Tim Foolery

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The Vasa Museum – Stockholm

The one recommendation that EVERYONE I talked to about Stockholm gave me was to visit the Vasa Museum.  The Vasa was a Swedish warship built in the early 1600s.  It actually sank on its maiden voyage after sailing a bit more than a kilometer.  Some items of value (cannons and other weaponry) were salvaged later in the 17th century, but the ship was basically forgotten until the middle of the 20th century.  It was raised in 1961 and housed in a temporary location until it moved to its permanent home in 1981.  The Vasa museum is dedicated to the history of the ship, the salvage efforts and the period in which it was constructed.  

I decided to visit the Vasa Museum my first day in Stockholm and I figured I’d spent about 90 minutes exploring the museum, maybe grab lunch at the museum cafe and then head on out to make headway on my to do list.  That plan fell apart pretty quickly, once I arrived at the museum.  I was enthralled!

I was utterly surprised at how interesting the museum actually was.  The Vasa was so much more grand than I was expecting.  While you can’t actually go on the ship itself, you can walk around it getting amazing views of the craftsmanship.  The brackish water really preserved the ship – 400 years underwater and the boat looks amazing.  The museum worked with craftsmen to repair parts of the ship that were damaged while it was submerged or during the recovery process.

The aft section of the Vasa – enormous in scale and history.

The intricate carvings transfixed me.

While you couldn’t tour the boat itself, the museum did have a ton of interactive exhibits where you could see what life would be like on board.

A sampling of the ornate carvings that adorned ships of this era.

I ended up spending nearly four hours exploring the Vasa Museum.  I did also grab some Swedish meatballs and a beer.  I’ve recommended this museum to others, with the simple comment that you’ll need more time than you initially think and everyone tells me that the did indeed spend hours longer there than they anticipated.  Who knew a 400 year old boat that sank immediately upon completion would be so fascinating?

Swedish Meatballs, Potatoes and Pickles at the Vasa Museum. Really great for Museum Food!

Have you been to the Vasa Museum?  How much time did you spend there?  The meatballs were pretty tasty too, weren’t they?


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