Stockholm - an adventure without tourguide
My adventure in Stockholm started with me deciding to go there on short notice and buying a guidebook, just to forget that book right away. And that was actually a good thing; otherwise I would never have had such a wonderful time there.
I made this decision at the very last minute to get out of Vienna for a weekend. It was time for me to get inspired again and since I spent a lot of time in the south this year I decided to go north this time and travel to Stockholm. I can’t tell you exactly why but I like the simplicity and elegance of Nordic design and I like water, and they have quite a lot of both in Stockholm.
I will not explain to you how you get from the airport to the city or which sights you have to see. You will find all of that on the Internet or in guidebooks. I will tell you a very special story that started with me forgetting my guidebook.
I left my hotel very early to experience the historic center “Gamla Stan” in the morning hours before the tourist masses arrive. As I was leaving the hotel I realized that my guidebook was missing. I decided not to get it and just wander through the city instead. My hotel, the At Six, was so beautiful that I decided to dedicate my next blog entry exclusively to this place. It was just a five-minute walk from the hotel to “Gamla Stan”. I just started walking and before losing myself in old alleys, where I met only where few people, I did my touristic duty and made my way to the Royal Palace. But I wanted to discover something else, something off the beaten path, and therefore I had my eye on a different district: Södemalm.
I asked a passer-by the way and went there, just to end up instantly the boutique Aspire by Choke where I bought two beautiful sweaters. I started talking with the designer, who just happened to be there, and the shop’s German co-owner. They told me how their designs are created, about fair production of their goods and, last but not least, about a café that I just had to see. And that is what I did, since it was 10:30 am already and I hadn’t had a coffee yet. This was a case of imminent danger that had to be remedied right away.
The Johan & Nyström café turned out to be a wonderful hotspot for designers, artists, photographers, and other creative people. What was even more important, they had fantastic coffee. This is where Alex who recognized my Mühlbauer cap approached me. He was a coffee blogger from New York who lives in Stockholm, and was just about to travel to Vienna. I gave him tips for Vienna and he gave me some for Stockholm. We had a wonderful conversation before I followed his recommendation and went to Nytorget Square to have lunch there at an urban deli.
The way to Nytorget Square was beautiful and anything but conventional – I was in travel-heaven. As I arrived at the urban deli I did not eat there because the place was packed, but seeing this place was still very impressive. This delicatessen shop in the middle of nowhere is a great combination of Meinl am Graben in Vienna and Dean & Deluca in New York. I bought a can of olive oil there, not because of its taste but because of its very cool design.
After that I discovered my favorite bracelets by Pig & Hen in the window of a very interesting interior & accessoires shop Behagligt nearby. I walked in, tried on a few bracelets and started talking with the owner, Catrin. She told me that many small shops and artists in this area, which is called “NoFo”, joined forces and founded an association together. She gave me a lot of shopping tips, which I gladly followed. I did not lose myself in the old city center this time, but in a very vibrant district. I met the artist Anne Junsjö, who makes really beautiful ceramics. I bought a few things that you really do not need but are really glad to have at, in my opinion, the world’s smallest concept store. Then I visited the The Cords & Co boutique, which only sells corduroy clothes. This is where I met Sam and Jasmine, a designer who was just visiting the store. As I left the store I realized that Jasmine and I automatically continued our conversation and carried on for the next four hours. We strolled through Södermalm as if we already knew each other for years, ate and had coffee and told our life stories to each other. It is really great when you meet people you feel instantly familiar with and you can talk to them openly in way you would normally not. We talked about Vienna, Stockholm, beauty, but also our fears, past relationships, and visions. As we got back to Sam’s boutique in the evening, he could not believe that we were still together and talking. It was closing time, and the three of us had a beer and philosophized about life and listened to music. Afterwards they took me to the subway. We traveled along the same route for a while and before we said our goodbyes they made sure that I would find my way home. I was happy, exhausted, and looking forward to my fantastic bed at the At Six.
As I was on my autumn walk in Djurgaden on Sunday, I thought a lot about these wonderful encounters. I was very happy because the people I met gave me the opportunity to really feel the city of Stockholm instead of just seeing it. I once read in a book that you never understand a city through its buildings but always through its people. This is exactly what I did. I am glad that I forgot my guidebook.
And this picture does not show a sculpture in a museum of modern art, but is the entrance of the hotel At SIX, where I stayed. But that is another story and this blogpost follows next.
Fotos by Nik Pichler