Woke up this morning around eight o’clock, and went out onto our giant balcony to watch the Bolette manoevring into the port of the Nynäsham, Sweden, which would be our gateway to Stockholm. We had last visited Stockholm in 2002, on the Caronia, so we were excited to be back in this interesting and picturesque capital city; I seem to remember there was lots of waterways and islands.
We enjoyed our breakfast, as usual, in The View buffet, before going out onto the rear decks where the Bolette was slowly approaching her berth. What made it interesting was that, instead of the ship going to the dockside, the dockside was coming to the ship, in the form of a movable walkway called a linkspan, which allows a safe passage from the ship to the shore where the distance and/or tide height may be variable. We watched as the pontoon was towed into place and made fast, then we went down to the Neptune Lounge to await the call for our all-day excursion.
The last time we were in Stockholm, on the Caronia, we were docked right in the city, but at 24,292 tons against the Bolette’s 62,735 tons, it meant that Bolette was too big to go into the city so we had to dock in Nynäsham, an hour’s drive from Stockholm.
Once we received the call for our excursion, we made our way down the gangplank and along the zig-zagging pontoon until we reached the dockside. We then headed towards the line of waiting coaches, had our names ticked off, then boarded our bus for the journey to Stockholm. Our guide introduced himself as Cedric, a name we wouldn’t forget as it is our cat’s name! 🙂
Cedric explained that he was orginally from Singapore, but had lived in the USA for a while before marrying a Swedish lady and moving to Sweden, where he had lived for the last 10 years. As the coach travelled through the countryside and the villages and towns, Cedric kept us entertained with descriptions of life in Sweden as well as a few light-hearted quips, pointing out anything of interest to us on the way.
It is interesting to know that Stockholm is spread over 14 deparate islands. 14! Most of the inhabitants of Stockholm are therefore boat owners, and the ferries must do a roaring trade. The major municipalities that make up the capital are Gamla Stan (the old town), Södermalm, Kungsholmen, Vasastan, Normalm and Östermalm, some of which we would be visiting today; Cedric gave us all a fold-out map each and pointed out the location of these places to us.
Soon we arrived at a good view point on the outskirts of the city and the bus pulled up to allow us a photo opportunity or just a chance to take in the full panorama. We could see Gröna Lund, a large amusement park on the seaward side of Djurgården Island, as well as several commercial and residential buildings, and many small boats to-ing and fro-ing. The sun shone brightly from a cloudless sky and, although there was that ever-present little nip in the air, it was a beautiful day. 🙂
Everywhere we looked seemed to contain shades of blue or white; Stockholm is certainly ‘cool’ in more ways that one. 🙂
The coach took us further into the city, and once again we alighted to appreciate the views and the take photographs, our knowledgeable guide Cedric pointing out the main landmarks and buildings to us. What a lot there was to see in Stockholm! We really must come back again for a longer stay.
Back on the coach we continued on our way, taking long detours and going over many bridges in order to be able to see the maximum in the time we had. I had to take notes or check with Google Lens to remember all the things that were pointed out to us. One of the landmarks was a grand gabled and turreted building called Jägarhyddan which is actually a residential building (the rent must be phenomenal!) situated between the Biological Museum and the Spanish Embassy.
We then continued our journey, looking out of the windows of the coach with interest; even if we didn’t know what we were looking at it was all so pretty, made more so by the flawless blue sky and bright sun.
We only had our guide Cedric until one o’clock, after which we had three hours on our own to explore. At this, the coach dropped us off outside the Royal Swedish Opera House, and we alighted and said our thanks to Cedric, who had been excellent. We felt really guilty not giving him a tip, but we didn’t have any Swedish kroner with us (we found out later we could have given him Euros). We had to be back here for 4.00pm to get the shuttle bus back to Nynäsham and the Bolette.
We decided to go and get some salty liqorice (salmiak), that very popular snack in Sweden (throughout Scandinavia, in fact) so we called into a nearby sweet shop and I bought several boxes of Läkerol as well as a couple of 25-packs of Wrigley’s Extra Salty Licorice chewing gum. In addition, I bought a packet of Chilli Liqorice (should be interesting!) 🙂
Then we went into a nearby souvenir shop and bought a couple of postcards and stamps as well as a fridge magnet for my aunt. It was then time to find a pub and have a local Swedish beer while writing out the cards. Cedric had warned us about pickpockets and bag-snatchers and advised us to be very vigilant as it is rife in Stockholm. We therefore went into a pub/bar and sat on barstools; I had my phone in the inside zip-up pocket of my jacket, and my cross-body bag in front of me jammed up against the bar.
We each ordered a large beer and I asked the proprietor if I could borrow a pen to write out the cards. Then we enjoyed our pints and looked on Google Maps to find the nearest post box; there was one only 100 metres away.
Once we’d posted the cards we continued looking around the city, consulting Google Maps or Google Lens so we knew what we were looking at (whatever did we do before Google was invented?!). The photos below show Sergel’s Torg plaza, with its distinctive roundabout and tower (named after the sculptor Tobias Sergel), as well as a couple of bridges over the Norström river, a short but fast-flowing river that connects Lake Mälaren with the Baltic Sea.
It was lovely walking around in the sunlit city, especially if you found a sheltered place in the sun. Pleasure boats glided along and ferries rolled busily in and out of port, between all the city’s main islands. We sat on a bench in the park and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere, then walked around for a bit, stopping to take a photo of the imposing Grand Hotel, which Cedric had told us often hosted celebrities and world leaders when they visited Sweden.
The above shows St. James’ Church, a Lutheran church. It took a long time to complete, between 1580 and 1894 and, as such, it contains several different architectural styles.
Soon it was time to return to the shuttle bus pick-up point for our return journey to Nynäsham. We had certainly clocked up our 10,000 steps today so we were quite tired, and dozed on the bus for the 45 minute ride back to the Bolette. We were back on board by five o’clock, which gave us just over an hour to get ready for dinner after a great day. 🙂
Just before 6.00pm, the cheerful tones of Captain Mikael Degerlund boomed out over the PA system as he welcomed us all back on board the “glorious Bolette” and advised we would be on our way shortly.
In the Terrace restaurant we regaled each other with what we’d been up to today, and there was cetainly no shortage of conversation in excellent company on table #46 as, once again, we had to be chivvied out of the restaurant so the staff could get our table ready for second sitting. 🙂
Tonight’s featured entertainment starred the Bolette Theatre Company with their rendition of “Let’s Go To The Movies”, a high energy, all singing all dancing show with the best songs and dance routines from famous movies. As ever, it was an excellent performance. We really do like the entertainment on board Fred ships; in most cases it is better than that offered on larger ships.
Then it was off to the Morning Light pub once again where, as soon as we took our ‘regular’ bar stools, a Newcastle Brown Ale and a cava were placed in front of us. Then we picked up our quiz papers and pencils and had another futile attempt at the quiz. 🙂
Afterwards, it was the passengers’ turn to take the spotlight as tonight was karaoke night in the Observatory. As it had started at 10.00pm (the same time as the quiz) it was already in full swing by the time we arrived, but I still had time to get up and do a couple of Amy Winehouse numbers: You Know I’m No Good and Back to Black. Several other singers got up and the standard was, over all, quite high.
Then we just remained in the Observatory and I kicked off my shoes and sat, with my legs curled under me, enjoying another couple of drinks before we returned to 7036 and settled down. We’d had a lovely day, and had a nice relaxing sea day to look forward to tomorrow.
Once again we slept very well, our balcony door propped open a couple of inches to allow that incomparable sea air to swirl around our room.