Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Great food and scenery on three-hour boat tour

For our last full day in Stockholm we decided to get out on the water and take a three-hour cruise on the Stockholm, a ship built in the 1930s.  Stockholm is built on hundreds of islands, large and small, and this was a great way to get a different view of the area. In fact there are 30,000 islands making up the archipelago.

On my last visit to Stockholm many years ago in the 1970s, I visited an island in the archipelago with some Swedes, but that time not in a lovely boat but in a little motor boat. I remember it being quite rough. We had gone to a supermarket to buy the makings of a picnic for four people. To this day I remember it costing the staggering amount of over $70. No one lived on the island except for a few not too friendly steers. I enjoyed the picnic but the most memorable thing was swimming in the Baltic. The water was a very cold 56 degrees and it felt like ice was hitting my body.

Today's trip was very different. We had opted for the brunch cruise and were seated in a beautiful dining room with huge picture windows. In fact the sun was shining. Until November 28 there had been only 2.8 hours of sunshine in the whole month. We felt very lucky.

We passed waterside houses both opulent and modest, each with their own jetty. It seems to be the place to live, either permanently or in the summer, with access to the waters of the Baltic at the bottom of your garden. Other islands were totally uninhabited. It doesn’t take long before you can escape the city’s crowds.

At each place setting there was a sheet of paper telling us how to attack the smorgasbord. We didn't know what to expect but what a sumptuous lunch. There were lots of salads, delicious yellow beets, herring, cold meats and one of my very favourite things, gravlax — raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill. Served with a mild mustard sauce it is really out of this world. Of course there were lingonberries to serve with your food. There was a lovely potato dish of shaved potatoes roasted with herbs, new potatoes, chicken, meat and vegetables. I must admit I was more drawn to the gravlax.

We grazed our way to Vaxholm, where a sixteenth century castle still remains. It wasn't until 1912 that houses were allowed to be built in anything other than wood. The reason being that you could burn everything if invaders attacked.

As we made the return trip to Stockholm it clouded over and we could see the sun getting lower in the sky. Nightfall is about 3:30 at this time of year. But for us it was time for dessert. What a spread. I had some fruit but then discovered a jug with blackberries, lingonberries and raspberries. There were lots of cakes and tarts but the fruit with a touch of very light creme anglaise was perfect for me.

Later that evening we finished the day at Matt's apartment, where we had a salad and some Swedish cheese. Matt encouraged us to try a Swedish Christmas tradition, blue cheese with some thin ginger biscuits. It was amazing as the various tastes exploded in your mouth.

It was lovely seeing Kate and Matt in Stockholm. What a great visit.  

1 comment:

Country Girl said...

That tour was one of the highlights of my trip! Loved that we returned just as the sun was setting ~