It's pretty simple, really: I am in love with Stockholm! A lovely mix of nature and style, old and new, water and stone.
June 7, 8, and 9
A few years ago, through this blog, I "met" a Swedish cousin who lives in Stockholm. Before the official tour of Scandinavia began, I spent a few days with Elisabeth and she kindly showed me around her city. Like every traveller in this modern age, I arrived around noon jangled and jet-lagged and feeling, despite months of preparation, quite unprepared. Elisabeth met me at the airport and guided me to her apartment via bus and train—after a nice home-cooked quiche and salad, I took a deep nap.
Elisabeth woke me two hours later and we walked and walked around the Södermalm district and Gamla Stan (the old town) until I began to feel human again. A short footbridge took us to Skeppsholmen, one of the many islands that make up Stockholm, where we walked to Restaurang Hjerta. Excellent food, excellent company.
The next day we took a short ferry ride to Djurgården (yes, another island), where several fascinating museums are located. I had wanted to see the 100th anniversary exhibitions of the Swedish Handcrafts Society at the Liljevalchs Art Hall and the Nordiska Museet. These were both interesting exhibits: the Liljevalchs show covered modern takes on traditional handcrafts, while the Väv show at the museum covered more traditional works.
We also spent time in Skansen, a large open-air folk museum with about 150 houses and farm buildings that were moved here from around the country to preserve the rural and town traditions. (I went back later, so I'll tell you more about Skansen in the next post.)
The red row house, with wonderful colors
That evening Elisabeth and I took a half-hour ferry ride to one of the nearby archipelago islands, Fjäderholmarna. The archipelago extends some 80 miles into the Baltic Sea, and there are thousands of islands—someday I'd like to go back to explore them some more. Fjäderholmarna gave me just a little taste!
After circling the island on foot and enjoying the little boat museum, we found ourselves an outdoor seat at Restaurang Rökeriet. Honestly, I could not have had a lovelier evening: lingering sun, sparkling blue water, good company, the best, freshest, lightly smoked salmon you could ask for. The very best of a midsummer night in Sweden!
Elisabeth told me that Swedes are starved for sunlight for a large part of the year, so when summer comes around they want to take advantage of the light every chance they can get! Nearly every restaurant had outdoor seating set up—the weather was not all that warm while I was there, so the back of every chair sported a folded blanket, ready for the chilly diner to wrap up in.
(If you are visiting Stockholm, Elisabeth told me that you are expected to make reservations; Swedes to not, in general, just drop into a nice restaurant expecting to be seated.)
On Sunday morning, Elisabeth and I walked to the area where the big boats from Helsinki dock—we picked up Gingko, who had been exploring Helsinki for a few days. Then it was off by train and bus to pick up my sister Tori at the airport. When everyone settled in at Elisabeth's, her son Viktor, a talented musician, arrived. We set off for a walk to introduce Tori to the city; Gingko went on a walk with Viktor and Matthias to see the things that younger people are more likely to think are interesting!
We wound up climbing the bluff to Herman's, a vegetarian buffet restaurant that served excellent and inexpensive (comparatively—it is quite expensive to eat out in Scandinavia) food. On the way we passed through an area of town (Fjällgatan, I think) where some of the old wooden buildings remain; in general, these kinds of buildings did not survive the waves of fires that passed through the cities.
And this is how I passed my first three days in Sweden! I want to thank my generous cousin Elisabeth for her hospitality and friendship.