Category Archives: Sweden

Mystery Cruises #AtoZChallenge


So, why would someone pay to go on a mystery cruise; get on a ship and head to ports unknown? Since I love to cruise, this sounded like an interesting opportunity to sail into, well, mystery! I’ve now done two of these cruises and both on the Braemar.  I really like this ship. It is a smaller one and feels like family. It is very easy to sail solo and meet lots of friends on this ship.

On the first cruise, we sort of knew where we were going. The passengers were given a choice and we voted for one port or another — but we did not know where we were going until we got there! Here are the ports we visited:

Porto, Malaga, Barcelona, Valencia, Cartegna, Cadiz, La Coruna

The second mystery cruise was truly a mystery — one that would include only maiden ports (ports where our ship had never visited). It was very strange not to be able to plan or research the ports we were going to, nor to be able to know exactly what to pack — for warm or cold! The cruise was early May, so it was hard to plan for everything. It started in Dover and we waited to see if we would turn to go north … or south (or if we could even trust that, in the night, the ship would change directions!). As it turned out, we continued North and thus we began a cruise that went to Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.


The ports included:

Larvik, Hundested, Nyborg, Fredercia, Wismar, Lyskil

Would I go on another one? It would be hard to keep me away!



Ingrid’s Summer Home #AtoZChallenge

The fishing village of Fjällbacka is famous for two people who lived in this otherwise sleepy fishing village — and you will not be able to miss them! First, it is the home of Camilla Läckberg, an author of crime novels. You can buy her books everywhere in the town. She is known for featuring the town and some of its inhabitants in her books.

But that doesn’t,  really fit for today’s letter, which is I. That brings me to the other famous person who called Fjällbacka her home: actress Ingrid Bergman. Her summer home is located on a island just off the coast. Unfortunately, you cannot see the house because it is on the opposite side of the island. But everywhere else in the village, you will see signs of her. It is said that she enjoyed the peace of the town and being able to live quietly. There is a little garden dedicated to her near the port.

During my visit, we had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant she frequented, Bryggan. It was a delicious meal,  with fresh, local fish and topped by the best coffee I had on the entire mystery cruise. Someone watching me drink is said it looked like I was having a religious experience — yes, it was that good!

This would be a lovely place to spend a few months in summer — peaceful and beautiful.  I can see why Ingrid Bergman choose this place to be her second home.

Carvings #AtoZChallenge


When the area you live is filled with large rocks, when not decorate them with stone carvings?  In Tanum, Sweden, is the Vitlycke Museum, a centre dedicated to bronze-age rock carvings. These carvings are very detailed and show many cultural aspects of life during that time. The images include people, animals, boats and other tools.

Some of the carvings have been painted red, to make it easier to see them and to protect them from the elements.

Some of these carvings have not been painted.


Lysekil, Sweden

It is our last port of call for the Braemar Mystery Cruise to Maiden Ports. In the early morning, we sailed past large, granite rocks to dock at the town of Lysekil, Sweden. as we docked, ABBA was playing from the tourist information area, just to verify that yes, we were in Sweden. I had arranged another tour for this area, so while we did drive through part of this beautiful town, most of my day was seeing other things.

Our first stop was to the fishing village of Smögen where we learned that many of the local churches were designed by the same person and built with the local granite stone.


From there, we went to Vitlycke Museum to see the Bronze Age stone carvings.  The museum is set in a beautiful park-like setting and the stone carvings were really interesting, especially considering how hard the stone is to carve and the type of tools they had to work with in the Bronze Age. We had a guide give us detailed information about a couple of the stones. In the pictures, you will see that the images are painted red.  This is not how they were originally, it is just to help us see the images better. There is also a nice museum, gift shop and restaurant there.

Our next stop was the fishing village of Fjällbacka. It is very picturesque and is famous for two people. Camilla Läckberg, an author of crime novels, and actress Ingrid Bergman who had a summer home there. It is said that she enjoyed the peace of the town and being able to live quietly. We had a wonderful lunch, with fresh, local fish and topped by the best coffee I had on the entire cruise!

When we returned to the ship, we had to go through a passport inspection — and it was really nice to  be able to actually talk and have pleasant conversations with immigration officials!

We sailed away to more ABBA music — and everyone on shore dancing (even some of the immigration officials!)


It was a wonderful the end to a perfect day — and a perfect cruise on the Braemar.


Maiden Call Mystery Cruise on the Braemar


From May 5 to May 14, the Fred. Olsen Braemar was my home as I and my fellow passengers and the ship’s crew embarked on a mystery cruise to maiden ports — places that the Braemar had never been to before this cruise! Our starting port was Dover, but once we left, only the captain knew where we were headed (at least we hoped he knew where we were going!)

It was a mystery!

But now that it is over, sadly, I can share the wonderful places we visited! Here is the overview of where we went and how we got there.

May 5th
We left Dover around 4:30 under clear skies and sailed 176 miles. We all made note that the ship turned north as we headed out (although that did not mean much as the captain could have easily turned us around in the middle of the night). But we were confident that we were not heading to Spain this time.

May 6th
This was a sea day with partly cloudy skies. We sailed a distance of 285 miles and I did a load of washing since some of my clothes were a bit smokey from camping for a few days before getting on the ship (and yes, I will write about that adventure, too!). At night, it was our first formal night and the Captain told us all he would about the cruise and places we were going by saying, that only two people know where we are going, me and the Head Chef. And all I will say is this … it`s a mystery!

May 7th
We arrive at our first mystery port. I am up early to watch us pull into port and to guess where we were. I saw a Norwegian flag, so I had the country — but no sign of where. The Captain finally announce that we were in Larvik, Norway! This would be my first time in Norway and it was a beautiful start to the day with clear skies and a light breeze. Distance sailed: 295 miles.

May 8th
Watching us sail into our second port was overwhelming because it seemed that everyone who lived in the town we were going was out to greet us! They had lined the port and vessels of all kinds were sailing along side us, including a Viking ship! And this was all before 8 AM on a Sunday! At dockside, there was a Viking group doing battle and providing a honour guard for us as we departed the ship. Welcome to Hundested, Denmark! This was the warmest welcome I`ve ever had while sailing and I will never forget it. All Hail! Distance sailed: 200 miles.

May 9th
Watching us pull into port, I was confused at first because I thought I saw a Swedish flag, however we were back in Denmark — this time is was Nyborg, Denmark. This is a beautiful town and, while we were docked in an industrial area, a shuttle bus took us to the town centre close to the Nyborg Castle and other sites. The people were friendly and helpful in showing us places to go and things to do. It was another beautiful day! Distance sailed: 100 miles.

May 10th
Sailing into our next port was very interesting, as we seemed to have a very narrow channel to navigate, marked by bouys. Once near the town, the ship was turned around and slide into a narrow docking space. We were docked very close to the centre of Wismar, GermanyIt was an easy walk into the town that has an interesting collection of architectural styles. It is also a quick drive to Rostock, another German town along the coast. Again, it was easy to get information and people were so welcoming and willing to help. as for our send off — we had a men`s choir singing Germany shanty songs and a group of men wearing uniforms from different periods who, with the addition of a small cannon, gave us a gun salute as we left! Distance sailed: 109 miles.

May 11th
We really had no clue where we would be next, of course. All through the cruise, there were people playing various guessing games and a lot of us checking the atlas in the library (which went missing one night). I finally figured out that I could at least find out the country by checking what flag we were flying. But that is as good as it got for my guessing game. Where do we sail this day? We were back in Denmark in Fredericia. Our welcome this time was a marching band! There were also bikes we could rent and a tourist train that would take us the short distance from the port to the town centre.  A short drive from the town is a Viking site, Kongernes Jelling. Distance sailed: 163 miles.

May 12th
Sailing into our final mystery port was interesting. It did not look like there was anything there except very large rocks — granite is important to this area, as we would soon learn. The biggest clue as to where we were was the ABBA music playing at we docked.  We were in Lysekil, Sweden. This area is dotted with small fishing villages, beautiful scenery and Bronze Age rock carvings. There are seals close to the harbour as well. The weather was again perfect — as it had been the whole trip. As we left the port, we had to check in with immigration and verify our passports. It was nice to have such friendly immigration officials to talk to (and even joke around with). As we sailed out of port both tourist guides and immigration officials were all dancing to ABBA. Distance sailed: 214 miles

May 13th
The mystery was over and it was time to sail back to Dover — our final port. It was a great trip and I would do this again! Distance sailed: 329 miles.

I love sailing on the Braemar! Everyone is friendly — from crew to the passengers. There are great places to sit and relax throughout the ship, which is one of the things I really enjoy.




V is for the Vasa Museum


The Vasa Museum is one of Stockholm’s best museums. It is a specially designed building that houses one thing — a 17th century ship known as the Vasa. It was a meant to be one of the finest sailing ships of its time. Yet, twenty minutes into its maiden voyage, it sank. In 1956, it was found and, because of the cold water, it was mostly intact. The ship was salvaged and eventually found a new home in a specially constructed building designed to protect the sensitive nature of the wooden ship.

And of course, I loved it! Let’s face it, I love ships of all kinds and this one is truly remarkable in the details and its beauty. Here are some of my photos of this amazing ship.

The Vasa Museum is truly one of the highlights on a trip to Stockholm.

S is for Stables


Stables? That sounds like a strange topic for a travel blog, but I love horses. So this post is really about horses. First stop, Stockholm, Sweden where I just happened to be at the Royal Palace during the Changing of the Guard — complete with a band!

Stockhom, Sweden
Changing of the Guard, Stockholm, Sweden

Next, we go to Copenhagen . This time, I was on a mission to visit the Royal Stables. I got there early and watched a bit of a training session. Then, because they were officially “closed” that day, a caretaker let me in to see the stables and collection of of carriages — on my own!

There, there are the Royal Mews in London, England.

One last one, because I do love Cuba!


Day 8 Stockholm

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.

Sailing into Stockholm
Sailing into Stockholm

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.

Aft of the Vasa Warship
Aft of the Vasa Warship

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.

Gamla Stan from the Sea
Gamla Stan from the Sea

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.

Swedish Guards Mounted Drummer
Swedish Guards Mounted Drummer

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.