Tues-Wed June 26-27, 2012

You may not know where Stockholm is (check the map). But many first-time visitors to this Baltic capital are unaware of its most spectacular feature: the Archipelago. This magnificent maritime landscape of more than 30,000 islands, islets and rocky outcrops is unique in the world – and, from the spacious decks of the Rotterdam, we Kiwis have enjoyed it twice over the past couple of days: yesterday, on the way in – and, this afternoon, on the way out.

After docking yesterday morning, we drove along the shores of Lake Malaren through some of Stockholm’s hard-to-pronounce districts: Södermalm, Norrmalm, Östermalm and Djurgården. We then headed for an amazing museum where we clapped eyes on a 17th century Swedish warship – the Vasa. This one-time pride of the country’s navy (which took several years to build and only 20 minutes to sink on the very day it was laucnhed!) was salvaged much more recently from the muddy bottom of the harbour – and brilliantly restored.

A sight-for-sore-eyes? You bet …

We then continued to the cosy medieval Old Town (Gamla Stan) to enjoy some lunch-&-shopping time in its narrow cobbled streets – before boarding a waterbus for stunning on-the-water views of other hard-to-pronounce highlights: like Fjäderholmarna, Waldemarsudde, the Gröna Lund Tivoli and Fjällgatan. (Ask your Mad Midlifer for the correct pronunciation when they get home.)

I’ve gotta tell you: this Swedish waterfront with its spectacular buildings, steeples, architecture, colours and boats is a one out of the box.

Another cute little rubber ducky has been pinned to the chest of a well-deserved, somewhat-embarrassed nominee:

The Bargain-Hunter-of-the-Year Award was won by Graeme – who saw iPhones advertised in a Stockholm shop window for just 220 krona. With Sue’s help at currency-conversion, Graeme worked out it was an absolute bargain: “I’ve gotta have one!” Trouble is, the shop wasn’t yet open – so Graeme sat outside, refusing to move, for 20 long minutes. When the doors finally opened, Graeme was in there, grabbing an iPhone and bragging, “You wait till I tell Bruce about this!” But, on checking the price – “Is it really only 220 krona?” they were told, “No, that’s just the monthly rental.” The purchase price was a little more – like 16,000 krona! (Poor Graeme is still feeling gutted.)

Yeehaa! We’ve got two whole days aboard the Rotterdam … resting up, catching up, living it up, and eating up aboard our floating hotel, while sailing south through the waters of the North Atlantic. Hey, we’ve worked for it, we’ve earned it, so please don’t disturb us!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN