Of Ships and Halls

When will I learn to read more about a destination before I get there rather than once I do.  I set off, with some effort I might add, to Stockholm’s Vasa Museum. It is dedicated to a sunken ship that went down on its way out of Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage.  All aboard perished.  Now I love Viking lore and was excited to see one of their ships in such impeccable condition.  Well, I just assumed it was Viking.  Turns out the ship is actually from the 1720s and nary a Viking were in sight by that time. Regardless, it was still interesting and the museum did a wonderful job at exhibiting the ship and explaining what sea life was like during that period in Sweden.


The Vasa sank in 1723

From the Vast museum I went to park/museum that was supposed to depict what life was like at various points throughout Sweden’s history.  A few of the exhibits, mostly original buildings, were interesting. Especially the ones that were actually functioning in their original purpose staffed by docents in period clothing. I especially liked the bakery from the 1700s and the machine shop from 1920.  However the rest was completely inundated by children….all around the age of five.


By far my favorite part of The Skansen Museum was watching the kids on the bumper cars.


There’s no doubt in my mind that these two are related.

The second biggest highlight of the Skansen was the Nordic animals where I saw my first reindeer.  It wasn’t until a couple days later that I actually got to taste one.



Stockholm City Hall

Government buildings are often interesting to visit. They are often a symbol of national pride and showcase amazing architecture.  In most cases these are national buildings but in Stockholm the city hall building fits the bill just fine.  We met up with the mayor of West Hollywood (who happened to be visiting at the same time) and took a tour of this grand building.


The interior of Stockholm city hall.  This is the room where the banquet is held for the Nobel laureates.



I thought the location was special enough to leave some of Ray’s ashes here.  I know he would have loved the place and setting and since I was in the company of two of his colleagues it just felt right.


Another eternal resting place for Ray

Stockholm to Helsinki 

If one drives or takes a train, Helsinki is just about half way around the world.  However it is just 250 miles by ship. So we took an overnight ferry to our next destination.  Sort of like a cheap way of taking a cruise. It was really fun, and the rooms exceeded my expectations.  But the most memorable part will be the gorgeous 10pm sunset from the deck of the ship.











What I’m ABBA To Tell You

The sun rose this morning at 4:18am and will set tonight at 9:32pm.  We’re in Sweden, Stockholm to be exact.  Abba is BIG here still and I’m yet to see an Ikea. But I’ve only had one full day so I suppose there is still time.


Gamla Stan is the oldest section of Stockholm

After a leisurely breakfast Joan and I met up with a walking tour of the main part of the city.  I like doing these on the first day at a new destination as it gives you a feel for what’s important, you’re left with a list of places you want to return to, and you get a good dose of history and inside information you would not have otherwise gotten.  Our guide for this tour was pretty good.  I especially liked that his voice projected so that I could hear him and his humor was actually funny.  They can sometimes be really cheesy when they crack a joke.


The Swedish Royal Opera House (right)

The tour took about two hours then we took a ferry back to the old part of the city which is on an island.  But that’s not unusual here as Stockholm is made up of 57 islands . I enjoyed just wandering around the narrow streets and looking at the amazing old architeccture. It’s high summer and that means every European is on holiday.  I’m starting to think that perhaps most of them chose Sweden this year.  There are a LOT of people about.  It makes for good people watching, but it’s not quite as zen-like as it would be in, say, January when the day is only 71 minutes long.


Even with all the people you can still find quite corners.

We had a great lunch at the Hairy Pig Deli.  A silly name for a place that served the best potato salad and grill provolone I’ve had in a while.  Oh, and the panacotta was simply sublime.


Lunch at the Hairy Pig Deli

Tomorrow, Thor and Odin willing, I will indulge my interest in Viking history and mythology.