When we were kids, my parents used to encourage my sister and I to keep a travel diary when we went on holiday. They bought us both cameras, and paid to have our photos developed (ask your grandparents), which means there are now albums full of blurry shots of kittens.
I used to think they did it just to keep us from annoying them. But now I see it was more than that. They were trying to foster an interest in other places and experiences, and a way of keeping those experiences alive. Or keep us from annoying them.
Ugh, listen to me. Wipe away your tears of nostalgia, ‘cos I just got back from four days of dancing till 4am with drag queens in Stockholm, Sweden.
Stockholm’s a beautiful city. We stayed in the old town, Gamla Stan, which is full of tall townhouses in rusty, ochre-y colours.
We explored, we drank coffee, we ate at the most incredible restaurant, Pellikan. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It’s traditional Swedish fare, and every mouthful was wonderful. We met a musician called Rolf who played us some songs on the guitar and kissed our hands as we left. A great, great night.
We were also punched in the stomach by how expensive everything is. My goodness, Stockholm is the priciest city I’ve ever visited. Add a few of whatever currency you’re working in to whatever it is you’re thinking of buying.
And then this happened:
Yeah, that’s right – Abba: The Museum. This place opened last year, and whether you like the band or not, it’s a great museum. Also, expensive. And doesn’t take cash, anywhere, so if you’re planning to visit, be sure to have a credit card to hand, or you’re not getting in.
As a brand new museum, this place has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve. You can play all sorts of games, like recording new vocals for an Abba song, or appearing in one of their videos – then when you get home, put a code into your computer, and it’s all up there for you to cringe at later. Plus, it has the most incredible collection of memorabilia, every single costume, instrument, gold disc, you could ever hope to see.
But let’s cut to the chase, because the main reason we were in town was for the final of Melodifestivalen 2014. This is Sweden’s song contest – every year, songwriters and singers compete to be crowned the nation’s best, with the winner going on to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest. (I’m going to be posting again about Eurovision in the run-up to the show in May, don’t worry – suffice to say it’s gonna be fun)
But the show was eventually won by Sanna Nielsen, with a song called ‘Undo’, about getting over a wrong ‘un. We look forward to seeing her compete in Copenhagen in May.
We were pretty overexcited by this point, so we got our ears to the ground and headed for the after-party. You do not want to know how much it cost to get into this club. Sweden is expensive, you guys. But! Excitement! Because on the bill after midnight are a number of Melodifestivalen artists, performing ‘live’! Listen to this, but imagine you’re in a sweaty Swedish nightclub and your feet are stuck to the floor:
Never made it to the bedroom? Hahahaha. What a guy! This guy should have won.
The next day’s a bit of a recovery day, obviously… I did also eat something called an Oreo Dream Cake, and I’m not sure I can talk to you about it yet. Words do not do it justice. We explored the food markets, we explored the cool districts, we narrowly avoided having a bird poop on our heads. But come on, look at this sunset.
If it’s weird to travel to a city to sing and dance a lot, then I don’t want to be normal. Stockholm, it was a pleasure.