After the best time in Copenhagen, Sam and I had high hopes for the Stockholm portion of our grand Northern Europe trip. As a semi-Swede myself, growing up with Swedish food and traditions, I was expecting a warm welcome from my fellow-countrymen. In my head I had daydreamed scenes straight out of the movies… me running through the streets as music played in the background, befriending random Swedish people and shouting “these are my people, I am home!”
Sadly, it was no warm and fuzzy homecoming.
I am disappointed to report that during our quick trip to Stockholm, we felt a little snubbed by the Swedes. They were quite cold, refusing to make eye contact or speak with us at all. On the streets they’d bump into you, step on your toes, cut you in line, not once pausing to say “excuse me” or “sorry.” Even Sam, the nicest person I know, was growing irritated with the less-than-friendly Swedes by the end of our trip. A quick Google search confirmed our suspicions, it’s just a cultural thing.
But we had a wonderful few days nonetheless! Lots of beautiful buildings, food, and shopping to share below.
Monday September 28, 2015: Stockholm
We stayed at another charming Airbnb in Södermalm, the southern hipster neighborhood. Our apartment was a few minutes from the main Södermalm shops and restaurants, and had amazing views of the Sofia Kyrka church across the street.
Since we were without our own personal tour guides, our plan was to join a free walking tour of the modern Stockholm city center right away. The tour walked through the business districts and shopping areas. And while the guided tour was informational, I think most folks smartly pick the Gamla Stan (Old Town, the older, more touristy area) tour instead.
After the tour finished, we walked over one of city’s 57 bridges to Gamla Stan, the main event! This neighborhood, built in the 13th century, was beyond beautiful. Cobblestone streets, old buildings in pastel hues, winding paths zigging like a maze. It was the photogenic and historic side of Stockholm I was hoping to see. I could have spent days just getting lost and weaving through the island.
Stomachs growling from the miles of sightseeing, we were eager to sample our first authentic Swedish meal. We grabbed a table outside at Slingerbulten and ordered up Swedish meatballs with lingonberry, potatoes, and cucumber salad (yum, for me) and pickled herring (ew, for Sam obviously.)
After walking for miles with just a 7-11 coffee in the stomach, I was getting “hangry.” So I was in HEAVEN to just sit outside, take a long lunch break, people watch, and enjoy a real Swedish meal. The place, like most other European restaurants and shops, had free Wi-Fi, making it even easier to Instagram away. Like I said, heaven.
After a little more souvenir shopping in Gamla Stan for the family and ourselves (no, the moose was not purchased,) we made our way back home to snack on Swedish candies, rest our feet, and try to follow a show that looked like the Real Housewives of Stockholm.
Tuesday September 29, 2015: Stockholm
Since we enjoyed our first free walking tour of Modern Stockholm and had already covered most of Gamla Stan, we decided to take advantage of the free Söder walking tour. Södermalm, the island we were staying on, literally meant “south” in Swedish. These days the neighborhood is known to be extremely hip and trendy. Vogue even named the area one of the hippest neighborhoods in Europe.
Our guide, born and raised in Söder, walked us all through the neighborhood, showing historic buildings, hip shops, and beautiful views of Stockholm across the water.
The remainder of the day we stayed on our southern island, visiting popular Swedish shops, browsing for souvenirs, and even tasting the famous Swedish hot dog stands.
Near our Airbnb we stepped into a secondhand shop, where I picked up a few antique home decor items for myself. I loved the idea of bringing something home with history that I’d use and see everyday around my home, unlike a t-shirt or a magnet.
During the trip I had quickly learned that both the Danish and Swedes are obsessed with using candlesticks to create a “cozy” ambiance at home. Both Airbnbs had dozens of simple candlesticks around the apartment, and I was happy to pick up a Swedish one of my own to take home as well.
For our final Swedish meal we walked down the street to Urban Deli Nytorget, the coolest deli/casual lunch spot/hip dinner restaurant rolled into one. After our fancy dinner out, we hit up the grocery store to buy Swedish snacks for family gifts, and then head home to schedule a 4AM taxi to the airport before hitting the hay.
Next stop, Reykjavik, via Oslo.