To brighten up the winter of 2018, my friend Brian and I decided on a series of impulsive city breaks. We developed a ‘team’ list of places we wanted to go, and drew them out of a digital hat (yes, that is a thing) to decide on the order. This post is dedicated to the wonderful city of Stockholm.
We went at the end of February, during the week that extreme weather caused the UK to have an overall transport fail. That meant a 5 hour delay on a 2 hour flight, complete with many “do we just give up?” moments. We persevered and eventually made it to Stockholm in the early hours of the morning, walking out of the airport and straight onto a bus waiting to take us to the city! That went a little way towards making up for the delay….
We booked an economy cabin each on the wonderful Rygerfjord Hostel and Hotel boat – a cool alternative to a normal ‘hostel’, and in a perfect location. Each cabin had a comfy bunk bed, basin, heating and some storage – bathrooms were shared.
After a good sleep, we set off towards the old town marvelling at the beautiful combination of sunshine and snow, and thinking about how much better Scandinavia is at winter than us.
I fell in love with Stockholm immediately –the orange, yellow and pink buildings, the wide streets, super cool shops, amazing cafés, outdoorsy people walking dogs, pulling kids on sledges, skating in the park. Gamla Stan didn’t disappoint either – little clusters of cute shops and cafés on their very own island. We did as the Swedes do and took a coffee break, or ‘Fika’ as the Swedes call it. And the coffee was gooood, so was the cake – but it was small because we were saving ourselves for something very exciting….
Brian and I are kindred spirits in our love for a. food and b. gin so imagine our excitement on reading about Tipsy Tea – a Swedish take on afternoon tea combining those two excellent things created by AT SIX hotel, restaurant and bar. OMG it was epic. Every little creation tasted so good and looked so pretty. There was a lady sitting opposite us who left a few of the tasty wonders, and I had to seriously restrain myself from doing some afternoon tea minesweeping.
Stockholm is a great city to explore on foot, so with full stomachs, we set off to explore the trendy districts of Mosebacke and SoFo, drinking great coffee and wandering in and out of the kind of effortlessly cool shops that make you want everything and wish you were cooler.
In the evening, when hunger started to strike, we did a bit of meatball-based research. I hate to be a cliché but we could not go to Stockholm without trying their most famous dish. We considered the easiest Google find – Meatballs for the People, but decided we wanted something a little simpler so we wandered over to Bakfickan – a cute, casual little restaurant right next to the Opera House. It was a beautiful little spot – an ice rink in the middle f the gardens, fairy lights everywhere. We ordered meatballs and they were delicious. Simple, with the traditional creamy brown sauce and side dishes of lingonberries and mash and as much bread as you could manage.
After dinner it was time to sample some Stockholm nightlife so we did a mini bar crawl. It began with a kind of espresso martini at Tweed – a refined, slightly precious place where the bar people take themselves VERY seriously. The cocktails were good though. Seeking a less ‘cool’ vibe, we trudged over to a teeny tiny bar/club where we squeezed in and made friends with locals over loud, cheesy European music.
Next stop for me was bed, but Brian – younger than his years partied on as the newest recruit to the smallest stag do at the Patricia party boat. The state of him the next day told me he had fun.
Now I am not usually a museum person, but even I had to visit the famed Vasa Museum on the island of Djurgården. The museum houses the only preserved 17th century ship and it is simply incredible.
A bit more pottering, more coffee, more cake and it was time to leave, but I had already started planning a return visit.
In just 48 hours, I well and truly fell in love with Stockholm. It somehow manages to feel like the countryside and the city simultaneously. People seem friendly, relaxed and happy and I think I want to live there.