This morning, we were woken at around 5am to the loud honking of the fog horn of the ship. Apparently our berthing came into doubt due to the heavy fog. It takes around 4 hours for the ship to navigate the narrow channel into Stockholm. When I finally rose out of bed, I was shocked to see rocks and trees at our door basically and we are on the 16th floor!! The fog cleared fortunately and the view was amazing. The air was crisp and clear and the water as calm as can be. There was greenery everywhere along with quaint houses set amongst the fir trees.
Stockholm did not disappoint. We set foot towards Gamla Stan, the one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe. It was probably a good 3 kilometre walk. The cobble stoned streets led us to many shops and we were fortunate that the tourist buses had not arrived. The shops were not yet open so it was very peaceful. We made various turns through the streets and came across Storkyrkan, the Stockholm cathedral and also the Royal Palace which was once home to the king of Sweden. We stopped at the latter for a coffee and a traditional Swedish cinnamon bun. There was a scenic viewpoint to look out over the next “island” (Stockholm is comprised of 14 islands) which housed the beautiful House of Parliament. While strolling towards the armoury we ran into the Lukins.
Along the waterfront side of the palace, there were two impressive waterfalls either side of another beautiful entrance to the palace. We crossed the canal and strolled through Karl XII park, which had several fountains and flower beds. Nearby was the Opera House. As we went back toward Gamla Stan we were able to walk through the rear of the parliament house, a very impressive building indeed.
Having completed some souvenir shopping we headed back to the ship as it was due to sail at 1.30 and we did not want to be late. We were able to meet up with Cherryl and Doug for lunch on board and take in the beautiful scenery and glorious sunshine outside.
The ship set sail around 2pm, after all three and a half thousand guests were back on board. It’s unbelievable that people come back late. The blast of the horns heralded our departure, a manouevre to certainly observe. The ship had to spin the stern out into the harbour and complete a 180 degree turn so that it could head out. We are talking about over 1 000 feet of machinery – amazing.
ABBA music played on the Lido deck as we sailed back through the narrow passage that we had come through in the morning. It was so picturesque, so much so, we stood on our balcony and admired the magnificent view for hours. I think, of all the cities, Stockholm would have to have been my favourite, although I loved them all. As we sailed away, rain showers came across the archipelago. Seagulls hovered between decks, hoping for a morsel of food. The captain sounded the horns just before we left the inlet for the open sea and the villagers lined the banks to wave and wish us well on our way back into the Baltic. Doug, Cherryl and Ross drank a glass of red on the balcony and room service bought me hot water to have a cup of tea. How wonderful!!
Our dinners over the cruise have been somewhat special. We have had lobster tail, scallops, escargots, pheasant, pasts as well as delicious soups and many desserts. Of course, this is on top of a full breakfast of who knows what and any lunch that you might choose to have. The bags might be growing but I am sure the bodies have made the most growth.
Last night we went to the last show by the ship’s cast. The talent of these young singers and dancers has to be admired and the set that they build leaves nothing to be desired. Every show has been amazing. The sea was calm throughout the night was calm as it has been every night, with only the occasional sideways vibration.