Atlantis Alumni

Monday, May 16, 2011

Return To Stockholm

Twenty-six years ago, when we visited Stockholm for the first time, with my late father, rain fell from Thor’s sky every day. The same weather showed up yesterday on Sunday, but the skies became clearer in the afternoon. We took a shuttle bus from where the ship was docked into the center of the magnificent Swedish capitol. From the Opera house we walked to the National Museum. A more spacious city than Copenhagen, Stockholm has the grandeur of a well-laid out urban plan.

The National Museum houses a great, if medium-sized, collection of great art. There have many paintings by the German Renaissance painter Cranach, several works by the Baroque masters Rubens and Jordaens, and best of all eight Rembrandt’s, including the rare history scene, “The Conspiracy of the Batavians.” The magical light in the painting and the brutal expressions on the faces of the conspirators make this work a most unusual treasure. From France, the museum boasts a painting by Poussin, and many works by the eighteenth century artists Watteau, Boucher and Chardin. From 19th century France there are masterpieces by Courbet, Delacroix, Manet, Renoir and Gauguin. We also saw an exhibit called “Love and Vice,” showing the way erotic scenes have been depicted in art from the Renaissance to the present day. The show asked the provocative question, ‘Who’s the voyeur, the artist or the viewer?’ We also saw some of the museum’s outstanding and large collection of decorative art.

For lunch we walked to the nearby Grand Hotel, the most famed hostelry in the city. We had stayed there on our last visit to Sweden, and the hotel is still elegant. Then we boarded a covered boat for a harbor tour that went past many of the islands that comprise the beautiful city of Stockholm. One of the stops let us out at the magnificent Royal Palace. Past the guards, in their steel helmets and colorful blue and white uniforms, we toured the royal apartments. Like Denmark and Norway, Sweden still has a monarchy; although all three of these Scandinavian countries are very democratic in everyday politics. At the end of the afternoon we took the boat back to the ship.

We enjoyed another convivial dinner Sunday evening with our new gay friends Bob, Lance and Gary, who we met through the ship’s meeting of the Rainbow LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender group.) Lance and Gary, from Texas, own a large ranch where they raise cattle. Who would have dreamed we’d meet folks with such a different life-style?
And after dinner we saw an amusing hypnotist’s show in the Princess Theater.

Today we explored Helsinki, by late afternoon the rain did depart.

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