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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

So I just realized that very frustratingly between my computer and my blog, it looks like I may have lost all of the blog entries I wrote on the last ferry, a total of 4 days L. If I can’t find them, I’ll try and find time to summarise them at some point—the Faeroes, especially, were lovely!

Anyway, this morning I got up at 6:30 and did a couple of hours of work as the morning sun streamed in the windows and I looked over a river separating Gamla Stan from a little neighboring island that does brisk business in museums. I could get used to this! I did love Stockholm, though we only had 24 hours there, it was a city I could see spending some time there, though perhaps not without a full time job as a banker, or something! Though we did well, considering, Scandinavia isn’t exactly inexpensive.

Everyone else woke up just after 8, and we enjoyed the free hostel breakfast (cereal and toast), and tried to convince one of the guys we had been sharing the dorm with to enjoy his free cornflakes more. His friend, the one who started the whole ‘free cereal is exciting’ thing is from Northern BC but was on exchange to Stockholm and heading home soon.

Nothing was open when we left the hostel at around 9:30, so we wandered around the museum island a little bit and then headed to our first destination—the Palace. It was pretty great! It’s huge, with some 608 rooms, and 5 different museums you can visit. We got a combination ticket for about $12 (yay for being students) and decided to just whiz through as much as possible, hoping to see the maximum amount possible. We started with the Tre Kronor (Three Crown) Museum, which looks at the old Palace (from the 1300s and then 1600s), which was mostly destroyed by fire before being replaced by the current building. It’s underground, in part of the remaining original building, and very cool to be standing in the cellar from way back when. We zipped through that part and then headed to the apartments, which are incredibly opulent. There are three blocks of apartments, but we weren’t allowed in one because the King was using it. Fair enough, really. It was quite cool as the two other apartment blocks we did get to go in are also used from time to time, which is very cool—usually you can’t go in castles they are still castling in.

There was an interesting photography exhibit on the Scouts and their role in helping draw different cultures together around the world, in honor of a big Jamboree happening in Stockholm in July (and also because the King is the honorary head of the whole Scouting organization), which made Cecilia (a former Scout herself) pretty excited.

We then took a brief tour past the Royal Carriages, which were very cool, especially the royal sledges, used when the streets were icy. They were all amazingly ornate, and the model horses were very well done up! We headed upstairs and saw some armour and also clothing, including some amazingly cute kids clothing. Hoka and Cecilia learned how to tie a tie, and we all failed miserably at learning how to tie a bow tie. There was also a special vintage clothing exhibition, which was pretty cool, though not so Royal, per se.

We saw the Royal Chapel, which was absolutely stunning (and where you can attend services, apparently), and then the crown jewels, which were fabulously glitzy, of course. At that point, we noticed people lining up all over the place and found out that the twice-weekly changing of the guards was about to start. Cecilia managed to find a garbage can to stand on, and I found a couple of columns to balance (rather precariously) between to watch. It was a pretty elaborate ceremony involving a brass band on horseback, complete with a drum horse (very cool!) and about 40 other mounted guards and then several foot soldiers. It was definitely worth hanging around to watch.

After that and in order to keep to our very strict time schedule, we had about 12 minutes for lunch, so we just went to a hot dog stand at a nearby park. I got a ‘French hotdog’ that is basically a hotdog in a hollow tube of baguette bread, so your hotdog is in a bun with no opening along the side, if that makes sense. A weiner condom, if you will.

We ate while walking along the river, and went to the Nationalmuseum, which is the major art and design museum in town. I was most interested in two of the exhibitions, first the 19002000 exhibition, which looked at the past century of Scandinavian design, which I love. There were some pieces I recognized and lots I’d never seen before, and then a great collection of glass art, which was very cool. I love glass!

There was also an exhibition examining the role of Lust and Love (and Sex) in art. It was very interesting and had some pretty, um, interesting art. No shunga, though, which would have added a certain something to the whole thing. There was a lot of 18th and 19th century art, but some modern stuff too, including some work by Susan Sontag. I really enjoyed the exhibition, which must have been really interesting to curate, and would have liked to have bought the catalogue, except it was in Swedish (and far too big to lug home).

Sadly, that brought our time in Stockholm to a close, so we got our bags from the hostel, got on a bus, and headed to the terminal to get on our cruise ferry. It’s big and exciting!! There are 700+ cabins that hold 2,500 passengers, but I don’t think it’s very full at all. We went to our cabins (we seem to have accidentally booked three single cabins and are spread out around the ship) We had a quick snack on deck and then explored the ship. There are several restaurants, a two-deck theatre, shop, etc. It’s not far off from a small cruise ship, really.

We had dinner in the cafeteria and then came to watch the shows, which are some kind of funny quasi Broadway dance routines interspersed with lounge music. There are some very cute couples dancing off and on, and one Granny totally rocking the dance floor, it’s pretty awesome.

We’re sitting in the balcony watching the shows and making use of the not-so-good internet on board (but it’s free, which is pretty sweet). We’re busy doing some research about Latvia, which we know very little about, and preparing to start our next Workaway assignment tomorrow.

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