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Archive for sweden

Sweden’s First City

By Linda Tancs

Hailed as Sweden’s first city, Birka is an ancient city located on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren. It was an important Viking Age trading center which handled goods from Scandinavia and Finland as well as Europe and the Orient. In addition to the museum, a guided tour will take you back in time to the Vikings by strolling through the ancient fields that have been excavated. Past the museum is another interesting site: the Monument of Ansgar. Known as the Nordic apostle, Ansgar was a missionary who brought Christianity to Sweden. Boats to Birka depart from Stockholm (Stadshusbron), Hovgården, Härjarö and Mariefred.

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All About ABBA

By Linda Tancs

Swedish band ABBA took the pop world by storm in the 70s and 80s, arguably one of the greatest pop bands in musical history. The pride of Stockholm in particular, a museum there is dedicated to the group’s history. ABBA The Museum not only chronicles the band’s development through displays and memorabilia but also gives visitors the chance to feel like a musical icon. You can try on ABBA’s costumes (virtually) or sing, play, mix original music and become the fifth member of ABBA by performing on a large hologram stage together with bandmates Björn, Benny, Frida and Agnetha. iPad users can also choose different instruments from the studio and listen to how they sound on a recording when all the other instruments have been removed or listen to Frida and Agnetha’s voices without the surrounding music. In some cases, you can record your personal participation and download the results to your computer with your personal ticket number.

Copacabana of Malmö

By Linda Tancs

Malmö, Sweden, boasts a coastal location, which means a beach is never far away. In fact, within easy walking distance of the city center is Ribersborg beach. Known locally as the Copacabana of Malmö, this central recreational area comprises both a beach and a greenway. The shallow water beach includes open-air bathing facilities called Kallbadhuset. The greenway sports trees, ponds and lawns with several football and rugby fields. A broad promenade runs along the edge of the beach, ideal for cyclists, rollerbladers, runners and walkers. You’ll take in spectacular views of the Öresund Sound and have your pick of fantastic restaurants and cafés.

Sightseeing With a Twist

By Linda Tancs

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. With a city center virtually situated on the water, traditional sightseeing on foot just won’t do. That’s where the water bus comes in. Coining it “sightseeing with a twist,” the city’s Ocean Bus offers travelers an enviable way to experience the most populous city in the Nordic countries without ever having to leave your seat. The amphibious vehicle tour starts near the Royal Opera House and, once the bus dives into the water, captures both a land and sea perspective of the city’s most notable attractions, like the Royal Palace, Vasa Museum (showcasing an almost intact salvaged ship from the 17th century) and Skansen (Sweden’s first zoo).

A Taste of Valhalla

By Linda Tancs

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the great hall where heroes slain in battle are received.  You’ll get a taste of it in Uppsala, Sweden, a place rife with Viking history.  In particular, at Gamla Uppsala you’ll encounter the royal burial mounds of ancient kings, which you can freely explore.  Nearby is Sweden’s first cathedral, built in the 12th century over a pagan temple.  Gamla Uppsala is a 30-minute bus ride from Uppsala central station.

Europe’s Capitals of Culture

By Linda Tancs

The European Commission’s picks for this year’s capitals of culture are Riga and Umeå.  Riga, the Latvian capital, is the largest city in the Baltic region.  Its covered market is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.  Umeå, in northern Sweden, is the northernmost city selected by the EU for this annual honor.  During the weekend of 31 January to 2 February, Umeå will inaugurate the year with a spectacular Burning Snow music and dance recital on and around Umeälven River.  Riga promises 365 days of enjoyment of Latvian music, fine arts, cinema and pop culture.  The cities are also planning several joint projects to celebrate their capital of culture year.

Matisse Returns to Stockholm

By Linda Tancs

Stockholm’s Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) boasts one of the finest collections of contemporary and modern art in Europe.  Its most famous work may be Robert Rauschenberg’s Monogram, but its most celebrated work is arguably Matisse’s Le Jardin following its triumphant return to the museum earlier this year after its notorious heist in 1987.  Kudos for the homecoming go to the Art Loss Register, an unassuming London company with one of the most extensive databases of stolen art worldwide.

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