To see our YouTube video of Sweden, please click here.
We were driven through the "breadbasket" of Sweden through miles of fertile farmland strewn with tidy farms, followed by small towns and major seaports. We visited the ruins of Brahehus Castle which is situated outside Granna in the province of smaland Sweden.
Due to 270 m height above sea level and 180 m above te lake, a fantastic wide panoramic view of Lake Vattern and the island of Visingso opens from the ruins. Built for Count Per Brahe the Younger in the 1640s, the castle soon became a ruins in the 1680s and suffered a fire in 1708.
This is one of the views from the castle.
This is a picture of John and me standing inside the ruins.
We arrived in Stockholm and enjoyed a Swedish Midsummer Dinner. We visited the Skansen Open Air Museum and learned about midsummer, the most important family celebration of the year. We took pictures of the old wooden church, grass roofed houses, farm, and the beautifully decorated midsummer pole.
Skansen is beautifully located on Royal Djurgården and sports spectacular views over all of Stockholm.This is also a Sweden in miniature. 150 farms and dwellings from different parts of the country were disassembled and transported here.
Swedish traditions such as Midsummer, Walpurgis Night and Lucia are celebrated at Skansen.We enjoyed a nice folk dance presentation.
We went sightseeing with a local guide and visited the Royal Palace, Riddarholm Church, the blue and gold chambers in the City Hall where the annual Nobel Prize banquet is held.
Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm in Sweden. It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden's northern shore and facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. It is more like a palace than a city hall as our YouTube video shows.
Outside city hall building.
We went on to visit the Vasa Ship Museum and enjoyed seeing the most richly ornamented war vessel built in Europe, the Vasa. The Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in 1628 and was raised in 1961.
Vasa which was a 17th century Swedish battleship, was to be one of the biggest vessels of its era. It was meant to symbolise the might of the Swedish Empire, but it didn't even make it out of Stockholm harbour, sinking after sailing just 1300 metres (1400 yards). After the ship was raised in 1961, the remains of at least 16 people were found.
For the first few hundred meters, Vasa was warped along the waterfront with cables from the shore. The ship did not begin to sail until she reached what is now Slussen. Sailors climbed the rigging to set four of Vasa’s ten sails. A salute was fired, and Vasa slowly began her maiden voyage.
Once Vasa came out from under the lee of the Södermalm cliffs, the sails could catch the wind, but the ship was tender and heeled over to port, then heeled again, even farther. Water rushed in through the open gunports and the ship’s fate was decided. Vasa sank, after sailing barely 1300 meters.
The crew threw themselves into the water or clung to the rigging until rescued, but not all managed to save themselves. Eyewitnesses differ on the exact numbers, but perhaps 30 of approximately 150 people on board died in the loss.
We enjoyed Stockholm's most colorful historic island and took a guided walk through the myriad of narrow streets and alleys, dotted with picturesque buildings, artists studios, small shops, and various outlets.
We visited King Gustav Vasa's Gripsholm Castle (below) on the shores of Lake Mälaren. Gripsholm Castle towers powerfully and fairytale-like over the idyllic small town of Mariefred in Södermanland.
Gripsholm is known as Gustav Vasa's castle, as it was he who built the castle here in 1537.
We took the time to wander slowly through the many rooms and winding passages. Gripsholm Castle is filled with over four-hundred years of history. We saw the Swedish State's collection of portraits – featuring prominent Swedes from the days of Gustav Vasa to the present.
We took a royal stroll around the romantic castle grounds and enjoyed the Hjorthagen nature reserve.
On the way, we got glimpses of the ancient garrison town of Orebro and Bofors, the site of Alfred Nobel's ammunition factory. We enjoyed a scenic day driving through Varmland, the area so beautifully described in Selma Lagerlof's Gosta Berlings Saga. We drove to the Norwegian Border and took pictures where we could stand with one foot in Sweden and the other in Norway. Our Scandinavian vacation was awesome. The music we used in this video is Morning Creek by John Rudzinskas.