Day 8 Stockholm
One of the nice things about cruising is that you get to see places from a different perspective. Sailing through the Swedish Archipelago is one such journey. It is made up of 24,000 islands, many with beautiful houses. Stockholm is created from 14 islands, so getting around by boat is a great way to see the city. In Stockholm, there are 250,000 registered private boats for people to not only cruise around the city, but to sail to their holiday homes on islands in the archipelago.
We were docked at the port farthest from the city centre. However there was a Tourist Information booth as we left the ship and signs that directed us to choices in travel. I chose the “hop on” boat. This boat will take you to various stops in the central area of Stockholm, but when a cruise ship docks, they do an “express” service until 10 AM from the ship’s pier to 2 stops only – the Vasa Museum and Gamla Stan (old town). For me, this was PERFECT! I wanted to get to the Vasa before the hordes of tours form the ship made their way to the museum. So, off I sailed to the Vasa!
What it the Vasa Museum? It is a specially built museum that houses the Vasa, a 17th century warship and sunk 20 minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628. Let’s just say that this beautiful ship was a bit top heavy! Because the Baltic Sea contains less salt than other salt-water seas and oceans, much of the wood was intact when teams salvaged the ship in 1961. There is a special air-lock system of doors that help to maintain proper atmosphere for maintaining the ship. It is large, and very impressive. I listened a bit to a talk about the ship where the guide pointed out the waterline of the ship, showing how much was “above” the waterline, thus making it so top heavy. There were amazing carved sculptures that lined the back of the ship as well as a golden lion for the masthead.
After my visit to the Vasa, it was time for me to wander the streets – one of my favourite things to do in a new city because you never know what you will find! First, it was back on the boat for a trip to Gamla Stan. This is the oldest part of Stockholm and where the Royal Palace is. The streets are cobbled and narrow with lots of shopping and cafes to draw your attention.
Mine, however, was on visiting the Palace and a few of the areas you can tour. I was really lucky to get to the parade area around 11:45 so I could find a place to watch the changing of the guard. What I did not know is that we were in for a treat. Only a couple times a month does this event also include a mounted band! Not only do I have pictures, I have lots of videos! I especially liked the mounted drummer’s horse which was much larger than the others – and had a bit of an attitude (or maybe the drumming just hurt the horse’s ears). We even got a bit of a concert from the mounted band.
I should have gone to the Town Hall to see the gold room that is used for the Nobel Prize banquet – but I really felt a lack of time to do everything I wanted. Our stay was very short so I will have to come back. Maybe I’ll set my plan for spending winters in Spain and summers in Sweden!
The hop on, hop off boat eventually got me back to the ship in plenty of time to take a nap and then take pictures of sailing past the islands again.
We also had our second Formal night on the cruise. Call me crazy, but I really like the formal nights. Everyone seems to have so much “more” excitement. I, of course, checked in first at the Martini Bar for pre-dinner drink and interesting conversations. Then headed in for dinner – this time I had Steak Tartar, Lobster Bisque Soup and Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce. Dessert was a Chocolate Bombe. Usually, if it’s chocolate, it’s gotta be good, right? Well, I love dark chocolate and this was a mixture of milk and white. Such a dilemma, eh?
So remember the dragon from the Backstage tour from Day 7? Well, tonight’s performance was a Celebrity production show called the Land of Make Believe and the dragon had a prominent role in this. The show was really good and I loved the costumes, especially the hats at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.