In the second part of our three-part series, Robbie Collard recounts his time spent in Stockholm and has some ‘words to the wise’ for fellow travellers thinking about embarking on an adventure to the Nordic provinces of Northern Europe.
When Brits think about Scandinavia, our generalisations can sometimes come up short. Take the unparalleled frenzy often caused at the very mention of the name Ikea, because of how ‘totally chic’ everything is in there, or the notion that the Swedes are fundamentally a serious bunch. As a general rule from now on, please always assume, that the British opinion upon a location beyond the extremities of Dover is incorrect by default.
Don’t get me wrong – Ikea speaks a language that no other interior ever has and ever will. What I’m getting at here is that there was so much more to Stockholm than our post-millennium interpretation of it. I’d also like to make clear the fact that my couch-surfing host had little to no idea what a ‘Swedish massage’ was.
I’ll start at when our train drew into the central station. My first impression was that I had completely overlooked the long-established history of the city before arrival. I had concentrated on ‘the new,’ but I found myself now in the old town sector. Stockholm is made out of fourteen islands and is therefore covered in bridges. As you experience the city, these crossings can vary from quaint cobbled affairs to cinematic metropolises. To appreciate the age, but also the modernity of Stockholm, take a walk from the centre: pass the gothic boulevards and fashionable districts out towards Langholmen Bridge. The river Riddarfijarden is great to walk alongside with the block colouring of the quayside front. Alternatively, there is an opportunity to swim on the side facing away from the city. My boyfriend and I both slipped down from a slithering rock surface into the water like two bumbling hippos, shrieking and thrashing to a backdrop of effortless joggers. It’s time to forget about your sorely needed three-day crack diet. That was easily one of the best views in Stockholm. If you fail to take the plunge, there is also the view from the higher viewpoint, Skinnarviksberget. You can really enjoy the urban space here, as it has a telegraph pole and some graffiti, which is just asking to be Instagrammed.
Soderalmn in Stockholm is where you’ll find Swedish alternative types brooding outside bars and looking like you wish you did in the cafes. It also contains a healthy portion of the capital’s art and culture. Fotografiska, the largest photography gallery in Sweden sits on the edge right beside the harbor, and contains a bar with the first class view of Stockholm’s renowned amusement park. Head here for some of the finest curation to be seen in Scandinavia. If this fails you, the toilets are also pretty top notch.
Photos: Joshua Edward Noon