Our First Sunrise Since Leaving San Francisco!
Changed Dramatically in a Few Minutes!
The Gamla Stan to Djurgarden Ferry
Stockholm is a city built on 5 major islands. We asked how to get to the Vasa Museum at our hotel. The Vasa Museum, Abba Museum, Spirits Museum, Viking Museum, and Norse Museum are all a short walk north of the Djurgarden Ferry terminus. The Ferry between Gamla Stan and Djurgarden departs Gamla Stan a few hundred meters south of our hotel. We took the ferry rather than a bus or taxi. The ferry is a great and inexpensive way to see both islands from the water.
What Are Those Spires?
It’s a Theme Park, Closed For Winter
An Interesting Building, Skeppsholmen Island
I had read about the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is a 17th century ship that was overbuilt and extremely heavy. It sank on its maiden voyage. I love ships and the sea and the idea of seeing a 17th century ship nearly intact appealed to me. I had envisioned a short Viking style ship with oars and shields. I was not prepared for what I saw. I should have taken my DSLR and wide angle lens. This ship was and is amazing.
Where parts of the Vasa were missing, modern parts were manufactured to finish the ship. It sits indoors in a building that must have been built around the ship once the Vasa was in place. The photos below cannot begin to present the massive presence of this ship. If you have any interest in maratime history or in old ships, you must visit this museum. We limited our time here and avoided the tour to allow time in the day for other things.
View From the Bow
There Are Symbolic Carved Figures Everywhere.
A Model of the Hull As Recovered.
25 Cannon Port and Starboard
Musketeer Perch Port and Starboard
The Vasa Was Elaborately Carved and Painted
She was Massive
As She Would Have Looked the Day She Sunk
The Cannon Deck (a Mock-Up)
I was never knowingly a fan of Abba. their catchy brand of pop was diametrically opposed to the hard rock of The Stones and Jimi Hendrix or the Blues of John Mayall. Visiting the Abba museum was not high on our list of things to do. We walked past it on our way to the Vasa Museum. On our way back to the ferry we thought, “oh why not”, and in we went. Listening to their hits, I realized that I was never a fan, but I knew their music because it permeated radio in the 70’s and 80’s. The museum was fun and featured a collection of guitars played by rock & rollers like Jimi, Gary Moore, slash, and many more. I actually enjoyed the museum, though we pretty much rushed through. It’s a fun romp. We chose not to perform Karaoke to an Abba hit while being video taped. Not surprisingly, there were no takers as we slowly walked past the stage.
Mostly Gibson Les Paul and Fender Strats!
One Little Dancing Fanatic!
For Their Fans: Clothes & Videos
Gold and Platinum Records
Headed Back to Gamla Stan
Cold Crossing Back with the Sun Setting
Our Hotel, Light Beige Building with Black Roof
The Royal Swedish Palace
The Swedish King and Queen live in the palace. The west wing of the palace is open to the public unless there is state business such as visiting dignitaries or state awards. In that case the wing closes to the public. The west wing of the palace is huge with room opening into room the full length of the palace. The rooms are overly ornate and oppressive. Missing is the simple beauty of Scandinavian design. I wonder if the King and Queen live in modern rooms and use the stuffy historic rooms for state business only. The palace was a short walk from our hotel and well worth the time. There are royal soldiers standing guard outside. They wear berets that do not cover the top of their ears. Though dressed for the cold, their ears must be freezing.
View from the Palace’s Side Entrance
Queen Ulrika’s Dining Room, Typical of this Wing
A secular Country, No Puritans!
The Council Chamber
The Puritan Influence Sure Messed Up USA
The Recital Hall, Used Today
Chandeliers Are Everywhere
Never Enough Bling for a Ruler!
The Order of the Elephant (one of hundreds of Orders)
The Kings Silver Thrown in the Great Hall
Uber in Stockholm
Unlike Norway, Sweden has Uber or at least Stockholm does. I was surprised to find my app worked. We walked back to our hotel knowing we would have internet connectivity and could contact Uber. We hailed a ride to Barbro, a restaurant Ginger recommended saying we should say hi to Kellen, a bartender there. Uber took us right to the restaurant address where we found a café, but no Barbro! Had they closed? Did they move? Then we noticed beside the café was a low key restaurant with no neon and a very modest sign BARBRO. We had found it!
Inside sat a group of people eating at a long table by the door. I tried the door. It was locked! Were they closed for a private event? The restaurant is on a corner. We walked around to another door that was ajar and walked in. They were closed, the staff was having dinner, and they would open in an hour at 5. Ellen asked, “Does Kellen work here? We were recommended to eat here and to say hi to him for our friends.” The fellow found Kellen who came over to greet us. Yes, we’ll come back in an hour.
We walked to the café next door, but both agreed given the nature of the place, it would be awkward sitting without eating and we didn’t want to fill up before dinner. We walked on a few blocks and found ilcafe, a trendy coffee shop. Their coffee was great. They had wifi. And we could stay as long as we wanted. There was a good mix of the young and hip and some older folks. We may feel “young and hip”, but we no longer qualify. We added to “some older folks”. Bonus: they had free biscotti!
A Double Heart!
On the Way Back to Barbro
We returned to Barbro thinking we were early only to find two couples waiting at the door! A few minutes later Daniel opened the restaurant. The two couples were seated at tables. The restaurant had a short bar facing the kitchen and another bar that ran around a square hole to the floor below. Not having reservations, we were seated at the second larger bar. I think I prefer the bar seating to a table on the floor.
what fare did this restaurant serve? We had no idea. Ginger had said it was a five star restaurant, but what kind of food were we about to order? Daniel came by with a menu and we chatted for a bit about us, the restaurant, Ginger and Kellen. The menu was in Swedish, though we could figure out what was up. We were at a sushi restaurant! We had considered sushi in Norway on two occasions. This was great. A short time later Daniel left menus in English, apologizing for his error. We surprised him by knowing what we wanted to order based on the Swedish menu, though we did get one thing wrong. we chose not to get the dumplings (who knew they were dumplings in Swedish). We ordered their combination sashimi, yellowtail, and deep fried spicy tuna roll. The Sashimi arrived first; pairs of delicate pieces of sliced cured fish. Yummy. Next a shallow dish of Ponzi sauce with sliced yellowtail topped with scallion and what looked like water cress. It was scrumptious. It was the large spicy tuna role that capped off our meal. Ellen didn’t want the Kimchee garnish which was fine with me.
The Restaurant Just Opened, Later it was a Hopping Place
One Huge Spicy Tuna Roll
Barbro a Half Hour Later, Hoppin’
We took an Uber ride back to our hotel and walked the back streets of Gamla Stan. We found a main shopping street lined with pubs, restaurants, and shops that curved around the entire island and back to the royal palace. Most shops were closed. We found a bakery that we’ll visit tomorrow morning.
Evening Gamla Stan
Waffle Bakery, Closed Each Time We Visited.
Thoughts of Kathy’s Christmas Drink
It was cool walking the streets at night, but not so cold that we could see our breath, That will change tomorrow in Kiruna, north of the Arctic Circle. We have a Northern Lights photographic outing and a visit with the Sami people and reindeer. Again with Norwegian Air’s iphone app, we checked in and have our e-tickets on our phone. Fast and easy. This morning with sunrise at 8AM it was actually warm in the sun, but chilly in the shade. Tomorrow we will dress for the cold knowing we will exit the airplane into the Arctic.
One of the Five Bridges of Gamla Stan
I would love to spend another few days in Stockholm. Two days is insufficient to get a feel for the city or to visit more than a very few neighborhoods. We did not have time to visit Sofo, or time to take a boat tour of the city to name just two. We have eaten at three of the hundreds of restaurants Stockholm has to offer. We know just two Swedish words, Hej pronounced “hey” and Tack pronounced “tak” for Hi and thanks respectively. It’s a start!
As for Barbro, a google search of sushi restaurants in Stockholm lists Barbro first as “the best” in Stockholm. It is a Japanese fusion restaurant. Sushi purists may disagree with “the best”. Not being a purist, this restaurant was great and could easily be “the best”.
We keep our plans flexible. Today turned out pretty much as planned. We did substitute Abba for Sofo. We pretty much stuck to the plan. Yesterday worked out that way too. Recon on the bus finding interesting areas and walk those places. The beauty of a cruise is everything is planned for you. You chose to take a tour or not. that’s pretty much the extent of planning. The trouble with cruises is your time is not your own but is dictated by the cruise schedule. Sometimes we fail to plan sufficient time to “see” a place and as if we are on a cruise, we must head on to our next adventure before we feel our current adventure has played out. We could easily enjoy Stockholm for a week. Our waiter said mid summer was a great time to visit Stockholm, though we typically chose to travel in spring or fall, the shoulder seasons. The world is vast, full of amazing places to visit for a day or a month. Perhaps we will return to Norway and Sweden sooner rather than later.
Our taxi for 10:20 is setup. We’re off walking Gamla Stan looking for a local bakery. Off to Arlanda Airport, Stockholm and to points north later today!