The channel entrance to Stockholm (at least for our very large ship!) took five hours. We wound our way through picturesque little islands and beautiful little beaches. So idyllic!
As the city is set on 14 different islands, lots of ferries are needed to get people where they need to go. This is not a cruise ship but a ferry!
The most interesting and amazing thing we saw in Stockholm (besides the city itself) was the Vasa, a ship built by the Swedes in 1626-8. (Just after Shakespeare's time, for those who need a reference.) This huge but unfortunate ship sank only a few minutes after launch and was the pride and then the shame of the Swedish navy. (Which, at that time, was exceedingly powerful and scary.) However, as fate would have it, the ship sank right in the harbor and was stuck in the mud for over 300 years, and the cool waters actually helped preserve the wooden vessel. So back in 1961 they salvaged the Vasa and now it's one of the most visited tourist sites in Stockhom. The ship is huge--she could house up to 450 men, 300 of whom were supposed to be soldiers. This is a shot of the back of the ship.
The ship is so well preserved that they even salvaged pieces of the original sail. Also, many of the rivets you can see are also original. The paint has washed away, but the ornate carvings are mostly intact and the sheer size of the ship is incredible. There is a bit of debate on why the ship sank--mostly it was because the king dictated the dimensions of the ship and the shipbuilder just couldn't say no to the king--historically, that has rather bad repercussions--so they built it to the king's specifications. It wasn't heavy enough for it's height and sank three minutes into its maiden voyage--right in front of everyone. If you're interested in finding out more about the Vasa, check out the website HERE. Even the girls were impressed with the ship. They also liked the skeletons that had ben salvaged with the ship--much to our surprise.
There was this neat display where you could build (and sink) your own Vasa. We had to drag Ellie away. She still talks about making and sinking her own ship.
After the Vasa, we walked to a nearby park called Skansen, which is on one of the other islands that makes up Stockholm and is a historic museum and zoo. Here we are taking the furnicular up the HEWGE hill that my wonderful hubby didn't make me walk up. :)
The museum part is many period-authentic homes where people continue doing period-authentic work such as combing wool, making wooden toys, planting, tending animals, etc. They encourage your going up and talking to these people (all dressed in traditional period-authentic costume) and of course everyone speaks English fluently. This is one of the original road markers circa 1707.
We stopped for lunch at the restaurant at the top of the hill and had an incredible view of our ship from across the port.
And of course, how could we go to Sweden and not try the meatballs? They were delicious, especially with the lingonberries on the side. I think I ate every potato, but I did share the meatballs.
We also stopped at a kids' playarea and Jon was on hand to take this three-second picture. (Three seconds before one wiggled away or made the other get away from them.)
One of the reasons we had to leave Stockholm so early in the day (our ship departed at 2:30) was because we had to wind our way out of the idyllic islands and channels we had transversed just that morning to get back to the Baltic. One site we passed was this unique round building on top of a hill. It was originally built by Peter the Great of Russia who fought bitterly against the Swedish King Charles while they both reigned their countries. Peter used this building as a prison and at one point the Russian army completely filled this channel with rocks and debris to cut it off from the Baltic so the Swedish navy couldn't get out and attack him. Such incredible history!
Back on the ship for a few more shots before we say goodbye. Jon and I realized (only after we got home) that this was the only shot of just the two of us we managed to take the entire voyage.
So sweet as they slumber! They really did a wonderful job of sleeping right next to us, in the same bed, while we kept the light on. It's amazing how adaptable they can be...usually!
And here is our cabin. Jon is standing at the balcony window, taking this picture toward the door (behind the open bathroom door.) The closet is behind me, as well as a few bookshelves.
And here is the view from where I was standing, looking out the balcony. Very snug but it worked for the four of us. We were exceedingly happy to have the balcony!
Last but not least, a shot of the Hamburg bahnhof (train station) which was one of the several incredibly busy train stations we passed through on our 10 hour train ride back from Copenhagen.
We had an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip and are so happy to share it with you! Thanks for journeying with us. We highly recommend this cruise and we really enjoyed sailing with Norwegian cruise lines as well. Goodbye, Baltics--until we meet again.