"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Stockholm and the Viking

After we said farewell to our friends Joel and Lydia we headed to Stockholm. We only had a few hours to see the city because we had to catch a ferry over to Helsinki that afternoon. But this turned out to be just as well, because to really see all that Stockholm has to offer you not only need some time. You also need plenty of moh-nay. That place is expensive! But expensive or not, it is still worth a few pretty pennies because it is a gorgeous city. Everything is nice and clean, the architecture is impressive, and there are tons of things to see and do.
We started by wandering through the narrow streets of the island of Gamla Stan (Old Town). I don't have any pictures of most of this part of the city because we were literally so hungry it was all we could do to find a reasonably-priced place to eat, and taking photos was the last thing on our minds. We ended up stopping for a quick bite of 'cheese and egg pie' (a.k.a quiche) in an old crooked timber-framed house. 

At the opposite end of the island is the Stockholm Palace. It is the official residence of the Swedish monarch. 'Official' meaning they don't really live there, but they use it for all the important monarchy stuff--whatever that is. The Baroque building is large and impressive, but what really caught our eye was the 'Royal Guard.'
Poor guys. Do they know how ridiculous they look? Or how many people poke fun of them on a daily basis?

Penelope pulled out her sternest face in the hopes of making him feel like he wasn't all alone up there. No one gets past Sargeant Penelope.
Gotcha! We got at least one of them to smile.
Stockholm is often called the Venice of the North. There are tons of canals and bridges connecting the city.
Here we are in front of the Riksdag, or Parliament, building. Penelope kept getting distracted by the ducks and swans in the water.
I, on the other hand, kept getting distracted by this young man.
After wandering in circles for a bit, we decided to take a sightseeing boat tour, which turned out to be the perfect way for us to see Stockholm in the limited amount of time that we had.

Our boat tour started here, right by the Grand Hotel, which is across the water from the Stockholm Palace. The Grand Hotel has been a Stockholm landmark since it was built in 1874, and it is THE place to stay in Stockholm.
Penelope enjoyed the commentary on the sights just as much as we did.
We went by lots of interesting historical and architectural sites around the city, most of which I have completely forgotten the names of. I do remember being impressed and wanting to stay longer to go explore them myself though.

I also remember that this was some old mill on an island just outside of the city that I really liked the looks of.

                               And that this is where all the big yachts and sail boats were kept.
After our boat ride we hightailed it to the port to get on our ferry.

Although we could have just taken an hour-long plane ride from Stockholm to Helsinki, we figured that it would be way cooler to take an overnight cruise boat. Not only cooler, but also much cheaper to get a room on this boat than a flight and hotel room. Unfortunately, our 'cool' factor dropped way down the moment we stepped on this boat. Not only were we the only English-speaking people on the boat, we were also the only people below the age of 65 who weren't obsessed with playing the slot machines.
The up side to this was that we had the outdoor viewing decks all to ourself. I guess it was too cold outside for the elderly. Oh, and there were no slot machines or polka music out there.
We took in some amazing views from the top deck of the ship.

For the first couple of hours we went along the coast, which was dotted with cute little cottages.
And then the houses got sparser and the islands got smaller.
This is the Swedish Archipelago. It is the biggest in the Baltic Sea, and it is comprised of over 24,000 islands and islets.
It just kept on going as we traveled on into the evening.
Penelope loved roaming around the inside of the ship and making friends with all the old people. While on the ship she also learned how to give kisses.
But this quickly turned into exploring teeth and tongues and gums. Ouch!
When we woke up in the morning we were greeted with the port of Helsinki.
Our adventures in Helsinki coming up soon...

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