Today is our last day in Sweden. We return tomorrow to the States. I didn't sleep well last night so I made it a short day of sightseeing. We decided to give the Vasa Museum another try, getting there earlier in the morning. Our plan was successful, as we were able to walk right in.
The Vasa was a wooden sailing ship built in the 1620s. On her maiden voyage in 1628 she traveled about one mile before she keeled over. The King wanted a tall, majestic warship to intimidate the enemies of Sweden so it was built in a way making it top heavy. It also was too rounded on the bottom, and there wasn't enough ballast, and the ballast that was used was the wrong shape. The ship began to list, and water entered the openings where the cannons pointed out, filling the ship with water.
In the 1950s, a man believed he knew where the Vasa was located, determined he was correct, and the effort was underway to raise the Vasa from the bottom of the harbor. This was done in 1961. The Baltic Sea is a mixture of salt water and fresh water, and this environment was perfect for preserving the Vasa as she was on the day she sank. Amazingly the Vasa on display is 98% original. Karl remembers seeing the Vasa when he lived here as a boy, but it wasn't yet in a nice museum.
I don't believe I've complained about anything yet in this blog, and maybe it's because I'm sleep deprived, but here's some negativity. The Vasa is an amazing ship that has to be seen to be appreciated. The informative displays setting the Vasa in its political and social contexts were also very well done, as was the introductory film. Here's my complaint--the Vasa Museum is too crowded to be enjoyable. Guided tours were offered by museum staff twice an hour in multiple languages. Karl and I thought the tour would be around the outside of the ship, pointing things out, etc., so we spent our time waiting for the tour start time by looking at the displays. Well, the tour, for the most part, ran around looking at the displays! The museum was so crowded that we lost the tour guide as we went upstairs. We (and several other visitors in our group--there was an elderly couple who had trouble with the stairs. We were behind them.) zigged, and our guide (and the rest of the group) zagged. We found him again, but the elderly couple and others didn't. In addition to the museum staff giving tours, there were dozens of organized tour groups getting a tour from their tour guide. At one point our guide was trying to talk over a guide speaking Italian and discussing the same display. Another time, a tour group marched right through our group, and snippy words were exchanged between our guide and theirs. It was just unpleasant, whether in the tour or on our own. So ends my rant.
I'd read where the restaurant at the Vasa Museum was good, so we decided to give it a try. We'd been at the museum for 2 hours and felt like we'd seen everything we wanted to see (and were tired of being jostled about). Well, I have to say that this was probably the best food I've had in Stockholm! I meant to take a photo of its description on the menu board, but I forgot. The translation on the board said something about fried pork, boiled potatoes, and creamed stalk cabbage. I have no idea what stalk cabbage is, but it tasted like regular cabbage and seemed pretty much like regular cabbage. And the fried pork was thick sliced bacon. So there you have it, bacon, potatoes, and cabbage in a cream sauce. Oh, and the ubiquitous lingonberries...Yummy!
So, the Vasa exhibit on a 5 point scale... 5 points. The Vasa Museum experience....2 points. The Vasa Museum fried pork lunch....5 points.
After our post-lunch coffees, Karl and I decided to go our separate ways--just for the afternoon! We rode the tram back to Nybroplan and then walked to the Östermalmstorg subway station. He headed northeast on line 14, and I headed southwest on line 13. Karl went to Lidingö to find another place they lived in the 1970s, and I headed back to the apartment to rest and begin packing for our return journey.
Karl got back to the apartment around 4:30 and we worked on our projects (packing and computing) until about 6:00 when we walked around a couple of corners to Pizzeria Italia, where we shared a Hawaiian pizza (I know, it's my 3rd one in 2 weeks). They had an Indiana pizza, that had shrimp, pineapple, banana, and curry. We decided that was maybe Indian and not Indiana! This was the first time in our trip that we encountered a language barrier. The young man at the pizza restaurant did not speak English, and I'd guess that he's not a native Swedish speaker either, but with our rudimentary Swedish and sign language we managed to get the pizza, waters, and salad (the vinegar based slaw) ordered. And speaking of salad, the salad bar at lunch contained mixed greens with a vinaigrette...AND they offered ice for the drinking water.
A stop at the grocery for a packaged ice cream treat was next on our list, then back to the apartment where Karl is now packing and I'm blogging.
Final thoughts on Sweden. I really like it here and would live here if I could. The people are happy and content, polite and helpful. People take one look at us and speak English. (But if I lived here I'd learn Swedish.) The food has been good. I love this neighborhood. Oh, Maude told us about an app that you can use to change the colors on the Telefonplan tower. It's called Colour by numbers. I can't see the tower from the apartment and it won't be dark when I go to bed, so maybe next time...
So I will say Hej då! to Sweden, but I know I'll be back. I want Ellen and Caroline to see the country of their ancestors (they're 1/4 Swedish), and I want to see more of this beautiful country.
Today's photos are here. Riina and Karl have some more photos for me so I will post them as soon as possible.