#SayHello to Stockholm: Where Land flirts with the Sea
The Baltic Sea mingles with Scandinavian land and several thousand islands welcome you into Stockholm.
The flight landing in Stockholm was a surreal experience because of the abundance of nature that welcomed us. With bright sunlight even at 7PM, the time at which our flight landed, a sharp shadow of our airplane was cast on the dense tree cover underneath. Perhaps I did not realise it at the moment, but this intensely overwhelming landing experience was a good enough indicator of what was to follow.
Stockholm is the capital city of Sweden, and also prides itself in being the “Capital of Scandinavia”. While Stockholm’s archipelago region comprises of a total of 30,000 islands, the city itself is based on 14 of them. Lake Mälaren flows through the heart of this city, giving it the appearance of almost being afloat on water at many places. I spent more than a week in this city, and I know that even if I had double the time, I would not have “seen it all”. Like any other big city, Stockholm is full of experiences waiting to be stumbled upon. Every day that I spent there, I discovered a few more things that I would have liked to do. So as days ran out, my list grew longer.
I walked down obscure streets with not a single tourist attraction, only to find unique ways in which the city was celebrating Pride Week. I spent a day on a dream-like island, sometimes eating delicious food and sometimes wading around in shallow water with the ducks. I spent time cooking (and eating) a typical Swedish meal, relishing not just the flavour, but the company too. A lot of my best experiences were the ones that you cannot list down on a must-see check-list. Today, almost 10 days after coming back, I am no longer thinking about the place in terms of the art that I saw or the cuisine that I tasted. The experiences are etched in my memory in terms of how they made me feel.
So here I am, sharing my top 3 Experiences in Stockholm, with you:
The Sodermalm neighbourhood is the home to the creatives, some of the best places to eat out, rows of shops showcasing Swedish design at its best, the gaming studios which developed games like Candy Crush, Minecraft and Battlefield, and a powerplant turned into a mosque. And if all of those exciting ingredients are not enough, the place literally gets your heart racing as you walk up many flights of steps cut into the rock and cross over picturesque foot-bridges connecting parts of the neighbourhood. An intense drama plays out in the alleys that go up and down at steep angles, then suddenly open up to give vast views of the water and are, quite naturally, the filming location for many movies such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Vasa Museum connects you with another time and place. The ship is so close to you at all times, that you feel like you can almost reach out and touch it to travel back into the 1600s. It is a very intimate experience to be observing the magnificent restored beauty from all angles and from the many levels. Every little nut and bolt is explained to anyone who wants to get to know the Vasa better. Sweden has turned an embarrassing tragedy into a reminder, a learning space and an attraction! With effective storytelling and the use of scenography, the museum indeed takes you back to the scene of the tragedy and turns you into one of the many observers.
In Djurgården, the large city-forest, one could get close to the essence of life in Sweden. The summer days saw many people sitting in the greens – enjoying a meal or a book, or simply a day off. Eccentric looking buildings, many of which are the remnants from the great Art & Industry Fair Expo from 1897 are a delight to come across and casually explore. The Rosendals Trädgård is an organic vegetable garden with a café, and when spending a day in Djurgarden, this is something that I would consider an essential stop for a meal.
A Note about the Museums in Stockholm:
All of them are equally fantastic, and cover many different topics. The museums that I enjoyed the most (apart from the Vasa Museum) were Moderna Museum, Vikingaliv and Fotographiska. But that’s just me. I also gave some very impressive ones a skip, because they didn’t exact suit my own timeline and interests. I’d say that you pull out a list of museums in Stockholm and go check out the ones that suit your interests. There are more than 80 of them, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. Perhaps you’re a big fan of vodka – the Spirits Museum is where you should be headed first.
Google Maps is one of my best friends while exploring new cities. Here, you can access my entire Stockholm wish-list with locations and a short no-frills note against each of them. Use it when in Stockholm, or virtually discover this city through the recommendations. Have fun!