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Linda Coffman


Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Copenhagen to Stockholm ~
"A Taste of the Baltic"

Debarkation in Stockholm 

When it's time to repack, a certain sadness permeates the air. There's always an added bit of mystery at the end of any cruise... Will the souvenirs fit? Can I get my suitcase closed?

From the arrival of my travel documents until the last swipe of my boarding card as I debarked, my cruise aboard Silver Whisper cruise flawless. A cruise is certainly the easiest way to see the world's most intriguing places, particularly when one adds on an ambitious pre- or post-cruise side trip. Silversea Cruises makes it both simple and elegant and does it in such an effortless manner that little things could go unnoticed. No request is too difficult for them to fulfill. In fact, the word "no" doesn't appear to be in their vocabulary. Small touches add to the exquisite sense of personalization.

Like her fleet mates, the sleek Italian décor of Silver Whisper is subtle and understated. She gleams rather than glitters. Refined and professional service is delivered by the international staff and all levels of suite accommodations exceed those of many top-rated hotels. Those elements, combined with superb dining, lively entertainment, spacious interiors, and the complete absence of lines, add up to a six-star, ultra-luxury cruise.

Stockholm & Post-cruise Explorations

Silver Whisper concluded our sea journey in Stockholm, but there was much to see as we sailed through the archipelago before docking. Some of the 24,000 islands that make up the chain are the sites of summer homes, others are uninhabited. All are wildly stunning—it was well worth getting up at dawn to see in the early morning light.

We docked and were ashore in record time to begin two days of post-cruise discovery in Sweden's capital. While Stockholm is a big, sprawling city, it's located on 14 islands and one-third is set aside as green space for parks and recreation. The extensive public transportation system is clean, modern, and easily navigable. With a map and the Stockholm Card, visitors can travel around the city and visit any of 70 attractions and museums for a single price (cards are available for purchase in a number of strategically located Tourist Information Offices).

Stockholm City Hall: 
Gold Room Mosaic

From afar, Stockholm's City Hall appears to arise from the water itself. Inside, it is a pleasing blend of styles and the result is clearly Venetian-inspired. The Blue Hall, where the annual Nobel Banquet is held, isn't blue at all, but is reminiscent of an Italian Palazzo. Many Swedish couples choose to tie the knot in the Gothic-style Wedding Room beneath a charming clock that depicts St. George and the Dragon. Golden Room mosaic murals relate the complex history of Sweden in 23.5 carat gold. City Hall is always open for tours and the City Hall Tower affords the best view of Stockholm. After savoring the sight, we moved on to the oldest part of the city, Gamla Stan. 

Arrival in the Gamla Stan about noon afforded time for a stroll around the grounds of the 608-room Royal Palace before the changing of the guard takes place at about 12:15. Moving on to the heart of the old town, we dined al fresco in a enchanting café garden before exploring the winding narrow streets lined with shops.

Refreshed after a delicious meal and somewhat tired after shopping, we checked into the Berns Hotel, the Grand Hotel's exclusive "boutique" property—a pleasing blend of modern and classic design. We then strolled the short distance to the waterfront. With so much water surrounding the city, a 50-minute boat tour is a highly recommended and relaxing way to see sights that are not otherwise accessible... swans and ducks greeted our boat as we sailed past islands with vast green parks for recreation and idyllic waterfront homes. It was the perfect way to end a glorious afternoon. After a walk through the serene Rosendal Gardens and dinner of typical Swedish home cooking (including five types of Baltic herring!) in the historic Wärdhuset Ulla Windbladh restaurant, it was time to call it a night.

Intricately carved detail on the VASA

Out and about early, after breakfasting in the Berns Hotel's restaurant overlooking Berzelii Park, our first objective was the Vasa Museum which houses, naturally, the Vasa. The Swedish warship sank on her maiden voyage in 1628 and was raised after much painstaking effort in 1961. Astonishing as it may seem, the wooden ship is 95% original. Her ornate stern was literally crushed and required intricate piecing together in jigsaw puzzle fashion. The Vasa is a remarkable sight and a "don't-miss" highlight of any trip to Stockholm.

Swedish design is heralded world-wide, so to gain an appreciation for Sweden's art and sculpture, we visited Milles Gården where the work of Carl Milles is displayed in a series of terraced gardens. A visionary, Carl Milles bought the land and built a home and studio where he created sculptures noted for their whimsy and humor. If there's only time to visit one art "museum" in Stockholm, this one is it.

Two days barely scratch the surface of everything to do in Stockholm. It's a marvelous destination for families, with an amusement park, the Aquaria Sea Museum, and Junibacken—where young people can visit Pippi Longstocking and other characters from Astrid Lindgren's charming children's books.

Icebar, where everything is cool 

To conclude our explorations, we sipped after-dinner drinks in the Icebar at the Nordic Hotel. Incredibly, the Icebar is fashioned entirely of ICE—the walls, bar, tables, and sculptures... even the "glasses" are made of pure ice from the rushing waters of the Torne River. Kept at a uniform temperature of -5°C, guests don warm silvery capes and mittens before entering the Icebar. Once inside, we gasped. Not from the cold, but from the surreal experience. 

The Icebar was the perfect spot for a joyous end to two days in a most fascinating city.

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