Stockholm, Sweden (Pre-Cruise) - July 2010

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July 17th 2010
Published: October 25th 2010
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We arrived in Stockholm, Sweden after a quick 2.5 hour flight and quickly made our way to the city centre, Martin was very excited to get his first look at the home of Swedish women’s volleyball teams (Haha). Our hotel (the Hilton Slussen) was located with a lovely view of a few of the waterways that make up 30% of the city (another 30% is designated green space) - which give Stockholm a lovely open and uncluttered feel.

We headed off to the old town to have a wander around and make the most of the day before the ominous grey clouds began to do their stuff. The Gamla Stan (old town) is completely encapsulated on one of the 14 islands that form the city; this makes it very easy to navigate - if you go too far you fall in the water. The streets are all cobblestone and majority of the Gamla Stan is pedestrian only, which immediately gives it that priceless oldy-worldy charm. We wandered around the Royal Palace - which is one of the largest in the world still used as a palace (over 600 rooms!) and were staggered by how unpretty the building actually is. ;-) Stockholm does have heaps of charming buildings from the 17-1800s and its vibrant history extends back to the 1300s … but the Palace is just an enormous block. However the rest of the Gamla Stan is very cool; lots of interesting buildings, quirky shops, some very reasonably priced places to eat (Oslo was not a fluke…Scandinavia is soooo expensive) and some very cool statues, gargoyles and the like. We spent all day wandering around stopping here and there and generally just soaking it up - not the rain incidentally... that never really happened! ;-)

We visited the very endearing Stortorget Square, which has the classic postcard image of Stockholm - the 6 storey crooked and multicoloured buildings. This place was extra cool because there are several cannonballs stuck in the walls of some of the buildings… one right in the corner! This particular cannon ball, according to local legend, dates back to the 1520 Stockholm Bloodbath- where it was fired at naughty King Christian (Danish of course) who had executed 80 odd people. Unfortunately it missed, and no one thought to remove it. Ever. Hmmm. Believe it? Still, quite a cool feature to add to the already quirky and atmospheric square. Ginny had recommended 'Cafe Art' in Gamla Stan from when she lived in Stockholm and so we headed off there for afternoon tea and it was really charming, it feels like a cave, completely built of brick, under the streets. Very cool!

We wandered back to the much newer area of Slussen and walked along the main drag there, the best thing about this was the hilarious signage for sales and pubs (See pics!). Well, Martin was amused! Back to the Hilton for a recharge and then we headed back to the old town for dinner, Mexican ironically - you can never go past nachos and beer… mmmmm.

The next morning we only had a few hours to kill before we needed to be at the cruise terminal for our Baltic Cruise - WooHoo!! We managed to absorb most of this time at breakfast eating ourselves cross eyed at the awesome buffet! Just the right idea before an 8 day cruise where you can potentially have up to TEN full meals a day… still, breakfast was yummy - so there you go. Before we knew it we were at the cruise terminal and ready to board The Vision of the Seas, a much smaller, but no less impressive sister-ship of the Freedom of the Seas we cruised on in the Caribbean.

Additional photos below
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25th October 2010

oh another place we have to go to now! :-)
12th November 2010
Language translation...

The sign announcess discounts for up to 70%. "Slut" roughly translates into "End" and "Rea" translates into "Discount". Even though the sign says that the store is on it's last days of giving discounts, some stores have "slut rea" all year long, making the whole thing dodgy.
12th November 2010
Canonball... do we believe the stories...

Truth behind the cannonballs.
It is true that during the Stockholm bloodbath canons where fired. Hell, Stockholm has been under fire of canons many times in history. But the likelyness of the canonballs actually getting stuck in a way that looks remarkably esthetic in relation to the architecture is fairly low. The canonballs most likely either bounced or penetrated the walls of the buildings making a dent or hole, and years later, they were put up there on the buildings perhaps as a reminder of past conflicts and history.

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