Stockholm - moose on the loose
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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I had a hidden agenda for this expedition. We'd had one brush with a moose at long distance whilst out at Munso (more on that next entry) but I wanted to ensure that I properly saw a moose on this visit to Sweden, as the past couple of times here I'd been on the lookout but had no luck finding these almost mythical creatures.
For locals they're apparently quite common, even on the fringes of major cities, but I'd visited in summer in the past and they just don't dig hot weather.
I hope they don't have a problem with really cold weather too...
Anyway, Ains wasn't so thrilled with the idea but tagged along anyway, which is good because Skansen is a lot more than just a zoo. It is quite elevated compared to the rest of the city so you have good views of the surrounding city and countryside. At that particular point in time the view included an ice skater testing the thin ice of the harbour (see above right in bottom right corner of pic) that we were very pleased to see, although he didn't plunge through which would have made it more exciting. As you can see, we had to do a little skating of our own just to get around.
Still, the park itself is like an outdoor museum which a lot of countries would do well to emulate. lt contains over 150 historical structures showing how the Swedes have lived over the millennia, including a hut typical of the 14th century (above right). Saami indigenous villages are also replicated to show how some do still live in the extreme north of the country. Due to the season though, most of the activities revolving around this stuff is closed however.
So the main drawcard now is the animals. The bears are hibernating but most other critters seem to be out and about. A definite favourite were the owls, which we had to torment a little to get them to swivel their heads around (they didn't mind - trust me). The Lynx were also great to see - I'd heard about these fearsome creatures ever since Mongolia so to see them live put a face to the name as it were. And they're just big pussy cats really, so cute and cuddly as they gnashed through a chunk of raw meat and bone, spilling blood all over the snow... You could have one as a pet I reckon.
We eventually did find the moose, just in time to find the zoo keeper feeding them, so all we got was the opportunity to see and photograph their butts. Ce la vie. Then a big bull moose, obviously not as hungry as the others, wandered into frame which well and truly made my day. Even Ains was impressed.
So now we can say, with 100% certainty and absolute surety, that there are moose in the Skansen zoo in Sweden. We'll just have to wait and see whether I get within decent camera range of any in the wild during the rest of my stay here.
After all that excitement we skittled down the north face of Skansen in search of the Vasamuseet. This is the museum you just have to visit when in Stockholm so we were glad to make it before closing time in the gathering gloom. It is an eye-popping experience once they adjust to the darkness within and you realise how big this puppy actually is.
The Vasa was the pride and joy of the fleet back in 1628 when the Swedes were at war with those pesky Polish, measuring more than 70 metres in length and able to carry over 30 cannon and 200 crew. Unfortunately she was very narrow and top heavy, so on her maiden voyage from Slussen only 1.3km away, she listed and took water through the gun ports, killing around 50 crew.
The boat was very well preserved during her time on the bottom as the Baltic Sea is too cold for the destructive sea worm that munches ship wood in saltier seas to the south. About 95% of the ship now on display is original, with the rest recreated with lighter coloured woods. She was an extremely ornate ship as well, with the trimmings intended to glorify the king (Gustavius Adolphus) and frighten his enemies. A variety of carvings are on display around and on the resurrected boat, including the paintwork that is believed to have adorned them. For example, carvings of each of the 20 Roman Emperors after Augustus adorned the 'beakhead', symbolising that the Swedish King was their equal but on par with the 'Caesar of Peace' himself (hence no Augustus carving on the warship).
All in all a great stop so drop in if you're in town.
Ains and I had a variety of other adventures whilst we were here. One memorable one was our trip to the northern reaches of the city including the very funky Ostermalmhallen market at Ostermalmstog and the general business district vicinity of Norrmalm. The Pub shopping mall on Hortorget square was amusing with its Escher style stairs and elevators going all over the shop and a lot of the street art, mostly legal and adorning the Metro or squares and plazas around the place is great to stay on the lookout for too. Just beware of falling ice (from the building eves) when you see the big yellow signs - it kills a couple of people each year here.
No wonder we were pooped when I dropped Ainsley off at Centrallen and headed out to Ekero to see Olof in the wild. Ains boldly declared that even seeing it for the first time in the icy snows of winter, and after travelling to a hell of a lot of places herself, Stockholm could just be her new favourite city. Any comment on that after you've had some time to defrost and think mate?
Until Munso - adieu.
Next entry -> On Stockholm's picturesque islands, hunting moose and traces of the Vikings.
Where Darwin went wrong
It took a moose to remind me that I've forgotten this little segment since the humble emu back in central Australia.
Northern European (and no doubt North American) moose certainly qualify, although the population in Sweden must be culled each year to keep numbers down meaning they aren't having any trouble surviving these harsh conditions.
Look at him - strange animals indeed. Oh well, they're goofy looking and apparently taste good (would like to try a moose steak but need to be here at in September or October each year to do so), so I should probably give them a break.