While Steve took a few days on his own in Oslo, Eline and I set off for Stockholm to visit with Fred Hocker, Research Manager at the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is an incredible ship. Commisioned by the King of Sweden in 1624, it was one of the largest and most heavily armed ship of its day. It also had the extreme misfortune of sinking in 1628 before ever making it out of Stockholm harbor. It sat on the bottom of the harbor, lost but not totally forgotten for hundreds of years before being brought to the surface intact in 1961. Preserved in incredible condition by a combination of brackish water and anoxic muds, she now is the centerpiece of a massive maritime museum in downtown Stockholm. Our host, Fred Hocker, is a busy guy, but we were still able to get a thorough tour, including a close look at all the research and preservation activity going on beyond the view of the public.
The museum and the ship is absolutely terrific, but what really fascinated me were all the connections and insights into 17th century Europe that have been made by the archeological work being done on the Vasa and its associated artifacts. Restoration of the ship and all the objects and corpses found with the wreck has really yielded an incredible wealth of information about that age. Stockholm itself is a really fun city to visit, but no trip there is complete without a stop at the Vasa Museum.