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Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunburned in Stockholm

I have found the city where I must have lived in another life. Stockholm is magnificent. The Venice of the north, the city is spread across fourteen islands. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I awoke at around 5:30 this morning. It is hard to tell how much sleep you are getting because the time changes back and forth almost every night. But, I was wide-awake early and stepped out onto our veranda as we were winding our way through the hundreds of little islands in the archipelago on our way into Stockholm. Sometimes the ship was heading north, sometimes west. We were traveling very slowly as the channel is quite narrow. There were people standing on the shore or in kayaks, all waving to the ship. There were pairs of swans swimming along the shore. And the cottages and homes were pristine in the early light. I stood and photographed the shore for well over an hour. The strangest thing is I found that the shore line looked EXACTLY like the Thousand Island region in Ontario. Who knew? As we sailed into Stockholm, the ship did a complete 180-degree turn in the harbor so that as we docked we are now facing out of the city. FINALLY Linda awoke, and joined me just as the ship was finishing her spin.

We left the ship and decided on purchasing a water taxi ticket to get us around the city. The city is very manageable. We taxied to the first stop and found ourselves in the old part of the city. It is filled with 16th century houses, cobblestone streets and tiny alleys that are closed to traffic. We walked up one such alley and came face to face with a statue of St Goran slaying a dragon. Around the next corner and we were at the Royal Palace built between 1697 and 1754. We took a few photos of the changing of the guard and the exterior of the Palace.

Next we walked down a lovely tree lined boulevard and crossed to the island of Djurgarden to look for the Vasamuseet. This is a wonderful museum that is built around the salvaged ship Vasa. The royal warship Vasa was built in 1628. On her maiden voyage, she sailed 1600 feet before tipping over and sinking. Seems they miscalculated the amount of ballast needed to keep her afloat and had mounted the heaviest cannons on the upper deck, making her top-heavy. So, down she went where she remained for 300 years. Recovery efforts were begun in the 1960’s and she was finally raised in 1961. Because she sank in an upright position and the waters were only brackish, she remained almost totally intact. Once they raised her, they built the museum around her.

After leaving the Vasa, Linda waited while I trotted across the way to the children’s museum, Junibacken. One of their major exhibits is dedicated to Astrid Lindgren and Pippi Longstocking. I had to go to the gift shop to get a souvenir for Stephanie.

Next we hopped back on the water taxi and took it to Grona Lund, an amusement park and walking area. We walked about a bit trying to find Swedish pancakes with lingonberries for Linda. She has been so looking forward to them and can’t understand why they aren’t served everywhere as she somehow has convinced herself that they are the national dish of Sweden. She asked at the Vasa gift shop and the clerk seemed puzzled by an American who now speaks with a Russian accent asking for this famous Swedish national dish. Did I not mention that Linda now speaks with a very heavy Russian accent?

So, with swollen ankles and empty stomachs, we reboarded the water taxi for a short ride back to the ship. I adore Stockholm and look forward to returning someday with time to see much more. This is a city and a country that deserves much more than a few hours.

We retrace our route through the archipelago. I could live here.

1 comment:

Nan said...

I love Pippi Longstocking! Devoured the books as a kid. So glad you got to see the kid's museum.
...and your description of coming into the harbour - I've heard it said before it's quite similar to the Thousand Island channels. Small world, really, isn't it?

What a wonderful blog this is - I'm having such fun being an arm-chair traveller with you. :O)