Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stockholm Day II and Setting Sail to Estonia and Russia

First, we have been out of internet contact for a few days, mostly because I am too cheap to pay Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines $0.65 per minute to use their internet connection, so we have a lot of catching up to do.

On Sunday we were up early again to see more of Stockholm's highlights before we set sail for Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia.

I love the Guards at the Royal Palace

This one is guarding the entrance to the Skattkammaren, Sweden's Royal Treasury. Here Laurie found the Swedish Crown Jewels. She tried to talk them into selling a couple of pieces that she really liked.

No deal.

Storkyrkan Cathedral

It was open today so we had to go inside to see the place where the recent wedding of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria had taken place.

It had a beautiful altar

The Cathedral offered a
HUGE St. George statue

Now that's a fierce looking dragon!!!

Laurie exiting the Cathedral

We think this is the same route that the Royal couple used to exit the Cathedral after their wedding.

Thor's Hammer!!!

Guard Duty with a Drawn Sword

I love this country!!!

The Royal Armory

Our timing was off, they didn't open for another hour, so we will visit this highly recommended museum on Thursday when we return to Stockholm.

Alien Conspiracy Theory?

Only from high in the air, six feet, could one recognize these as being train tracks. How could they possibly be here? Where do they lead? The only possible explanation was that aliens from outer space had laid these tracks thousands of years ago.

I could be mistaken.

Chicks dig fat guys!!!

That has been my mantra for many years now.

Stockholm's splendid waterfront

More of the Stockholm Waterfront

The Nordiska Museet

The Nordic Museum houses exhibits on 500 years of traditional Swedish lifestyles.

King Gustav Vasa

This massive statue of the Father of Modern Sweden greets you in the Nordic Museum's main gallery.

Swedish Bridal Chests

Coffee and cookies time at a canal side café

Yes Bill, Rotary is everywhere!

Boarding "The Vision of the Seas"

Sun with Acne

The overnight ferry to Helsinki

We'll be on board this ship next Thursday night.

The Skärgården Archipelago

While Stockholm is made up of 14 islands, this archipelago is made up of 24,000 incredibly beautiful islands that lead from Stockholm to the Baltic Sea. It took us over three hours to navigate our way through them!

Many of the islands are inhabited

It was now getting close to time for our 8:45 sitting for dinner and I was a little apprehensive. This is our sixth cruise (two Mexican Rivieras, two Caribbeans and one Mediterranean) and we had always cruised with at least one other couple, Brian and Koreen FitzGerald, and usually with a third or fourth couple/family. This was our first solo cruise and we were well aware that the dinner table with the same people can make or break a cruise.

We hit the jackpot!

We were first to sit at the table and were soon joined by a family of five from Pennsylvania, the Wrights, Dave, his wife Cindy and their three daughters Shaina, Kylie and Samantha. Cindy is a Health Sciences teacher at Gettysburg College and Dave is the Athletic Director at Gettysburg. The Bullets are a Wing-T school and I have heard their coach, Barry Streeter, speak at clinics on a few occasion. INSTANT BONDING!

Our final two tablemates arrived, Mike and Ruth Weiss. Mike is a Syracuse University graduate, a sports nut, an assistant prosecutor for Middlesex County in New Jersey and really funny. No, he has never heard of Jay Shelton. Ruth has worked in military intelligence and now works for the Federal Government in HUD in their anti-fraud division. A very fascinating couple. They were taking a four day, last second cruise to break away from their recent frustrations trying to adopt a son in Kiev, Ukraine. Another great pair, WE BOND YET AGAIN!

As beautiful as Tallinn and St. Petersburg proved to be, the four nights sharing dinner and stories with these seven new friends might be my best memory of the cruise. All four nights our table was probably the last one to leave the dining room. We'll have photos of the nine of us up on an upcoming blog.


IFL Super Bowl Results

2010 Italian Super Bowl Results
Parma (9-1) 56 - Catania (8-2) 26

The game was played in Milan and I know this was not the result we were all hoping for, but still, what a GREAT season for the boys from Sicily!

I am so proud of all they accomplished this year!!!

As a result of this game, I will be boycotting Parmesan cheese for two full days.

Invasion of Stockholm

We were up bright and early to catch the 7:57 a.m. X2000 train to Stockholm to start our week long cruise vacation to Estonia, Russia and Finland.

The Hotel Rex Petit

The price was right, the room was clean and the bed was comfortable . . . perfect for a one night stay. We more than made up for our lack of space by having extra disposable income for rich Stockholm pastries.

The Slivoskey Family
Eric, Estalita, Kodie, Kamryn

Eric is the second year Head Coach of the Seinäjoki Crocodiles in Finland's Maple League, their top level of American football. We have been corresponding via phone, SKYPE and internet for about two years now and this was our first chance to meet as they were winding up their week of cruising in Stockholm.

Estalita, Kaylin and Ice Cream

We toured the Gamla Stan, old city, together and then ate lunch in this typical outdoor Euro Café. We shared funny stories about, as it turns out, shared experiences coaching our great game in the European setting.

After all is said and done, we still agreed that despite the unique quirks of EuroBall, our time coaching in Europe have created family highlights that will never be forgotten.

Eric pumped me up and got me excited about getting back to work but only after being a tourist for a week.

After lunch, we went our own separate ways as they had been to Stockholm a few times already and we were newbies trying to see the big sights for the first time.

Great family!

Outside Sweden's Royal Palace

Fierce Palace Guard

Palace Guard's view from his post

The Nordic Museum

We'll come back here either Sunday or Friday of this week I'm sure. Our #1 priority today was the Vasa Museum.

The good ship Vasa

Well, maybe it is really the not so good ship Vasa.

You see, when built it was too top heavy because of an extra cannon deck, thus making it unseaworthy. She sank 20 minutes into her maiden voyage in 1628 when a breeze caught her sails and blew her over in Stockholm's harbor!

333 Years Later

She was raised from the bottom in 1961 and is now on permanent display in the Vasa Museum.

But if she only had more ballast she would have been OK, right?


It is calculated today that the amount of ballast needed to keep the Vasa from flipping over would have instead sunk her straight down.

It just wasn't meant to be.

I like blue

A Café

A little coffee, a shared dessert, sunshine, a body of water and Laurie . . . LIFE IS GOOD!!!

A Swedish Pirate Ship?

Sorry, Ian.

Interesting architecture and a cloud

King Gustav III

This king made Stockholm into a great European capital.

The Iron Boy Statue

The smallest of the 600+ statues in Stockholm. Depending on who you talk to, you need to rub his head for either good luck or widom.

I could use a little of both.

The Stortoget, Stockholm's oldest square

The site of the Stockholm Bloodbath of 1520. A typical Danish-Swedish thing, the Danes tried to grab power by rounding up Stockholm's movers and shakers and beheading them. On the red building on the left you see white stones in the facade symbolizing the 80+ people who were slaughtered that day.

One who escaped capture and sure death that day was destined to lead a Swedish revolt against the Danes. His name was Gustav Vasa and his heroics got him elected Sweden's first king.

I think they named a mighty boat after him.

Laurie with the Storkyrkan Cathedral
to her right

This is the Cathedral where the Swedish Royal Wedding took place last Saturday.

We weren't invited.

Suddenly, a Military Band Concert broke out

John Philip Souza, eat your heart out!

Kaiser Sozé, you too!

You just HAVE to march to the music

Fire Insurance

This emblem on your house in Gamla Stan meant that you had paid your fire insurance, thus the fire fighters would protect your home.

The things we take for granted.

Hey, that's our starting center's name!

Johan is letting me borrow his camera, which I used to take this picture, on this trip to help convince Laurie that for my upcoming birthday and our anniversary, she should let me buy a really good camera.

A Rune Stone

Nice cannon too, the rune says "Torsten and Thorgun erected this stone in memory of their son."

Two legs off the ground,
the rider died in battle

Lutheran Churches are everywhere

Nice Drain Pipe

Sweden's Parliament Building

Note the time, note the blue sky

There are 22 hours of daylight this far north at this time of the year.

Semi-Golden Dome

Another Gorgeous Church

Harbor Scene

Unknown building but Laurie liked it

It is about 9:30 p.m., we were tired from walking, the early wake-up and the after effects of yesterday's Mid Sommar revelry so we decided to call it a night.

Stockholm is a truly beautiful city, the best of the Scandanavian capitals in my opinion.

Enjoy some "Military" music