Singapore of Stockholm

In early June this year, I was in Stockholm for an afternoon to give a presentation at Fujifilm Nordic.

At some point during the proceedings, I had an hour to walk around Stockholm by myself. It was Sweden’s national day, so aside from a numerous wedding parties at City Hall, the waterfront was quiet.

I headed for the old city which couldn’t have been more than a kilometer or so away, guided by its distinctive outline of spires, so different from the angular urban skylines I’m used to. It was breathtaking from a distance. I’d never been to Stockholm before this, and I was taken aback by how gorgeous it is. Not only for its spires and old buildings (as a child of a young nation, I am irresistibly drawn to the weight of history in cities that have them), but also for its geography – an archipelago of floating hills in the blue reaches of the Baltic sea. Stockholm, on that still, overcast day, possessed a gravitas that shadows epic tales of nobility and magic.


I never made it to the old city though.

I was completely derailed by Singapore, down by my walking path along the river front.

The boat, that is:

This is an abject failure of a photo, but it’s the only one I have in which you can see the vessel’s name.

A plaque staked to the promenade had the vessel’s history:

“This ship was built in 1961 as a trawler in a shipyard in Norway. She served for 30 years fishing in the waters of Sweden and Norway. In 1992 she came to the harbour of Hudiksvall in the northern Baltic sea. There the vessel was registered for 88 passengers for excursions along the coast. She was also used as a floating restaurant and pub in the harbour. In 2000 the ship came to Stockholm and was registered as a member of the Stockholm Ship Association in 2001.”


I was quite amused to read of the number of identities Singapore has had in its short life. It isn’t too different from the nation state I assume she was named after, which found independence 4 years after she was first launched as a trawler. In this time too, the modern republic that is today’s Singapore was crafted from ceaseless, strategic change.

Intrigued by the short blurb on the sign, I hung around for a while, hoping that someone who knew why she was named Singapore would emerge from her depths.

It appeared the boat was unattended though, slumbering on that cool summer afternoon.

I walked on, leaving an unexpected familiar in the fairy tale.


  1. Fran Oldham says:

    At least the picture of the boat in the big notice enabled you to show a view of the whole vessel, which was a help. I like the little red hat on the wheelhouse!

    1. Charlene says:

      I liked the statue of the fisherman, above the bicycle. Maritime equivalent of the garden gnome? :)

  2. Håkan Lindgren says:

    Haha! I have been wondering what Stockholm would look like in your pictures if you ever came here (I live in Stockholm and suspect that everyone gets tired of his own city until he can’t see what it looks like anymore). I hope there will be more images some time.

    Also, for a long while I have wanted to tell you that I really appreciated this post: It was touching and remained in my head for days, unlike most gear related camera blogs. That’s why I come back to you and Flemming.

    1. Charlene says:

      That’s sadly all I have from Stockholm, Håkan. The intention that afternoon was simply to walk around and take it in, not really take any pictures. I snapped the few above off, because it was too good to resist, but I was only walking around for an hour.

      “suspect that everyone gets tired of his own city until he can’t see what it looks like anymore”

      Absolutely true. And it doesn’t take very long for the novelty to wear off either, for a repeat visitor (which is what is happening to me with Copenhagen). But not getting past the novelty of something also means we never get to delve deeper into it, and discover the delights and horrors of better understanding.

      I’d love to stay in Stockholm for a longer stint. Just gotta figure out how to do it on a slim gypsy budget!

      Re the walking post: thank you :) I’m trying to draw from the experience of being a voluntary vagabond to write better. Truthfully though, the life I’ve been living for the past 3 years, I’ve had no basis for understanding, so I’m still working through the confusion!

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