From Prague, we flew to Stockholm, Sweden. We had a downtown hotel in a central location near the train station. We arrived in the evening, so we didn’t start any adventuring until the next day.
Our first order of business was a free walking tour already the downtown. As it turned out way colder than expected for the 28th of May, and raining to boot. After perhaps 30 minutes, we left the group and stopped in a cafe (Cafe Runsten) to get warm and grab a bite to eat. They had some delicious homemade soup and waffles, and of course, we always prefer visiting local eateries to support real people.
Since it was raining, we decided to go for some indoor activities. We took a ferry across the water to check out a couple of museums.
The Viking Museum
Despite the cold and the rain, taking a ferry proved an experience we’re both glad we managed to have. There was something especially authentic about crossing by water.
The museum had numerous exhibits about life in the Viking Age, but the highlight was actually the life-sized Viking who delivered about a twenty minute lecture on the history of the area, all while in costume. A shieldmaiden allowed kids to climb into a partial boat hull and gave some explanation for the younger crowd, too. Whether for adults or children, the Viking Museum offers a lot of opportunities to learn and interact.
The Vasa Museum
From the Viking Museum, it’s a short walk to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a warship that sank on her maiden voyage (in 1628) in events not entirely dissimilar to those of the Titanic years later. The ship was too big, and while considered unsinkable by enemy warships, it was not immune to ballast issues.
In 1961 researchers manage to raise the sunken ship from the sea bottom intact! The museum works carefully to keep the hull moist now to prevent further decay and preserve the ship for as long as possible. The level of detail and ornamentation is really quite breathtaking.
Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala) was the seat of the Yngling kings of Sweden, and thus perhaps the most important Swedish location during the Viking Age. That made it an absolute must-see for me, and our destination for the next day. While nothing remains of the original settlement (which lies a bit outside modern Uppsala), there is an excellent historical museum there. The museum has an app for augmented reality that you use outside to see what things might have looked like during those forgotten times.
In a bizarre twist, when we returned to the train station to head back to Stockholm, the station was closed off by the police. They weren’t revealing what was going on inside, but said they could give no estimate about when the trains would run, or if they would run that day at all. This left a lot of people stranded, and taxis were charging exorbitant prices to take advantage. We had no choice but to share a taxi with another tourist heading back to Stockholm.