We said hej hej (pronounced hey, hey) to Sweden (this is how everyone greets you!).
Our first impression was full of pine forests and lakes – everywhere! Lots of windy roads and the speed limit was a sedate 80 km/hr for most of the way. We couldn’t resist stopping at the first lake we saw and …
yes it was jaw dropping. It helped to have our first bit of sun in a while. The water was crystal clear and reflected our hopes for this leg of the trip.
The drive to Stockholm was too long to do in one hit so we broke it up with another rural stop – this time in Klassbol – alongside one of the myriad of lakes in this country. Another thing Sweden is famous for (courtesy of Kim research) – tubes. Yes food in tubes. For some reason they like nothing better than to buy a tube of some blended substance that is called food. Needless to say we couldn’t bring ourselves to try it. We did, however, sample some delicious wild caught salmon – so nice – such a difference to the farmed salmon back in Australia.
This accommodation was another highlight. It was the attic of a barn and had amazing views out to the countryside. We were a bit perturbed by the fact that the owners had so much land – but nary an animal in sight! No chickens / horses / not even a dog! They had a tiny vege patch and that was that. However they were blessed in that they were two minutes away from a beautiful lake. We did the walk several times over the coming days, always admiring the vegetation’s slow struggle to reemerge from the depths of winter.
We enjoyed the slow things – watching the sun set over the forest, getting excited over our first glimpse of a wild deer as it hesitantly made its way across the open field to grab the first succulent new spring shoots.
We hiked a path through the forest opposite the house which lead to another lake. We passed fields of sheep with their newborns in tow. A little waterfall babbled quietly to itself and fungi slowly munched on a decaying tree. It was a very sedate, relaxing few days.
It was about a four hour drive from our rural stay to the city of Stockholm, capital of Sweden. Our apartment was on the top floor overlooking a park and next door to the underground.
We went out to explore the city. Stockholm is basically a series of islands, connected with bridges – but we thought it would be fun to use their ferries – we purchased a day pass that gave us free transport and hopped on the ferry. It reminded me of the citycats in Brisbane – it was great to stand out the front, watching the scenery go by as the wind whips through your ‘hair’ (I use inverted commas as there is not much for the wind to whip through anymore – but it was nice on my scalp – Kim has no such worries).
We passed an old theme park (4th oldest in the world) – which, despite its age, still had a multitude of vertiginous, vomit inducing rides. But this was not where we were heading this day – we were going to the Vasa Museum.
We didn’t end up seeing the Viking ships in Oslo – and so I was especially keen to see this ship (which was not a Viking ship). On 10 August 1628, the ship Vasa set sail from Stockholm – it was one of the strongest warships of the time – it promptly sank in the harbour (it had been built too top heavy) – where it sat for over 300 years. Because of the icy cold water – it was extremely well preserved. Over 95 percent of the ship on display is original.
I have to say it was impressive. Not only the size of a small skyscraper – but the detail of the engravings and the extravagant displays of wealth and power were interesting. It was surrounded by a museum like display that explained everything and included models of the ship (it would have been very colourful when first built).
We finished our time in Stockholm with a wander through the old town, where we observed the coloured buildings, the unusual phone boxes, cute antique shops, the palace in the middle of the city and a tiny, tiny, alleyway.
Stockholm is in the east of Sweden, in the centre of the country. We were about to make our gradual drive out of Sweden towards mainland Europe – it is a fair distance though, so we broke the trip up with a stay in Vadstena. Vadstena is about 3 hours out of Stockholm and is located … on a lake!
Our accommodation was in the roof of a barn in the town. We enjoyed seeing the unusual stick sculptures, the cute village atmosphere of the main street and the castle that overlooked the lake. A very peaceful rest.