Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stockholm - First Port of Call

Even though Stockholm is a port city, it is located in from the Baltic Sea.  It is reached by traveling channels between many islands covered with trees and dotted with vacation homes.  The journey to the port was very relaxing and scenic as the Star Princess made its way to the city center.
One the ship was secured, we boarded our bus for the shore excursion.  The city of Stockholm does have some nice hills, one of which the bus took us to for a view of the city.  On one of the many islands was an amusement park, its rides visible over the tree tops.  Back on the bus and it was a tour of downtown Stockholm as we made out way to the Vasa Museum.
The Vasa was a warship, the flagship of the Swedish Navy.  While under construction, the king decided he wanted a larger ship, so decks were added against the designers protests.  When you are king, you get what you want.  The additional weight made for a very unstable ship, that combined with the low gun ports would prove to be a disaster.
On its maiden voyage the Vasa never left the harbor.  The cross wind caused her to heel over and water poured into the lower cannon ports causing her to  founder in the harbor in August of 1628.  It was found in the 1950s and raised in with an intact hull in 1961.  Since the water in the harbor is cold year round, many of the animals that would have consumed the wood, can not survive.  It was housed in a temporary museum after it was preserved until 1987 when it was moved to the Vasa Museum where it is currently displayed.
Once inside the museum, the ship looms in the semi darkness.  The lights are kept low to help preserve the ship.  It is surrounded by a walk way that circles the hull with a lower level.  Around the perimeter of the room are displays of life in 17th century Sweden.  The ship itself is in excellent condition, the detailing on the stern is still detailed, though the paint has vanished.
After a short stroll along the waterfront, we board the bus for the next stop....the home of the Nobel Prizes.  Alfred Nobel developed dynamite and bequeathed his fortune for the Nobel Prizes.  The building contains the hall where the awards dinner is held along with several other rooms.  It is a coveted invitation since the room is not very large.  There is also an elaborately decorated ball room for the reception/dance afterwards.