UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Overnight at interesting places around the world is surely a defining factor in the Azamara Club Cruises experience. The first port of call on our 12-night Summer Russia and The Baltics itinerary drove that concept home overnighting in Stockholm.
The capital and largest city in Sweden, Stockholm is a bustling metropolis with a unique character. Spread out over 14 islands, the has a bit the feel of Venice in a floating city sort of way. Still, Stockholm brings an urban feel as we found on a tour that included a visit to the world’s first ice bar.
Beginning at the Royal Palace, our walking tour of Stockholm came complete with a local guide, a destination expert vetted by Azamara to be a knowledgeable source of information.
A place with a very safe and clean feel, Stockholm is set up for tourism. Cobblestone streets are kept clean by a small army of workers who can be seen everywhere along tour routes.
Retaining most of its original architecture, dating back to the 18th century, Stockholm has been known as both a cultural and important trade center.
In fact, Stockholm was right in the middle of celebrating their culture with a city-wide festival going on at the time we visited.
It came as no surprise that Stockholm was elected as the ‘European Culture Capital’ in 1998, in many ways due to its beauty and multi-faceted cultural life.
Walking past the Nobel Museum, we were reminded that Sweden was the home of Alfred Nobel, born in Stockholm.
The cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings of medieval old town, are home to a 13th-century cathedral, the royal palace of Kungliga Slottet as well as Stockholm’s underground armory, cafes and restaurants.
A very walkable place, ferries and sightseeing boats shuttle passengers between islands and under more than 50 bridges.
Stockholm is referred to as the ‘World’s Smallest Big City’ or the ‘World’s Biggest Small Town’ and we saw why up close, making local connections with friendly, helpful people along the way.
Interestingly, the people of Stockholm are dependent on the service industry for their daily bread, providing 85% of the jobs in the city.
It was the aroma of freshly baking bread that called us to a local bakery in the city center during a period of free time on our Azamara tour.
A variety of bakery goods on sale would have been just wonderful to bring home or back to the ship. Instead, we bought some pastries which never made it back to Azamara Quest.
Visiting Stockholm’s world-famous ice bar, we ended our tour with a feel for what this part of the world might be like in winter.
The world’s first permanent bar made entirely of ice, Icebar by IceHotel Stockholm was surely the coolest bar in town with drinks served in frozen blocks of ice harvested in the winter and stored in a deep freeze for use throughout the year.
Included in the price of admission, the fur parka needed to withstand the sub zero temperature of the place.
Back to Azamara Quest, it was scenic cruising and a nod to the nicely-sized ships of Azamara Club Cruises that enabled an experience very much like scenic cruising on a river cruise. On either side of the ship, land was close enough for waving to those ashore.
We would sail for nearly four hours to reach open sea then cruise long at a leisurely pace to our next port of call at Helsinki, Finland.
First time international traveler Sydney, enjoyed her first visit to a European city in a number of ways. We’ll get more into that next as we begin a series of guest posts with Sydney bringing something rather new to ChrisCruises.com; the perspective of a millennial traveler. That starts tomorrow.
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