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Stockholm by Boat top

To my mind, Stockholm is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. One writer described it as the “city that floats on water”. And I think a good introduction to Stockholm is by boat.

Stockholm is built across fourteen islands. In fact, one-third of the area inside the city limits consists of water. But thanks to a fine network of bridges, it’s easy to explore. Not only the country’s capitol, this is also the political, industrial and cultural center. A thousand years ago, fearsome Viking ships plied these waters. But today’s Stockholm, famous for sophisticated design and information technology, is the epitome of civilization.


For more details on touring the city, check out www.explore-stockholm.com.


The Changing of the Guard top

Stark and dignified, the Royal Palace is the home of modern Sweden’s king. During the summer, the daily changing of the guard is a regal spectacle of the highest order. Though famously peace loving today, 17th century Sweden was formidable military presence. It established itself the dominant force in the Baltic during Europe’s Thirty Year War. The Swedes joined forces with the German Protestant princes who were challenging the over-arching political power of the day, the Holy Roman Empire.


For times and details, visit the website of The Royal Guards in Stockholm.


The Vasa Museum top

For rare look Sweden’s bygone nautical prowess, don’t miss the Vasa Museum. This is a sailor’s tale of titanic proportions. In 1628, the great Vasa Warship was embarking on its maiden voyage from Stockholm harbor.

While thousands of horrified spectators looked on, the mighty ship capsized and sank to the bottom of the harbor. There it stayed for more than 300 years. In 1961, in an amazing feat of engineering, the ship was raised and eventually restored.

The Vasa’s hull was left nearly intact because the briny waters of the Baltic discourage worms that generally eat through ship timbers.

Considered state-of-art for its day, the ship was a masterpiece of intricate carving and rich ornamentation. Here, you can see a recreation of the Vasa’s original paint scheme. In its glory, it would have been spectacular. But a top-heavy design proved the ship’s undoing. What a shock it must have been the colossal man-of-war suddenly went belly-up! 50 of some 400 crewmembers died. Salvagers were thrilled to discover a wealth of articles belonging to the sailors on board, including clothing… dishes…and even a backgammon game.


For more details, visit the museum's website at www.vasamuseet.se.

If the home page comes up in swedish, you can change it in the "Choose language" box at the top right of the page.


Gravlax, Another Word for Raw Spiced Salmon top

For a traditional meal with international flair, we’re dining at the Ulla Winbladh Restaurant. Like everything else in Stockholm, food preparation is done in simple yet elegant style.


What are you preparing tonight, chef?

We're preparing swedish Gravlax.

Great. Gravlax is one of my favorite dishes.

CHEF Yeah? I didn't know that.

RUDY How do you do it? Show me how you do it.

CHEF I'm gonna have some salt, some sugar on it. A little bit more sugar than salt. That's salt, sugar, mix it around... and some dill. I just put it in like that... you can use all of the dill... and you really push the dill on the salt and the sugar. Then it lets all its flavor and all the nice green juice come out like that. Then I just put it in a plastic bag... (chef puts salmon in first, then scoops out bowl of sugar-salt-dill mix on top)...like that. Are you with me? Do you see what I'm doing?

RUDY I see exactly what you're doing.

CHEF Am I too fast...? So now we put it in the grave, or in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then it's ready to eat.

RUDY That's it?

CHEF That's it.

RUDY All right. Here we go with a little mustard...(Rudy takes a bite)...oh yeah.

CHEF You like it?

RUDY That is good.

CHEF Thank you.

RUDY No taste of sugar at all.

CHEF No, not at all. Not at all. It just tastes like the most tender salmon you ever had.


For other Swedish recipes, visit www.foodfromwweden.com.


The Town of Kalmar top

Southern Sweden is a rural wonderland of endless forests and quaint farmhouses. You can happily spend days just wandering the countryside, as the Swedes often do.

Our first stop is Kalmar, one of Sweden’s oldest cities. Kalmar grew up during the middle ages when it played a pivotal role in the rancorous wars between Sweden and Denmark for the control of northern Europe. The town’s residents struggled hard to protect this conveniently positioned trading center from the ever-threatening Danes just a few miles to the south. Today, Kalmar wins awards for it’s well-preserved medieval buildings. The oldest neighborhood is a photographer’s delight with its narrow streets, shingled roofs and dainty gardens.


Maps and tours of Kalmar are available from the Kalmar Tourist Information Centre.

If the home page comes up in swedish, you can change it in the "Choose a language" box at the top right of the page.


The Kingdom of Crystal top

One region that successfully combines old-time craftsmanship with modern innovation is southern Sweden’s vast “Kingdom of Crystal”.

Many shoppers come to Sweden with one goal: to buy glass. And this is the place to do it. There are 17 major glassworks all clustered around this area where some of the world’s most prestigious glassmakers show their wares.

One of the most popular factories, Kosta Boda, welcomes visitors with guided tours and glass blowing demonstrations. It’s fascinating to watch hot glass being shaped by some of the country’s most skilled glass artists. Precise and delicate, the craft produces some startlingly beautiful works.

(sound bite with guide)

If you’re on a budget, but still want to bring home a souvenir or two (or three!), you can get some great deals by purchasing factory seconds.

In the evening, the factory opens its doors for a special “Hyttsill”, or herring dinner. Here, to the bouncing rhythms of accordion music, you can dine on traditional Swedish dishes (including herring, of course) baked in the kilns designed to heat glass. Afterwards, you’ll be treated to a personalized glassblowing demonstration. You can even get take a shot a blowing a piece yourself – a sometimes shattering experience!


If you want to know more about the Kingdom of Crystal, visit

For more information about the Kosta Boda factory, visit www.kostaboda.se.


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For times and details, visit the website of The Royal Guards in Stockholm.

Maps and tours of Kalmar are available from the Kalmar Tourist Information Centre.

If you want to know more about the Kingdom of Crystal, visit