For the duration of Travel Week, I will be on a cruise in the Baltic Sea, popping around from city to city in northern Europe. This journal will be updated daily with commentary and observations, as well as pictures and videos from my trip. Enjoy!
Tuesday, Aug. 24
I’m on a boat! And Valkommen till Stockholm!
Cruise ships are just like the movie Titanic. I don’t know why I expected anything different, after all, the Titanic was a cruise ship too, for all intents and purposes. But, there you go: I was surprised. It’s very posh, the service is excellent, although the DVD selection is somewhat lacking.
We departed from Stockholm after spending an afternoon and the next morning roaming the city and then having a guided tour the ship provided.
It’s a nice, little city situated on 14 islands, which are connected by bridges and tunnels.
Every city I’ve been in has a color. Stockholm is green. The amount of trees and grass and parks is extraordinary, and it makes me wonder why Sweden has such a high suicide rate. It’s so green! The country is over 70% forests. Gorgeous.
(BTW: As I’m writing this by the pool, Ted Koppel [yes, that Ted Koppel] is jogging on the deck above my head.)
Swedes are famous for their home decorating ability (IKEA, for example), and some of the best shops I stopped in were along that same vein. I wanted to buy everything!
Besides the shops, I went to the very, very cool Vasa Museum. Dedicated to a giant ship of the same name, it was one of the better museums I’ve been to in my life.
The Vasa is a 17th century warship commissioned by the then-king of Sweden to assist in the war against Poland (1626-1629) and to be the largest ship in Europe, which, at the time, it was. Unfortunately, the Vasa was a bit over-done and when it was ready and built, it sailed for 20 minutes and promptly sank, as it was top heavy.
Fun story and a fun museum. The building was actually build around the ship in the 1990′s, although the ship was pulled up in the 1960′s. As someone who loves maritime history, boats, and over-zealous kings, this was the highlight of Stockholm for me.
The Absolut Ice Bar was pretty cool as well, although it certainly wasn’t worth the $25. But I guess it was empty because it was the middle of the afternoon. Still, I enjoyed the big cloaks and hoods and the vodka drink was very yummy.
We also did a driving tour and saw Stockholm’s city hall. This was mediocre, as far as excitement, except for one room done in gold mosaic.
Then, back to the ship. We took off in rocky seas, and I had my first bout of sea sickness ever, skipped dinner, and spent the rest of the evening puking in my room.
Tallinn, Estonia tomorrow.
Monday, Aug. 23 – In transit
The Americanization of Airline Food? Dislike.
Years ago, on my first lone trans-Atlantic flight, I had a Lufthansa breakfast that put me off German food for the next decade. Airlines were notorious for bad food then, which isn’t so much the case now, but back then, not only did you know the food was going to be awful, you knew that depending on what airline you were flying, you were going to be forced to munch on whatever the national breakfast was.
For example, soggy croissants were a staple of Air France breakfasts and they were awful, the same way bangers and mash reeking of cargo hold were served every time I glided into London Heathrow on British Airways. This time, though, I’m flying Lufthansa again, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I was handed a small breakfast package with Land o’ Lakes butter and Smucker’s jam.
What’s that about? I mean, yes, I have always dreaded European airplane breakfast food, but that’s part of the fun of flying a Euro airline, and traveling in general. Sometimes the food is very, very bad, but it’s ok!
If I had wanted food I could get at my university cafeteria, I would’ve flown Delta.
Also, a special shout-out/thank you to the lovely people at Camel cigarettes and the German government for allowing me to enjoy a deathstick after disembarking.
It’s good to be home in the EU!