We started our day with an early breakfast so we could have time to pack up our gear. We parked our luggage at the hotel and walked back to the harbor. On the way, we passed a demonstration by two opposing groups. The police kept everyone apart and it was well managed. After a cappuccino along the water to wake up, we boarded our rustic ship, the M/S Ostana, for our own “3 hour tour” (sung to the tune of Gilligan’s Island). We cruised through some of the close-in islands of the Stockholm Archipelago. There are thousands of islands, big and little, with both full-time homes and summer cabins. If we had gone to the outer rim of the Archipelago, it would have taken over 8 hours. We saw the site of one of the first optical telegraphs (signal light stations – think Lord of the Rings and the signal fires) and Brick Island, where Bjorn Borg lived before he lost it for tax issues. We cruised past Vaxholm, one of the largest islands. It holds an old fort used to defend Stockholm. We had a lovely lunch complete with Prosecco. Brian was able to sample various Swedish seafood in a
traditional fish stew. After cruising back, we found we had just enough time to explore Gamla Stan, the oldest and original part of Stockholm. This was the second site of the Swedish capital city. The first, Sigtuna, was moved after being continually attacked by armed gangs. The legend is that the new capital was chosen by floating a hollow log filled with gold and seeing where it landed. Stockholm means “log island” in Swedish and Gamla Stan means the “Old Town”. It used to be “the city itself” as that was all there was but now Stockholm is much bigger and Gamla Stan is now a little quaint island area. We lucked into the end of the changing of the guard ceremony at the Royal Palace and then into a performance of traditional dancers in costume. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. We explored Stortorget Square which was the site of the “Stockholm Bloodbath.” Swedish noblemen and bishops were lured there by the Danish King for a “conference” and killed en masse (think Game of Thrones Red Wedding.) This was the catalyst that led to civil war and dissolution of the Kalmar Union (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway under one King).
We walked back through the city, listening to the many street performers, including a whole family playing different instruments and one guy playing them all himself. Brian noticed a beggar with dogs and donated a few kronor to the cause. We got back to the hotel just in time to have a Fika coffee before we suited up with our backpacks to head to the Train Station. We got there plenty early, spent our last Swedish kronor on snacks for the ride and camped out by the board so we could see which track to leave from. They generally post the track location about a half hour before so you have to pay attention. Half an hour before came and went and we started getting worried. We gave it a few extra minutes and then discovered in was posted only in the main terminal and we needed to get a move on to make it! We fast walked to our track and found our sleeper cabin with only about 5 minutes to spare. The sleeper compartments are definitely not roomy with 3 bunk beds but very comfortable for a night’s ride. Somehow, they got confused and tried to put us
in a 3 MALE cabin with an extra man joining us in the middle of the night. That wasn’t going to work! The nice ticket lady moved us to another sleeper by ourselves. We were lucky there were others free. We learned to ask more questions about sleeping arrangements on trains. When we booked they said “private sleeper” but it was private for 3 people and one may be a stranger! A good night’s sleep to get ready for our drive to the Lofoten Islands.
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