On the move again - to Stockholm, Sweden

Trip Start Aug 06, 2012
Trip End Aug 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
Radisson Blu, Sweden

Flag of Sweden  , Stockholm,
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Well, we are on our way again. Today we were up early and on our way on the bus at 8am.  We travelled from Copenhagen in Denmark in a northern direction to a small port town called Hilerod.  The trip took us approximately 2hours, after which we caught a ferry to cross the ocean between Denmark and Sweden.  This ocean trip only took around 20 minutes.  We landed at a town called Helsingborg in Sweden.

From there we had a very long drive to Stockholm (approx. 550km).  Once again the weather was quite nice at around 20 degrees and generally fine.  For one section of it we had a bit of rain for around 20minutes.  For this section of travel, there was not a lot to see, as for the majority of the length the freeway was flanked by pine plantations on both sides.  We went through a couple of reasonable towns, stopping at one which was on the edge of a massive lake (300km around the perimeter of it), Lake Vattern.  In addition to the pine plantations, the road was also lined on both sides by a 1.5m high fence for its entire length to keep Moose from crossing the road and cars hitting them.

We arrived in Stockholm around 5pm.  Once we got into our hotel and got our luggage to the room etc. we went out for a walk around a old section of Stockholm with people from New Zealand.  It is a magnificent city, once again with very ornate and historic buildings dating back to the 15th century through to the 18th century. After a bit of a walk we went and had dinner at an old pub in the mall.  Once we had had our fill, we decided to go back to our rooms and watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics.

On Monday Morning we got up and set off on a tour of the old city of Stockholm.  Wow, isn't this a beautiful old city as well.  We first of all drove to the very large City Hall.  This building is a massive structure that houses around 300 council employees in administrative offices.  The other main features are two huge rooms, the first is where they host the Nobel Prize banquet for the world every year on the 10 December.  This is the anniversary of day that Alfred Nobel died who founded and willed the Nobel Prize to succeed him from the interest which was to be invested from his bequeathment - his family missed out!!!  Nobel was a citizen of Sweden.

The second room in the City Hall (Grand Ball Room) is a large hall with millions of 23carot gold tiles (approx.. 5mm square each) embedded into the concrete of the walls.  There are numerous very large images on the walls (also in tiles) as well.  The Nobel Prize celebrations end after the banquet in this room.  Quite frankly we felt the room was quite unattractive, however it was spectacular and very important to Stockholm.

The overall building looked very impressive as a City Hall, an in fact is very much in keeping with the very old buildings around it.  In actual fact it was only built in around 1926.  They did a great job of making it congruent with other nearby buildings.

If you have seen the film "Last Will", probably the first 15 minutes of the film is set in the Banquet Room, Grand Ball Room, other rooms and  the entrance way of the City Hall, along with the adjacent river precinct.  The scene actually relates to a Nobel Prize celebration on a particular 10th December.  It gives some appreciation of the massive halls and precinct.  The film is worth seeing.

Next we drove and walked around sections of the old city.  This included the Houses of Parliament, The Kings Palace (King Carlos), and witnessed the changing of the guard. Much of this section of the city could not be driven around as the cobblestone streets are very narrow and undulating.  This part of the city is set on a fairly steep piece of land adjacent to the Stockholm Harbour.  It revolved very much around the fishing industry and protection of the King and citizens when the many wars occurred between the Danish and British. The Vikings were always at war.  The Nordic states of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland were often at war with each other and with others in the region.  Much of this old section of the city has been around since the 14th and 15th centuries.

Following this interesting tour, Claire and I having lunch in a little old restaurant (really nice carrot soup) and individual's having a couple of hours to walk around city to explore it for ourselves, we went to a very large museum housing an old Swedish Galion ship ("The Vasa") which was built in the early 16th century by the then King of Sweden.  It was a huge ship for its time - and a very robust one at that.  The King got sick of every other country in the region attacking Sweden (the Vikings from Denmark, the Russians etc.), so he decided to build the biggest ship ever so that when the enemy saw it coming, they would flee as it would be so overpowering when related to their much smaller vessels.

Well, on the day of its launch, the "Vasa" lasted approximately 20minutes before sinking to the bottom of the harbour.  It was not only very heavy, bulky, and impressive in appearance with 64 cannons on board, but unfortunately it was also very unstable - the rest is history.   Anyway, for several centuries it was lost at the bottom of the harbour until 1951.  A person, whom everyone thought was mad, used to sit out on his boat with a fishing line with hooks looking for the old ship the "Vase".  He kept moving around the harbour, lowering the line in the hope of one day snagging the ship to find its location.  Well, in 1951 he succeeded.  No one believed him for some time, however he eventually brought enough material to the surface to create enough excitement that eventually he was rewarded with a positive outcome.  The country got behind the thrust to raise the ship as they discovered it was largely in pristine order.  The temperature of the water and its salinity level luckily was just at the right composition to miraculously preserve it.  If it was normal sea salt water, it would have deteriorated in the harsh conditions.  Similarly, if it was fresh water, it would have had a similar fate.  Fortuitously, the water configuration was perfect.  A plan was enacted and the ship raised to the surface exactly 10years later.  Some components had come apart due to the corrosion of some of the metal pins holding it together. They first of all replaced all of these while the boat was still fully submerged at the bottom of the harbour, so that it could be held together to be brought to the surface. They tunnelled beneath it, passed through cables and then using other modern ships / barges, they brought it to the surface to much jubilation.  Numerous skeletons (the ships crew) were also brought to the surface with the ship.

Ever since 1961, they have continued working on  the "Vasa" to painstakingly put all of the smaller pieces of it back together and working to ensure that it is preserved.  They have built a very large museum (7 levels in height) which totally encompasses it.  This allows visitors to visit the museum to view it from various levels / vantage points.  This was an incredibly interesting visit.

Following this visit, we then set off to board a large Ferry at the Stockholm Port and commence a 16hour overnight cruise though the archipelago (thousands of small islands adjacent to the Scandinavian Countries) and  then to cross the Baltic sea to Helsinki in Finland.

Following this visit, we then set off to board a large Ferry at the Stockholm Port and commence a 16hour overnight cruise though the archapeligo (thousands of small islands adjacent to the Scandenavian Coutries) and  then to cross the Baltic sea to Helsinki in Finland.

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