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Global Series postcard: Stockholm senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke visits Viking Museum in Djurgarden

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Senior Director of Editorial

Viking history and Norse mythology have always intrigued me.

And, who was cooler than Thor, right?

As I got older, it was more history books, literature and the introduction to the music of Amon Amarth, a Swedish heavy metal band that details Viking life throughout each of its albums. Plus, who doesn't love the TV show Vikings on the History Channel.

So, when the opportunity arose to learn more about the Vikings, in one of their ancestral homes, I jumped at it, taking a 30-minute stroll from my hotel to Vikingaliv, the Viking Museum situated on the island of Djurgarden. The walk took me along the ocean, past the Royal Place, and the row of grand hotels before the bridge to Djurgarden.

The museum was small and tucked in a back corner of the island, which is home to several museums, including Vasa Museum and the Abba Museum, as well as an amusement park, unfortunately shuttered for the season. 

The two-floor museum laid out the history of Vikings in a cool way, mixing artifacts with text and detailing how they lived, what they ate, where they travelled and how they formed their societies. There were other exhibits on the Norse mythology that plays such a big part of Viking culture. There were recreations of various weapons, such as shields, battle dress and chain-mail armor, as well as a model of how a Viking home might appear. 

Downstairs, there was a 12-minute adventure ride depicting the journey of Harald through the Europe of that period on a harrowing search for silver. Due to a technical error, we got the Swedish-language telling of the story, but the scenes depicted through the ride allowed us to piece the story together and realize that Harald's mission was a success, netting him three buckets of silver coins and a celebratory feast at the end.

Leaving the museum, we took the ferry back to Old Town and watched much of the city's workforce make their commute home on bicycles. There were more bikes than cars, but there was no chaos. It was all orderly and the lines of stopped bikes, sometimes more than 20 long, waiting patiently at the red lights was stunning. You wouldn't see that in New York City!

Time to do a bit of writing before venturing back out for dinner. Amon Amarth's album, Twilight of the Thunder God, will provide the soundtrack for the story I need to write and the Vikingaliv has given me a new appreciation of the lyrics I will hear.

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