Bliss in a bowl

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Aug 03, 2008

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bad sleep, so I was up early.  The top bunk was crappy and very creaky - I should've chose a better bed when I arrived but didn't think.  I tried some of that liquid bandage I bought to deal with those massive splits I get in my feet when I travel, but it was pretty much wiped out after 30 minutes of walking. 

I used some more free internet before going out sightseeing - dreary again, today.  It took me 45 minutes to find a Stockholm card for sightseeing - annoying!  All the information I had indicated they sold them at hotels, hostels, news stands, and at subway stations, but none of them had them.  I had to backtrack to the new town's tourist office to finally get my hands on one.  I was annoyed and in a bad mood today. 

I hopped onto a boat bound for the island of Djurgarden (Stockholm is essentially a number of islands), where I would be hitting up the museums.  The boat was packed with Spanish tourists.  I was a little less annoyed after ...

First up was the Vasa Museum - the Vasa was a warship that sunk 20 minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628, and was retrieved and reconstruction started in 1961.  I picked the wrong line and ended up waiting forever to get a ticket - my annoyance grows ...

The Vasa was the only boat in the world to have two cannon decks, but this made it very top-heavy and unstable.  They call the reconstruction the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle; the work was brutally painstaking.  For 17 years, the wood was sprayed with glycol to preserve it, and was dried for NINE years!  The museum finally opened in 1991.

They estimate that the ship only had about half the ballast it required for stability.  Workers used round stones, but claimed that couldn't fit enough in the hold.  This was later disproved - there was room for more, but still not enough for stability.  More stones could have been fit in had they been flat, and salvage crews also found that the round stones had all rolled to one side of the ship - the stones started to roll as the ship pitched, and caused the ship to pitch harder and harder until it sunk

All of the restoration work has been done using new techniques and was all one of a kind - who knows if the preserving process will survive the test of time?  Experts know that the Vasa will eventually fall apart, but they don't know exactly when. 

Next up was Skansen, Stockholm's open-air museum - I considered skipping it because the one in Oslo was boring, but was glad I listened to Solange's advice.  It was much bigger and livelier than Oslo's. 

Next was the Nordic museum - blah!  Not much to see, but included with the Stockholm card.  I left Djurgarden to go back downtown to stroll through Drottningatan, the main pedestrian street in town.  I wandered over to an amazing underground food market - wow!  The sights, sounds, smells ... I was tempted into having an early dinner tonight.   I went for the 80 Kr for fish soup - the equivalent of $13 CAD, it was a spectacular value.  It included bread, crackers, a simple salad of just lettuce, and even one refill!  

I'm tempted to come back to the market for lunch tomorrow before catching the night ferry to Helsinki.  There was this Middle Eastern deli serving roasted and stewed lamb dishes - I almost went for that instead of the fish soup today. 

I popped into the nearby Kungshallen food court just to see what they had on offer - it was a big, fancy food court where everything was served on real plates and cutlery.  Pricey for fast food, it was actually more restaurant quality - all manners of ethnic food were available, including Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Turkish, Middle Eastern ...

I shopped a little bit on Drottningatan, but found that shopping just isn't as fun when there aren't hordes of Spanish women around :(  I headed back towards the old town to catch a harbour cruise - the pre-recorded commentary kept putting me to sleep.  I paid for my early dinner later on as my dining patterns are still a bit on Spanish time - I needed some yogurt and juice, as well as a crappy hot dog from 7-11.  The bun was dry and the dog was hard - but what do you expect from 7-11?  I wandered through the old town, then back to hostel for some more free internet.
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