Monday, August 22, 2016


I had low expectations for Stockholm. I had a couple of places in mind for us to visit, but I didn't think it would be awesome. I was wrong. When we got off the ship, we hailed a taxi to take us to our first stop, the Vasa Museum. (Though Rick Steves warns against taxis in Stockholm, we compared the price to the cruise's shuttle, and for six of us, the taxi was cheaper. The city bus may have been cheaper still, but required more work and would have taken longer to get there. The taxi got us there ahead of the crowds, accepted euros, and was totally easy.)

The Vasa Museum is Stockholm's most popular museum.  In the 1620s King Gustavus Adolphus commissioned a warship.  Partway through the building process he told the builders to make it longer, but not wider.  He also told them to include not one, not two, but three gun decks... with the heaviest cannons on the top deck.  Now, I'm no ship-builder, but even I can see that this was not going to go well.  The ship builders did not wish to argue with the King, so they built the ship to his specifications.  And on its maiden voyage, the Vasa almost immediately tipped over and sank.  And there she sat in the Baltic until rediscovered around 1950.  In the 1960s a huge effort was made to recover the incredibly intact hull and preserve it.  And now millions of people come to see this awesome, non-seaworthy wreck.  (Elder Dale G. Renlund gave a talk at BYU in 2014 where he used this story as a metaphor for constructing spiritual stability.)

The museum is built on seven floors around the ship and you can see it from under, beside, and above.  The exhibits cover everything from the history of this ship, to Swedish shipping in general, from life on board, to the people who died in the sinking (including their bones and reconstructions of their faces and bios about them.)  There is also a lot of information about how the ship was raised and preserved.  Anchors come in multiple sizes, just like Andersons.

Jake thought this was awesome!  As soon as we left the museum he was asking me for paper and pencil to draw some pirate ships.

Here is a gun hole. (Clearly I don't know proper shipping terminology.) It is hard to see in the photo, but there is a wood carving to the right of the hole of a warrior standing on a lion's head with a puppy by his feet.  This was supposed to symbolize that warriors were to fight to protect the innocent from attack.  (Paraphrasing obviously.)

Here is a reconstruction of a part of the ship for you too see what life was like on board.  By this point, Amelie had had all she could take of this museum and Rob had taken her outside for some fresh air.

We finished up our tour around the Vasa and headed outside to walk to our next stop.  On the way we saw this- the Nordic Museum.  It was built in 1907, and looks like a cathedral.

We also passed by this photo op.

And then we reached Skansen.  This is an open air museum, begun in 1891, to preserve historic buildings from around Sweden.

I like the gardens.  This one is an example of a little land plot that was given out during World War II on which a city resident could grow food to supplement their rations.

Bear on the farm.

These are actual old buildings, moved here from around the country.  This one had original paintings covering just about every surface, it was very beautiful, and I imagine it helped pass the time during the long, dark, cold winters.

A view of the city from the top of the hill.  Stockholm is actually a group of islands connected by bridges and ferries.  Both the Vasa Museum and Skansen are on the island of Djurg√•rden.

This is a Sami dwelling. The Sami people (sometimes called Laplanders) are an indigenous group that live in the northernmost parts of Scandinavia. Their traditional livelihoods include fishing, sheep herding, and fur trapping.

But what they are most known for is reindeer herding.  And in Sweden, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for the Sami people. Toby did not believe us that these were real reindeer.  He's a skeptic.

Beautiful day to squint into the sun.

After watching the birds and seals in the zoo area for a few minutes, we realized that it was lunch time!  We found a picnic table and enjoyed some potato pancakes with lingonberry jam, and some regular pancakes with strawberry jam and whipped cream.

Really old windmill. 
We only saw about a quarter of Skansen, but we had another place to visit before getting back to the cruise terminal so we had to hit the road.

We walked downhill to the sea and caught a ferry to Gamla Stan.  This island is the oldest part of Stockholm.

First view of Gamla Stan from the ferry.

The Old Town dates back to the 13th Century.  And it is so cute.

More Swedish cuteness in Stortorget square.  And tourists... we had done a pretty good job of staying ahead of the crowds up until this point, but they caught up with us here.
The Church of St. Nicholas, commonly known as Storkyrka, is first referred to in written records in 1279.  It is the oldest church in Stockholm, and it is also cute.(We didn't go inside.)

And finally, on our way to the bus stop to make our way back to the port, I got a reluctant Charlotte to pose for me in front of the Royal Palace. Still the residence of the King and Queen of Sweden, this was built in the 1700s, to replace a former palace that had burnt down.  Charlotte is cranky because I made her wear Pippi Longstocking braids to celebrate being in Sweden.  She refused to hold them out to the sides for me. 

Getting back to the ship was a bit of a hassle as we had to find the right bus stop, going the right direction, and then learned the buses don't accept cash!  So I stayed with the kids while Rob found a place to get a transit card and then we finally made it back!  Still, Rob and I both really liked Stockholm.  It is very green, and you are never far from the water, and we both commented that we were surprised it was so lovely and we wish we had more time to explore it.


Aubrey said...

You guys are such smart travellers! We did not take a cab and therefore did not stay ahead of the other tourists, and it was a mistake! Would have loved to go to Skansen. Reminds me a lot of the one in Switzerland called Ballenberg. You should go there if you haven't already been!

Geneil said...

We loved Stockholm, too!