May 29:  Stockholm

Disregarding the 3am wakeup, I got 7 hours of sleep.  I was somewhat rested but my sore throat was starting up, and I knew the usual series of cold symptoms was sure to follow.  [As I write this on June 17, I'm doped up on DayQuil.  No escaping the Contiki Cough.]

In the morning we toured City Hall.  Due to bad angles I couldn't get a photo of the Blue Hall, where the Nobel reception is held every year, but at least I got to stand where Donald "it is bowl-shaped" Cram celebrated his 1987 win.  The Blue Hall isn't even blue, so you're not missing anything.

City council room.  I still can't figure out under what conditions those spots appear on my photos.  Has something to do with the lighting.

Gold Room.

Across the water from City Hall is Gamla Stan (Old Town).

We then had free time for a few hours.  Stockholm Cathedral was recommended so a bunch of us went inside.

St. George and the Dragon.  This is the church where royals are married and where Nobel winners speak after accepting their awards.

The Royal Palace was nearby, so we toured the Royal Apartments (no photos) and watched the changing of the guard, which at 30 minutes was way too long.  In the apartments I saw the coat of arms of the smoking hot Princess Victoria, currently #1 on my list of royal babes.  There was more to see at the palace, and our tickets covered 3 other sections, but we had to leave to go to the Vasa Museum.  The tickets were good for 30 days anyway so we could see the rest the next day.

On the way to the Vasa, Matt played the Titanic theme and then Eric Cartman's version of "Come Sail Away".  Good job.

The Vasa was a warship that sank on its 1628 maiden voyage before it even left the harbor.  It tilted in strong winds and the ballast shifted, and then water rushed in through the gun ports that they hadn't had time to close after ceremonial firings.  Eventually they raised the ship and housed it in this museum.  As part of our visit we watched an educational video about the salvage effort.  Most of it was footage of stuff being hosed off.

The Vasa.

We had more free time after that, and Becky had suggested previously that a bunch of us meet for dinner at this Viking ship we saw.  So I gradually made my way back there.

View of the harbor from Djurgårdsbron bridge.

It turns out that the Viking ship was closed, and appeared to be for sightseeing only and wasn't a restaurant at all.  So a bunch of us went into Gamla Stan and found an Italian restaurant.  During dinner we were talking about what we were looking forward to on this tour.  I said I was looking forward to Brest, which the others apparently interpreted to mean I was looking forward to scoring, until I reminded them that Brest is a city in Belarus that's on the itinerary.  Kristian entertained us with a story of a rugby player who lost his eye in a surfing accident and got a glass eye, and one night he popped out the eye and dropped it in his friend's beer, and the friend swallowed the eye, and had to wait until it came out, then wrapped the eye in toilet paper and placed it on its owner's pillow.

After dinner the entire group met to go to the Icebar, where the walls, bar and glasses are made of ice.  Next 3 photos are from there:

Lara, Kathryn (K2), Rob, Kathy (K1).

Uh...this was supposed to be a shot of the sign above the bar, but it's just a bunch of backs.

Most of the group.  That Neanderthal at rear center isn't with us, but as you can tell from his grin, it's fun to pretend!

This time only 7 of us went back to the campsite.  I wanted to get a little more sleep before the big night of partying on the Love Boat, and I needed to shower.  The showers required tokens, and I'd purchased 3 for 5 minutes each.  When it came time to use the tokens, I put the first one in and nothing happened.  The token-taker was on a wall separate from the showers so I figured I needed to do something else to turn the shower on once I got in, like press a button.  Before I did that I put the other 2 tokens in, and the third one JAMMED.  I tried valiantly to get the shower to work, and from all reports I was following the correct procedure, but in the end I had no shower.  And reception was closed for the night and wouldn't open until after we left the next morning, so I couldn't shower at all in Stockholm.