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Modern-day Vikings pillage streets of Stockholm

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Modern-day Vikings pillage streets of Stockholm
11:28 CEST+02:00
With picturesque cobblestone streets, cozy cafes and an abundance of history, Gamla Stan island is, with good reason, one of Stockholm's main tourist attractions.

But the typically quiet streets are being stormed by a new group in town: Gallivant Productions' fresh take on tourism has Viking characters guiding foreigners on a pillaging expedition through the Old Town.

“Projecting fun and unpredictability into the streets of Stockholm is our goal,” says one of three company founders, Ellissa Nagle. Having opened for business last month, their tour gives clients an hour-long adventure through the island's hot spots that combines facts, fun, history and laughter.

“For the last few years, we all worked for a tourism company that dealt with cruise ships,” says Nagle, explaining how she met the other business owners, Jo Sheasby and Natalie O'Sullivan. “Starting Gallivant Productions was something we threw around as a possibility for a while. We could see there was an opportunity in doing dramatized tours.”

But despite positive preliminary reviews, their mission to create the company hasn't been an easy journey.

“It's amazing how little information is provided in English if you want to be able to start up a company here,” says O'Sullivan, who acted as a translator for the group as she is Swedish by origin. Nagle migrated from Australia and Sheasby from England, as both have Swedish partners.

“But even though it's taken more time, everyone has been really supportive in telling us what to do,” says O'Sullivan. “It's been a bit of a challenge, but it's worked out.”

For the three women, the past year has involved tax departments, collectors, proposals and research. To ensure historical accuracy, their script has been verified twice by an experienced Swedish guide. Tour participants can expect a mix of information on employment, statistics, taxes and stereotypes of Swedish culture. To top it off, the tour is led by an enthusiastic Viking guide, played by American actor Josh Lenn.

“It sometimes takes people a while to get their head around it,” says Sheasby. “But once they've done that they are really supportive. We would like to provide something for visitors who are looking for something more fun and interactive than the traditional type of tours. […] Tourists have heard about Vikings for so many years and they come to Stockholm, see us in the old town and say, 'Oh my god the Vikings are here!' It's really exciting to see the different markets that are here.”

Though she is quick to add that they know Vikings didn't really wear their stereotypical horned hats.

“Swedes are really concerned that we know this,” she says with a laugh. “They are sometimes a bit reserved because it's new and different, but when they see that we are new and working with people they think it's interesting.”

This season, their tour is titled ‘Sweden: from the Ice Age to IKEA,” and it's packed with historical and quirky information. Participants visit Gamla Stan's hottest spots – the Royal Palace, Stortorget square and Sweden's national cathedral to name a few – plus learn some fun facts about Scandinavian culture and their contributions to the world; for example, an estimated 10 per cent of all Europeans were conceived on an IKEA mattress.

“The whole company is hoping to add to the atmosphere of the old town, and give people a cool experience,” says O'Sullivan, who describes the tour as a crash course in how to be Swedish.

“To be people that offer something that nobody else does is really cool,” adds Nagle. “People will always remember going on that walk with a crazy Viking in Stockholm!”

See also: PHOTO GALLERY

For the remainder of May, the company is offering The Local readers a two-for-one special, if pre-booked by e-mail through www.gallivantproductions.com. Afterwards, Viking hopefuls can also book online or drop-in for a tour. Children are welcome and encouraged, one child can tour for free with a paying adult. Tours are offered four times per day.

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