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Published: March 3rd 2015
A View from Our Anchorage
A very pleasant evening at anchor after a beautiful sailing day
Stockholm - It was a long time in coming, but we finally made it. Those of you that have been following our blog may remember that we had a crazy idea that we would have made it up the coast from Portugal last year and then into the Baltic to Stockholm. Needless to say that plan was changed thankfully so that we could take more time to enjoy the places we visited last season. One of our main goals of getting to Stockholm was to re-unite with our good friends, Martin and Johanna. We spent quite a bit of time together with them in the Caribbean and wanted to reunite as they had returned to Sweden. It also gave us an opportunity to meet the newest member of the family, Harald.
After several days of anchoring out in some beautiful secluded bays our arrival in Stockholm was a bit of a shock to the system. The closer we got to Stockholm we encountered more boat traffic. Everything from small day sailors to huge car ferries. Thankfully the Swedes are meticulous when it comes to navigational aids and with the charts we had purchased we were able to find our way
Guess They Couldn't Decide
Are they a power boat or a sailboat??
with little difficulty. Stockholm is a city of about 900,000 people built on 14 islands. The area has been settled since the Stone Age
, but was formally founded as a city in 1252. The marina we stayed at was perfectly located within walking distance of the city center.
As we walked around on our first day we realize Stockholm is a beautiful old city which has been lovingly taken care of. What struck us most about the city was that even though it was quite old it was still a vibrant living city that respected its history but still was alive, growing and changing. Immediately we could tell the difficulty we were going to have was choosing what to see and do in the time we had.
The next day we stumbled across a Thai festival complete with great food and beautiful dancing which brought back very fond memories of our trip to Thailand. We found that same day there was going to be a Gay Pride Parade. The streets were packed with people, but fortunately we had walked up the hill to the Royal Palace which put us in a great position to watch the parade. If
Plenty of Ferries Needed
to move people and vehicles around with so many islands here
you’ve never experienced a Gay Pride parade it is a blast. Dancing, singing and wonderful humor!
While we were in London we like everyone else went to the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. This is a big event complete with horses, soldiers, marching bands, incredible pomp and circumstance and thousands of spectators. Contrast that with Sweden; here we experienced what we believe to be the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. It involved two soldiers carrying their rifles and what appeared to be their lunch walking quietly up the hill having a pleasant conversation. No one taking notice, no marching bands, just two soldiers heading to their job to guard the palace. Practical and efficient are two things we love about the Swedes. Now, to be fair – they actually do have a much more formal changing of the guard ceremony complete with marching bands, but we just weren’t at the right time to see that! Bob just thought his take on what we saw made for a better story! Janice wants to be fair to those that are Swedish so you know that they also have their formal ceremonies too.
A Little More Developed Area in Sweden
after the sparsely populated areas of Finland we have been in
the other boats that we had traveled with during the Baltic rally had arrived in Stockholm earlier so we were able to get tips from them on what they would suggest seeing. One recommendation that we hadn’t thought of was visiting City Hall. We found out that you could only tour this with a guide so made arrangements to visit. The City Hall is not only a working venue, it is has been the site of the annual Nobel Banquet (where the Nobel prizes are awarded annually) held since 1934. They can seat up to 1,300 people which includes the King, Queen and other Royal members of the family. Once the banquet and the Nobel Prizes have been given out they all climb the grand staircase up to the Golden Hall for dancing. The Golden Hall gets its name from the over 18,000 tiles that make up the numerous mosaics on the walls. It took a full two years to complete the mosaics that were installed by a German firm from 1921 – 1923. The mosaics have designs depicting various Swedish historic events in a Byzantine style. Others show various landmarks within the City including City Hall itself. One end
Swimming & Sunning on the Rocks
Saw many places like this on our way to Stockholm
of the room is dominated by the “Queen of Lake Maelaren” mosaic which represents Sweden being honored by the East and the West. The Golden Room is breathtaking and to think that it was completed in two years is quite amazing. The 106 meter (348 ft.) tall Tower at the corner of the building is topped with three crowns, the national symbol of Sweden. You can climb the 365 stairs to the top, but we bypassed that opportunity.
When you mention to anyone that you are going to visit Stockholm the immediate response is that you “must see” the Vasa Museum. We set aside a full day to see this specular exhibit which starts with the awe-inspiring look at the salvaged warship, the Vasa. This ship took two years to build on the orders of King Gustaf Adolf II, but it tragically sank on its maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbor. 333 years later the wreck was salvaged in 1961 and 98% of the original vessel stands majestically in the Vasa Museum. This is one of those situations where pollution oddly enough was a benefit. The reason the ship remained in such good condition for all those years was
Look Close to See the Gingerbread Trim
Many beautiful homes along the Swedish coast
a result of so much sewage and pollution being dumped into the harbor for all those years. There was little or no oxygen for decaying bacteria to survive thus resulting in the incredible preservation of this wooden ship. The museum provides excellent information that encompasses the history of the ship itself, the maiden voyage, the recovery of the ship and the numerous artifacts found. The ship was designed to carry 300 soldiers and 150 mariners, however as it was on its maiden voyage family and friends of the soldiers were allowed on board and 30 of the total 150 people on board drowned. As the ship sailed less than a mile before sinking the million dollar question is “why?” There was plenty of blame to go around as the King had ordered a ship with two gun decks and more cannons than ever used before. The original ship builder died part way through the process therefore his assistant had to finish the project and was not as experienced. During the final inspection of the ship it had become clear that the underwater hull design and the amount of ballast were not sufficient for the size and weight of the upper
No, Not in the Netherlands
These are found in Sweden too!
decks. The Captain (a Swedish businessman with almost no experience sailing warships) was to be blamed for keeping the doors to the gun ports open when he already had stated concerns prior to setting sail with the stability of the ship. The distribution of the weight of the cannons may not have been well balanced adding to the problems. When the ship came clear of the cliffs the sails filled, the ship heeled over to port and water poured in through the gun hole ports. The King demanded an inquest. Of course it’s important to note that it was the King who was involved in every detail of building the ship. He was the one who demanded the ship be taller and it contained more cannons than the original design called for. He is also the one who demanded all of the additional carvings and superstructure to make this the greatest warship in the Baltic. Unfortunately the King didn’t understand some very basic design requirements about sailing ships of the day. Now nobody wanted to have to tell the King it was his fault so they found the perfect guy to blame it on, the best part was he died
One Of Many Homes Along the Coast
Yellow seems to be a popular color here
within the first six months of the project. The perfect political solution.
With the size of this ship being 39 feet wide, 226 feet high and a weight of between 800-900 tons (the same as 6 jumbo jet airplanes!) It took more than 1,000 oak trees to build and had 64 cannons onboard. The masts are 164 feet tall and used over 2.5 miles of rope for rigging. It is definitely the centerpiece of the museum. The ship has more than 700 wooden carved sculptures which are in excellent condition and helps provide more insights into the culture of the times. With many not being able to read and write, the art needed to tell the story. Many fierce animals and warriors were carved and are on the outside of the ship to try to install in others the power of the warship. Unfortunately as stated it sunk before it was able to see any battles.
The ship itself is 98% original but the Museum staff is constantly fighting to preserve it. When the ship was first recovered back in the 60s they preserved it by soaking it in polyethylene glycol which replaced the water in the wood
Cormorants Are Here Too
as can be seen by the destruction you can see here
and kept it from decaying. The ship is drying out which means it is shrinking currently. It is a slow process but it means that if they don’t do something to stop it the ship will eventually decay. They have taken incredible steps to slow this process down and are hoping that in the near future they will be able to completely stop the decay process and keep this absolutely incredible artifact for generations. It is absolutely awe-inspiring when you first walk into the museum and see this huge wooden ship over 3 stories tall.
The Vasa Museum is a “must see” if you are ever in this area – we hope that their constant battle for preservation continues so future generations can learn from this magnificent but tragic ship.
Another popular place to visit is the open-air museum of Skansen. Fortunately for us we were able to see this with our great friends, Martin and Johanna with their son, Harald. We started the day by stopping at their café to have a traditional fika (coffee break) that involved a cup of coffee or tea and the all popular kanelbullar (cinnamon roll). We then spent the rest of
Bikes Are A Popular Means of Transportation
here in Sweden as well as the other Baltic countries
the day exploring this very interesting museum that was started in 1891 by Artur Hazelius. He was very forward thinking in deciding that it was important to preserve the traditional buildings of Sweden and their way of life. Today there are 150 buildings with many of them open with costumed interpreters to help explain facts about the building and the way of life at that time. The 18th
century church located here is still a functioning church and they perform many weddings here. On the same site they have a zoo which we didn’t take as much time to see, but did pass through a few areas. What a wonderful way to catch up with friends as well as see many of the traditional homes of Sweden.
Our time in Stockholm was not long, but we fit in as much as we could comfortably see in these few days. It is a city that is well worth a visit!
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