I was going to Stockholm, and it had some pretty big fucking shoes to fill, expectation-wise.
My entire life I’d fantasized about this mystical, efficiently modern yet ancient place: A tall, strong, icily blonde population wearing nothing but chic black sweaters and eating meatballs from elk they hand wrestled to death amongst wall-to-wall light wood floors and stark white everything.
The good news is, my fantasy was not, in fact, that far from reality.
So first, Stockholm planning started by tracking down a gorgeous Airbnb in the coolest area, apparently: Södermalm. I was told it was like Williamsburg, but more clogs? [Side note: less cloggage than anticipated.]
All the best bars, restaurants and shops were within a few minutes walk from the place. And we’d be close enough to Gamla Stan, the Old Town, to get our fill of the castle and other tourist-friendly sights. UGH! FINE!
Staying in Söder turned out to be a flipping fantastic move. Over our three days, we hit up a laundry list of fantastic spots that would be completely at home… at home. In Brooklyn. The grand plan for this very short trip was to soak up all the food, shopping and sights we could. If we liked what we saw, ideally we would take a longer trip in the future to explore museums, the palace and other “must dos” that we uh, didn’t.
To the list of accomplishment:
- Meatballs for the People for delicious balls. It was a bit touristy, but I’m a tourist, so.
- Nytorget 6 for mind-blowing brunch. They have a secret little cabaret in the basement, so obviously it hets up at night.
- Pet Sounds Bar for drinks and people-watching. Food-wise, they seem to specialize in fries topped with stuff, which I have zero problem with.
- Urban Deli for amazing fresh fish and a beautiful grocery store.
- Greasy Spoon which is not, in fact, that, but instead an amazing brunch spot filled to the gills with delicious dishes.
- Snotty Sound Bar, full of cool-looking nice people, which is pretty much the theme for Stockholm.
- Koh Phangan, a Thai restaurant with a totally weird, black-lit bar. Apparently the food is off the charts, but we stuck to the drinks.
- The Bishop’s Arms for a honking good beer selection.
- Bar Central our first outdoor drinking/potted meat experience, which did not disappoint.
Plus Grandpa and Aplace for those aforementioned $500 black sweaters.
Parlans for handmade caramels with ‘30s/'40s style, and gorgeous salesladies to match.
Not to mention ceramics, vintage, Byredo and beauty shops. I could not get enough of the glorious STORES.
The weather was all over the place, sunny one minute and gray the next. But mostly cold cold cold. Here’s the thing, and this is really important: everywhere we went, people were eating outside. That legendary berserker blood must have trickled down through the generations, because people were happily eating 3 hour meals in the freezing dark, with a heat lamp or blanket here or there to take the edge off. It was magnificent!
Beyond their Viking god-like hardiness, every single person we interacted with was nice. Is it the free healthcare? The abundance of tall, handsome men? I couldn’t figure out what was happening, but I adored it. And I also adored when people assumed I was Swedish, because I felt like I fit in right away. Hej hej! (Of course everyone spoke perfect English too, so that wasn’t a problem.) It seems like people just give a fuck there, and that's reflected in the delicious food, clean streets and kind strangers.
I’d read about Rosendals Trädgård, an organic farm right outside the center of town. So we hopped on a tram and walked about 10 minutes from the stop. There was a wonderfully abrupt transition from major urban center to middle-of-nowhere farmland, and then… bliss.
We had lunch in the café and poked around the two little shops. They were serving venison with polenta, plus a buffet of sandwiches and those amazing not-too-sweet Swedish cardamom cakes..! Crowl did the maze in a few minutes, which has to be a record. And then we headed back to town.
I would absolutely love to see Sweden in the summer, when the beer gardens are open and it’s sunny all day. This little jaunt was just enough time to spread out and take a breath after the much different world of Paris. And then! Crowl sailed back (not literally) to NYC, and I hopped a very unscary subway to the stunningly amenitized airport, and London...