After dipping my toe into Swedish waters with a few day trips to southern towns from Copenhagen (urban Malmo and historic Helsingborg), I have finally permanently crossed over the great Oresund Bridge that connects Denmark with Sweden. By train or car, the Oresund links one stereotypical blond, Viking-centric, water-worldly country to another. From the first 15 minutes on the train though, my relaxed, how-much-difference-can-there-really-be-in-Scandinavia nerves were rattled. 'K' sounds like 'sh' in Swedish. Uh oh. My Danish Krona are no longer any good. Ugh. And here come the sniffing security dogs through the train cars. Although the serene landscape we initially passed through of flat farmland, forest, and fields were similar to Denmark, things were going to be a lit-tle different.
Having crossed the border, it made me wonder... What is Sweden known for? I brainstormed everything Swedish. Swedish meatballs. Swedish massage. Swedish fish. The Swedish chef from the Muppets. Ikea. (Unsubstantiated interesting tidbit: Ikea furniture is named after Swedish cities, places and terms. And the rugs- on the floor below the furniture- are Danish terms. I found the Scandinavian rivalry funny.) There must be something I was missing. Something more iconic. Something more transcendent. Silly me... ABBA!
With ABBA: The Museum just moments from my Stockholm digs, there was no second-guessing what my first stop would be. This subtle building on the outside explodes with the 70's on the inside. The group's beginnings and love stories! The bright disco lights! The outlandish costumes (oh, the costumes)! The inescapable, melodic ABBA music booming in chronologically room after room! If nothing else, it is indeed a celebration of Sweden's most loved band of all time. Even if ABBA isn't your thing, the kitsch factor alone is worth paying admission for. About this experience, they say you walk in and dance out. They were right!
How could I ask for a better start to Sweden? And yes. Things are a lit-tle different. :)
Stately Strandvagen, or "Shore Street", in central Stockholm
Looking toward the city center
Gamla Stan, or the Old Town, in Stockholm
Cemetery in the shadow of the striking Nordic Museum
City Hall at sunset
Iconic ABBA stage wear
Got it on my first audition!