Our last official port! We end the voyage in Germany, but Sweden is the last country where we get off the ship to explore and then return.
I didn’t really know much about Sweden before visiting (and honestly, I still don’t know a lot). On the short journey from Copenhagen to Stockholm I was inundated on the ship with final projects to grade, exams to grade, JCR work to take care of… so I didn’t do much advance reading at all. That meant I was incredibly surprised to see that the sea approach to Stockholm is through an area of islands that are reminiscent of the Canadian Shield. It was sort of like being on a cruise ship in Algonquin Park, if the lake was actually the Baltic Sea. It was simply gorgeous, and we had about two hours of this beauty before we arrived in the city.
The beauty continued in Stockholm itself. We arrived on a sunny Sunday morning and had a fair walk from the ship to the hotel. We were able to cut through a large city park, where toddlers and doggies bounded around their families. It was lovely. We splurged on a very expensive and delicious lunch right at our hotel. Once checked in, it was time to explore this gorgeous place. Here are just a couple of shots; I have so many more!
Our first full day of sightseeing started with another awe-inspiring church. We’ve seen so many now, but even as a non-religious person I never fail to find these places calming and inspirational at the same time.
We headed to Gamla stan, Stockholm’s oldest section, located on the original island that was the city. It’s home to museums, including the Nobel Prize museum, but we decided to tour the Royal Palace and Treasury. What a great choice. First, we got to gawk at some serious treasure; I didn’t count the crowns, but there were many, many crowns. And swords. Many, many swords.
And of course, what’s a royal without one’s ermine cape?
Then, after watching a short segment of the changing of the guard, it was on to the Palace.
This palace was the most impressive we have seen yet, I think. It’s still used for official business, but not as a residence. I took many more pictures than I can share here, but here are just some examples of the over-the-top style and opulence.
The next day was another unseasonably warm and sunny day. We decided against another indoor day, so skipped some of the museums that were supposed to be “must see” (and the Abba museum) and instead explore Skansen, an “open-air museum with farmsteads and a zoo” on another island. It was more for children, but it was really pretty, with old historical 17th century buildings and lots of animals. For readers in London, ON, think Storybook Garden, plus the Children’s museum, plus Fanshawe Pioneer Village, on steroids (and with an aquarium)! And because it is on the top of a hill, there are lovely views of the city of Stockholm.
Tomorrow it is back to the ship. Here’s the COVID plan: as always, we will test everyone as we get back on the ship. But this time there is a bit of a twist. Anyone testing positive will be ending their voyage here in Sweden, and leaving the ship permanently to enter an isolation facility/hotel. The rest of us (I pray the rest of us includes Dan, Joe, and I) will carry on to Germany, with no further testing. After 7 days at sea, which include finals, convocation (the students chose me as one of the Convocation Speakers – yea!), and a final “Ball” and some other fun things, we arrive in Bremerhaven Germany at the conclusion of the voyage.