Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Cruise Chronicles – Day 5 – Stockholm, Sweden

We woke up on a pleasant, sunny morning in Nynashamn, a deep water port town 60km south of Stockholm. Of course, there was a rail station within walking distance of the dock and a modern train to take us to the middle of the city. This is Europe after all.

Parliament Building, Stockholm (12 May 2019)

Before long, we were exiting the downtown Central Station and walking to Old Town (Gamla Stan). The island that contains the royal palace and the national parliament dates to the 13th century and is one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe.

Old Town, Stockholm (12 May 2019)

One reason I like old European cities is that the ancient buildings have a flair for decoration. Many buildings were designed with ledges and nooks for statuary. So many valiant-looking, powerful female figures. I have to remind myself that women in those days were hardly ever treated as majestically and they were portrayed. “Thanks for posing, wench. Now go fetch us more firewood.”  Also, it really takes away from any heroic impression when the regal head is streaked with pigeon poo. Closer to the harbor, statues are degraded by sea gull poo. Every statue in every city we visited was similarly stained.

Old Town, Stockholm (12 May 2019)

I guess one can find a southern tree like a magnolia in a northern place like Stockholm if there is an open spot that protects the tree from the harsh winds and cold. This little gem appeared to be thriving well enough. 

Stockholm Skateboard Deterrence Installation No. 7 (12 May 2019)

Because the layout in Old Town is 800 years old, the streets are narrow and the alleys more so. There were occasional cars ambling through but not much room for them to maneuver around. Also, the ancient pavement was (and still is) granite cobblestones. My feet are already old and flat and ugly and walking here was not easy. Even if it’s summer, one should wear sturdy shoes in old European cities. This alley sloped down to the waterfront. Don’t have to worry about skate boarders rolling through…and if they try, you’ll certainly hear them coming.

‘Vasa’ Museum, Stockholm (12 May 2019)

We took one of those Hop On – Hop Off boat tours through the city’s harbor. It was a chance to get off the feet and learn about some of the waterfront sights. The venue we hopped off to visit was the Vasa Museum.

The 1600’s marked the height of Swedish military superiority in northern Europe. At the time, the country was involved in many conflicts and controlled territory on all sides of the Baltic Sea. In 1626, King Gustavus Adolphus ordered the construction of the largest boat of its day. The ‘Vasa’ was over 200 feet long, had two decks of cannons and a crew of 145 sailors and 300 soldiers. It was launched in 1628 and because it was so large and unstable, sank within minutes. Clearly, being the biggest does not mean you’re the best.

After 333 years under the Stockholm harbor, the ship was salvaged, restored and a magnificent museum was built around it.

Dinner with a View, Nynashamn, Sweden (12 May 2019)

After the train ride back to Nynashamn, it was a pleasure to replace the walking shoes with flip-flops and have dinner at the port-side window with its high view of the nearby rocky islands and the Baltic Sea in the distance.

Next stop – Helsinki, Finland.


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