21.01.15 — Travel


So after our four days of adventuring around Copenhagen (read my blog post on that half of our trip here), me and Izzy hopped aboard a plane to Stockholm! We arrived, jumped on a coach to the city centre and then made ourselves comfortable in our new home for three nights, the cool little City Backpackers Hostel.

Arriving late in the evening, we opted to leave the majority of the exploring for the next morning, which began with another lovely Scandinavian breakfast of muesli, yoghurt, fruit and a delicious sandwich.

Breakfast in Sweden

We then promptly headed out to see what we could see across the many islands of Sweden’s sprawling capital. We headed over to an area of the city called Södermalm, a quirky island to the south full of bars, little independent shops and places to eat. We took a tour of the island, learning of it’s history, and befriended a fellow traveller from Holland named Arjan, who had taken a train to the city from another city in Sweden where he was studying for a semester.

Buildings on the trip to Södermalm
More architecture in a city square
Lots of bright yellow and green in the buildings here

Södermalm proved a very hilly, quirky and interesting place, steeped in a lot of gory history and rebellion. Towards the end of the tour, our guide pointed out a couple of great spots to take some photos of the island and views back over the city centre, so here are some of those…

A panorama of the city
The four-leafed clover junction connecting Södermalm to the main island

Our guide, Peter, had also suggested that we visit a food truck in the main square to try a wrap with fried herring, mashed potato and salad. Dubious, we wandered down and bought one – and it was delicious!

My herring and mashed potato wrap

We also paid a visit to Fotografiska, a world-famous photography museum, which was showcasing beautiful exhibitions from Adi Nes, Jimmy Nelson and Herb Ritts. We spent a good time wandering round the exhibitions, which were beautifully considered, arranged and lit.

Fotografiska, along the waterfront on Södermalm

Ari Nes’ “Narratives” caught my attention in particular, as a homosexual Israeli he captured scenes which seem to encapsulate themes of political unrest, religion and homoeroticism whilst demonstrating strong influences from art history. These clashing influences made for an interesting collection, which seemed to complement the other two exhibits, both of which also focused on people.

Herb Ritts’ collection “In Full Light” seemed inspired by the human form whilst still striving to capture the essence of how the subject of the image would like to be remembered. The series of black and white images took up an entire floor of the museum and included celebrities such as Michael Jackson and famous works such as “Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi“.

Jimmy Nelson’s collection, entitled “Before They Pass Away” was a series which captured indigenous cultures, with the aim of preserving their essence before their cultures are lost. The rationale provided by the collection’s curator was particularly interesting, as it spurred the debate over whether the fact that Nelson had staged the photographs really captured a honest and true essence of the subjects and their cultures. Rather refreshingly, however, the curator had not tried to defend nor attack Nelson’s choice – only to open it up for discussion.

After browsing through the three exhibitions, me and Izzy headed up to the café on the top of the building for a Sewdish ‘fika’, meaning time out with coffee and a snack. The café had been said to be worth a visit purely for it’s views – and it was!

A brew with a view, a coffee over the water and the city

That night we headed back to Södermalm with Arjan to try out an Italian restaurant one of his friends had recommended, Vapiano. The restaurant works on an efficient and interesting concept, whereby you sit down, choose your dish and then take an electronic card to the counter. Your food is cooked there and then in front of you, and the dish is billed to your card, the balance of which you pay on exiting the restaurant.

I had a delicious carbonara cooked by this fine fellow!

Our chef looking enthusiastic

On the way back to the hostel we discovered the first of what would be many open and free outdoor ice skating rinks! We headed on in our shoes and slid around for a while, suddenly realising why the hostel had a case full of free ice skates which you could borrow.

Izzy on the ice

The next and final full day was spent on another tour, this time of the main city, during which we ran into people who we’d been on a tour with in Copenhagen! The tour was once again great, and having discovered much about the city and it’s history, we winded up atop a huge snow pile where an England vs. Holland snowball fight broke out…

Izzy takes on the huge pile of snow in the King's Square
A view across the water in Stockholm

From here we boarded a ferry for a sixty second ride over to another of Stockholm’s many islands, to visit the large outdoor museum named Skansen. As Sweden’s first and largest outdoor museum, the museum’s creator had deconstructed various buildings from across Sweden and throughout history and re-erected them in Skansen, forming a vortex of time and space.

Upon our arrival we were tired, cold and hungry, and so we stopped for a delicious egg sandwich in a restaurant which housed a reconstructed room called the Ottoman Room. We then headed out into the vast expanse of the park, and not everything was as it seemed…

My egg sandwich
The Ottoman room in Skansen

As we wandered through the snow, it soon became apparent that there were hardly any other human souls in the park, and that the reduced entry fee was due to most exhibits being either closed or, in the case of the rose garden, dead. It was crazily surreal to walk through what felt like an abandoned theme park, but we found some interesting exhibits such as monkeys (which we watched being fed), some huge blocks of ice, and an array of cannons. Izzy in particular appreciated the cannons.

Izzy atop a cannon
A panoramic view out from Skansen

That evening we headed down to try some traditional Swedish food, after a heartbreaking revelation by our tour guide that meatballs are in fact considered a children’s food there. We were advised instead to try a potato and meat hash from a local restaurant, which we did.

My sausage, beef and potato hash with egg, pickled vegetables and more mustard sauce

The dish was delicious, and it was lovely to end with another true taste of Sweden. However, in our final morning, things got decidedly even more Swedish when we woke up to see a thick blanked of snow had enveloped the city!

A lovely winter scene from the hostel's main entrance

Worth a mention also was a strange venue which we opted to visit to kill a few hours before our coach in the morning, which was the Kulturhuset in the city centre. This multi-use cultural venue housed a theatre, exhibition space, a library and many cafés, one in which me and Izzy opted to stop for another fika to use up our remaining Swedish kroner.

But all good things must come to an end; and so, after browsing the design section of an open library in Kulturhuset, we headed back to pick up our bags and head off through the snow to catch our airport transfer coach.

Very cold backpackers prepare to leave Stockholm

To summarise, Stockholm was another gorgeous city, albeit slightly more modern and industrial than Copenhagen. Once again, I would definitely recommend a visit if any of you guys get the chance. Just be sure to fully explore all the islands, and try out their coffee, pastries and anything with lingonberries in it. Delicious.

Don’t forget to check out my blog post on Copenhagen, as part of me and Izzy’s Scandinavia trip, and also my overview of the Danish Design Museum which we took a trip to whilst we were there.