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Modern-day Vikings pillage streets of Stockholm

Lydia Parafianowicz · 19 May 2009, 11:28

Published: 19 May 2009 11:28 GMT+02:00

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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.

Story continues below…

“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!”


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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Lydia Parafianowicz (lydia.parafianowicz@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:32 June 7, 2009 by Nikki Lindqvist
I don't think they're ready for prime time just yet. I read about it here and thought it sounded perfect for American visitors coming to stay with us this past week. So I tried making a reservation which didn't work out so I emailed but never heard anything back so I called and talked to someone who promised someone would respond to my email... in the end never knowing for SURE if I had a reservation on tap or not. So we showed up at the appointed time anyway... just in case... but never saw anyone dressed up like a Viking or whatever.

I was left with a bad feeling in my mouth. Like maybe I was dealing with people who were doing this for fun; NOT for business. Rather unprofessional all the way around. Sorry to say. I still think it's a good idea, but only if they can get their act together.
10:01 June 11, 2009 by Gallivant Productions
Hi Nikki,

I personally searched all of our email address' for your email but couldn't find anything from you. I regret we had no way of contacting after your call as we didn't take your number!

Obviously we'd love to have you come on tour so you can see, like the hundreds of others that have been on tour this summer, how professional we are.

Our Vikings have been braving the cold and rain these past few weeks and it's terrible that you could not find us! I'm not there everyday so I'd like to know the date and time you came for the tour so I can investigate what happened.

Many people book and pay online via PayPal, particually from the US, so we need to sort out what happened with your payment too.

Could you contact me directly so we can resolve this bad taste and get to the bottom of what went wrong... and hopefully change your mind about us?

Kind Regards,

Ellissa Nagle

Company Director

Gallivant Productions

22:29 June 12, 2009 by euggen
so what's the reason for making themselves clowns when everybody knows the Vikings hadn't worn these silly helmets with horns?!
12:12 June 15, 2009 by Nikki Lindqvist
After an email exchange with Gallivant Productions personnel, it was just the 'perfect storm' of unfortunate occurrences that led to my problems in getting my reservation through for a tour of Gamla Stan. I now believe that they are absolutely working in good faith and I would not hesitate whatsoever in choosing them in the future. Their daily tours are given, from Stortorget, at 1000, 1130, 1300, and 1430.
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