A day in Stockholm

The start of each day featured a hearty breakfast at the hotel. It's a good thing we don't eat like this every day - we could never walk it all off! Jerry made sure to get his minimum daily requirement of salt.

Walking tour of Stockholm. The weather was a LOT nicer than we had expected. It was a good thing that we each brought at least one pair of shorts! Next time, we'll bring more layers (and less fleece).

Jerry managed to keep up with the group, despite the strap-on "boot" that he wore. He needed the support after a couple of ankle-replacement surgeries. We're just really fortunate that he was able to come on this trip, since the ankle problems could have a severe effect on his mobility. We knew that there would be a lot of walking on a Rick Steves trip. After awhile, we got used to hearing Jerry's cheerful "clomp, clomp" coming up behind us. Or sometimes in front.

Gamla Stan

Dave led us to the Old City of Gamla Stan. There was something interesting around every corner. Here, he shows us a rune stone on the side of a building. He narrated the rather gruesome history of the central square (the Stortorget). In the 1500s, a Danish king beheaded the local noblemen here. The street ran with blood, which is said to reappear on rainy days. In our history lesson du jour, we learned that this led to the end of the Kalmar Union. We heard a lot more about the Kalmar Union later in the trip, when we headed to Kalmar.

Narrow passageways

A ferry took us across the harbor to the Vasa Museum. Some members of the group couldn't wait for the next potty break, and spent a few kroner on a pay facility (once they figured out how to open the thing).

A nice day for a walk!

The Vasa Museum was one of the highlights of the trip. The Vasa was a warship that sank about 20 minutes into her maiden voyage in 1628. It was raised from the harbor in 1961. We saw the actual ship, which was extremely well-preserved. Each intricate carving was intact, except for the original paint. We peered into the gun ports, where water had poured into the doomed vessel. This boat was gigantic! It must have been a spectacular sight to see it heeling over and then settling onto the floor of the harbor. Reportedly, there were many extra passengers on board that day, as well as a large audience lining the shore. Many of the artifacts from the ship were recovered and put on display at the museum. Fascinating.

Click on the picture to learn more about the Vasa. For some reason, it doesn't always go to the English page, but you can click on "English" (or any other language) at the top of the Vasa page.

A free afternoon took us to Skansen, a renowned open-air folk museum. It would have taken the entire day to see the whole place. It was a Disneyland of Scandinavian history, complete with costumed guides demonstrating various crafts and other activities. We dodged a few raindrops before the sun came out again. As happened on a number of occasions on this trip, groups of us ran into each other and ended up having lunch together.

There was a great rush to try to get on one of the boats that toured the harbor and canals. The Stockholm Card gave us free passage on numerous tours and attractions. We lucked out by getting on a boat that was just leaving. There were headphones to hear the guided tour in one of many languages. One great thing about the Scandinavian countries was that just about everyone speaks English. Although Dave labored mightily to teach us the nuances of Swedish versus Norwegian (and never mind Danish!), we all got by just fine with the language skills that we brought with us.

It was a long day. There was a LOT of stuff to see. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by the Saluhall, a covered market that had fish, produce, and some more exotic offerings. Stepping back outside, the good weather just astonished us. The weather forecast had been for temperatures of 60 or less. It was a lot warmer than that. Scandinavian hotels don't seem to think of air conditioning. Good thing that the windows open!

Dinners were an adventure. We sort of expected to see nothing but fish and maybe reindeer sausage on the menu. It was a pleasant surprise to find that Scandinavian cuisine embraced a wide array of options. Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it ...