Vasa Museum and Nordiska Museum, Stockholm

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December 9th 2013
Published: December 10th 2013
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Breakfast with a view again this morning - it really is beautiful looking out through Elizabeth's Christmas angels over the snow-covered rooftops and the quaint little church on the hill nearby. It's just a shame that it has to be below zero to have snow!! At least it is not quiet as cold this morning - only minus two.

We chatted with our lovely hostess Elizabeth for a while and then returned to our apartment to finish packing and head off. Yay, our last time down the four flights of stairs. The stairs haven't been a problem although a bit more challenging this morning with our bags but, easier taking them back down than hauling them up the stairs two days ago!

We caught the bus to Kunsträdgården and then the train to T-Centralen thinking that it would be easy to get from there to Centralstation. I'm sure that the local rail network must link to the regional rail network via an underground concourse, but we couldn't find it. This was mainly because Bernie decided to be as directionally challenged as me and took us in the wrong direction entirely.

So, bags in tow, we eventually decided to go up to street level to try to get our bearings. We were standing on the footpath looking at the map when WHOOMP! some snow fell from the roof above us and smacked onto the footpath at our feet. Thank goodness it didn't actually hit either of us. That would have been snow down the neck for sure or a very nasty headache!! Bernie now admitted that he had led us on a bit of a wild goose chase so we re-traced our steps and, eventually, after resorting to asking a local, we found Centralstation.

We had already seen where the lockers were when we arrived on Saturday so, once we were in the station, it was easy to find the lockers to leave our bags while we went see a couple more things before our flight to Helsinki early this evening. Travelling more easily now that we weren't towing our bags behind us, we found the platform for the Arlanda (airport) Express and bought our tickets for our train trip to the airport later on. Back at street level we went to catch the tram to Djurgården ... right near the scene of the snow incident so Bernie photographed the roof of the building that was losing its snow in this morning's sunshine.

Our first museum this today was the Vasamuseet. The Vasamuseet was purpose built to house the unique preserved Royal Warship, Vasa, who sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The wreck lay in Stockholm harbour between 1628 and the early 1960s when she was raised. The mud and silt on the harbour bottom, together with healthy doses of effluent, created the perfect anaerobic environment to preserve her almost entirely intact!

Being a purpose built museum it showcases the Vasa very effectively. And she is AMAZING! When Bernie told me we were going to visit the recovered remains of a shipwreck I thought it was going to be a Viking ship. However, the Vasa was a galleon and she is HUGE. When you enter you are at a level corresponding with the waterline if the Vasa was actually afloat. From that level you can go down to explore her hull and then to the upper galleries to admire the quarter decks, the lion emblems on her gun ports and the carving on her stern. There were also lots of displays dedicated to the 30 people who went down with the ship, the salvage project and the ongoing efforts to preserve her for posterity.

She could be preserved for ever in a dark, oxygen-free environment but, of course, then no-one could see her. It is a real balancing act to maintain an environment that preserves the Vasa without being too unfriendly for tourists. So, why did the Vasa sink on her maiden voyage? It seems it was a design problem and she had too much sail and not enough ballast. A gust of summer wind caught her broadside and she listed over. Her gun ports were open because the King wanted a cannon salute to mark her launching, so water poured into her open gun ports and down she went into Stockholm harbour for three centuries.

After a quick bite to eat in the Vasamuseet restaurant we headed next door to the Nordiskamuseet, Sweden's largest museum of cultural history. We thought that this would fill in a couple of hours and then it would be time to head out to the airport. But no, as we entered the museum at 2.10pm, we were told that it would be closing today at 3.00pm due to a function. Damn, if that had been posted on their website when Bernie checked it last night we could have visited the museums in the reverse order!! Undeterred we paid a flying visit to the museum's exhibitions on fashion, furniture, table settings, jewellery, doll houses, toys and folk art.

So, at 3.00pm we found ourselves out on the street with a couple of hours to fill before going to the airport. Most other museums are closed on Mondays or, if they are open, they close at 4.00pm so by the time we got to any of them it would be too late to get in. Not to worry, we caught the tram back to the terminus at T-Centralen and browsed the shops. With dusk falling (already!) it was very pretty with all of the Christmas lights and the brightly lit and decorated shop windows.

We walked down to the river to have a look at Stadshuset (The City Hall) because we thought it might be floodlit. Apart from the tower, it was in darkness. Oh well, let's just catch the train out to the airport and hang around out there for a couple of hours until out flight at 7.20pm.

Just as we arrived at Centralstation Bernie received a text to say that our flight would be delayed until 8.20pm. Great, an extra hour to kill hanging around at the airport!! Oh well, just gotta go with it. We caught the Arlanda Express which whisked us to the airport at 200km/hr. What a great idea to have a high-speed rail link to the international airport. Downtown Stockholm to Arlanda Airport in 20 minutes flat.

We alighted at the second airport stop at Terminal 5. We discovered that we were way underground because we had to take not one, but two of the longest (tallest?) escalators ever to reach the departures hall. We checked our bags and then found some dinner and it was still only 6.00pm! We found some comfy seats at the Casa Bacardi Bar while Bernie worked his way through a bucket of beer. Seriously a 75cl vessel is a bucket not a glass isn't it??! Another text, our flight is now delayed until 9.20pm!

Finally, we boarded the plane at about 9.00pm for our 45 minute flight to Helsinki. We lost an hour in the air because Finland is in an earlier time zone than Germany, Denmark and Sweden so that had us checking into the Hilton Hotel at Helsinki Airport at 11.30pm. It is costing us a fortune to stay at the Hilton, but it's worth it to avoid the hassle of finding our way into the city to turn around and come back to the airport for our flight to Ivalo tomorrow. Yay, we are almost there. Let the solar flares commence!!

With 12.41 km walked today that takes this week's total to 77.39 km for the week.

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