02 September 2007

Day in Stockholm

After a full day spent at sea, we arrived in Stockholm on Wednesday, 22 August.

Well, we almost arrived in Stockholm.

The evening before there had been a storm on the Baltic. The storm slowed down the ship and unfortunately we did not have time to sail through the archipelago into Stockholm itself. Instead, we anchored at nearby Nynäshamn. Only 37 kilometers from Stockholm via land, but a 3 to 4 hour sail.

Our original plan was to spend the morning walking around Stockholm before joining a pre-arranged boat tour for a ride through the canals of the city. Unfortunately, as we ended up docked so far away we had to choose between the two. As it was still pouring rain that morning, we decided to wait and see if the weather would improve by the afternoon and go on the arranged excursion.

I am happy to report that the weather did indeed improve and the sun came out shortly after we arrived in Stockholm via the tour bus for the canal cruise!

And the bus ride did offer one unexpected benefit. On the bus with us was a large group who had all gone on the cruise together. As they were speaking English, we shamelessly eavesdropped on their conversation. I was startled to hear a very familiar accent - they were speaking Minnesotan!

It sounds very much like English, only with many elongated, Scandinavian-sounding vowels and expressions such as "Dont'cha know" and "All's you need to do."

I inquired if they were from Minnesota and they affirmed that indeed they were. They also asked how I had know and I explained that I was raised in Minnesota and had therefore recognized the distinctive accent. (Although anyone who has ever seen the movie Fargo could have figured it out.) Bonding happened for the next 20 minutes or so while GLH smirked over the sudden return of my own Minnesota accent, which becomes much stronger when speaking to others from my home state.

The canal tour departed from Gamla Stan, one of the many islands that make up Stockholm and the oldest part of the city.

We also immediately liked our tour guide, who began by telling jokes about the neighboring countries.

Examples of Swedish Humor:
What do you do if a Dane who cannot swim falls in the water? Oh good, you don't know. Let's keep it that way.

The Finnish do not speak a Scandinavian language. They call it a Finno-Urgic language. We call it the "Finnish Tongue Disease."

Sights we saw on the tour include:

Strandvagen, the most expensive bit of real estate in Stockholm. Easily identified by the many enormous yachts parked along side it. (By the way, in Stockholm there is 1 boat for every 4 people. The Swedes really love boating, as do most Scandinavians.)

Vasa Museum, the most popular tourist destination in Stockholm. It houses the remains of an enormous warship built by King Gustav II Adolf in 1625. It took 2 1/2 years to build and was the largest warship ever made at the time. Although in the end, the size was the ship's downfall. On 10 August 1628 she set sail for her maiden voyage and sunk within 20 minutes of leaving dock. She was a mite top heavy.

Stockholm Stadshuset, an example of National Romantic style architecture, opened in 1945. The Blue Hall is the location of the annual Nobel banquet.

Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace of Stockholm), was originally built as a fort in the 13th century and greatly expanded in the 17th century. It was the royal residence until the current king and queen decided to move with their family to another, more private, palace about 20 minutes away. However, the king and queen have offices in the building and work from there most days when they are in the country.

Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) on Djurgarden Island is the largest Scandinavian historical museum. It was built in the Renaissance-style and opened in 1907.

Formerly Polar Studios, where ABBA recorded their many hits. It closed in 2004, although ABBA obviously hasn't recorded any hits there in years!

Due to the delay in our ship's arrival, we didn't see nearly as much of Stockholm as we would have liked. However, we did see enough to know we want to go back.


Jul said...

Oooo I love Stockholm! You bring back fond memories...

The Big Finn said...

Aaaahhhh, Swedish humor. I guess you now realize why the rest of the Scandinavian/Nordic countries don't really like Sweden...
Personally, I think they're just jealous of Finns because most Finns can speak Finnish and Swedish, and the Swedes obviously have some sort of genetic shortcoming which makes them unable to learn Finnish.
We also took a canal tour and we listened to a narrated tape on headphones. It was actually pretty interesting, but I had to laugh when the man spoke about how Sweden has one of "...the largest recording industries in the world!"!!! Naturally, he talked about ABBA...then Roxette...then Ace of Base (...sinking fast)...Cardigans (...sinking deeper)...then a bunch of groups I'd never heard of in my life (sunk!).