Finding Greta

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My friend and I had hoped that we would just "stumble across" Greta Garbo's grave at Stockholm's Skogskyrkogarden.

 

Given the status of the Swedish-born Hollywood star we assumed her grave would be easy to spot, or at the very least there would be a signpost every three metres pointing us in the right direction.

 

But it wasn't long after we arrived at Skogskyrkogarden that we realised our assumptions were wrong.

 

 

This way to a the forest / cemetery maze where we would spend the afternoon

 

Calling Skogskyrkogarden a cemetery is a little like calling Buckingham Palace a "dwelling".   It's huge.   So huge it has lots of subsections of forested graves worthy of being cemeteries in their own right.   So huge it had a shuttle bus with bus stops.

 

So how to find Greta?

 

While signage was limited, we found cemetery sections which matched the right period for when Greta died.

 

The expansive entrance to Skogskyrkogarden

However, after a good 20 minutes of doing random sweeps along rows of graves we realised we were trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

 

Somewhere in among the forest and cemetery was Greta

We thought we could possibly die there ourselves just trying to find the grave.   However, given it was a sunny autumn afternoon, and the calm and peaceful woodland setting, that might not be a bad thing.

 

A keen movie buff, my friend was determined to find Greta's grave.   Given the amount of time and energy we had devoted to the mission so far, I was also keen to track her down.

 

Many graves and many paths led to many dead ends

 

In life Garbo was famous for her elusive mystique and need for solitude.   It seems she had continued this trait after her death.  

 

So my friend risked a hefty mobile phone bill when he got home by using the internet on his Australian iPhone to see if we could find any more details on where Greta could be hiding.

 

The best we could find was a picture of her grave, but that was enough to give us renewed hope and enthusiasm for our mission.   We could tell the headstone looked relatively new and was red, which we hoped would stand her out from the crowd.  There were also some vague instructions about being in a particular section on the left of a path.

 

Lost in Skogskyrkogarden

The next hour passed slowly.  

 

My friend and I split up to "halve the work" as we scoured the rows of headstones.   We then lost each other and had to text each other to find each other again.  The search resumed.   We then started forgetting where we had looked and so retraced our steps.   We pounced hopefully on any grave with a red headstone (of which there were more than you would think).

 

When all seemed lost and we were about to give up, my friend wandered up some steps on a nearby mound (to the right of the path, not left as the internet had advised) and sure enough there she was.

 

Greta's grave was the only one on this raised area, which was surrounded by flower beds.   In hindsight it seems obvious that she would be here - separate, but still connected to the other graves and with areas for people to sit and contemplate.

 

It is not a flashy grave and the absence of any other inscription, such as the years she lived between 1905 and 1990, seem to imply that Greta Garbo was simply a Hollywood creation played by the real woman Greta Lovisa Gustafsson.

 

 

Greta's grave

 

It's a peaceful and beautiful setting with an elegant but simple headstone.  Perhaps a fitting location and grave for someone who is forever linked to the line "I want to be alone".

 

Greta's grave, and the Skogskyrkogarden itself, is a short distance from the heart of Stockholm.  If you go looking for it you're probably better off finding someone else other than us to guide you!

 

Matthew Hart

I'm a Brisbane-based professional who loves leaving Brisbane to travel the world and ski. When not travelling, I spend a lot of time thinking about travel and planning the next trip. Always ready to be inspired. Always ready to escape.

Website: www.somekindofblissblog.blogspot.com.au

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