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With the Lighting in Sweden: A reconstructed warship, plus ABBA

Swedish travels continue with two of the most popular attractions in Stockholm.
A full-color model of the Vasa sits in front of the 391-year-old reconstructed Swedish warship at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. [DIANA NEARHOS  |  TIMES]
A full-color model of the Vasa sits in front of the 391-year-old reconstructed Swedish warship at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. [DIANA NEARHOS | TIMES]
Published Nov. 11, 2019
Updated Nov. 11, 2019

Editor’s note: The Tampa Bay Times’ Lightning beat writer Diana C. Nearhos traveled to Sweden with the Lightning last week. Here’s her latest travel log.

STOCKHOLM — An old, 17th-century warship, one that sank about half a mile into its maiden voyage, sits in a museum in Stockholm. This, I had to see.

The Vasa was constructed top-heavy, thus it capsized and sank just almost immediately after setting sail in 1628. Even more incredibly, it survived intact and was salvaged and reconstructed on the island of Djurgården (just down the street from ABBA: The Museum).

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: They hadn't thought of it to start, but the Lightning added a community hero to Saturday's game

The 17-minute video describing the ship’s construction, sinking, salvaging and restoration was fascinating, much more than I expected. This ship was supposed to be one of the greatest warships of its time. Instead, everyone watched it sink. It sat in the harbor in Stockholm for 333 years until someone found it and they figured out how to raise it.

The museum has information on every stage of the ship’s existence and what life would have looked like on it. You can walk through a full-size replica of the upper gun deck and step out onto a replica of the upper rigging.

The Vasa and “ABBA: The Museum” were the two most-often mentioned attractions in Stockholm. So, even though I don’t have any particular interest in ABBA, we checked it out.

The first exhibit was about the Mamma Mia! movies, but then you get to the good stuff.

I knew next to nothing about ABBA, mostly that they sang Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia and were from Sweden. So I found the background of how two couples became a megastar group interesting. I had no idea that they made it big after winning Eurovision (a massive annual song contest). Eurovision now is a lot of glitz and glam with heavy camp. ABBA was the start of that.

There are displays about their costumes, their songwriting, their producing plus each of the four members’ careers before and after ABBA.

For someone who knew nothing, the museum was interesting. For a group of French tourists who appeared to be superfans, it was thrilling. But for a Swede who knew the group’s story, the museum was a little lacking.

Related: MORE LIGHTING: Victor Hedman is the latest big name to come from Örnsköldsvik, but he had a path to follow

What I ate

Yes, I’m still talking about Swedish food. I’m on a mission to try as many traditional dishes as possible.

Conclusion: pickled herring is not as scary as it sounds. I had a trio of herring as an appetizer and they were all good. The traditional herring was pickled with carrots and onions, then there was one with a mustard sauce and another with a crème fraiche sauce. I ate them on crispbreads (similar to a cracker). The mustard was a little strong, but other than that, I’d eat them again.

I completed my task to eat all three things Victor Hedman listed on his top three things to eat in Sweden. I’d already had Swedish candy and toast skagen. Now, I can check of biff rydberg. The meat and potatoes dish was good, unremarkable but great for a cold day.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.

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