I'm in a place I didn't even know I was going

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
Trip End Jan 16, 2010

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Flag of Sweden  ,
Saturday, July 21, 2007

I just arrived after an 11 hour boat ride, which was more like a luxury cruise ship. Helena my travel agent in Talinn hooked me up in a nice cabin on a huge ship. This would have been more fun with pals, but it was interesting exploring the ship and crossing the Baltic Sea, watching the sun go down at midnight!! It was also fun watching the Swedes get drunk on cheap beer from the duty free shop...Everyone is on holiday, so all are happy. I just arrived here in Stockholm and my body is still rocking so I'll write more when I have something to say. Finished the book Da Vinci Code, finally read it when I found it at a hostel for free. Very interesting nothing earth shattering to me but the pages definitely seem to turn themselves. Now looking back to my more challenging, but complementary read, Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom of the Celtic World. I had been carrying this book with me since Sydney, where I got it at St. Michael's cathedral but it was so deep I couldn't get into it until I hit Scotland, where again the pages seemed to turn themselves. I swear the books that have found their way to me have some hidden agenda. Before I read the Da Vinci Code I read J.D. Salinger's Franny & Zooey, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Eeerie similarities.......now I'm in another viking land, where Celts traded and did huge business, and I hope to see some of the ancient ruins just outside of the city. I'm here until next Saturday, when I hop on another boat crossing the Baltic Sea headed east this time, back to Riga. From then I will fly to Vienna to meet my dear friend Ms. Murphy! I am excited to see her but try to make the most of every day. I know I won't be able to do this again in a very long time!! Stockholm was probably one of the most delightful surprises of my travels. I really didn't plan on coming here, but am so glad I did. The medieval old town Gamla stan, was a fantastic place to while away the day and fill yourself with freshly made waffles as in waffle ice cream cones that smell like heaven and taste even better. Stockholm is the first place I've come across where they appreciate ice cream as much as I do, what a great town. The weather, while variable, has been warm enough for short sleeves and the sun is greatly welcomed when it comes out to play. Here they also use cream in coffee, oh I am in heaven, as opposed to milk which is fine but so not the same. If I sound slightly orgasmic in my descriptions of Stockholm, you would be right, I have fallen deeply in love with this city. The food, the people, the architecture, the fact that Stockholm is part of an archipelago surrounded by the sea so there are sailing ships along the canals as one walks through the city, it is a good place. I felt welcomed and oddly at home here, and the weird thing is, Swedish people thought I was Swedish. As you'll see from my photos, a year of being outside all day everyday has lightened my hair. I'm pretty much blonde. I forgot that 20+ years ago, when I used to lifeguard, my hair lightened to the point of being blonde. As we all know, Sweden is known for its toe headed population. While I'm not that light, I am blonde. So when I would buy something and the clerk would talk to me in Swedish and I couldn't respond except to say "Tak" or "ja" they would give me these very puzzled looks. Finally one day, when I was looking at the very lovely Adolf Frederiks kyrka, a quite pretty church off the main shopping street of Drottninggatan, the man approached me and said "you're not Swedish?" And he told me I looked very much like a Swedish person and I kept getting this over and over. Perhaps this is why they were so nice to me, but I like to think they are just nice people. I visited lots of the beautiful churches, only a handful of the over 70 museums in Stockholm, but among them I made it to the Nobel museum and the National Museum, both worth while and very interesting. During the time I was there the tall ships which race through Europe's waters arrived, and the city's docks were full of gorgeous wooden masts and rigging. A fantastic sight to see in any city, but it seemed so appropriate for this ancient city of sail. One of my favorite visits was to the Stockholm Opera House, while nothing was playing because it is summer we were allowed to go backstage which was a thrill. Because of taking ballet for 12 years while in DC you learn to appreciate what it takes to put on any theatrical production. I enjoyed seeing all the scenery set ups and was amazed at how much the stage is slanted to give the audience a better view. To do pirouettes on on that floor would be quite a challenge! If you've never thought about visiting this city, put it on your to do list. While it certainly was busy with the flow of summer tourists, for some reason it didn't feel as crowded as Tallinn or Riga. I felt like I discovered a gem and thoroughly enjoyed my entire time there. To get out of the city, I traveled as I enjoy best, and seemed most appropriate in this city, by boat. Following the canals and waterways that surround the city, I took a day trip to Drottningholm Palace, built starting in 1662. Since 1981, this is the residence of Sweden's Royal Family, while the Royal Palace down town hosts the Royal offices where they work. How do you describe a royal palace? Whatever you imagine it to be, think richer and more ornate. I found the history fascinating, as the King who built the palace was murdered.
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