Friday morning I was up at a decent time, and did a bunch of work prior to heading out for the day. It had been a while since I had been out for a run, so I went out and ran along the edge of the water, and out to the Royal Park. I stayed to the south side of the water, and ran along the edge of the sea. Give it a few weeks and I imagine the park would be beautiful. The run was a bit tough, but I stuck it out, using stops to take photos as an excuse to take a few short breaks.
I had two full days to explore Stockholm, and I wanted to make the most of it. I started out by walking back over to the old part of town, and retracing my steps a bit from the night before. The old town has a lot more charm in the evening, but it was a lot more lively. The nice weather had lots of people out. I walked through the old town, and over a couple of bridges to the south side of the main part of downtown Stockholm. My first destination was the photography museum - Fotografika. The museum was pretty interesting, with a series of very different and unique exhibits on display. The main exhibit was a display by the artist Robert Frank. It was mostly the from his book, The Americans, and exhibit. It was pretty interesting, and covered an incredible range of subject matter.
I spent a couple of hours at the museum. Some of the work wasn't to my liking, but most of it was pretty good. Above the photography museum, there was a huge staircase that leads up this big cliff face, to an area that offers great views over the old city. It was a bit of a walk up, but the views were pretty great. I spent a bit of time along the viewpoint, and took a few pics.
From the top, the road led back done towards where I had crossed over from the old city. As I was walking over earlier, I had noticed that there was what looked like a look out or tower, overlooking the old city. Close to the bottom where the streets opened up back onto the bridge into the old city, there was another crazy set of stairs going back up, possibly to the lookout. I headed back up again and followed the crowd. It did lead me to the lookout point, and there was an old tower there that was no longer in use (or at least the old elevator was no longer in use). The view was pretty nice, but the weather was getting cold and ther was a bit of wind. Just another reminder that maybe winter wasn't quite done yet.
After working my way back down again, I crossed back over into the old city. I worked my way through the side streets for a little while. I was lucky and found an Irish pub, and stopped for a rest and a drink. I also discovered that they would be playing the Liverpool football game on Saturday afternoon, so I had a spot to come back to the next day. After my drink, I wandered the old city a bit longer. I ended up finding the Nobel Museum, which was another stop I wanted to make.
The museum was quite small, but the people in the gallery that were there to explain things made up for it by being quite animated, and telling good stories. The museum is dedicated to the scientists (mostly) that have won the Nobel Prize, and many of the have donated various items to the museum that have special significance to them, or the work that won the prize. There are a series of films playing that also tell the story of various prize winners, but the biggest exhibit was dedicated to the new building that is being built for the Nobel Foundation. They are about to announce the winner of the design contest, and they had all the various submissions up for inspection. What was interesting is that the location where the new building will be built, is just a few blocks down from the hotel i was staying. All the architectural drawings showed my hotel, as a point of reference. Some of the designs were really out there; all of them were quite cool. It will be interesting to see which one wins later in April when the Wilmer is announced.
I don't think I spent a long time in the Nobel Museum, but it was starting to get dark as I came out. I walked about the old town for a little longer, scouting shots for the next night. I had to wrap it up, as I had a hockey game to get to!
I had had a bit of a brainstorm on Thursday night, and did a bit of web searching to discover that there was a hockey game in Stockholm on Friday night. It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, and so I went on their web site and bought a ticket to the game. This ended up being a little challenging, as parts of it were only in Swedish.
As it turned out, the game was actually pretty important. It seems that hockey in Sweden follows the football model, where there are multiple tiers, with the top level being the Swedish Elite League, that we hear about in North America. I'm not sure that I got the story correct, but I think that AIK was playing in the second division, and were engaged in a small robin tournament, the winner of which was to be promoted to the first tier. My understanding from a couple of people that I spoke with was that tonight's game was a must win - lose and they were stuck in the second division for another year.
The arena was pretty far away, in one of the southern suburbs. I decided to take the subway to the game, as it was quite close to one of the stops, and I only needed to change trains once to get there. I'm glad I chose that way, because the Stockholm subway is super cool!
The train was quick and easy - another efficient European transit system - and I was at the arena about half an hour before the start of the game. It's a small arena - seats 8-9,000 I think I read, and the place was maybe 60% full. Before the game I wandered around and enjoyed the atmosphere. They don;t let you drink in the stands (a little odd), so I had a beer in the bar and chatted with a couple of the locals. Everyone was pretty nervous for the game.
Another thing that this team has in common with the football teams in Europe is the passion of the fans. I have to say, they put North American fans to shame. The small, 9,00 seat arena that was only half full was way noisier than any NHL game I've ever been to. The fans were singing and chanting, and generally having a good time and supporting their club. It was a pretty great atmosphere!
The game itself was a little slow frankly - the level was probably closer to a Junior A game than it was to the pro level. Passing was suspect, and it wasn't the fastest hockey I've ever seen. Still, it was entertaining, and for a while there it looked like the home team might pull of the victory.
Sadly, it was not to be and the home team ended up going down to defeat, ending their dreams of promotion. Through it all the supporters were loud, and cheered their team to the bitter end. It was pretty impressive.
I hoped back on the train and was home in no time, where I called it a night.