Sweet on Stockholm

It may be a business capital, but Stockholm also has a lot of fun to offer the casual tourist

Sweden was never really on my travel bucket list. My association with the country was with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series – frightening, to say the least. But when I got an opportunity to go to the Swedish capital Stockholm, I grabbed it with both hands and a few kilos of luggage. The idea of visiting a Scandinavian country was tempting and I’m glad that it’s now on my travelled-to list.

We were told that the weather in Stockholm would be nippy, so light jackets were advisable. Wrapped in as many layers as I could without embarrassing myself, I headed out of the airport to a clean, green and lush landscape. As we started entering the city limits, the personality of Stockholm’s architecture came into view – clean, lateral and minimalistic. The roads were wide with everyone, whether behind the wheel, on foot or on bicycles, following signals and keeping order – what a refreshing sight. Speaking of which, most people in Stockholm walk or cycle to places; be it work, home, etc. which naturally means that the city is full of extremely fit and good-looking people. To the Swedes, everything is just a ‘short walk’ away. This short walk could vary in duration from five minutes to 45 minutes. But with weather and a view like this, who’s complaining?

Divas on the Street

Whichever part of the quaint city you’re walking through, you’ll only see well-dressed people. Going to work, sitting at restaurants or at the shopping area, sharply dressed men and stylish women are everywhere. Not surprising, given that Sweden has given the world one of the best high street fashion in H&M. The company’s other off-shoot brands like COS and & Other Stories, though more expensive and exclusive, are just as popular. Other international brands like Topshop, Armani and Prada also find their pride of place in the city. Lucky for me, we were in Stockholm during the sale season. Even better was where we stayed, the Nobis Hotel, was a short walk away from the city’s main shopping area, Drottninggatan. Foreign currency was never better spent.

The Good Life

Stockholm is known to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, leaving even London behind. You will find this to be true while dining out. But with the variety in options across the city, it’s money well spent. Seafood is a huge hit among the Swedes. A must-visit for this is J at Nacka, a short boat ride from the main city port. Right on the water, the restaurant’s live counters, and ambience are more than enough reason to go. The management very kindly even provides blankets for the outside sitting area.

Teatergrillen is another popular joint located within the city centre, evident from the packed tables on a week night. Our hosts informed us that not only is this eatery popular with the locals, but a number of international celebrities have been spotted dining here on their visits to Stockholm. Meat lovers, head straight to B.A.R., where you can choose your meat and its preparation from a variety on display.

One of my favourite takeaways from the city was its concept of a ficca – a coffee and cake break. A ficca usually happens at 11am and again at 3pm. This is when you take a break from your work day to just sit with a cup of coffee and a pastry, and relax. The best place to enjoy a ficca is in Gamla Stan, the old part of town. Narrow cobbled streets lined with small boutiques and cafes is what you’ll find here. Sit on the sidewalk at a café and just watch people; I can’t think of a better hour I spent in the time I was there.

Sweden’s summer lasts only a few months, but during these months, the city is bathed in light till 11pm. Making the most of the good weather, every restaurant in Stockholm is packed, even as early as 6pm, as soon as the work day is over.

Royal Obsession

The old town is also a must-go for the Royal Palace. Dating back to the 13th century when it was just a fort, the palace is the official residence of the Swedish monarch. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with an organised, parliamentary democracy. Almost the entire palace is open to visitors with over 600 rooms and five museums, the Swedish Royal Palace is one of the largest still in use. Though various wings of the palace have been burnt down over history, preservation attempts have been continuous, resulting in an awe-inspiring façade. Cloaks, jewellery and weaponry are on display. My favourite part of the palace, though, was a breakfast room created for the king and queen to enjoy their meal in private.

Sweden is shrouded in darkness and is biting cold for the better part of the year, so when summer arrives, it is celebrated with gusto. The summer solstice, that happened to be on the weekend after we left, is the biggest festival when all businesses shut down. Typically, it is celebrated with trips to the countryside with family and friends, around barbeques. Good food, lovely people and a beautiful view, Stockholm is a complete package.

Source: Femina