Monday, July 4, 2011

Stockholm I Think I Love you Part 2: Vikings!

We needed to get out of the city and escape the heat, so I planned a trip by boat into Lake Malaran to visit the Island of Bjorko. The site of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Birka, this island lies about 1hr and 45 minutes from Stockholm by boat, and was, in the 700s, a trading hub, and centre of Viking life.

Today, there is an excellent little museum, thousands of Viking burial mounds, recreated homes and some beautiful views.

The trip itself was great – this is Swedish Cottage Country and we passed some lovely spots, including this one with the best ever home-made water slide – it looked like someone had taken a bunch of your basic silver playground slides and welded them together.

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When we arrived, we went for a look around at the museum. They had lots of neat things found at Birka but the best part was a model of the original town of which, unfortunately, there is nothing remaining as it was built entirely out of wood and has completely disappeared. Guess I’ll just have to take their word for it!

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I was especially interested to see that there were zombies at Birka. This may explain why the place suddenly ceased to exist in 975 AD.

We then had a great lunch in the cafe. Of course, we had Swedish Meatballs:


Those are lingonberries.

It was then time for our tour which was given by a qualified archeologist who really knew her stuff.


She started by quashing many of the long standing myths around Vikings, including the one that they wore horned helmets! Can you believe it? WTF? What about all those helmets for sale in the gift shops in Stockholm? Shouldn’t someone tell the tourist trade? Then, to make matters worse, she told us that by no means did they put their dead in those Viking boats, set fire to the boats and send them out to sea! They just cremated them and buried the urns. I was starting to feel a bit ripped off until she cheered us up by telling us that they were still mighty warriors with axes and clubs with spiked balls on the end etc. We felt slightly better.


The remains of a Viking Hill Fort


Viking burial mounds


A Standing Stone. Clearly. Aren’t you glad you have me to point out the obvious?

The views were lovely – this is a shot of the only farm on the island, which has approximately 10 full time residents.


You may have noticed from the pictures that the weather was very different than the day before. It hovered around 20 all day and was very grey and even chilly at times near the water.

We stayed inside on the way back and drank tea, and were soon back in Stockholm.


I was so tired that I swear I did not hear the bells at all. Well maybe once.

Thanks for reading -



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