Thursday 6 June 2019

Scandi Weekend: Stockholm's Amazing Metro

My lovely colleague Wendy and I spent a lovely morning exploring the beautiful Old Town area of Stockholm: the stunning and elaborate palace, the little streets, the colours reflected in the water, the cinnamon buns... I could go on.  But that's a story for another day, as Sunday afternoon proved to be considerably more eclectic.

Lunch warmed us through and we set off in search of the Fotografiska, a photography gallery. We walked there, crossing onto a new island and passing a ferry port where huge cruise ships had lined up to drop off the hoards of tourists. We didn’t actually enter the museum as we lacked the time to justify the entrance fee, but they were exhibiting Kirsty Mitchell’s amazing collection of photographs entitled Wonderland, blending fashion, fantasy and fairytales. I had seen some of these beautiful artworks before in a gallery in London and I would have loved to visit again, but sadly it was gift shop only for us, and I had to settle for flipping through the book of prints.

Wendy was very keen to visit the Ericsson globe, which she claimed was a must-see sight of Stockholm, being the largest spherical building in the world, or somesuch. I was less convinced, having googled it and found that it was simply a concert venue. There didn't seem to be much there to actually do or enjoy, and it was a solid 45 minute walk away.

But Wendy would not be denied and so I dutifully martyred myself to her cause and cheerfully complained the whole way. 

Much of Stockholm is incredibly lovely to simply stroll around, but the same could not be said of our lengthy trudge along the duel carriageway in the grey, gathering dusk. We had to divert several times, striking off into a housing estate as the route was not pedestrian friendly. Another obvious indication that VISITING THIS BUILDING IS NOT A COOL OR FUN THING TO DO WENDY!!!

We caught sight of the not-especially-impressive building in the distance, on the opposite side of the road; unhelpful as there were no immediately apparent ways to cross to it. It looked like a grubby white bubble, somewhat lit with pink lighting, and obscured by larger building-shaped buildings on a couple of sides. 

Wendy took a picture. I complained some more that we had left the beauty, calm, serenity and culture of the old town to get a picture of an unimpressive industrial estate perched on a dual carriageway.

There was basically no one there as it was closed and there was indeed nothing to do (BECAUSE THIS IS NOT A THING WENDY) Close up, you can’t even tell what shape it is.

It would be a bit like going to visit the O2 in London, if you didn’t have tickets and it was closed and you had to schlep along the M25 to get there.

In case it’s not clear, my review is: don’t go. BECAUSE IT IS NOT A THING WENDY.

Having squeezed just about as much small-minded whining as I could out of the situation, we went to locate some public transport back to the old town. This necessitated the directing of some further anger towards google maps as it persisted in lying to us about where we were and where other things were. But eventually, having missed one metro station, we found the next one.

A single ticket in the Swedish system is based on time, rather than the actual number of journeys. So if you buy a ticket, you can travel on as many buses, metros and trams as you like for the next hour and a quarter. So we decided to do just that!

I had read that Stockholm’s metro stations had been imbued with art and we were keen to see them. Because it’s actually a thing, unlike a certain grubby bubble I could mention.

We determined to maximise our hour or so, riding back through the old town and all the way to the central station. This was easily my favourite of the ones we visited as huge blue and white vines arched overhead, twining over the cave-like ceiling. In London, on a Sunday evening, the tube would invariably be packed and loitering about taking pictures would be impossible in the crush and you would be guaranteed to be a huge irritation to literally everyone.

But there was hardly anyone around in subterranean Stockholm and I could play with my wide angle to my heart’s content, enjoying the cavernous artwork.

We rode the tube out west to visit another station, with a more industrial, cave-like design and then rode back east to see a red-hued monster of a station. There was an almost volcanic feel to being in its subterranean clutches and I felt the need to cast away the One Ring. But I satisfied myself with taking pictures and twirling for photos. Finally, we rode back to the Old town, alighting at Gamla Stan in search of dinner and cocktails.

Kisses xxx

P.S. If I ever get to return to Stockholm, I am going to spend loads of time riding around tube stations and no time at the Globe.