Saturday, September 6, 2008

Drowned Rat

Day 178
I got up a bit late and then meandered my way to the old part of Stockholm. I recognized a lot of things. It was kinda nice. I spent some time wandering the oldest part of the city admiring the stores and all the things I knew I wouldn't be buying.

It was around now that it started to rain. At first it was really just a drizzle that didn't bother me at all. I took a picture of the Royal Palace and ran into a marching band. As I headed to Djurgarden island it really started to come down. By the time I got to the Vasa Museum I was cold and drenched. I hoped that if I spent a long time here the rain would stop and I would dry out.

Before I saw anything I went right to the cafeteria. I needed some comfort food. I ended up with some beef thing, it was yummy, but back to the Vasa.

The Vasa was a war ship commissioned in 1628 by the king himself. It was meant to be the biggest, the fastest, meanest, and fanciest ship in the royal fleet. On its maiden voyage, while still in the harbor it tilted a few times and then simply sunk. There was a huge out roar. No one knew what had gone wrong. Was it built incorrectly, was God angry at the king, or was it sabotage from the Poles? Attempts were made to raise the ship, but they only managed to salvage a few cannons. Over time the location of the ship was lost.

In the 1950's Anders Frenzen, a private researcher, decided that he was going to find the ship, and he did. The ship was discovered in 1956. It took a few years of work, but in 1961, 333 years after it had sunk, the Vasa was brought to the surface.

Over the next decade the ship was searched for artifacts and everything was very carefully recorded. When it was emptied the Vasa was doused with wax to strengthen and preserve her. This was the same thing that is currently being done in Portsmouth to the Mary Rose. After 13 years of this the ship was dried out and a museum built up around it. The ship itself is almost completely intact, the biggest difference is that she had been colorfully painted, the water had worn the paint away.

This was some museum too. After a movie about the ship it then had sections on anything and everything you may want to know about it. In the 17th century it was illegal to be unemployed, but begging was considered a profession. There were hundreds of objects to check out that had been recovered in the ship.

The most interesting part was on the 17 skeletons that had been found in the ship. Through medical analysis and the objects found near to the bodies the individuals lives were pieced together. Some of the peoples faces had even been recreated. The captain most likely went down with the ship.

I was really upset to see that not only was it still raining, it was raining harder. I didn't have my umbrella with me, that would be too smart, nor did I have my rain coat, that would be way too smart of me. I decided to go to the hostel, get dry clothes and then go see a movie. This didn't quite happen. I found the movie theater first and Batman was about to begin, so I just went for it, soaking wet and all. It was fabulous.

After picking up dinner I spent some time in the hostel reading and writing. There wasn't really anything going on and I called it an early night.

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