burgers, pizza, poke bowls, kebabs, gyros, churros, waffles, crepes and ice cream. If you prefer to sit and relax, there are over ten options including Mexican, BBQ and Asian restaurants and a Biergarten. Needless to say, you won’t go hungry here.
The park is open from spring to late September and may be open during other dates including Halloween and the Swedish Autumn break. You can buy your tickets online in advance and get a pass that includes unlimited rides.
We have taken many youth hockey and ringette teams to Stockholm, and Grona Lund is always a hit with the kids and parents.
If you are not into amusement parks, across the street from the Grona Lund is the slower paced Skansen open-air museum. In the late 1890s, the park was created to preserve traditions, customs and structures from different parts of Sweden prior to the industrial age. The park is much larger that Grona Lund, with over 75 acres, and it attracts over a million visitors per year.
Over 150 buildings were relocated to Skansen from throughout Sweden, and they range from simple farm structures to worskhops, school rooms and manor houses. As you walk through the small village that they have created, people in traditional dress are doing every day chores. If you enter the trade shops, you will see skilled craftsmen demonstrating their skills including bakers, tanners, silversmiths, shoemakers and glass blowers. In today’s world, we take many essential products for granted that used to be made by hand in these small community work shops. To experience 19th century transportation, a 200 meter long funicular railway has been transporting people 35 meters up the north side of the Skansen hill since 1897.
Skansen’s traditional Christmas market, festivals and folklore shows are very popular.
Skansen’s relocated farms include domesticated animals like goats, pigs and horses. The park zoo contains over 75 species of the Nordic animals including bison, bears, seals, otters and moose. In addition to these Scandinavian natives, the zoo also features non-traditional animals like monkeys, peacocks, elephants and more.
Like Grona Lund, there are numerous options for fast food, cafes and restaurants. Taking time for a “fika” is an important Swedish custom. A fika is an opportunity to take time to share a coffee, and a little bite or a pastry, usually a cinnamon bun, with friends, colleagues or family.
A walk around the Skansen open-air museum on a nice sunny day is a great family activity.
More things to see and do in Djurgården
There are so many things to do in Djurgården. I listed some of my favourites, but you may enjoy visiting some of these options depending on your interests.
The Viking Museum opened in 2017 and it includes the interesting Ragnfrid’s Saga Viking ride.
The Liljevalchs Konsthall is an art gallery and exhibition space opened in 1916.
The Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde art museum is situated on a beautiful waterfront estate with a castle like mansion.
The Spritmuseum & The Absolut Art Collection is devoted to alcohol including Scandinavian Aquavit. After touring the museum, you can order a tasting tray of traditional spirits, Absolut vodkas or ciders.
Featuring 20th century Scandinavian and French art, the Thiel Gallery was established in 1905.
Junibacken is a children’s centre inspired by the stories by the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.
Cirkus is a 1,650 person arena built in 1892 that used to hold the circus, but now it is mainly used for shows, concerts, performances, trade shows, meetings, parties and gala dinners.
On the north east of the island, you will find the Djurgården canal. The area across from the canal is Djurgårdsbrunn. Here you will find the Museum of Technology, the Police Museum, the Maritime Museum and more park space.
With so many activities and green space, you can see why Stockholmers love Djurgården. On you next trip to Sweden, be sure to set aside some time on your schedule to explore and enjoy it.
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Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’
From the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd.
By David Yager
Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles
That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.
Investment manager and perennial oil bull Eric Nuttall recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Post titled, “Canada could be as green and wealthy as Qatar and Saudi Arabia if government wakes up – Instead of vilifying the oil and gas sectors, Canada should champion them.”
Nuttall described how Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing their enormous energy wealth to make life better for their citizens. This includes decarbonizing future domestic energy supplies and making large investments in infrastructure.
Nuttall concludes, “Why is it that Qatar, a country that embraced its LNG industry, has nearly three times the number of doctors per capita than Canada? We can do it all: increase our oil and natural gas production, at the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, thereby allowing us to help meet the world’s needs while benefiting from its revenue and allowing for critical incremental investments in our national infrastructure…This could have been us.”
The country most often mentioned that Albertans should emulate is Norway.
Alberta’s Heritage Savings and Trust Fund has been stuck below $20 billion since it was created by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976.
Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which started 20 years later in 1996, now sits at US$1.2 trillion.
How many times have you been told that if Alberta’s politicians weren’t so incompetent, our province would have a much larger nest egg after 47 years?
After all, Canada and Alberta have gobs of natural gas and oil, just like Qatar and Norway.
Regrettably, that’s all we have in common.
That Qatar and Norway’s massive hydrocarbon assets are offshore is a massive advantage that producers in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin will never enjoy. All pipelines are submerged. There are no surface access problems on private property, no municipal property taxes or surface rights payments, and there are no issues with First Nations regarding land claims, treaty rights and constitutional guarantees.
Being on tidewater is a huge advantage when it comes to market access, greatly reducing operating and transportation costs.
But it’s more complicated than that, and has been for a long time. In 1990, Olympic athlete and businessman William G. Gairdner wrote a book titled, “The Trouble with Canada – A Citizen Speaks Out.” It takes Gairdner 450 pages to explain how one of the most unique places in the world in terms of resource wealth and personal and economic opportunity was fading fast.
That was 33 years ago. Nothing has improved.
As I wrote in my own book about the early days of settlement and development, citizens expected little from their governments and got less.
Today politics increasingly involves which party will give the most voters the most money.
The book’s inside front cover reads how Gairdner was concerned that Canada was already “caught between two irreconcilable styles of government, a ‘top down’ collectivism and a ‘bottoms-up individualism;’ he shows how Canadian society has been corrupted by a dangerous love affair with the former.”
Everything from the constitution to official bilingualism to public health care were identified as the symptoms of a country heading in the wrong direction.
But Canadian “civil society” often regards these as accomplishments.
The constitution enshrines a federal structure that ignores representation by population in the Senate thus leaving the underpopulated regions vulnerable to the political desires of central Canada. This prohibited Alberta’s closest access to tidewater for oil through Bill C48.
Official bilingualism and French cultural protection has morphed into Quebec intentionally blocking Atlantic tidewater access for western Canadian oil and gas.
In the same country!
Another election will soon be fought in Alberta over sustaining a mediocre public health care system that continues to slide in international rankings of cost and accessibility.
What’s remarkable about comparing Canada to Norway or Qatar for missed hydrocarbon export opportunities is how many are convinced that the Canadian way of doing things is equal, if not superior, to that of other countries.
But neither Norway or Qatar have the geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles that impair resource development in Canada.
Norway has over 1,000 years of history shared by a relatively homogenous population with similar views on many issues. Norway has a clear sense of its national identity.
As a country, Canada has only 156 years in its current form and is comprised of Indigenous people and newcomers from all over the world who are still getting to know each other.
In the endless pursuit of politeness, today’s Canada recognizes multiple nations within its borders.
Norway and Qatar only have one.
While relatively new as a country, Qatar is ruled by a “semi-constitutional” monarchy where the major decisions about economic development are made by a handful of people.
Canada has three layers of elected governments – federal, provincial and municipal – that have turned jurisdictional disputes, excessive regulation, and transferring more of everything to the public sector into an industry.
Regrettably, saying that Canada should be more like Norway or Qatar without understanding why it can’t be deflects attention away from our challenges and solutions.
David Yager is an oilfield service executive, oil and gas writer, and energy policy analyst. He is author of From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story.
Oilers’ offence lowers the boom on Blackhawks in 7-3 win
By Shane Jones in Edmonton
The Edmonton Oilers didn’t leave anything in the tank before their all-star break hiatus.
Tyson Barrie scored a pair of goals as the Oilers headed into a nine-day break in the schedule on a winning note, coming away with a 7-3 victory over the lowly Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
“I thought we responded really well after a tight game against Columbus (Wednesday) where we only got one point against them (3-2 overtime loss),” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “I thought we played well and got the two points and we’re feeling good going into the break.”
Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman each had a goal and two assists, and Evander Kane and Ryan McLeod also scored for the Oilers (28-18-4) who have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight games leading into a break that sees them idle until Feb. 7.
“We took (the game) over in the second period, but there were still a couple of things I’d like to clean up,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “But our team is 10-3-2 since the Christmas break and you couldn’t script it better for us. I think we’ve taken a step here, it’s a credit to our players.”
Jason Dickinson, Jonathan Toews and Taylor Raddysh replied for the Blackhawks (15-29-4) who have lost three of their last four and entered the night sitting in second-last place in the NHL.
“We had a great start, but we maybe just stopped skating a little bit from what we had done in the first,” said Blackhawks veteran Patrick Kane. “It would have been nice to control it a little more in the second, those are usually make-or-break periods.”
Despite Saturday’s drubbing, Chicago still managed to win seven of their last 11 games. They are now off until Feb. 7.
“It is tough losing the last game before a break, but I feel like we have taken a big step in the last month and have been building on our game in all areas with every line chipping in at different moments,” Raddysh said. “That is what we are going to need the rest of the way and we have to keep giving it our all every night and keep getting better.”
Chicago had a glorious early chance when Andreas Athanasiou was sent in on a clear breakaway, but he bobbled the puck and was unable to get a shot on Oilers starter Jack Campbell.
The Oilers took the lead 5:20 into the first period on a power-play goal as Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek reached out to deflect a Barrie point shot, but it instead caromed off of his blocker and down into the net. Edmonton captain McDavid picked up an assist to give him points in 12 straight games and 29 of his last 30.
Dickinson tied the game 5:25 into the middle frame as he scored his seventh on a partial breakaway after picking up a backhanded feed through the slot from Patrick Kane.
Edmonton’s lethal power play put them back in front just over a minute later as McDavid sent a nifty backhand return pass from behind the net to Draisaitl, who beat Mrazek for his 29th of the season.
The Oilers surged ahead with a pair of goals less than a minute apart with about eight minutes to play in the second period. Barrie scored his second goal of the game and seventh of the season after Hyman tipped a shot that trickled behind the Blackhawks goalie, allowing him to sweep in and whack it into an empty net.
McDavid then scored his league-leading 41st of the season, wheeling out from behind the net before elevating a beauty of a backhand shot past Mrazek.
Hyman picked up his third point in a 2:33 span a minute-and-a-half after that, smacking home the rebound of a McLeod shot for his 26th of the campaign. Hyman has now scored in five consecutive games.
Chicago got one back on the power play as Patrick Kane sent a perfect feed in front that Toews tipped past Campbell for his 14th.
However, Edmonton answered back just 12 seconds later as an egregious turnover allowed Draisaitl to make a one-touch pass to Evander Kane, who rifled home his first goal since returning from having his wrist sliced open by a skate blade.
McLeod made it 7-1 with eight minutes to play as his shot was deemed to have crossed the line before defender Seth Jones could bat it out, even though play went on for a while before the horn sounded.
The Blackhawks made it look better with five minutes left as Max Domi took advantage of a giveaway to send Raddysh in to score his 14th on a nice deke.
Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner came down with a sudden illness, forcing them to activate emergency backup goalie Matt Berlin, a player from the University of Alberta Golden Bears. With their big lead, the Oilers put him in net with 2:26 to play, saving the only shot he faced. … Oilers forward Kane returned to the lineup after missing the last game while dealing with his bankruptcy case. As a result, James Hamblin was returned to Bakersfield of the AHL. … Out with injuries for Edmonton were Kailer Yamamoto (undisclosed) and Ryan Murray (back). … Chicago also had a prominent forward return as Toews was back after missing the last game with an illness. … The Hawks were without Tyler Johnson (ankle), Jarred Tinordi (facial fracture), Jujhar Khaira (back) and Alex Stalock (concussion). … McDavid became the first Oilers player with 50 assists in seven straight seasons since Jari Kurri (between 1982 and 1990) and the first player in the NHL with 40 goals and 50 assists in 50 or fewer games since Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux both did it in 1995-1996.
Both teams enter into lengthy breaks, with neither returning until Feb. 7.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2023.
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