Saturday, July 16, 2005


An early start- we had to meet at 6:45 to disembark, so we had breakfast in our room. We anchored off Nynashamn and had to be taken to shore on boats (tenders). It was a short trip and quite pleasant. ONce there we boarded buses for the trip into Stockholm (about 40 minutes). The landscape resembles Quebec in many ways. The wildflowers, the trees could all be found in Quebec. Stockholm, however, is not Montreal. Our tour guide, Joachim, was very knowledgeable with a dry sense of humour, and very good looking. It was a delight to spend the day with him.

It seems that Swedes are avid golfers. There are many courses with almost 1 million golfers out of a population of 9 million Swedes.Stockholm, alone has about 50 golf courses. On the drive we passed lovely wooded areas. Sweden has the law of common access. Although the land is all privately owned, anyone can have access, picking berries, mushrooms (according to Joachim all are edible but some only once!).

Stockholm is situated on a number of islands knit together by bridges. It sits between a lake and the Baltic Sea. We passed the entrance to what looked like a parking lot carved into a cliff. Apparently it is a bomb shelter large enough to hold 30,000 people. Our first stop was the City Hall which is also the site of the Nobel Banquet and ball. There are about 200 rooms; we saw 2. The building was designed to feature the craftsmanship and materials of Sweden, so there is a lot of variety from room to room.The architecture is considered to be National Romantic eclectic. The building was inaugurated in 1923. The first room we saw was the Blue Hall, which was originally supposed to be an open air atrium, but which the architect decided to cover with a roof. The walls were supposed to be painted blue hence "Blue Hall" but the architect decided he liked their natural colouring so the Blue Hall is not blue at all. This room is used for the banquet of the Nobel Cermony. Our guide said that this is an important day in Sweden. Everyone watches the ceremony which is televised including the dinner and dancing. His family prepares a special dinner and sets table in front of the TV. When they serve the salad, his family eats salad. When it is time for the main course his family has the main course and when the dancing starts they dance in their living room. What a great idea! The stairway up to the ballroom is one of the easiest I have ever climbed. It seems to be ergonomically perfectly designed. The ballroom is huge - covered with gold mosaics (over 19 million tiles) which is an allegory of Sweden's history. On one side is the Melaran Queen (Malaran is the lake on which Stockholm sits) who welcomes the world.

Stockholm - stock means log and holm is island. There was a log barricade built around the island where the first settlement was - hence Stockholm. We drove around and then went to the Vasa Museum. More about this in the next post.


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