I love this country. They use technology so well that it makes life easier for everyone. I have not had to go to an ATM or use cash (except to buy a few trinkets in an open market) but that is another post.
Sorry Sweden, I found Stockholm quite underwhelming. Don't get me wrong. The history and culture of the place is wonderfuland I am sure if I spent some time there, I would not have a boring moment in the world. But it is like any other big city in Europe at this time of the year - full of tourists. Which is what I was.
So I joined the throng of tourists to get a feel of the city in the best way possible - since I only had a day to do it: the Hop On Hop Off bus. This has to be one of the best things invented. It gives you a feel for what is on offer; gives you an insight into what the people in the city (in this case the Swedes) think is important about their city and history; and a chance to see in depth what you want. There was a bonus on the Swedish one - free wi-fi to share your photos on the move. Besides I like double decker buses. You can get a blow by blow update on my Tumblr site where I posted my observations throughout the day through path. In case you missed the tweets and FB posts.
As a city made up of islands - you don't get the island feel because there are bridges connecting most of them. It was a fabulous meandering through the city. Loved the bustle of some parts (near the Old Town and Sodermalm) and the quiet of the posh areas like Ostermalm. I would've loved to have got off and joined the boat tour but wanted to spend more time in the Vasa museum.
The line at the museum was long (a mile is a bit of an exaggeration) but it moved quite quickly. You could hear a lot of languages but there were just as many Swedes as there were tourists. One tip - if you do go - don't see the movie before you get the tour but do see it. It could be running in a different language but all of them have English sub-titles. There were tours in several languages (other than the dedicated groups of course) so I joined the English one. It was a small group with several people who opted for the English because their own language wasn't available (at least I think that's the reason). But he gave us the run down on the background of the wars and politics of the time, the reason for the ship and the details that went into the build of the ship. Someone mentioned that the museum was built around the ship when it was salvaged - and I can well believe that because it dominates this museum that is rather a large (enormous) shed that is very well laid out and managed. A huge amount of details of the boat and carvings have been salvaged and the fact that almost 80-90% of the ship survived intact despite 300 years in the water is quite amazing.
I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the museum learning not only about the ship and life on board (short though it was - it probably reflected the life on board ships at that time); the clothes, the food etc - you get the picture. There were just as interesting facts on why the ship survived the way it did and how they salvaged it in its entirety. I found the movie very illuminating.
My next highlight was in the Concert Hall. There was an exhibition (with an optional tour) of the Nobel Prize Award ceremony with some of the facts and figures. It was interesting but what was nicer was the impromptu concert by two young musicians playing some select movements from violin/cello duets from Bartok and several other composers. The finished with a composition based on Jimi Hendrick's Purple Haze. If they hadn't said that - I would've enjoyed it more. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the free concert and it was good too.
I meandered through the shops in the open market in Hotorget outside the hall and bought a few trinkets; hopped on the bus and made my way back to Stockholm Central Station to get back to Vasteras where Crystal had cooked me a smorgasbord of typical Swedish fare. Yummy. Sorry was so hungry - did not take any photos. But I have picked up some very useful tips from Crystal - the results of which will be shared back in Dubai. My favourite so far - Avocado shrimp starter and the deconstructed instant cheesecake dessert.
You can see an update of all my photographs from my Sweden trip on Flickr.