June 22, 2010

ship building lessons in stockholm

Today we heard the name Gustavus Adophus quite a lot. With apologies to my friends in St. Peter I must say he didn’t know much about ship building. In all truth it really wasn’t his fault from a technical point of view, but he did pay the bill. I am talking about the Vasa of course. It is the largest ship to be recovered and salvaged and conserved in a museum. This is definitely a must see sight if you go to Stockholm. The Vasa was built in 1628 and was the largest ship in the Swedish fleet. Unfortunately she sunk on her maiden voyage out of the harbor! The reason she sank was because there was not enough ballast in the ship to counterbalance the forces on the sails in the heavy breeze. This seems like an incredibly dumb mistake for a ship builder to make, but there you have it.

The ship lay submerged for 333 years until an amazing recovery operation in the 1960’s brought the ship to the surface. The Vasa is amazingly well preserved due to the water conditions in the Baltic. The museum is just as interesting for the story of how the ship was raised to the surface and preserved as it was to learn about the building of the ship in 1628.

The Vasa Museum was our first stop today in Stockholm. Our day started early as we had to debark from the vision of the seas by 7:40. The sailing in to Stockholm was once again beautiful and very reminiscent of Wisconsin and Northern Minnesota. We are all very lonely for our cabin at the sight of water, boats, rave trampolines and all the pine trees. The rest of the morning we wandered around stockholm enjoying the shops and the old town. We did a little shopping. I got an official USA soccer jersey to wear for the game today.

After walking around all morning we returned to our hotel to check in and rest up a bit. We are staying in the Rica Hotel on Gamla Stan in a wonderful part of stockholm. The streets around here are narrow and cobbled and there are restaurants and bars and little shops everywhere. We hunted around a little bit to decide where to have a late afternoon dinner and watch the USA versus Algeria match. We found O’Leary’s, a boston themed restaurant owned by a swede who spent time in Boston. They had the England match on upstairs and the USA match on down. The American fans were many and much louder than the brits. In a funny small world moment I recognized one of the other fans in the restaurant as the same person we had watched football with when we were in Balestrand! They were originally from Minnesota but had moved to Boston.

To catch up on our activities, yesterday we were in Tallin Estonia, and the day before was a day at sea. Tallin was a really nice city, it has the oldest medieval walled city in Europe. The city reminded us a little of Italy and of some of the walled cities we had visited in Tuscany. The city is an interesting mix of scandinavian and Russian influences.

Jane had a walking tour of the city that we got on the internet and we followed that plan around the city for several hours. After that we returned to the ship for our last night on board.

We are having a great time, but we are all very tired today. We just didn’t have a lot of energy for many touring activities. And the USA victory took a lot of energy as well. Early to bed tonight, but up again early tomorrow morning for our flight to Dublin.

Location:Stockholm, Sweden