I would like to have had more then a day in Tallinn, but it does rank right up there of cities to which I would like to return.  But Stockholm — I adored this city.  Everywhere I looked there were beautiful views.  I snapped this as I walked along the river on my way to dinner on my first night.

As I walked past the imposing town hall (A copy of a Renaissance Italian palace) I read that this was the site of the Nobel prize ceremony.  And immediately I began to see scenes for the next Edge book.  I already had a fight sequence planned for Tallinn so now I had another piece of the puzzle for this next and final book.  The weather was lovely and the wind off the water carried a delightful chill.  Lining the edges of the river were all manner of boats.  Some of them were mere shells that didn’t look like they had left their mooring for decades.  Since I’m a desert rat and know nothing about boats and water I asked Stephen a few days later who explained that the mooring was probably very valuable so you hung onto it even if you only had a dingy.

I had flown to Stockholm and spent my first day walking to a laundry to wash clothes.  Even well out of the tourist areas there was a charm to the city that I found irresistible.  The next day my friends arrived via ferry and we set out to go exploring.  Our primary focus was the Vasa museum (Yes, we decided to give the Abba museum a miss.)  I love ships.  Over a decade of playing Privateers and Gentleman with Walter Jon as our game master has given me a broad appreciation so I was eager to see this salvaged ship.  Here’s the amazing thing — over 95 percent of the ship is original.  The lack of shipworms in the waters off the coast of Sweden and the cold water helped protect the ship until it could be raised in 1961.  Apart from a bit of red on the tongue of a lion the colorful paint is gone, but the beautiful sculptures remain.  Here is a shot I took of the stern castle.

The Vasa sank on her maiden voyage.  And it wasn’t like she was heading off to war or a voyage of exploration.  The ship was being moved to a different shipyard to try and address the fact she was horribly unstable.  Why was she unstable?  Because they built her exactly to the king’s specifications, and the king knew squat about shipbuilding.  He just wanted something Huuuge and impressive (remind you of anybody today?)  The master builder knew the ship was too high and too narrow, but nobody argues with the king so they built it as indicated.  I wondered why they didn’t just fudge the numbers and tell the king they had done as he asked — I figured he wouldn’t know the difference — but I suppose people of that era, 1628, actually did accept all that divine right of kings business.  So a gust of wind dame through the hills, hit the Vasa and she heeled over.  The open gun ports were below the water line, water poured in and the ship sank.  Here is a model of the ship in her glory.

I grabbed another picture of the elaborate tower structures to either side of the stern and the captain’s cabin.  I’d never seen anything like that on the British ships of the 18th century that I’ve toured.  I admit the character I played in P&G had a yearning for a ship that magnificent but with a broader keel.

We spent hours in the museum, but were very glad we had gone early since the crowds at noon were overwhelming.  We headed out and caught a tram back to the city.  We passed this lovely park with these beautiful gates.

The next day we went exploring the royal palace, the armory, and the old city.  It wasn’t quite as spectacular as Tallinn, but it was pretty amazing, and once you got off the main tourist street it was clear that people actually lived in the lovely old buildings.  It was in one of the little squares that would open up unexpectedly that I found this statue of St. George and the Dragon.









I loved the armory.  There was a cavalry officers uniform that I desperately wanted, and horse accoutrements that I believe would meet Vento’s approval.  The two jeweled items are aigrettes for a horse’s forehead and this was a saddle pad.










They also kept losing a lot of kings in battle.  In one case they preserved the king’s beloved horse Streiff – which was ridden by Gustav II Adolf when he was killed at the Battle of Lützen in 1632.  Yes, that is the actual horse.  This seems to be a thing in Scandinavia.  There was another stuffed horse in the royal stables in Copenhagen.


It was also in Stockholm that I had the best meal of my trip.  A friend made a reservation at a traditional Swedish restaurant and I had this tender and flavorful beef dish with onion and horseradish, and, of course, potatoes.  One of the other guests gave me a taste of her blood pudding with lingonberries and it was delicious.

There is a tradition of charming little horse figurines in Sweden and I picked up a couple.  One is Vento and the other my late lamented Steppi.  I also grabbed a lovely Nordic sweater that I will only be able to wear in New Mexico since there is no winter in California.


I’m out of time — I need to head to the barn soon.  So next time — on to Copenhagen.

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