Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Have you ever thought you could spend seven continuous hours in museums? Pat and I chose two of the best museums in Stockholm to fill our last full day here. The National Museum of Antiquities and the Vasa Museum display two very interesting collectons of Swedish life which held our attention, and kept us from thinking about our aching feet.
The National Museum of Antiquities holds the materials which were found in most of the archealogical excavations in Sweden. It also holds the collections which Swedish explorers brought back from around the world. There's an underground "Gold Room" that has 1,500 items which collectively weigh 100 pounds of gold and 500 pounds of silver. Among the standouts were: the only three existing gold neckwraps (seven continous hollow tubes of detailed fillagree gold bands, covering most of the neck); a bowl and crown combination in the shape of a head, studded with hundreds of priceless stones (which was taken as bounty after the 30-year war); hundreds of rings and other items so small you needed a magnifying glass to see them - which had details that defied the imagination as to how they could fashion them (remember they had no magnifying glasses). We saw three exhibits alone which focused on the Viking Period of Swedish history (700AD to 1050AD), a very large collection of Mediterranean and Nile excavations, and a very reputable Mayan collection.
The second museum was the Vasa Museum. Built just off the bay waters, the building holds the remains of the pride of the Swedish Navy in the early 1600's which sank less than an hour after it was launched. It appears that the mettling of the king in the design resulted in it being too tall and too thin (in order to house two levels of cannons), and that the ballast aboard was insufficient to keep it from rocking so much that it took in water through the lower gun ports and sank.
The museum building consists of seven floors of displays wrapped around the hull of this enormous, fully-restored ship. Because the waters of this bay are not as salty as most shipwreck sites, the worm which usually destroys ships this old was not around to do its damage. Even the extra ship's sails were recovered and are displayed (even though the ship is not rigged in the building). The effort to find, raise, and restore the ship is beautifully described in film and photographs. All of the recovered materials were used or are featured in exhibits. Outside the structure is an docked icebreaker used to clear the harbor in the winter.
This morning, we packed up, and had breakfast here for the last time. I believe I can say that the cereal portion of the breakfast at the Wallin Hotel in Stockholm is the best hotel breakfast cereal offering I've ever had. It was a very consistent mix of wheat bran, Special K, rice kispies, and corn flakes, with very fresh raisins and non-fat milk. Only a sliced banana would have improved it.
We hiked down to the train station, and waited for the X2000 train (their bullet train) to Copenhagen. Our seats were across a small table next to the window, and we alternately slept, read, and watched the Swedish countryside zip by at almost a blur. I continued to look for familiar birds, and spotted what I believe to be a great blue heron and a snowy egret. Since there was only one of each, I may have wished them into existence. They must be very lonely in this aviarian oasis.