Well this has taken much longer to get to than I thought it would. Between traveling, getting sick and just generally being lazy, I'm weeks behind where I thought I should be. The trip to Sweden was a good one - I got to add another country to the list, I got to visit a cool city, and the work part of the trip was very productive. A win on all fronts really. This will likely be a series of posts, and hopefully I will get through them in the next few days.
In late March, I was off to Stockholm Sweden for a short conference and meetings with some potential customers. I left from Vancouver on Monday night, after a full day of work. Luckily, I had managed to get an upgrade for the flight, so I was in executive class for the trip to London. Chad, my coworker was also on the flight and also got upgraded, so we were feeling pretty good about the trip. We were on one of the new 777s, which have this new, "upgraded" cabins in executive. Frankly, they're not as good as the old pods. The entertainment system is better, but they are a little short and don't give me enough room to stretch out fully on the lay-flat bed. So while it made for a good trip over the pond, it certainly wasn't enough or a restful sleep.
We arrived in London on Tuesday midday, and I barely had enough time for a shower in the lounge before heading to the gate for our connecting flight to Stockholm. That was a short two hour flight after the Atlantic crossing, and I think I managed to sleep for most of it. After arriving in Stockholm, we took the Arlanda Express train from the airport to the city center, where we grabbed a cab over to our hotel. Chad wanted to make it an early night, so we went out for dinner and were back into the hotel by about 8:00. I was still pretty wired, so I sat down to do some work.
About an hour later, there were fireworks going off outside the hotel. I got dressed and went downstairs pretty much as they ended. I still have no idea why they were going off. Heading outside was fortunate, as it was a nice clear night, and the moon was almost full. I went back upstairs and grabbed my camera and tripod, then wandered around the local area for a couple of hours taking pictures.
Wednesday morning was grey and overcast, and after going for a short walk, I sat down to get caught up on work. Our first meeting was at 6:00 p.m., so I had some time. My sleep the night before had been pretty bad - I was wide awake at about 3:30, so I had managed to get a bunch of work done. As such, I thought that gave me some free time to go check out some local sights. Both Chad and my guide book had mentioned the Vasa Museum, which houses the recovered wreck of a Swedish warship from the 1620s that had sat on the bottom of the Baltic Sea for over 300 years before being recovered in the 1960s.
I have to say - everyone was correct - this might be the single most interesting museum I have ever been in (and I've been in a few...). The center piece of the museum is the warship Vasa, which was to have been a major piece of King Gustavo Adolf's navy in the 1600s. 69m long, and having two decks of cannons, it was an impressive ship with a major design flaw. On its maiden voyage, the ship made it a grand total of 1,500 meters before floundering in the harbour and sinking to the bottom. Seems the shipbuilder told the King that the second deck of canons was a bad idea. He should have listened...
The ship sat on the bottom of the harbour for 333 years, before the most ambitious salvage and restoration work saved the ship in 1961. It's amazing really - the brackish water of the Baltic means that none of the usual molluscs that usually eat through wooden ships are present in that water. Coupled with the covering of mud and the cold water, they were able to recover 95% of the ship, including some of the sails! They put it all back together after significant restoration work, and built the museum to house it. The thing is huge, and it's amazing to see the detail that went into building this ship.
The museum itself is also very fascinating. It all is setup around the time that the ship was built/launched/lost, and tells the story of the time. You can walk all around (but obviously not on) the ship, and they've built scale models of parts of the ship so you can experience the real thing. I've never seen anything quite like it. I spent a good 3 or 4 hours wandering the museum, before heading back to the hotel. Walking out of the hotel after a few hours, I was actually wondering if I got transported to another location as well. When I went in, it was a nice day - when I came out it was snowing!
I walked back to the hotel and got changed for the evening. Chad and I met up in the lobby of the hotel, just before having to head over to our first meeting. The meeting was over by the central station, and was pretty good. We met from 6:00 until about 7:30, then grabbed some dinner. I had to setup our trade show booth that evening, so about 9:00 I went over to the conference hotel to see the venue and get setup. The conference was being held at the Grand Hotel Stockholm, and it is a pretty impressive place.
The main conference was being setup in their main ballroom, also known as the "Hall of Mirrors". It's an impressive venue, and someone at the hotel told me the room was designed by the same person that designed the Versailles palace in Paris. You could definitely see the similarities. Much smaller scale obviously, but just as impressive.
After setting up and checking out the logistics, I called it a night. The snow had been coming down all day, and there was actually a pretty good amount of accumulation. I thought we were done with winter, but I guess not.
Thursday was a full day of trade show fun. We started right at 7:30, finishing off the booth setup and getting ready. Throughout the day we sat through sessions, and tried to meet up with people to get a feel for the interest in our products. All told, it was a pretty good event. Lots of good discussions, and lots of good feedback on where we are going. It made for a bit of a long day. Chad and I did dinner that night, and wandered around the old town for a while. It gave me a good chance to scout out some ideas for places to check out when I went back a few days later to try and get some more serious photos.
We had dinner at this cool tapas place in the old town. The food was great, and the atmosphere was pretty awesome. After dinner Chad called it a night, but I wasn't quite done, and went out and wandered around the streets for a while longer, getting a better feel for the area near our hotel.
As the conference was over on Thursday, I had decided to stick around through the weekend to explore Stockholm a little further. Fortunately the weather turned for me, and the snow stopped. It actually cleared up, and the sun (mostly) came out for me.