Stockhom, Sweden – Wednesday, June 24 – Day 9
Our tour of Stockholm was to be a long day, so we had an early start. Our ship was a bit too large to cruise into the harbor, so we anchored in Nynashamn, and were brought ashore by tender. We went through passport control and boarded the bus for a panoramic ride across the Western Bridge and some interesting views of the city’s skyline.
Unfortunately, the morning gave us more rain, so we were back in our standard gear of raincoats and umbrellas. The first stop was city hall, which opened in 1923. This building was constructed by an elite team of sculptors, artists and craftsmen, and is renowned for its stunning murals and mosaics. The Blue Hall’s spaciousness and stairway were magnificent, and the Golden Hall, which incorporates 18 million gold tiles, were mind boggling and gorgeous. This building is the site of the annual Nobel Prize banquet.
We were given headsets, but sadly, our tour guide was not organized, not clear with her instructions and didn’t seem to know her right from her left. She also didn’t seem to realize that giving instructions while most of us were in the restrooms was ill advised since we couldn’t hear her in there. This was our last excursion day and she was disappointing. Dianne was extremely frustrated with her, and after some really poor communication from our guide, we got a bit lost trying to find our way back to the bus, which had been moved and not explained to us. Not a fun experience. Thankfully, our fellow travelers forced her to get off the bus and come find us.
This didn’t dampen my feelings for this great city, but it did take my cousin a little time to get past her agitation. Our next stop, the Vasa Museum was just the diversion she needed to get back to enjoying herself. We had teamed up with Dale and Tim, a couple we met during our Tuscan Wine Dinner, and they were both so upbeat it helped to dissipate the tension.
We then continued our bus tour along the waterfront and past the graceful Royal Dramatic Theatre building, Sweden’s national theater. We continued our bus tour to Stockholm’s recreational area, called Djurgården, and the Blue Gate, and on to the Vasa Museum.
The Vasa Museum was extremely fascinating. The Vasa is one of the world’s most important warships. It was constructed between 1626 and 1628. She sank during her maiden voyage after having traveled only one nautical mile. Though her top-heavy design doomed her, the Vasa is a nostalgic symbol of the 17th and 18th centuries when Sweden was a world power. The ship was retrieved from the bottom of the sea in 1961. There were thousands of artifacts found, and this amazing museum held the Vasa as well as a large volume of these artifacts.
We then had a delightful lunch stop in Old Town (Gamla Stan). It was a great pub and we were able to have a few beverages with our lunch, which we also enjoyed with Tim and Dale. Lunch consisted of a wonderful salad, and then Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and cookies and coffee for dessert.
The rain stopped, so we all enjoyed our walk through Old Town, and the free time we were allotted for shopping after lunch. Dale purchased a reindeer blanket for her to enjoy by the fire back in their hometown of Toronto.
We then all met back at the tour bus and visited the Royal Palace and Museum. This palace (Kungliga slottet) is the official residence and primary palace of the Swedish monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. It is located in the heart of Gamla Stan on the river and next to the Parliament Building (the Riksdag). The Royal Palace has been in this exact location since the 13th century. This particular palace construction started in 1697 and was completed in 1760. It is 3 stories and has an astounding 1,430 rooms. We saw many coats of arms, visited its attached Royal Chapel. The palace also houses the offices of the Royal Court of Sweden, and there are approximately 200 employees. The Royal Guards have guarded the palace and the Royal Family since 1523. This palace underwent a comprehensive renovation of its facade that began in 2011 and is expected to take 22 years to complete. The palace is owned, run, and maintained by the State through the National Property Board of Sweden.
We re-boarded the bus and took our 40 minute ride back to the ship minus our tour guide who elected to “jump ship” and remain in the city. Again, not something any of us expected.
Back on the ship, we had a delightful dinner in the Symphony Dining with our fabulous team. My dinner consisted of:
Gnocchi with Fresh Marinara
Trilogy of Skewers with Potato Croquettes, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Sautéed Spinach
Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Lemon Mandolin Cookies
All we had left was our final day and evening at sea and lots of packing before our disembarkation the following morning in Copenhagen, June 26th.
Last Day at Sea – Thursday, June 25 – Day 10
We got up early, had a wonderful breakfast in the Concerto Dining Room, and then attended the beginning portion of a cooking demonstration by the Princess Fleet’s master chef. We didn’t get to see the end product because we had to rush off to our last spa appointment; we both had decided on totally indulgent collagen facials. We both loved every minute of them. We went back up to our cabin to take showers and get all the mud and ointments out of our hair and do a little more packing.
I decided I couldn’t resist the ice cream parlor and the exotic gelatos any longer, so I took a little side trip to the Piazza and had a wonderful treat of a scoop of vanilla bean and a scoop of Nutella. Yum!
Our Dining Room Team had talked us into attending the final Wine Club Tasting at 3 pm that started with a Sauvignon Blanc Nobilo from New Zealand and ended with a fabulous Overture by Opus One, USA.
We returned to our room to finalize our packing and take a little nap. The wine had made us sleepy. We had to have our packed bags outside our cabin door when we went down to our final dinner that evening. My dinner consisted of:
with a Wedge of Romaine and Balsamic Vinegar
Linguine con Vongole
Sirloin Steak with a Green Peppercorn Sauce, Roasted Tomatoes,
Sautéed Potato Slices, and Baby Zucchini
Last Evening Baked Alaska
Before we went to any shows, I made one last trip up to decks 16 and 17 to catch the fountain show, the giant TV, and a couple of side view shots of the Regal Princess and the Sea Walk at night. I also took a few last photos of the wind generators, passing under the Sweden/Denmark Bridge.
We then headed off to our final live show in the Princess Theater entitled BRAVO!, strolled back to the Piazza and watched Rhapsody and our cruise directors get everyone up and line dancing; and of course we completed the night with what was now officially our traditional night caps; and off to bed for Dianne’s very early scheduled departure at 7:45 am for her transfer to the Copenhagen Airport.
My departure was scheduled for 9:20 am, because I was staying in Copenhagen at my friend Lizzie’s daughter and family’s home. I was to visit with them for the next six days and then fly directly home to Ft. Lauderdale with Lizzie. My last post about this Baltic adventure will be about my stay in Copenhagen. Please be sure to stay tuned for the final episode of this journey.