14 January 2010

New Years Eve in Stockholm, Sweden

Wednesday the 30th December was a fairly quiet one. I got off the ferry at about 9:30am and headed back to Rich & Lynns place. After a shower and a bit of breakfast we headed out into the wilderness. The plan was for a fairly laid back day, nothing too strenuous - first up taking a look at the largest IKEA store in the world. Having never visited IKEA before it was a bit of an experience. But, not being much into home furnishings, the intrigue soon wore off. Before leaving we sampled a Swedish hot-dog - which I thought was fairly similar to any other sausage in bread, but apparently its special.

That evening I decided to visit Stockholms number one tourist attraction - the Vasa Museum - the world’s only surviving 17th-century ship. And no, this is not a viking ship (as they are apparently asked hundreds of times a day) - a couple of centuries too late. The ship sunk after sailing for about 30 minutes due to its poor design. The museum was fascinating - fully detailing the building, sailing, sinking, raising and restoring of the vessel. I spent two hours there without even realising. The ship is in such good shape because 1. it did not sink in battle, and 2. the low salt content of the sea did not rot the wood. The ship itself is enormous! and so incredibly detailed. I'm tying to think of good words to explain it, but my vocabulary isn't the best, so I'll just go for something cliche like 'awe-inspiring'. The photos are a little disappointing - they don't really show the size and detail, so I guess you will all just have to go and check it out yourself.

Later that night we had a couple of beers and enjoyed a delicious dinner that Rich prepared.

Thursday the 31st - New Years Eve. We got a bit more adventurous and headed out to explore Stockholm. The wind was icy cold but we were not deterred. We wandered around between the main islands of Stockholm, getting some amazing views of the city - in particular the Nordic Museum and the Royal Palace buildings. We walked through Gamla Stan (old town) with narrow streets, beautiful old buildings and statues. We took a closer look at the huge Royal Palace with guards which must be mentally insane to stand in the freezing cold all day.

After a few hours the cold got a bit much, so we ducked into the supermarket to grab some things for dinner. We also picked up a few bottles of Julmust. This is a Swedish soft drink that is only available at Christmas and Easter - and at those times it outsells Coke! -I had a couple of mouthfuls and couldn't understand how... It tasted like a Black Russian with a whole lot of spices. Just plain weird.

The three of us had a nice dinner and a few drinks, before heading out to Richards friends party to celebrate the New Year. It was all very flash, there was one guy there in a three piece suit! But everyone was very friendly and all did their best to speak English around me. At the party I introduced Rich and Lynn to Jagerbombs... I don't think their life will ever be the same!

Just before 12 we made our way to a bridge that had a great view over the city. In Sweden over the New Year period it is legal to buy fireworks, and it seems everyone does... but not your normal 'family bag' with a couple of sparklers, I'm talking industrial strength fireworks as fat as your arm, sold in huge crates! From the bridge we had an amazing vantage point, and as the clock struck 12, the whole sky lit up all around us.

After the fireworks we returned to the party. We stayed out until about 3am then decided to called it a night. We all had a great time and was definitely one to remember.

Coming soon, my final two days in Stockholm

Next Post - 'Final days in Sweden'

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