Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stockholm -- My Favorite Baltic City!

If you ever take a Baltic cruise, I recommend that you book one which embarks and/or disembarks in Stockholm because you will want to spend more than one day there.  I was lucky enough to spend four wonderful days visiting my husband's nephew, Bruce and his wife, Tove-Lise and their daughter, Isabelle.  Steve and I arrived at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport on a gorgeous sunny day where Bruce picked us up and promptly took us to his 42-foot yacht, Tirawa, which is docked within a few feet of his home on the water in Djursholm on the outskirts of Stockholm.    I was so excited to be there that I hardly noticed the jet lag.  We sailed in the archipelago east of Stockholm past scenic islands for a few hours before giving up on the dying wind and motoring to our destination in the Nacka region.  You don't have to get very far out of Stockholm before you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere. This poor, sun-deprived girl from Seattle just loved soaking up the rays on the foredeck!

Tove-Lise was a very gracious hostess during our stay as she juggled her schedule to spend some time showing us around.  We visited Skansen, an outdoor museum where we experienced life in Sweden back in the early 1900's; we visited an old furniture-making factory, glass-blowing studio and old-fashioned grocery store and drug store, spice shop and farm.

I had the pleasure of having Isabelle escort me through the Vasa Museum which houses the Royal Warship Vasa.  The Vasa sunk in 1628 while it was still in the Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage.  Rumor has it that there were just too many heavy cannons on the upper decks for this boat to float!   Isabelle was particularly fascinated with the skeletons of some of the crew that were salvaged so I spent a good deal of time looking at old bones and other archeological finds.  There was a particularly fascinating demonstration of the reconstruction of a face from a mere skull and I stood there wondering whether the crew member whose face was being reconstructed actually looked like that.   There was also some speculation about the diet of the crew members, which was based on examining what was left of their teeth and bones.  If my teeth are found 300 years from now, will archeologists be able to determine that I was a chocoholic?

We visited Drottningholm, where the Swedish royal family currently lives.  Although the palace was beautiful, I thought the most interesting part of the grounds was the theater.  The Drottningholm Court Theater dates back to 1766 and still offers live performances during the summer.  During our guided tour, I was chosen to demonstrate the thunder machine, which is a large wooden box near the ceiling that contains stones.  As I pulled ropes that were connected to the box, the box tilted and the stones moved from side to side to create the sound of thunder.

I  experienced a new and unexpected taste treat in Sweden -- smoked reindeer!  It was particularly good sliced thin with a bit of horseradish.

More photos of Stockholm