Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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the vasa museum

On my list of things to do in Sweden I list visiting the Vasa Museum. This is because it is one of the coolest museums I have been to. It takes a turn from your normal museum scene (pictures/painting/art on display, or multiple exhibits spanning years of history). The Vasa Museum has chosen its focus, that focus being the 17th century ship the Vasa.

Vasa vertical

The Vasa was a war ship that could hold 64 cannons and 300 soldiers. The ship was ordered to be built by king Gustav II Adolf, who was very concerned with status symbols. The Vasa took almost two years to build by head engineer Henrik Hybertsson.

The Vasa then sank in  1628 on her maiden voyage, after only sailing 1300 meters. Not surprising as the engineers knew it could not sail because of instability. However if the ship were to be built today it is likely the captain would be held responsible for the accident as Söfring Hansson should have sailed with the cannon doors shut to protect against an already unstable boat from sinking. 30 men, women and children died aboard the Vasa, and 15 sets of remains were found upon the ships surfacing. At the museum there is a section called “Face to Face” where you can learn about these people aboard the great war ship.

The boat was carved elaborately and painted beautifully. Color and paint experts have examined the wreckage to determine the probable colors used for this section, as seen in the drawing above.

The boat was carved elaborately and painted beautifully. Color and paint experts have examined the wreckage to determine the probable colors used for this section, as seen in the drawing above.

The ship spent three centuries under water before the Swedish marine technician Anders Franzén found it and began a campaign to retrieve the ship from its watery grave. Once surfaced in 1961 took almost 30 years to prepare and restore the ship and build the museum that the Vasa is standing in today. All new wood & restorations are done in untreated wood, so that a clear difference is seen between new wood and the 400 year old shipwreck wood.

The Vasa horizontal

I have never been to such a singularly focused museum. The ship is impressive enough in and of itself that the history behind it and extra details presented makes the museum a must visit in Stockholm city. Extra points if you sing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme for your entire visit.

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seven. go to italy

Or maybe this one should be titled, the time we didn’t go to Italy. Evelina has been to Italy, and loved it. Ever since the 11th grade, when students in Latin and or Classical Literature could sign up to go to Italy for spring break, I have wanted to go. I was eligible, but not able to go because I played Varsity Lacrosse. Now, I don’t want this to sound like the complaining athlete who couldn’t go on the fun trip because she was good at a sport. Even though that’s pretty much what it was. The rules were clear, if you played on the Varsity team you were at practice and games, or you were ineligible to play in future games corresponding both with how many practices and games you missed. Yes, I’ve wanted to go to Italy for a long time. We learned a lot about Ancient Rome in Latin, and I find the history to be ridiculously interesting. I would love to see the sights associated with such ancient times. It’s mind-boggling to me that so much is still in existence today.

See the pretty pictures Evelina took!

See the pretty pictures Evelina took!

Later in life I got to hear all about Evelina’s trip to Italy. She saw the sights in Rome, went to the Vatican, biked through Florence, and ate lots and lots of gelato. Evelina’s uncle is actually Italian. So I even get to hear all about the best beaches, most beautiful waterfronts, best italian food, when I see him. Basically it’s torture.

See the beautiful views my friend enjoys! Follow her on Instagram @dambrosl

See the beautiful views my friend enjoys! Follow her on Instagram @dambrosl

I was even invited to Italy this year. A friend has been studying there, and said I should stop by. Unfortunately it really didn’t fit in with everything going on. But it was hard to resist, especially after seeing all her crazy beautiful Instagram pictures. I do believe I’ll make it to Italy. I just no longer believe that will happen before I turn 25. The incompletion of this one leaves me a little bummed, but still hopeful for the amazing Italian trip I will someday take. All roads lead to Rome, after all. signature


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chichen itza in detail

Because of the HUGE response I got from my Mexico post…

Side bar: there was no response. At all.

ANYWAY! Because of the huge response I got from my Mexico post, I’m here to tell you more about the Chichen Itza experience.

Very interesting history. By the way, I’m glad the Mayans were wrong about the end of the world. (I’m thinking they just got bored with writing the calendar…) That’s neither here nor there.

Chichen Itza

As mentioned, it is quite possible our guide at Chichen Itza was making up 80% of the things he told us. I’m choosing to believe it was 100% fact. Here are some of the fun facts we got to learn about Chichen Itza and the ancient Mayans (only 20% guaranteed to be true):

  1. The carvings on many ancient structures depict pumas, jaguars and birds. These animals are carved in a sitting position, as they then represent warriors.
    sitting jaguars
  2. The Mayans built pyramids over pyramids. That is to say Chichen Itza has a tiny baby pyramid inside it. Only the baby pyramid will never be born…and is older than the one on the outside. I’m thinking the baby metaphor was a terrible one…

    Here you can see excavated layers of a newer pyramid that was once built over the Chichen Itza pyramid standing today.

    Here you can see excavated layers of a newer pyramid that was once built over the Chichen Itza pyramid standing today.

  3. The Mayans constructed all of their architecture without the wheel or metal.

    No metal. No wheel.

    No metal. No wheel.

  4. In searching to explain why hundreds of thousands of Mayans would perform the back-breaking work of constructing these structures (again, without the wheel or metal), archeologists think one possibility is the high priests performed cranial deformation from a young age, as well as teeth deformation. They were looked upon as demigods, and therefore were obeyed. (Google “cranial deformation“, I dare you.)

    If you can see the three protrusions from the corner of this building you can see three statues of Chaac. The protrusions are his nose.

    If you can see the three protrusions from the corner of this building you can see three statues of Chaac. The protrusions are his nose.

  5. The Mayans had many gods. My favorite is the rain god, Chaac. Because of his huge nose. I am that superficial. (They also had a corn god. Since there is no longer any wild corn, does that mean the Mayan corn god is dead? Or does she now oversee all the scientific improvements in corn in the last 3000 years?)

    Warrior.

    Warrior.

  6. Behind the Chichen Itza pyramid is a field of columns. Engraved on these columns are warriors. You can see they are warriors by their feathered headdress and by the fact that the engraving is wearing a jaguar skin and holding a weapon. There are 700 columns in all, however they are called “the 1000 columns” after a story about a boy who was asked by a priest to count them. He spent the day playing instead, and at the end of the day reported that there were 1000.

    Looks like 1000 to me.

    Looks like 1000 to me.

  7. There is an arena standing near Chichen Itza where three different styles of games were played. This court is the biggest in all of Mexico at 167 meters high.
    Mayan games
  8. There is also a platform engraved with skulls. It was on top of this platform that sacrifices were performed. As reiterated by our guide, human sacrifice was rare and it was a high honor to be offered as a sacrifice, the sacrifices were willing.
    Skull platform

I hope you had as much fun learning these 8 fun facts as I did. They were the ones I didn’t distinctly remember learning in school. Which adds to the theory that they may only be 20% true. Or my memory isn’t perfect. Either or.

This adventure was certainly worth it, and for those of you out there interested in a little history on your vacation I say this is a good way to go.

Also, don’t belive the guys out front selling hats. There is shade inside the walls surrounding the pyramid, and you will not melt in the sun.

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