Vasamuseet

I can only imagine the ship-builders faces.

Today, I did my one tourist thing in Sweden and went to the Vasa Museum. I made it about half way to the museum via the subways, but then had to declare my tourist ignorance by asking several people how to get there. I have yet to come across a free map of the city!

The Vasa was a huge warship that sank in 1628 as soon as it was launched. I mean, after years in construction by what was one of the best ship-building countries in the world at the time, it slid down the rails from the shipyard and sank! I’ll bet someone was in some deep Björn Beiss for that one. (björn means bear, I’ll let you figure out the other word) They raised this ship in the early 1960’s and built an impressive museum around it. I was glad that I had coughed up the 12 dollars admission to get inside.

The ship was an awesome sight, one of the largest in the fleet at the time, and was inornately carved from bow to stern with intricate designs and statues. It was designed to put fear in the enemy even before it brought its guns to bear. There were so many cannons which poked out of both sides like a giant pissed off porcupine, I cant imagine being on the receiving end of its firepower. Fortunately for the Polish, whom Sweden was fighting at the time, it sank as soon as it was launched and 50 of the 450 people on board died a surprised death.

The museum had the remains of the sailors on display and by using forensics, told stories about them. Almost a majority had received broken noses, fractured skulls, and broken fingers and arms earlier in their lives before the shipwreck. I guess the 1600s was a rough time to be a sailor in Sandanavia? No doubt, they were tough guys and loved the brawl. They had such cramped, poor, disgusting lives, I think I would have wanted to fight a lot as well. 🙂 The air inside was kept damp on purpose and the lights were very dim, which made pictures almost impossible. This was to preserve the wood from rotting even more. The place had a unique smell which wasnt really unpleasant, maybe the way a pine forrest smells after a rain.

After the museum, I hiked the 2KM back to the subway and caught a ride to Galma Stan, which is the Olde Towne. There is a lot of viking history here, but unfortunately it is burried under a 1000 shops selling plastic viking helmets with horns to idiot tourists. (When I say idiot tourists, I mean the type that actually stand blocking the doorways of the shops to take pictures of themselves beside the metal wall selling magnetic souveys!) I heard from one of Elin’s friends (who looked like a viking with his beard, 76″ tall frame, and army background) that the place for viking history was Götland, which is pretty far south of here and unfortunately I will probably not make it there. The guy even wore a Thor’s hammer around his neck made from solid silver, but he was so calm and such a nice guy that I didnt see him as the troublemaking type. We hung out at a friends house party over the weekend, where I was received very warmly. Being the only non-Swede at the party, I was a bit of a celebrity with the guys and the girls, and never found myself alone the entire night, despite not knowing anyone. No one gave me crap about George Bush, which was refreshing, and everyone wanted more insight on American culture. I was able to learn a little about Swedish culture and thought from the people at the party, who once again, were all dressed to rival any American house party that I have ever attended.

I leave Stockholm on Wednesday for Germany. I am excited about the move, sometimes 10 days in one place is too long for my vagabonding feet to stay planted, but I have thoroughly enjoyed Sweden and would love to come back.

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