Monday, June 28, 2010

The land of white nights

Light pouring beneath our stateroom curtains invites us to look out on an exquisite sunrise after only 2 hours of semi-darkness.

It is 2:30 in the morning on the Baltic Sea. We are aboard a gorgeous cruise ship, the Celebrity Eclipse on a round-trip voyage from England to Russia, and are now entering the Swedish archipelagos leading to Stockholm.

Lush green islands passing by are magnificent—like a giant’s stepping stones from the open sea to the capital city of Sweden. We are captivated for hours by lighthouses, boat marinas, large estates and modest summer homes.

Stockholm, 48 hours before its royal wedding, is shimmering with beauty.Ashore, we board a bus for an all-day tour through the capital to a ferry and then to two islands of the archipelago and pristine countryside. Swedes are friendly and welcoming everywhere we stop to enjoy the views and to shop.

We bask in the warm summer day, such a rarity so far north, and in the beauty of the landscape and the warmth and friendliness of such attractive and wholesome people.

One little town has a Porcelain museum, and at a shop nearby I delight in buying a lovely, inexpensive lace scarf for a souvenir.

After a second ferry ride we arrive at a charming farmhouse for a typical and very delicious lunch---a giant meatball imbedded in buttery mashed potatoes, accompanied by freshly shelled peas and luscious crimson lingonberries.

Shops on this island offer a large variety of homegrown vegetables , fruit preserves, dried herbs and designer textiles.

Late in the afternoon we return to our temporary home—one of the most beautiful cruise ships we’ve ever experienced.

We arrive just in time for dinner at our elegant window table for two. Because we wish to eat lightly we are grateful there are always perfect consomm├ęs and tasty fruit soups on the menu.

Later, we linger on our verandah amazed at the sun still high in the sky.

In the land of the midnight sun we are loving the longest day of our lives.

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