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Bobby Brown


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Member since 8 / 2012

A New Renaissance

Experience a classic…

There is no shortage of attractions on the island of Djurgarden, accessible via bus, tram or ferry. Relive the glittering ’70s at ABBA The Museum; tour five centuries’ worth of Swedish houses and farmsteads at Skansen, the world’s oldest 

open-air museum; or learn about life at sea at the Vasa Museet, the centerpiece of which is a grand Vasa ship that sank off the coast of Stockholm in 1628 but was recovered more than 300 years later. Wandering on foot through the cobblestoned alleys of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s medieval city center, is another timeless diversion: The area is home to the Royal Palace, Nobel Museum (devoted to winners of the Nobel Prize) and enough restaurants to feed you for a year.

Now go deeper…

Join the locals for a ritualistic sweat session in the sauna at Hellasgarden, located within the Nacka nature reserve about 20 minutes from downtown Stockholm. There are separate saunas for men and women, with mixed-gender sessions held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Note: You must be fully nude to enter; swimsuits are not permitted.) On Thursday evenings, the changing rooms, showers and patio are lit with candles -- the ultimate hygge indulgence. Because the sauna is perched on beautiful Lake Kalltorp, it’s common to see Swedes leaping off the floating dock for a quick cool-down session. (In winter, they climb through a hole drilled in the ice.) It’s best to pair your sauna session with an outdoor activity: The reserve has walking trails, canoeing, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

Less-active travelers should book it to Sodermalm, an arty bohemian neighborhood with a bounty of galleries, cafes, vintage boutiques and an excellent international photography museum (Fotografiska).

Hamburg

Experience a classic…

One of the biggest cultural draws in Germany’s second-largest city is the Kunstmeile, or Art Mile, a cluster of five major art institutions all within walking distance. Admire 700 years’ worth of European art, including old Dutch masters, at the grand Hamburger Kunsthalle, and then pop by Deichtorhallen Hamburg for a snapshot of Germany’s contemporary art and photography scenes.

Now go deeper…

With the major museums ticked off, spend the afternoon tooling around Hamburg’s cutting-edge gallery scene. Produzentengalerie, founded in 1973, is a local leader at international art fairs; the gallery represents avant-garde textile artist Ulla von Brandenburg and macabre oil painter Jonas Burgert, among others. At the art salon and studio Heliumcowboy, founder Jorg Heikhaus’ upends the traditional gallery model by hosting solo exhibitions accompanied by intimate artist talks and presentations. Another must-visit space is the Elbphilharmonie in HafenCity, opened in January 2017. The building’s 2,100-seat Grand Hall is an architectural marvel, treating listeners to the most precise acoustics in Europe.

Not so into art and music? How about beer? A traditional biergarten experience awaits at Blockbrau in Hamburg’s St. Paul district; jockey for a table on the rooftop for a panoramic view of the Elbe river. Or, for an entirely different look at Germany’s largest port, sign up for a rollicking speedboat tour with RIB Piraten or a slower, sweeter barge cruise on Maritime Circle Line.

Helsinki

Experience a classic…

The Finnish capital harbors architectural wonders, particularly for the church-going set. To wit: the stunning Uspenski Cathedral, the largest Eastern Orthodox house of worship in Western Europe; the neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral, a 19th-century landmark with a Greco-white facade and striking green dome; the Temppeliaukio Church, whose dramatic subterranean nave is carved into solid rock; and the nondenominational Kamppi Chapel of Silence, a minimalist space whose walls are fashioned from Nordic spruce.

Now go deeper…

Hit up the Museum of Finnish Architecture for a detailed look at the works of Eero Saarinen, Rainer Mahlamaki and other renown Finland-born architects. Afterward, take an hourlong guided tour of Alvar Aalto’s unique home in the Munkkiniemi area of Helsinki; hire a car to take you out to Haltia, a magnificent nature center in Espoo designed by Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects; or walk over to Amos Rex, the newest entrant to central Helsinki’s jam-packed museum district. The $50 million exhibition space was designed by JKMM Architects on a site used for the 1940 Summer Olympics; it does a remarkable job restoring, preserving and incorporating original design features, including a central clock tower.

As any design fan can tell you, Helsinki is also home to the Marimekko textile factory. Visit the brand’s revamped flagship in the Galleria Esplanad mall (where other boutiques showcase Finland's newly emerging fashion design) to shop for brightly printed napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases and other souvenirs in one of the brand’s signature floral patterns. Elsewhere in the Design District is Wild, a cafe in the back of the hip concept store World of TRE, where chef Jouni Toivanen experiments with Nordic ingredients like forest mushrooms, wild herbs, fish and reindeer heart. For a quickie snack, you can’t beat his spruce-spiced buns.

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