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Published: February 13th 2019
With Ross on his way to Tokyo the next day - Sunday 6th January - we were up early in time to catch the 8.23am train from Copenhagen to Stockholm which began by taking us across the Øresund Bridge which connects Copenhagen to Malmo and which is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. Having driven over the bridge - which is 8km in length, 4km of which is a tunnel under the water - from Copenhagen to Malmo a few years ago it was interesting to do the journey on the train which was much closer to the water of the Baltic Sea than the road bridge which is above the train line.
Arriving in Stockholm, and settling into our hotel - recommended by Nicola and just across from Stockholm's Central Station - with sunset at 3.07pm, by the time 6pm came around we were beginning to feel that it was late evening. Nevertheless we enjoyed our wander around with the afterglow of Christmas still there to enjoy. On our travels we came across a theatre which was operating as a Hillsong church so went in to say hello. It was where we met Lina who, it
turns out, shared a room with Katherine when they went to Uganda with a group of Hillsong women to build a well for the local women. Lina of course was as surprised as we were!
With only one full day in Stockholm we decided to go on the Hop-on-Hop-off buses where we learnt, amongst other things, that Stockholm is built on 14 islands, has 57 bridges, that Sweden was the first European country to introduce National Parks and that Minecraft was created in Sweden! But one of the highlights of our day was a visit to the Vasa Museum which was just behind the Nordic Museum. The ship 'Vasa' sank in Stockholm harbour on 10 August 1628 barely 120 metres from land on what was it's maiden voyage. The pride of the Swedish Navy, the ship cast off from its moorings below the royal palace; as the ship passed the island of Beckholmen, barely 1,300 metres from where the sails were set, a strong gust of wind saw the ship drop into the water. And while people couldn't swim in those days, the death toll was surprisingly small as boats went to the rescue which meant that only 30
or so of the 150 on board drowned. The map of Sweden in the early 17th century looked very different to what it is today as much of the area belonged to Denmark. After 333 years on the seabed and some unique salvage work, the ship was finally raised to the surface in a highly publicised lifting operation to great international acclaim. The restored Vasa - a wonderful story in itself - is 98% original and what a magnificent vessel it is to see. While Henry V111's flagship 'Mary Rose' sank before the 'Vasa' it wasn't raised until afterwards, using the expertise passed on from those who raised the Vasa. It's a brilliant museum which contains so much information and is definitely a MUST SEE for anyone visiting Stockholm! There's a theatre which documents how the ship was finally raised; the skeletons of some who drowned were there, together with stories of their lives. There were many different aspects to explore including an exhibition of the women who were involved, at least two of whom were amongst those drowned. Everything possible is being done to keep the Vasa for future generations including switching to lightweight stainless steel bolts which meant
that the Vasa is now eight tons lighter; all of which is crucial for Vasa's future preservation.
One of the other really impressive places we visited on our one full day in Stockholm was the City Hall. Designed by architect Ragnar Östberg and opened in 1923 it has a 106 metre high tower with the Swedish national coat of arms on top and contains both offices, meeting rooms for politicians and city officials plus magnificent public halls. The Blue Hall - which isn't actually blue - hosts hundreds of parties, ceremonies and events each year and is where the Nobel Banquet, which follows the Nobel award ceremony is held on 10 December each year. After the Nobel banquet in the Blue Hall guests go up to the Golden Hall to dance. There the walls are covered by approximately 18.6 million mosaic pieces of glass and gold; the work of artist Einar Forseth. The mosaic forms portraits of people and events from Swedish history. Our guide, when explaining the Council Chamber - where the Stockholm City Council meets every three weeks - told us that the 19 metre high roof's paintings are inspired by the Vikings. We were
taken to many other rooms all of which has whetted my appetite to return to Stockholm one day, hopefully next time in the summer.
With that idea in mind we headed back to the Stockholm Railway Station to get the train back to Copenhagen.
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