Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Baltic is cold ... and this post is long

Last weekend, I was in Stockholm with my friend Deb (we both teach 5a at Krudy). The fact that I even went was funny because about a month ago I heard her talking with some of the other teachers about places to go in Stockholm. Just being curious, I asked when she was going. "The weekend of March 15th, want to come?" I thought she was joking at first but ended up deciding to go.
Deb and I at the Vasa Museum

So, last Saturday found me on my way to Sweden. Some highlights of the trip:

~~ Because it's amazing compared to the other places I've lived, I forget how bad the public transportation system is in Budapest (when compared to others in Europe) This is just a regular city bus in Stockholm (I'll have to take a picture of one here to compare)

~~The hostel was fine. We stayed in a 9 bed room but there were never more than 5-6 people. It's always strange waking up across the room from a random guy who wasn't there the night before. There was a guest kitchen downstairs along with a couple of computers. The only problem was when our key cards didn't work Monday evening - it turned out there was a new system that was causing problems.. someone came out and fixed it pretty quickly after we called.

~~ Sunday was the most multicultural day I've had in a LONG time (if not ever). Two Americans, living in Budapest, visiting Sweden, going to Mass in Italian, and eating Thai food for dinner.

~~ The Roman Catholic population in Sweden is still so low (about 1.6% of the country in 2005) that there is only one diocese for the whole country. The church (St. Eric's Cathedral - one of three Catholic churches in the city) was a strange mix of modern and late 19th century architecture due to expansions to accomodate the increased number of Catholics (now 10x what it was in 1950). Each Sunday there is Mass in Italian, Swedish, Swedish and Latin, Croatian, Polish, and Spanish - the Italian one just happened to fit into our schedule best. I was pleased with how much I understood.

View from the back of the new section vs. View from the back of the church

~~ After Mass, we went to Drottningholm Palace on the outskirts of Stockholm. Neither of us found it particularly impressive and were glad we hadn't paid specifically for it (to make life easier -- and probably save money -- we got the Stockholm Card). The Music and Theatre Museum which we visited later Sunday afternoon was much more enjoyable. There were various instruments you could play and many other interactive activities -- would be a great place to take kids.

Playing a theremin -->
"I feeeeeEEEElll a MIlllliiiiiooon Trees"
(probably not exactly the instrument Babbit had in mind but it was still nifty)

~~ Monday morning we took the ferry across to one of the other islands (we were staying on the Gamala Stan - the Old Town) to visit the Vasa Museum

Panorama from the ferry -- it was sooo cold

<-- Chunks of ice in the water behind me

~~ The Vasa Museum was fantastic! I'm not particularly interested in ships or sailing etc. but it was fascinating. The Vasa is the only surviving war ship from the 17th century. She sailed barely a kilometer before sinking on her maiden voyage in 1628. In 1961, following 7 years of preparation and 333 years after sinking, she was lifted to the surface and started an enormous preservation project which still continues today.

Meticulous preservation went into everything found on board - there are even fabric items which have survived
Scale model (I'm not sure of the exact scale) depicting how the Vasa would have looked the day she sailed.

~~ Walking around the Gamla Stan, I took a picture of the Nobel Museum (caller No. 10 gets the Peace Prize!)

and bought a PIG TEAPOT AND MUG!!
If that's not the cutest thing ever I don't know what is!
(the design is the same on both - front and back)

~~ Monday night we decided to be very Swedish... and went to Ikea!

Stay tuned for Part II...

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