At the end of March, Myself and my photo sidekick Astrid travelled out to Central Scandinavia for a few days which we just went to Stockholm, Sweden to do some exploring and to create some brand new works and projects. And wow, we were not disappointed!
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a wonderful and smooth welcome at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Well organised and easy to get around. Upon exiting because of what I had noticed whilst collecting luggage of the Arlanda Express we took the express to Stockholm. I like the comical marketing factor that it guarantees to get into Stockholm in 20 minutes with the 20 crossed out and 18 minutes written over the crossed out 20 in red! The return ticket in the Arlanda express was around £50 mark and of course Sweden has kept its sovereign currency the Swedish Krona as we had found out!
Taking the train in had given us a glimpse of what is to come over the few days we were there. The true signature Swedish styles starting to come forth from seeing the architectures. Simple and also effective in its purpose. Once arrived at Central Station the walk just took us a mere 10 minutes and no more to reach on foot and very easy. You can see more about the hotel we used of our stay on my trip advisor page. After dropping our luggage off and got set up and refreshed after our journey, we headed straight into Stockholm.
Stockholm Centre & Gamla Stan
Astrid & myself discovered that Stockholm was pretty much built on and across many islands from small to large. The streets were both parallel style like America and traditional inter winding style of layouts. The river and water sides of the city were really showing Stockholm to its full self and showing its strong
maritime history. As we progressed round and went over Vasabron Bridge, we walked straight onto the island of Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm. The streets, true to what we learnt and hoped to expect was the full cobbled streets and long inter winding ones. Some a flood of activity and some very quiet. As daylight progressed into night time we saw the full magical feel of the streets changing character showing another side of the town.
The multiple colours, the music, vocal locals and visitors alike, this takes on a unique feel of its own. However, there are some streets that holds its original characters of its cobbled streets and traditional architectures. The area felt like walking through a time capsule in a way.
It certainly made me draw out one of the special things I had to do whilst in Sweden, shoot some work on a Hasselblad as it is the camera's home country. A delight too as its 6 x 6 square frame works nicely with the streets and capturing its unique lifestyle and history.
The warmth of the street lighting has made the buildings around us glow like candles and the street lights hovering above us like angels guiding us through its world. The mystique, the wonder, even the lust of the area was absorbing us into its world.
Outside Gamla Stan to the south, is intriguing as there is a unique area with lovely views across the bay to Gamla Stan and Skeppsholmen islands from Stadsgardsleden, a busy main road to the south. Along this road is another photographer's paradise, Fotografsika gallery. The gallery is very large and popular with its just as popular cafe and restaurant too. The gallery has different exhibitions on every so often and a very good shop with a good range of books from a variety of local and well known photographers. The gallery is an unusual opening times as certain nights they are open as late as 1am in the morning! That is dedication for you.
City Hall is one of intrigue. Free to enter, it is a large building with gardens right to the edge of the quayside with good views of the city. An area worth exploring photographically of its age and beauty. Even locals come in numbers to enjoy its peaceful and comfortable atmosphere.
The Metro system
One of the highlights of Stcokholm from what Astrid had found was its metro system. Curious, because it says that it is one of the largest public art displays currently in either Swedish or even far wider terms. So we started out this important adventure at Kungstradgarden to understand the art underworld on show.
Down the escalators we went, my photographic mind set for low lighting and compromises needed on speed of picture taking to capture something is set and we were struck with a large old door which was interesting. We got our tickets which we ended up getting a special 72 hour (3 day) pass as this was the length of time we were there for and it worked out at a really good price at around £17.00 for 72 hrs use of the metro. Through the ticket gates was another set of escalators which was really long and as we descended into the depths of the metro system, the works really starts to show. Coming off the long escalators, it immediately felt like walking through a museum or even a theme park, and then the station platforms showed the full glory of what it is all about.
The mid-dark green walls with various scribes, illustrations and art works all around. The space to walk around is beyond sufficient and you were felt comfortable with being on such a cavernous area, this is definitely somewhere where claustrophobics would feel safer, even in the busiest of rush hours. Average lengths of the platforms is over twice as long as an average London Underground station.
Also the stations were clean and efficient too. There was always somewhere fun and intriguing to photograph.
Some examples of what we found at various stations are below:
Stockholm Metro has certainly been an eye opener and lifts the emotional feeling of being in a straight path and aim of getting from A to B. Not just with how the stations are made over with the public art works, but the actual station layouts and designs were exceptional, even in the heaviest of rush hours, there were always plenty of space to move. It makes me wonder whether it is thought and designed to cope with future growth of the system.
A beautiful large crematorium and park. When you walk through its entrance gates, it is like walking into a large park with lushes of green and trees spread around independently and in groups, it did feel like a park. When the both of us were there, we realised when we saw a few cars and large gathering of people that there was a funeral talking place. The space and peacefulness of the area really allowed me to find my inner peace and to read the area and the histories and wonder of those who are laid to rest in peace here.
The area worked out well for a variety of subjects and creative opportunities. From abstract still life type through to small landscape works like the above image I created with some new filters I had purchased at The Photography Show before this trip. I will talk about about the new filters in a future post. Bright and sunny with partial clouds, I wondered if it would work out, but actually the cloud formations were really unique. Fluid and smooth like an artist's brush, the clouds really did add character.
If one is to plan to come here, it is definitely either a full day or two days to get round this place properly as it is a lot bigger than it looks!
Stockholm had some really pleasant surprises in both its culture and lifestyle and photographic opportunities. The ease of access into Stockholm from Arlanda Airport was excellent with decent options of getting into the city. Also getting around the city was a lot easier than expected with a good scooter hire that is electric powered and the metro system is excellent and very good price for one or three day passes and not just that the metro itself was a very unique system for photography with fantastic artworks and styles for each station. One even felt like you were stopping in outer space! The city itself especially with Gamla Stan and its impressive cobbled streets and history and also around the Gamla Stan area with the city hall, Slussen area and also to the east of Gamla Stan is the amazing live museum world of preserved buildings and timelines of Skansen that is worth a whole day exploring with also outstanding photographic opportunities not to be missed! I will definitely at some point in the future return back here.
You can now have a look at my gallery of work from Stockholm here. In the near future, there will be prints available.