Tag Archives: Stockholm

10 things I loved about Stockholm – Part II

if you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, this is a continuation.

6. Family and (new) friends. We are blessed to have relatives in Taby, a suburb of Stockholm. Zouheir’s oldest brother Jean-Louis lives there with his wife Manar and their four adult children. The two youngers weren’t there: Jessica is in California finishing out a year abroad before she returns to the Stockholm School of Economics to complete her business degree. Mike has a summer job in a small town in Norway working with the elderly. He’ll be returning to continue his medical studies in the fall. George works as a trader at Swedbank and Rita works in Marketing at Nordea. We had a chance to visit them at their apartments, and the boys spent even more time with Georges watching the World Cup.

Our hosts for the week were Jean-Louis and Manar. We stayed with them for a couple of days at the beginning of the vacation, and also saw Zouheir’s brother Tony who was visiting from Paris. He’s been recovering from a significant health event and is retiring from his medical practice. Their younger sister Marie-Louise came from Lyon during the middle of our visit and it was lovely to spend time with her as well. We met a friend of Georges, Patryzcia Payak, a medical doctor who has just written a children’s book with her sister Anna, an artist, about dying called Dear Death (xxx in Swedish). Their other sister is a cinematographer. They live near J-L and Manar and I had a chance for a quick visit to see some of Anna’s work.

7. Visual beauty. Stockholm is a gorgeous city. I immediately noticed the relative lack of overt advertising (very few, if any, billboards) and the quiet presence of stately architecture of a city hundreds of years old. The city has preserved the traditional style and kept the waterfront (of which there are miles and miles) completely accessible. There are bike paths all over the city, and I had to get used to watching for cyclists as I crossed the paths that are shared with pedestrians. The apartment we rented was quite stunning. There were three bedrooms, including one with a sleeping loft, and one and a half baths, which were gorgeously tiled with a shower/sauna in one.

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I’ve already talked about the sea, and we saw lots of boats of all shapes and sizes, including a brand new super-yacht that had just been delivered. There was also a race scheduled while we were there.

http://www.charterworld.com/index.html?sub=yacht-charter&charter=motor-yacht-abeking-8521
Super-yacht Kibo, currently moored at Stockholm.

8. Quirkiness is in the eye of the beholder.  I like to laugh, and besides the great company, there were many chances for humour. A few that I caught on “film” (you know what I mean.)

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9. Swedish design and eco-consciousness

10. The Swedish people. Everyone was friendly. English is spoken pretty much universally, and no one batted an eye when I responded to a shopkeeper’s hello (“hey hey”) with English. People struck up conversation in the street, and everyone seemed to smile. A lot. A really marked difference from Paris, Rome, or Istanbul, where service can be surly and a few words in English often result in an unwillingness or inability to continue the conversation. I certainly don’t think that everyone in the world should speak English, but when your school system provides it and you work in hospitality or services in a tourist destination, an attempt to converse is appreciated. I’m sure that Swedes realise that their ability to survive in a global economy requires another language, particularly when their native tongue is relatively rare.

10 things I loved about Stockholm – Part I

There’s no place like home.

But I had a fabulous time in Stockholm and, if life took such a turn, I could definitely see myself living there. (Although I’d have to visit in December to make sure of my feelings…)

In no particular order, five of the things I loved about Stockholm:

    1. Coffee. It’s great everywhere. It is not an exaggeration to say that I did not have a bad cup of coffee anywhere, public, private, or commercial. They make it strong and dark, are non-plussed when you ask for warm milk to go with it, there are indie coffee shops and what I assume are local chains. Our apartment had a very funky coffeemaker and we picked up a pound of ground beans with the royal seal on it, but otherwise randomly. This county knows its coffee.

      The coffeemaker in our apartment.
      The coffeemaker in our apartment.
    2. Fashion. It’s pretty low key there. Individualistic. I never felt under- or over-dressed. I noticed that over the ten days I was there, I slowly wore less makeup and felt better about it. (Not that I normally wear a lot, but mascara, bronzer, and lipstick seemed enough.) I would have liked to do some shopping for clothes as the relaxed style really appeals, but it will have to wait for my next trip. Have a look at this tumblr for an idea of what’s on the street these days.
    3. The Baltic. Michael announced in the car on our way home that he didn’t want to hear the word “archipelago” one more time. But really, that explains a lot of the appeal of the city. You turn a corner and suddenly a new vista appears that includes another bit of the sea, different from what you just passed. The climate is moderated by it, the food is influenced by it, history was shaped by it, and it’s simply beautiful.

      View from the restaurant in the Modern Art Museum.
      View from the restaurant in the Modern Art Museum.
    4. Food. Because we stayed either with family or in an apartment we rented, we experienced life as a resident, shopping in the grocery stores, as well as eating in restaurants. Compared to Canada, food is expensive but the quality is high. We had lots of seafood, fish, fresh salads, beets and legumes, breads scented with anise, dill, and caraway, and lots of flatbread (eg Wasa.) Fresh herb plants were available in even small grocers, and the owners of our apartment had a number of plants around the kitchen and on the balcony. I enjoyed a couple of different local beers, and a whisky tasting on an island on our final evening was both an excellent aperitif and informational.
    5. Interesting museums. We didn’t do all the biggies, but I had identified a couple that I definitely wanted to see. The Spirit Museum has an excellent exhibit of some of the Absolut Art Collection, in particular,  Art Pop, the artist and the record sleeve 1956-2013.

      There was also an exhibit there called Swedish Sin. In their words: In collaboration with artist Peter Johansson, we get to grips with lust and vice, liberation and shame – with ”Swedish sin”, both the myth and the phenomenon.

      We also visited the Vasa Museum, a showplace for the 17th century warship that sank into the Stockholm harbour, 30 minutes into it’s maiden voyage. It was salvaged in the early 1960s and is being painstakingly restored. If we’re going to build warships, we should make them beautiful.

      The stern of the Vasa.
      The stern of the Vasa.

      We enjoyed the Architecture and Design Museum where they had a temporary exhibit called Cykel as well as their regular exhibit on architecture in Sweden.

      ArkDes Museum
      ArkDes Museum

      We also visited the Moderna Museet, on the same campus as ArkDes, where we saw the Nils Dardel exhibit as well as some of the permanent collection. And the beautiful Fotographiska, the museum of contemporary photography, where I learned that black and white images can depict nature in stunning fashion.

      Stay tuned for items 6-10….coming tomorrow.

 

Hello from Stockholm!

We celebrated Midsummer with a trip to Skansen, a park with historical exhibits, where they demonstrated the traditional raising of the Maypole with dancing afterwards. It was pretty packed so Zouheir and I only got about a quarter of the way around the pole before we gave up. We finished up with a picnic lunch provided by Manar, my sister-in-law.

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Reading Stockholm

In my previous post, I talked about a crowd-sourcing experiment seeking activities and literature in and about Stockholm/Sweden prior to our travels there in June.

This morning, I had a parcel from amazon in my mailbox. I had no recollection of ordering anything recently but am always excited to see a book in the mail.

I was simply delighted to see a novel with gift note and from my university-aged nephew Mike who we will see when we’re in Stockhom.

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The book is Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg with an introduction by Margaret Atwood.

Cover of "Doctor Glas: A Novel"

Its now on to top of my to-read pile.

Thanks, Mike!