Seaport & Scenery in Sweden

We crossed into Sweden at 5:40 p.m. on Friday, July 13th.  It was comfortable train.  At 7:15 p.m. Allan said, “We’re going pretty damn fast, probably 100 mph.”  But that didn’t stop me from taking pictures.

Along the tracks we saw factories and farms and we were reminded of some Midwestern landscapes.

We also saw mountains and lakes.  It was fun to see such a blue sky.

For some reason, I thought our room looked Swedish.  It was colorful and comfortable.

This deep sink and narrow bathroom counter was unlike any we had seen before.

The next morning we signed up for a cruise on a long boat with enclosed quarters for some Stockholm Sightseeing.  Its theme was “Under Seventeen Bridges” and it gave us a good flavor of the city.

We had come to see that Norway’s architecture is in its mountains and fjords, and we feel that Sweden’s is in its buildings.  In that respect, Sweden seemed more European to us.

We were told what these buildings were but I don’t have a clue today.

We did go under 17 bridges and also this lock and dam from brackish sea water to lake water.

Central Station is the train station in downtown Stockholm and there are lots of shops inside and restaurants — including McDonald’s.  We pulled into Central Station that Friday night the 13th from Oslo, walked out of the Station pulling our luggage to our hotel next door, the Radisson Blue.

At the Radisson Blue, there wasn’t a long check-in desk or counter like in other hotels, but instead four  or five separate counters with one or two clerks at each of them.  We had to pay $200 cash upfront because our Visa had been erroneously de-activated.

After the cruise, we walked across the channel to another wharf for lunch and passed by King Gustaf III.

It was a beautiful afternoon and we didn’t need to use the blankets that were draped over the chairs.  At this seaside restaurant we shared beef carpaccio and ahi tuna.  When the sun peeked at us from above the clouds, it was in fact quite hot.

People walked along the harbor and also got horse and carriage rides.

We were fortunate to see the changing of the guard at Stockholm’s Royal Palace.  It’s interesting that these Scandinavian countries have retained their heritage of kings and queens.

We should lose weight with all this walking, but we also eat rather well.

Stockholm is an attractive city with many canals and waterways. 

And all those waterways require all those bridges to connect all those land masses.

We hailed a taxi to the 5 p.m. Mass at a nearby Catholic Church in downtown Stockholm.  The front half of the church was very old.  The back half addition was new.  Mass was held in the new back half.

We felt fortunate that the priest said the Mass and preached the homily all in English.  There was no music except for a familiar a capella piece after the final blessing.  Everyone sang out, all the verses, in Latin, by heart.  For supper we stopped at an outdoor café — actually it was a Pizza Hut — and shared chicken wings and quesadillas.

In this area of Stockholm by the train station, there were two levels of city — shops above, shops below, streets above, streets below, people above, people below.

Allan signed us up for a tour of the Vasa Museum on Sunday, July 15th, and it turned out to be the best decision and the best museum.  Inside this building is the only ship in the world today that was built in the 17th century.

The magnificent ship sank shortly after it left port and has resided 333 years at the bottom of the sea.  We learned that Sweden was constantly at war with its neighbors — Denmark, Poland, and Russia.  During the 1620’s, the main enemy was Poland.  The struggle was for dominance of the Baltic Sea and its ports.

Also in the museum is a much smaller replica of the ship.  It was actually colorful like this.

The front of the ship was full of hand carved figures, some larger than life.  No expense was spared.

Most of the paint had been stripped by centuries under water, but bits of color that remained indicate a very colorful bow, each figure representing something or somebody important, including King David with the harp.  King Gustavus Adolphus was said to be a king of ancient lineage.  We read on a nearby sign that Swedish kings go all the way back to Noah’s grandson Magog.

The ship was discovered in the late 1950’s just outside the Stockholm harbor.  The ship is called the Vasa, which was the name of the ruling family.  King Gustaf took the name Vasa, which is the Swedish word for a grain sheaf.  Notice the double row of cannon ports.

Cannons were also salvaged along with other artifacts.

A small replica was constructed to show us a profile of the Vasa and its various levels — the ballast, the storage, the food and water storage, the gear, the men.  We learned that the Vasa was built top-heavy and had insufficient ballast.  During the 1961 recovery, at least 15 people were found in and around the hull.

After the Vasa, we walked back to our hotel, stepping for a moment inside some of the fancy buildings.

This large plaza was constructed below street level, but came to have streets of its own.

We walked through this very large department store which was full of shoppers.  I finally found a good pair of black boots that were well made with good heels and platform — but the tag was $600.

We checked out of the Radisson Blue, then walked across the street to Central Station where we surveyed the boards to see that our training was arriving at 3:15 p.m. at Gate #11  to take us to Copenhagen.

I can see why they call it a bullet train, but this bullet was going to take six hours to find Copenhagen.

Those six hours were spent navigating another side of Sweden

Most of the time we did not see lakes and evergreen trees.

Most of the time we saw fields and farms and, again, we thought of Wisconsin.

We actually saw two moose in the distance and I actually caught them with my camera, even though the bullet train was whizzing past everything like a bullet.

According to Karin Vik, that long red barn indicates a good farmer.

We also spied some big white familiar windmills across part of the Swedish landscape …

… and more barns and farms and cattle …

… and hay fields to feed the cattle.  Downtown Stockholm was now very far away from us, and we were preparing to discover Copenhagen, Denmark.