Trip Start May 26, 2010
15Trip End Jun 10, 2010
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Sunday we visited Sweden. This Baltic country holds a special meaning to me. My grandparents on my mother’s side were both Swedish immigrants. I am ½ Swedish.
There was an interesting twist to our visit to Sweden. We were scheduled to dock in Stockholm. After we boarded the Eurodam we were advised that we would not dock in Stockholm
We learned why the change was made indirectly. The captain made a ship wide announcement Saturday evening that it was essential that everyone be back on board on time, as we had to leave Nynasham on time. He went on to explain that we would be making a full speed run back to Dover. We had to arrive in Dover at an exact time to catch the high tide. He told us that the ship is too large to dock in Dover at a lower tide. If we miss the correct tide the ship would have to wait until the next high tide in order to dock. That would not make anyone happy.
Now we knew why we did not dock in Stockholm. He needed to stop us closer to Dover, to help ensure we make it there on time.
The weather was fantastic in Sweden, easily the best weather of the cruise so far. The afternoon was in the mid 70’s F (low 20’s C), allowing us to leave our jackets in the bus
We tendered off the ship to the small dock in Nynasham, where our bus awaited. We were told our guide would meet us in Stockholm. We enjoyed a pleasant drive through the Swedish countryside into the city, where we picked up our guide.
Sunday was Flag Day in Sweden. It was a neat day to visit. There were thousands of flags everywhere.
Our first stop was at an incredible view point overlooking the city. Stockholm is built in a bay on the Baltic, and is built on islands as well as the mainland. The Old Town is a classic European city. Our view included both Old Town as well as the modern city.
We then stopped for a walking tour through Old Town. Because of the Flag Day holiday, the royal palace was a buzz of activity. The royal family no longer lives there, today the palace is a museum. The palace was a 2 room cabin compared to the massive Russian palaces, but it has a long and interesting history. Sweden was a military power at one time. Today they maintain strict neutrality. We watched a simple changing of the guard. The big news in Sweden is one of the princesses will be married in a couple of weeks. The entire country is celebrating the event.
Walking Old Town was fascinating. Like much of old Europe, the buildings are tall and narrow, with very narrow stone streets. The old homes are too narrow to move furniture up the stairs, so a large wooden beam projects from the top peak, allowing a block and tackle to be attached to haul up the furniture. The architecture is wonderful. Despite the beautiful day, the streets were quiet. People in Sweden sleep late on Sunday’s, perhaps explaining why I love to so the same.
After a very enjoyable walk, we boarded the bus and headed to the world famous Vasa Museum. This museum celebrates a magnificent failure. Over 300 years ago the Swedish king ordered a warship to be built. It was a massive wooden vessel for its day, and would have dominated the seas for Sweden. The king rushed the ship to completion to show it off for a holiday. The ship sailed into the Baltic in Stockholm. 20 minutes into the sail, the ship flipped over and sank. A fortune had been spent to build it, and it sank 20 minutes after it sailed for the first time! It proved to be too top heavy, with insufficient ballast in the hull. Down she went!
The ship sat on the bottom of the sea for over 3 centuries, slowing sinking into the sea bed. Late in the 20th century, in an incredible operation, the ship was raised. It was incredible condition, even parts of the sails were salvageable. Today the ship is displayed in the museum, 95% original. It’s a remarkable site to see.
Unfortunately, the museum was mobbed with people. Like the other ports we have visited, several cruise ships were in town. I tried to buy a book about the museum along with some souvenirs, but it proved impossible. It was almost impossible to move though the gift shop, and the lines to check out were much too long for my limited patience. It was disappointing.
We walked around the museum, savoring the perfect weather. We walked down to the waterfront, to another perfect view of the magnificent city.
It was time to head into the countryside. We easily moved through the city and headed to the ancient town of Sigtuna. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at a restaurant outside the city.
Our guide took us on an interesting walking tour of this interesting city. The city was founded in the 10th century, and is the location where the first Swedish coins were minted. Our first stop was at the ruins of the church of St. Per (St. Peter), thought to have been built in the 12th century. This church was surrounded by a cemetery. I looked for my mother’s family name, but did not see it. We then toured the Church of Maria, which us still in use today. It has been rebuilt several times. Inside were several interesting murals, dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
We walked to the town square, where local performers were playing music and sang the Swedish national anthem. We then had free time to explore the village. Unfortunately, most of the small shops were closed. We didn’t have a chance to buy any souvenirs as stores of that nature were not open. Our total expenditures in Sweden were two soft drinks. That was disappointing for us, but that’s how it goes.
After buying a drink we walked down to Lake Fysingen. This huge lake runs all the way down to Stockholm. What a view! Once again, we were reminded of Maine.
We left this lovely town at 3:30 PM (1530) and headed back to Stockholm to drop off our guide. We then headed back to Nynasham and the Eurodam.
We headed back to sea through several beautiful islands. We were now on our way to Dover.