No matter where you are exploring in the world, it cannot be better tackled than with a local. This made Stockholm, land of the Ikea flatpack and Nudie jeans, an appealing destination for our long-weekend jaunt in May 2012. Bless the golden heart of Chris Neilson – who patiently met us in the frosty hours of a Spring evening and whisked us back to their uber trendy student pad. Exhausted though we were, it did not deter us from a lovely catchup with Chris and his gorgeous wife Eme (swedish goddess extrodinaire)! We laughed our way into the next day at Chris’s fabulous attempts at the Swedish language, and I probably fell asleep at the point where the boys embarked upon their favourite topic….coffee.
Those of you who know Chris will be well familiar with his expertise in all things bean-related. You can bet where we ended up first thing the next morning…. yup, the coffee shop where he was working. We were welcomed to Stockholm with some stunning latte art (see below) and tour guide Neilson gave us an introduction to the 5 islands that intersect – becoming the capital of Sweden. We gawked at the high scandanavian prices, but as cool as the fashion was, and as hip and trendy as the people were – we kept our wallets firmly reserved for all things Nudie (I shall return to this)!Gamla Stan is the name for the Old Town of Stockholm. I liked the sound of it and as a result I must have said ‘Gamla Stan’ every time I could fit in in a sentence whether it was in context or not! We whiled away the afternoon wandering through alleyways brightly splashed with colour, dipping under spring buds, and uncovering boutique shops touting their homemade wares. We spied more quaint cafes than we could count, and enjoyed spontaneous street marches filled with joyful colour and sound. I think it was at that point, as we picniced by the harbour’s edge, that I officially fell in love with Stockholm.
Chris & Eme were keen to try out a famed burger joint that evening, and as the sun set over the city Eme and I went on a hunt for cold beer to satisfy the men in the queue. With our beers safely at home in our bellies, we had a thoroughly fantastic evening in perfect company (both friends and food included!). The local experience continued the next morning with a ramble through the woods literally at their back doorstep. As the trail opened up on to a serene lake, I could have confused my destination with some remote part of the countryside rather than a major city.
Poor Chris was then besieged by pleading eyes to escort us to the Nudie Jean flagship store. This was like taking Joel to personal heaven – shelves and shelves of denim glory, complete with a workshop out the back. He promptly made a purchase, complete with a ‘pleased smile’ due to the fact that they were as close to their place of origin as they could be!
Where there is a harbour, there must be a boat trip. Therefore we obliged and caught the ferry from Gamla Stan (had to chuck that in there again!) to Djurgården, drinking in the city panorama from the water. I was a particular fan of this, as the Swedes had allocated one of their 5 islands pretty much to be a major park. Winning! We bathed in the sunlight and gave our cramped London-legs a workout as we got lost amongst the nature, barely seeing a soul once we had left the well worn running trails. The Swedes have it made, they know what they’re doing! The evening was again well spent with locals in cute cafes and Hillsong Sweden (ridiculously strange to sing well known songs in Swedish), but the church was a real part of the community and I appreciated the english-translator headphones!
I actually didn’t think Stockholm could squeeze in any more treasures as our time grew to a close.. but that was before we paid a visit to the Vasa Museum. I am not one of those people who take a shining to train or boat memorabilia, and definitely avoid the ‘transport museums’ of every major capital city. Thus I was not expecting much, but I was literally blown away. This 17th Century salvaged ship sunk on her maiden voyage (fail) just outside of stockholm. It is a sight to behold whether you care about ships or not… just go, thank me later!
With that we sailed off on our wing-ship back to London – promising to visit Chris and Eme when they became Parisians…. now to organise that….. 🙂 Thanks for a fabulous time guys!