Nynäshamn, Sweden was the only port on our itinerary where we had to board tender ships (the cruise director called them “water limousines.”) Fortunately we had calm seas and nice weather, so it was a pleasant ride to join our tour.
From Nyanäshamn we boarded a motor coach for a 60km drive to Stockholm with our guide Mecki. She was originally from Finland but moved to Stockholmn 35 years ago.
Mecki told us a lot about Stockholm on out drive. The earliest mention of the city was in 1251, which is incredible. Today the metropolitan area has 2.1 million residents, while 900,000 live in the city center. The city is approximately one third buildings, one-third green area, and one-third water. Because of all the water, Stockholm has over 60 bridges.
On the way into the city we could see the massive Tele2Arena that holds 50,000 people. We could also see the spherical Globe Arena next door that holds 16,000 and is used for hockey.
It was obvious from the drive into Stockholm that this was a beautiful city. Somewhat like Tallin there is a very stark distinction between Old Town and the more modern “business” areas of the city.
Our first stop of the day was an overlook where we had a great view of the city, including Old Town.
From there we drove to the dock for a harbor cruise through the city. However, when we arrive our guide found out that the schedule had changed, so we boarded the bus and headed to Old Town.
We parked next to the Royal Palace where the royal family resides. It was surrounded by guards much like the palace on Oslo (tradition that goes back to the 1500s), but this palace was MUCH larger with over 600 rooms.
These guards were dressed in bright blue and carried rifles with bayonets.
On one side of the Royal Palace is the Parlaiment building, and on the other side is the Storkyrkan Cathedral, which is from the 13th century and very beautiful.
We spent about 30 minutes walking around the cobblestone streets of Old Town, and I wished that I had several days to spend there. It was awesome. Lots of colorful buildings, small cafes, and quaint little shops.
In Old Town I learned about the tradition of the Dalahorse, which is the symbol of Sweden. It is a small wooden horse that originates from 17th century woodworkers. It was meant to represent that no work could be done without a good horse.
At 10:30am we went back to the dock for the harbor cruise.
It was kinda cramped in the boat, but still quite enjoyable. I just couldn’t get over how beautiful the city was, our the fact that all this water would be frozen in a couple of months!!
Out of all the buildings we saw, my favorite was the Vasa Museum that houses the remains of the massive Vasa ship. It was built in the 1600s out of 1,000 oak trees and sank 20 minutes after first setting sail. It was recovered after spending 333 years at the bottom of the harbor.
We also got to sail around the stunning national park that is on an island in the middle of the harbor. It was the first national park in the world that was built in a big city.
After the harbor cruise, we headed back to Old Town. The plan was to tour the cathedral and the Royal Palace, but Patsy, Ben, Daddy, and I decided to forgo those tours and spend the time walking around.
We ended up eating lunch at a cute little cafe in the square called Kaffekoppen, which has a cellar that dates from medieval times (that’s where the bathroom was). Three of us had the ham and cheese sandwich, which was almost as big as my head and quite unusual (though delicious). After lunch we spent the rest of the time walking around and shopping before meeting back with our group at 1:00pm.
We then began to head back to the port and, after enjoying a beautiful day, we encountered a nasty hailstorm just before getting to Nyanäshamn. Fortunately we made it just fine and boarded our tender ship back to the Regal Princess.
Since we were back fairly early, I went up on deck 18 and ran 3-miles on the track (21 laps) while surrounded by beautiful scenery (the rain had stopped). I also got to talk to my girls for a few minutes, which was great. Only two more days until I can see them!!
After another lovely dinner in the Concerto Dining Room, Patsy, Ben, Anita, Win, Daddy and I went to the show in the Vista Lounge. It was moved from the Princess Theater because of a leak. I can’t remember the lady’s name that performed, but she was a singer / comedian from Wales and she was great.
Back in the room I did a little packing before going to bed. Tomorrow is our last day, and it is a much needed day at sea.