Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Happy New Year 2016!

As last year, I'm a few days late, but: Happy New Year 2016, everyone! :o)

As you might remember, we spent New Year's Eve 2014 / 2015 on Viking Line's cruiseferry "Viking Grace" somewhere on the Baltic Sea between Åbo (Turku) / Finland and Stockholm / Sweden. We decided to spend New Year's Eve 2014 / 2015 on a cruise since we couldn't find any interesting gig or other event taking place somewhere else that night, and in the end, it turned out to be the absolute perfect choice with lots of fun, food, stunning landscapes and live music.

As for New Year's Eve 2015 / 2016, we came across the New Year show of the Stockholm-based glam rock band Trench Dogs no sooner it turned out that we are going to leave Tromsø / Norway way earlier than expected... 


A Stockholm-based glam rock band performing in my beloved Stockholm at "Harry B. James": It sounded like the perfect New Year's Eve 2015 / 2016 - but it wasn't. But first things first... ;o)

First, there was the usual walk to the port of Åbo. Lovely as always...  

In Åbo, the official Christmas City of Finland, 
even every construction site has its own Christmas tree


The giant daisy flower sculpture 


On the boat, we enjoyed amongst others a part of our Christmas presents, namely chocolate from Sweden ("Marabou") and chocolate from Finland ("Fazer")... 



And no sooner had we arrived in Stockholm, there were hardly any pictures taken anymore. Well, first, we met up with our dear friend from Stockholm who picked us up with her car from the "Viking Line" terminal. We thought of going to a few other bars before finally heading to "Harry B. James" where the New Year show of Trench Dogs was going to take place around midnight.

Almost four years ago, I was once very briefly at "Harry B. James". The "6 years Crazy Nights" party was held there and the Crashdïet singer at that time, Simon Cruz (alias Zymon Xaint), was going to perform with his former band Føxey in honour of the occasion. But at exactly the same time, the huge official after-show party of Rammstein and Deathstars took place at "Slakthuset", amongst others with Dregen (The Hellacopters / Backyard Babies / Michael Monroe) and Deathstars' bass player Skinny Disco as two of the six star DJs. Both events were expected to be overcrowded very soon, so I left "Harry B. James" after only a few minutes in order to make sure that I will make it into "Slakthuset". A decision I have never regretted. There was also the thing that I was somehow anything but impressed by the venue overall. Back then, the venue "Bar Bäkkäri" with its vast nightclub "Green Room" in Finland's capital Helsinki used to be like my second living room, so compared to that, "Harry B. James" looked like an ordinary pub with lots of Rock'n'Roll memorabilia on its walls. But there were two other reasons why we thought of going to a few other bars before heading to "Harry B. James": On the one hand, we wanted to check out first and foremost the cocktail bar "Vampire Lounge" since we never managed to do so before, and on the other hand, it was my very first New Year's Eve in Stockholm, so I wanted to explore the spirit of New Year's Eve in the capital of Sweden and hence not sit on the same chair all night.

So, our first destination was the aforementioned cocktail bar "Vampire Lounge". We had checked its website and facebook profile beforehand and there was no information about its opening hours on New Year's Eve at all, so we assumed that the bar would be open as usual. Well, it wasn't. And moreover, there wasn't even a note about it on the door. Just nothing. Well, that was pretty strange and meagre in terms of customer-oriented communication. Then, our friend suggested to walk over to "Kelly's Bar". Different bar, same situation. Except for the fact that they had no information about their opening hours on New Year's Eve on their website and facebook profile either but at least a note on their door: "Stängt" [Swedish for: "Closed"]. 

By that time, we had already figured out that almost all clubs and bars in Stockholm are closed on New Year's Eve, also visible by the almost deserted streets in Sweden's capital. So much for "exploring the spirit of New Year's Eve in the capital of Sweden"... ;o) And so we headed to "Harry B. James". There, we immediately noticed the very nice staff, ordered some drinks and talked with each other - until the bar turned off most of the lights and pumped up the volume of the music increasingly. Pretty much all of a sudden. So then we just sat there and drank since it was absolutely impossible to have a conversation. And that's how we spent the two hours before Trench Dogs entered the stage to start their New Year show... 


If it wasn't for this show, we would have considered the New Year's Eve in Stockholm as a flop, but at least Trench Dogs met our expectations [The corresponding LIVE review will be published soon]. During the gig, I even bumped into a former fellow student of mine. Well, on the other hand, I expected to see more familiar faces that night...

After the show, things at "Harry B. James" continued as before the show: Too loud to have any conversations. I'm not sure if one can even call it "background music" anymore. However, "Harry B. James" was kind enough to not finish the party before 3 o'clock. And unlike in February 2012, I managed to take a picture of the Hanoi Rocks record in the ladies' room this time...


It's probably not a big surprise that the funniest conversations happened outside "Harry B. James", e.g. when we walked under this beautiful Christmas lights (which are usually switched on, but apparently not on New Year's Eve)...


Me: "Oh, those are pretty Christmas trees!"

Our friend from Stockholm: "I think those are pine cones, but, yeah, it would have been very artistic to have some upside-down Christmas trees hanging here, indeed."



And shortly after, it was time to say goodbye to our friend and to Stockholm... 


... and to enjoy breakfast at the "Aurora Buffet Restaurant" on Viking Line's cruiseferry "Viking Grace"... 


This is the part where things started to become fun again. I got a New Year present from the "Victoria's Secret Shop"... 


… we got to see the new 20 SEK banknote with Astrid Lindgren (and Pippi Långstrump) on it... 



... and we got to see more Christmas decoration, both on the boat... 


... and on "Föri", the city ferry in Åbo... 


So, the overall evaluation: While in Åbo and on the boat, everything was either lovely or fun, while the entire time spent in Stockholm was pretty dull and overall rather disappointing (except for the company of our dear friend and Trench Dogs' performance, of course). In fact, this was the very first time in six years that I was disappointed by Stockholm (which is still a pretty good result for a city, isn't it?). Given that Stockholm is not only the capital of Sweden but also called the capital of Scandinavia, if not even the capital of the Nordic countries, it was really strange to see how dead the city is on New Year's Eve. Denmark's capital Copenhagen is way more lively on New Year's Eve and so is Finland's capital Helsinki. And the ear-deafening "background music" at "Harry B. James"? Well, we might prefer to party at other venues in Stockholm in the future. As simple as that. So, if this post sounds dramatic for some reason: Don't worry, we are all fine, and looking retrospectively at our New Year's Eve in Stockholm, we can meanwhile even laugh about it. Nevertheless, I wouldn't recommend anyone to travel to Stockholm for New Year's Eve, unless the goal is to celebrate the turn of the year at the open-air museum "Skansen" (which is simply not our kind of event). As said, a New Year trip to Copenhagen or Helsinki might pay off much more if celebrating within the Nordic countries is the goal.

Now, I can check "New Year's Eve in Stockholm" off my list, and the biggest fun was provided by "Viking Line", both last year and this year. And maybe next year, too? ;o) 

Rock'n'Roll! 
Stefanie 


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