Stockholm, Sweden - 31st May

TSo today is the first of June and we have a sea day which is a great relief after 5 days in a row of shore excursions. We've been enjoying lectures today on expeditions to Mars, the Vikings and even the recycling system of the ship - can you believe by Copenhagen we will have created 17 tonnes of crushed glass!  (We also learned that the plastic in disposable nappies takes 500 years to dissolve in the ocean - yuck.) so Nic I'm sitting in our stateroom with a glass of Pinot Grigio watching the ocean pass by and writing this.

Let me start with an apology. It seems the blog posts have been getting a bit confused by my downloading so many at once. Some seem to gave gone missing, I doubt I can sort this tomorrow in Copenhagen, but once we are back in the UK I should be able to figure it all out.

I hope you have seen the beautiful pictures as we came through the Swedish archipelago and here is a link that will take you to more information. It was equally as wonderful going back out as we ate our dinner last night.

We were fascinated that our bus this morning was first started by the driver having to blow into a breathalyser tube, he has to do this every time the bus is stopped for more than 15minutes. We also discovered that there are 32,000 islands in the archipelago. It us also illegal to leave your dog alone for any more than 4 hours here so dig sitting and walking are good businesses and unlike child care are not subsidised. Our shore excursion started at the Vasa Museum. Wow!
This is a magnificent war shop built from 1625-1628 and which sank on its maiden voyage - thankfully just after it was launched meaning most of the people on board were saved. The King ordered the masts to be removed (all that remained visible) and it was forbidden to talk about the ship. In 1958 (what a great year), it was rediscovered and carefully raised and dried out (over 17 years) then sailed 100 metres to its current position and the museum walls were built around it. The brackish water and mud of the Baltic meant it is just about entirely intact despite 333 years under water. If she remind you of Captain Jack Sparrow, she was used by the film crew to build there stages.
This shows the colouring of the original.
It truly is amazing.
More info here for those who haven't had enough already!
When we returned to the bus we saw our second example of how dangerous it is to return to the wrong seat. Despite no personal items people get very attached and demand people move even if it is a single row and it's not even the front seat. (Get a life) and then we played where's Wally. Yes a person was missing and I had to try very hard not to laugh out loud when his wife identified him as bring named Wally. He was quickly found.  So from here we travelled - well first we negotiated our way out of the grid lock of the Vasa Museum car park
And then onto the old town called Gamla Stan which includes the royal palace (though they only work there now, residing out of town)
It's a quaint area and the Stockholm Cathedral stands next to the royal palace 

There is also the main square
Which also includes the home of the Nobel Prize
The back streets are intriguing and contain several statues. This is St Geirge and the dragon, symbolic of the Swedes slaying the Danes.
This is part of the German church that was very musical at 12 noon and has even been known to play Abba's dancing queen.
And surely this us the world's smallest statue. Apparently in winter people dress him up and it us lucky to rub his head and make a wish and people leave coins which later help Stockholm's homeless.
At 12:15 the changing of the palace guard takes place and the guides never know whether it will be a few people or a lot and we were so lucky as we had an entire division and a band which entertained us girls almost half an hour.
Then back on the bus again.
This is the street Bjorn Borg lives in.
Oh and we heard about the ABBA museum (next time) and the fact all children are offered music - a specific musical instrument by the age of 8.  This us the national drama theatre. 5kg of gold in front of you.
I think this is the Parliament?
So then we headed to an ice bar. A must do in one if these countries. Geared up in furs and gloves we headed into the minus seven bar for our vodka drink made in an ice glass.

See I do make it to the other side of the lens just occasionally!  This sows the drinks.

It was an experience so ticked that box!
One of the last things our guide talked about was the refugee situation. Sweden is a country of 10million people and in the past 12 months they have taken in 160,000 refugees. She was very proud of this and said it was all going very well, that the refugees had much to offer and that translators were helping them to learn the fairly difficult Swedish language and that despite the additional burden the economy was flourishing in a way no one had expected. So sad that we are still so closed minded about it all and so cruel.

Back on board as it was such a sunny day we hound the pool decks full and I gave to say we are NOT travelling with the beautiful people - there are some pics I will not take. Red people at dinner last night probably very much regretting things though the outside decks are filled again today. Though even the library books had been removed from the library we believe the norovirus scare might be receding as today the glad wrap covers had gone from lunch though we were still served.  Finally (as my glass is empty and a show starts in 15 mins), we had an extraordinary sunset last night, started normally enough and then the sun went square and then into another odd shape, the things you see at sea!
Two days at sea after Copenhagen so all will be quiet for a while and then I'll be vaca to sort out what has happened to the blog posts. Love to you all. Xx

Entering Stockholm

We had been told that this is the most spectacular port to enter and they were certainly correct. It takes many hours to work your way through the many islands that lead into Stockholm. Mr Enthusiastic, not wanting to miss a thing, was up, bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4:30am. Thankfully we had pushed the clocks back an hour during the night so that wasn't quite as bad as it might have been, though after a couple of hours, with another two and a half hours to go until we dock, even he agreed that perhaps we could have stayed in bed a bit longer.  Still the views were fabulous and so so lovely to see so much green.
Oh and Mr Enthusiastic also thought we should view all this from the top deck outside. I took my down jacket and it was needed. Not long after getting up there I realised our safe was open so I headed down (level 15 to 8) to close it and back up again and within ten minutes of my returning Garrie decided watching from the cabin would be fine - his nose was frozen lol. I made him make me a cuppa and we enjoyed that and some Belgian chocolates (sorry Chris think they are all going), whilst we watched the lovely islands slip by.
The ship is remarkably quiet - more like an electric car, so it was very peaceful until we heard loads of bird noise. Clearly these cormorants have found their favoured nesting spots.
We spotted some swans too and groups of low flying birds.
The sun chased us down the channels.
We came very close to some islands and watching the cruise ship in front of us gave the real indication of how we snaked our way forward.
We saw various unusual buildings along the way. Would have been good to have a commentary. Also quite a few mansions.
Closer to Stockholm car ferries take people into work.
I thought I'd introduce the main crew today too.
Well we are just about tied up. Looking forward to today. Going to see the Vasa museum, the old town and an ice bar! Weather heading for 24 degrees. Sunrise 3.43am and setting 9.48pm.  Australia made CNN and BBC world news yesterday. Firstly the news that one third of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by bleaching and then as a NSW tourist was taken by a croc in Qld.  Never dull being an Aussie.  Ciao for now.