This weeks post will be a bit unusual. We are on our way back from Bangkok, and I have not had time to edit any pictures at all. So, I chose to write about something else: Skansen, an outdoor museum and Scandinavian zoo in the heart of Stockholm. It sounds like a kids attraction – and it is – and I was there with my kid – but I actually think that Skansen is for everybody, not only the short members of the family. If you are visiting Sweden, it is a fun place to visit to get a taste of Swedish culture, food, flora and fauna.
Skansen is located on Djurgården, which is mainly an island full of different kinds of entertainment. For Singaporeans, think Sentosa, but with no water parks or beaches. Skansen takes a healthy amount of space around the island: there is forest, ponds, rocks and generous pens for the animals. From the hilltop one can admire the beautiful Stockholm archipelago.
Inside the gates of Skansen, there are many types of historical buildings picturing how ordinary Swedes lived hundreds of years ago. There are also stages where artists play music and the audience can dance; food markets are rich with stalls selling Swedish (and American) delights and there are plush green fields meant as picnic areas. Alcohol can be purchased and consumed at the many food huts around the park.
In the summer, Skansen arranges large sing-along events: All Song på Skansen is also broadcasted live on TV. And in the winter, Skansen hosts the largest traditional Christmas market in town. There are also other events, like a large bonfire on Valborg and dancing around the pole on Midsummer (that’s very silly – worth the trip for some good laughs).
What I like the most is the zoo though. I am a sucker for zoos. Nice ones, not the ones where animals are cramped into small cages and not cared for. The best zoos I have visited are in San Diego and Singapore. And then there is Skansen, that is so much more. The animals are not very exotic for a Swede, or a Finn. However, for someone travelling from further away, the Lynx is something you don’t see every day, and it is entertaining to see the brown bears scramble out of hibernation (they are so drowsy).
So on a warm summer afternoon, pack a picnic blanket and head to Skansen for some communal singing and traditional dancing on stage. Pick up a bowl of Swedish meatballs, Nordic charred herring and cinnamon buns, dark roasted coffee and ecological wine and beer from the hot dog stand. Nothing will be top in class, and everything is a bit more expensive than in town, but the selection is nice and broad, and for the less foody this is not a problem. Sitting there, watching the archipelago and the midnight sun, while listening to silly folk music – it doesn’t get more Swedish than that.