Scandinavian Waterways and Capitals with Fred. Olsen's Balmoral: Part 5

Date published: 14 Mar 18

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ABBA

For a brief three and a half minutes and for the first time in their history, the most famous Swedish group in the world became truly international - well an Anglo-Swedish Co-operation.

Four became six as Dave and Babs, a spritely senior couple from Doncaster joined them on stage for what was probably the most unusual/best (you decide!) rendition of ‘Dancing Queen’ the world had ever seen. Only 11 and a half minutes of fame left. Maybe this blog will help.

A total hit. Nailed it in one even though my left knee gave way halfway through. Much applause from the watching crowd of tourists. For once the Chinese put down their selfie sticks. Acknowledgement of the crowds as we triumphantly left the stage politely refusing an enthusiastic request for an encore. A brief wave, a smile. Is this as good as life gets?

AbbaD.A.B.B.B.A were amazing. 

Great fun and yet again positive indications that Britain does have talent.

Three hours earlier. Ding Dong Avon calling. Not the cosmetic firm but our usual restaurant on Balmoral. A superb breakfast once again. Cereals - a mixture of Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes plus orange juice. Poached eggs on toast and a couple of juicy fat sausages and the crispiest bacon ever. Fred provides a choice of two sorts. One the smoky continental type. The second grilled to almost crisp heaven. Strangely addictive and hard enough to build a dry stone wall with it. Then a slice of toast with raspberry jam. Plenty of butter. A bowl of fresh fruit for the constitution. Oh that banana muffin looks good to. Yes please. All washed down with steaming hot coffee. Ah life is good on a Fred Olsen cruise.

More and more fellow passengers were discovering the joys of eating here in Avon and the mirror image Spey restaurant. So if you do sail with Balmoral do give it a try. They will not disappoint.

‘The Day Before You Came’ is my favourite ABBA song. And the day before we visited their museum was full of anticipation. By the way ABBA doesn't stand for anyone but British Airways.

Having spent yesterday getting well and truly soaked walking around Gamla Stan it was a blessing to wake up to a dry albeit a cool day.

AbbaOn the way to the museum we had a bit of a city drive with music provided by ABBA of course.

Alfred Noble of the prize fame was born in Stockholm. Engineer chemist and inventor. He spent years mucking about with nitroglycerine exploring its use in the construction industry. In one unfortunate explosive moment he blew up and killed his brother Emil and various others. This resulted in the authorities banning any further research within the Stockholm city limit. Deeply scarred by this he strove to invent a safer explosive. Dynamite was patented in 1867.

The City Hall is home to the Nobel banquet. A hive of daily activity. Its distinctive high tower is over 100m high and makes a distinctive addition to the skyline offering superb views over the city.

The Swedish language always reminds me of the chef in The Muppets. It is a difficult language to understand and speak. It sounds as though they speak only in vowels. Thankfully English is widely spoken in the city.

From the moment in 1974 that ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton they became one of the best-selling groups in the world. I can remember that night vividly. Sat on the sofa at home next to my nanna H who spent the entire night slicing apples with a red handled apple peeler bought on a day trip to Whitby.

AbbaAgnetha, Anni-Frid, Bjorn and Benny. You stormed the pop world as super troupers. Your fans went head over hills for your songs. You let the music speak and made lots of money, money, money shifting upwards of 450 million records. That's the name of the game and when all is said and done you deserve your success which goes on and on and on.

At last a museum that lives up to its hype and more. Take a musical journey through songs that have become soundtracks to our life between 1974 and 1982. So entertaining. Legendary original costumes, wildly over the top fashions, gold discs and videos, memorabilia a plenty. Memories came flooding back. We sat in the helicopter that adorned the ‘Arrival’ album. There was a mock up too of the recording studio,. A replica of the cottage on Viggso Island, part of the Archipelago, where many of the life affirming songs were composed.

There is a self-playing piano apparently which is linked to Benny's piano at his home. It plays when he does. As a side Benny has just released a superb easy listening album. ‘Piano’ has 21 excellent tracks featuring 6 ABBA songs and a few from the musical Chess. he co-wrote with Bjorn and Tim Rice.

AbbaThe ABBA museum opened in 2013. It is an interactive museum. Each ticket has a unique ID. Scan it before taking the stage and like magic there is a digital copy waiting to be downloaded on your pc when you get home. As well as taking to the stage we also made a video dancing to ‘Take A Chance On Me’ and a karaoke version of ‘Waterloo’ on the basis that if we make a complete fool of ourselves then no one knows us.

The visit lasted 90 minutes and we could have stayed all day. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we forgot about the time. It was slipping through my fingers. So we made for the exit and into the disco area, an epileptic's worse nightmare, with flashing disco ball and flashing lights and floor. We danced together the way old friends do. One man, one woman with ‘My Love My Life’. We let the music speak. Andante, andante and danced (while the music still goes on).

Other members of the cruise joined in. One guy, man in the middle, looked as though he was dancing the Funky Chicken to ‘The Winner Takes It All’. Arms were flailing everywhere. Under attack from an invisible foe maybe? SOS, I thought. Does your mother know that you dance like this? Mamma Mia!  

AbbaSo long ABBA and thank you for the music.

We had the best of times. Great fun. A fantastic 60th birthday treat. ABBA-solutely fabulous.

The museum is next to Grona Lund the historic amusement park. Busy all year round. Full of fun. Enter the House of Nightmares, if you dare!

Crowds were already assembling outside Skansen, the world's oldest open air museum, complete with a mini zoo too. Moose anyone?

A few hundred yards on we drove past the VASA Museet. Once the flagship of the Swedish Navy. It sank barely one mile out of port just after its launch in 1628 with not an iceberg in sight. Apparently it was top heavy and tipped over. Whoops!

In deference to this superb city, and as Balmoral set sail at 1:30, we had a fika moment still with the music of the famous four, briefly six, humming around my head.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Fred. Olsen Cruise Line


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