Young and sweet, only 17

A Dis­ney Cruise stop in Stock­holm al­lows you to be a Danc­ing Queen and take shots at Icebar

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - DESTINATIONS - BY STEVE MACNAULL

My wife has joined the 1970s su­per-group ABBA.

She’s up on stage right now per­form­ing the smash hit Danc­ing Queen, come on, sin­ga­long (young and sweet, only 17) with Anni-Frid, Bjorn, Benny and Agenetha.

Mind you, her band­mates are holo­grams, the Danc­ing Queen mu­sic is from a karoke track and this is no packed con­cert hall, it’s the ABBA Mu­seum in Stock­holm, Swe­den, ABBA’s home­town.

Ar­riv­ing in Stock­holm via the Dis­ney Magic cruise ship, my wife is sin­gle-minded.

We have to race to the mu­seum to be there as soon as it opens.

In fact, we ar­rive 15 min­utes be­fore the 10 a.m. open­ing, but we are by no means first in line.

Ev­ery other tourist seems to have the same idea and there’s a snaking line up.

So be­fore we even get to buy our $25 tick­ets to gain en­try we hear a good chunk of the ABBA cat­a­logue blared from loud­speak­ers, from the most-fa­mous Danc­ing Queen, Mamma Mia and Waterloo to Know­ing Me Know­ing You, Money Money Money and SOS.

Tech­ni­cally, this is the Swedish Mu­sic Hall of Fame, but the large ABBA com­po­nent was added in 2013 and ev­ery­one is here to paid hom­mage to fa­mous quar­tet.

Thus, the other artists, can you name another Swedish mu­si­cian any­way?, are largely ig­nored by the crowds.

For ABBA afi­ciona­dos, like my wife, the grat­i­fi­ca­tion is im­me­di­ate.

There’s a gaudy line up of the stage cos­tumes and plat­form boots that could only be from the band’s 1970s hey­day.

There are walls of plat­inum records, a recre­ation of ABBA’s record­ing stu­dio, reams of photos and band tid­bits, a cou­ple of dance rooms and the afore­men­tioned con­cert mock up where my wife and a string of other zealots take to the stage for a mo­ment of nos­tal­gic glory.

It’s a morn­ing of kitsch be­fit­ting the hottest pop band of the 1970s and one of Swe­den’s great­est ex­ports to the world, right up there with IKEA, H&M and Volvo.

While my wife is a ra­bid fan, I con­sider my­self a lapsed fan and our 12-year-old daugh­ther, who’s been dragged along, wa­vers be­tween lack of in­ter­est and dis­gust.

But that’s the stay­ing power of ABBA.

Even if you never bought one of their records or claim to not to like the mu­sic, ABBA hits have stood the test of time.

Af­ter all, ev­ery­one knows the cho­rus to Danc­ing Queen and Mamma Mia (here we go again, Mamma Mia, how can I re­sist you).

So I guess I can ei­ther be proud to say, or ashamed to say, I still re­mem­ber as a tween in 1976 ex­cit­edly buy­ing ABBA’s Ar­rival al­bum, the one with the pic­ture of the band land­ing in a he­li­copter.

ABBA’s mu­sic has only gained mo­men­tum since the band broke up in 1982 with the smash Mamma Mia mu­si­cal open­ing in 1999 and still play­ing world­wide and the block­buster movie of the same name hit­ting screens in 2008.

We de­cided to keep all our ac­tiv­i­ties in the Swedish cap­i­tal firmly en­trenched in pop cul­ture.

So, it’s off to Icebar at the Nordic C Ho­tel.

As its name in­di­cates, the bar is com­pletely made of ice and kept at at frigid -7C year-round.

Out­fit­ted in capes with hoods and gloves, we en­ter the chilly en­v­i­ron and or­der the sig­na­ture Wolf Paw cock­tail of lin­gon berry juice and vodka in a glass made, of course, of ice.

All pa­trons talk about is how cool, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, this place is.

We do fit in a bit of his­toric cul­ture with a quick whip around Old Town to ad­mire the Royal Palace and have a Nordic beer in the square where the No­bel Prize Mu­seum is.

When po­lice clear the square for a mo­tor­cade of black BMWs we spec­u­late it’s for Swe­den’s King Gus­tav.

We later learn it was for the vis­it­ing pres­i­dent of Tan­za­nia.

And we’ve thus come full cir­cle, be­cause ABBA first per­formed Danc­ing Queen on June 18, 1976 to hon­our the fu­ture Queen Sil­via, who would marry Gus­tav the next day.

Dis­ney Cruise line has re­turned to the Baltic af­ter a fiveyear ab­sence and we’re happy it has.

Be­sides the stop in Stock­holm the ship also glides into Tallinn, Es­to­nia for Old Town wan­der­ings, St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia for a canal boat ride and Helsinki, Fin­land for a vist to a rein­deer park.

We also en­joy all the re­cently ren­o­vated 2,700-pas­sen­ger, 884foot-long, 11-deck boat has to of­fer.

My daugh­ter and I re­peat­edly ride the new AquaDunk wa­ter­slide and take in the movie-inspired Frozen song-and-dance show on deck 10.

We dine in the three themed restau­rants and play end­less games of shuf­fle­board on deck four.

While my wife and daugh­ter get match­ing mani-pedis at the spa, I lounge on the bal­cony of our state­room and sim­ply watch the ocean go by.

Check out Dis­n­ey­Cruise.com.

PHOTOS BY STEVE MACNAULL

Daugh­ter and mother, Grace and Kerry MacNaull, toast the cold at Icebar in Stock­holm.

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