Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Riding to the top of the Globe

STOCKHOLM. It’s an extremely steep climb, and perhaps not suited for the faint-hearted. On Friday doors will open for what tourism officials hope will be a world-class attraction in Stockholm.
A new ride on the outside walls of the Ericsson Globe, the 14,000-seat sports and entertainment arena that is the world’s largest spherical building, will take you to the top of the world for a spectacular view of the Swedish capital.
I joined a media preview of what's called SkyView today and experienced the thrill of the slow climb up the walls of the Globe (as the arena is commonly known).
SkyView consists of two glass gondolas on parallel rails that climb to the top of the building, 130 metres above sea level. Each gondola carries 16 people and the round trip takes 16 minutes. During the short stop on the top, you have a spectacular view of Stockholm.
Going “downhill” might be the toughest part for anyone with fear of heights.
But it’s a smooth ride, that in many ways reminds you of the glass gondolas of the London Eye.
Globe Arena management hopes SkyView will become an attraction and landmark on par with the London Eye or the Eiffel Tower. That might be stretching it a bit, but SkyView will surely be added to Stockholm’s must-do list for visitors.
The real feat might have been to attach the 70 tons of rail to the walls of the Globe. Builders had to use the help of mountain climbers to get the rails in place.
Visitors will first see a short film telling the story behind SkyView and the Globe Arena, a piece of architecture that is an attraction in itself.
Opened in 1989, after just two and half years of complicated construction, the Globe has hosted numerous sports championships, concerts with world-class entertainers and even a mass by Pope John Paul II.
It’s a regular home for ice hockey in Stockholm. In October of last year, the Globe hosted the NHL season opener featuring the Detroit Red Wings and the St Louis Blues.
The ride to the top and back will cost you 120 Swedish Crowns (11.50 Euros or 16 US dollars).
You can rent a gondola of your own for a wedding on top of the Globe, if you like. It’ll cost 29,950 Swedish Crowns (2,850 Euro, 4,000 US dollars) for an hour, including flowers, decorations and champagne.
But you can only invite 14 guests, including the priest.

Mountain climbers had to help mount the rails for SkyView.

Climbing uphill towards the top is not as bad as...

...going downhill the steep slope. But it's a smooth ride.

Shooting the view of Stockholm from the top of the Globe.

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