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August 7, 2015

This morning we arrived at Stadhuset’s tower ticket office by 9am. We were one of the firsts to buy our ticket for the 9:15 entry. Our group was allowed 35 minutes in the tower…ten minutes to climb 348 feet, 15 minutes to look around, and ten minutes to go down. Our climb included a variety of stairs, some appeared newer than others, and then a ramp of bricks that seemed to spiral up and around the tower in straight, narrow passage ways with a slight jog every now and then. After the fifth time around, we wondered when it would end! The top of the tower offered lovely panoramic views of Stockholm. In the middle of the tower, several models which were entered in a competition for statues around the city hall were displayed. It was quite interesting.

From the tower, we walked over to Kungsgatan to catch the number 7 tram to Skansen, the number one attraction in Stockholm according to Suman’s book. We figured out we needed a one zone ticket, for a 15 minute ride for 36 Kronor or just over $4. I have to say, this city is expensive!

We paid 170 Kronor to enter Skansen, which included a little of everything in the outdoor park. The book described it as an open-air museum. It includes a variety of buildings dating from the 14th to 20th Century, wild Swedish animals including lynx, grey wolves, brown bears, owls, reindeer, and wolverines just to name a few. We would have had to pay extra to enter the lemur building so we snapped photos from afar. We walked through a small fair ground with old rides and checked out the funicular railway, with a cable operated system constructed in 1897. After admiring the rose garden, we stopped for lunch. The choices were herring, salmon, meatballs, ham and cured beef. Given the first four choices are not foods that I don’t particularly like, I chose cured beef. I’ve never had it before, but it was pretty good, though salty. After visiting the glassworks shop, we bid farewell to Skansen and made our way to the Vasamuseet, also located on Djurgarden, another island.

The Vasamuseet housed an impressive warship built between 1626 and 1628. There was only one problem…it was top heavy with an insufficient ballast. It traveled 4,265 feet before it capsized and sank killing 30 of the 150 people on board. It sat underwater for 333 years before it was raised, much of it still in tact.

The stern was very ornate and home to many of the ships 500 statues. Though it looks just like brown wood now, it was very colorful in its time, and one wall of the museum displayed what it was thought to look like after the small traces of leftover paint were analyzed. The many lion sculptures reflect the fact that King Gustav II Adolf, who commissioned the boat, was known as the lion of the north. Parts of the sails, most of its 64 canons, and many personal affects were also salvaged. Apparently the Vasa had a sister ship that was built one meter wider, and it sailed for many years!

After leaving the Vasa, we found a riverside cafe where we relaxed for a while before visiting Riddarholmen Kykan, a church turned museum, on Riddarholmen, another island. The church is one of Stockholm’s oldest buildings. It is only open in the summer so tourists can essentially see the burial grounds of the Swedish Royal family. Members of the Royal family have been buried here since the 13th century.

For the evening we strolled through Old Town and stopped at a wine bar and tapas cafe. We noticed several smokers and Asian tourists in Stockholm. Stockholm also reminded us of a combination of Copenhagen and Tallinn. It provided bike lanes as Copenhagen did, though not quite as good, and the medieval town like Tallin. It was really a great city!

To top off our trip home, we got great views of Greenland. ETB

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