Saturday, May 12, 2018

Stockholm, Sweden

Thursday, May 10- at 6:15am the sun shone brightly as we walked around the upper deck. We were in Sweden, making our way through the archipelago towards the port in Stockholm. I’d never been to Sweden but it felt like I was passing cottages in the Muskokas; the rock formations, the islands, the trees and the buildings were so familiar.

The ship docked at 8am. We quickly disembarked and paid 42 euros (about $67 Canadian) each for a one day hop on hop off bus. 

We paid this because we had such a short time (only 7 hours) in port that we didn’t want to waste time walking or searching for other transportation. 

Seven hours is far from enough time in the beautiful city of Stockholm; I could have easily spent three days there. I suspect dockage fees are by the hour and fairly high in Stockholm.

Stockholm is made up of many islands. The city was gorgeous. Our first stop was the Djurgarden Island on which many museums are located. After walking around parts of the park-like island, we visited the Vasa Museum. This museum houses the world’s only surviving 17th century ship; built 1626-1628. 

On August 10, 1628 the warship Vasa set sail from Stockholm harbour on her maiden voyage and promptly sunk. Apparently the ship was too narrow and top heavy and a gust of wind caused it to list, take on water through its cannon ports and it sank in minutes. It lay at the bottom of the harbour for 333 years. In 1961 the ship was salvaged and eventually reconstructed. It is 98% original. Most of the elaborate woodwork and carvings were recovered and the entire ship which is quite large is housed indoors. The museum is very well done with many interactive displays. It even had the recovered skeletons of the crew members on display with lifelike busts of their faces recreated. I could have easily spent much more time there.

We hopped on the bus and ended up going through various parts of Stockholm and the port area before heading into the Old Town. The architecture, streets, cafes, statues and shops of this medieval area were utterly charming.

We walked around the Royal Palace which was protected by uniformed guards. 

I wished to have more time exploring Drottninggatan (a gorgeous pedestrian street near that ends at the Parliament Building).

I fell in love with the Old Town’s central square (where I also found some internet). The sun beamed down, a street performer played haunting melodies by stroking the rims of different glasses as people sat in cafes and admired their surroundings.

Things are very expensive in Stockholm (as in a lot of Northern Europe). A glass of wine was $18 Canadian and up.

I noticed a sign for nightly ghost tours. 

After wandering around the streets of Old Town the time came to quickly head back to the ship. There was so much more I wanted to see, so much more to explore.

After supper we spent the evening in the solarium, reading books and watching as the ship navigated through the narrow passages of the archipelago. It felt strange to be on such a large ship watching trees, rocks and cottages passing by so close to us. 

The next day, Friday May 11, was a day at sea. The evening was our second formal night. I was hoping it would be lobster night (because every cruise I’ve been on has a lobster night)...but so far there have been no lobsters in sight. 

Throughout the trip we dodged the many enthusiastic ship photographers. They seem to pop up all over the place when you least expect them; when your going to supper, departing the ship, boarding the ship, playing pool, eating supper, having an intimate drink while watching the sunset. Fortunately nobody with a camera has jumped out of my shower...yet.

For the first time on this cruise I found myself becoming addicted to the music quizzes. Every night at 8pm I would show up at the Schooner Bar for a half hour quiz....twice on sea days. Today they had a quiz to name 42 countries identified by a number on a map. Everyone was impressed when Graham won with a perfect score. 

We ended the night with a name that hit party and then a really enjoyable violin show(he even played good renditions of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida and Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You.

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