It’s a little sad that it took me almost six months of living here to finally make it to the capital city of Sweden, but a couple of days into our road trip in July I finally got there. I actually had to go there anyway to visit the Australian Embassy about something (it was hiding upstairs in some totally random building that we could have so easily missed, too, but the people there were nice at least). After half an hour, we were done and headed off for a day around Stockholm.
The city itself is like a lot of the other bigger cities of Sweden – not all that big. There is about a million people living in Stockholm altogether, which compared to many cities of the world is tiny, and the effect on the overall scenery is that there is a distinct lack of high-rises which in turn makes the place kind of cosy. Like a lot of the main cities of Sweden, water is the key natural feature of the whole place, and added to the usual modes of transport here are ferries (which we boarded on our way to a place I’ll cover in Part 2 of this post).
The architecture here is amazing, as you would expect, with churches and cathedrals littered everywhere. I could go on and on about the architecture, but I’ll just include a bunch of pictures towards the end of the post to show you what I mean. As we didn’t have much time in Stockholm we didn’t go into most of these buildings, which is kind of a shame but I plan on spending a lot more time exploring the city later, and when I do I’ll probably be able to say something more profound about these places other than “oh look, dey so purdy!” (But they are.)
After some sight seeing, we dodged the crowds through the main part of the city and found ourselves on the back streets. After a little bit of wandering we came across an amazing little cafe called Under Kastenjen, which translates as Under The Chestnut Tree, called this because…well I’m pretty sure you can work it out. We had a surprisingly cheap lunch while relaxing here, and halfway through our meal a keyboard player appeared in the middle of the courtyard and started performing for us (I say appeared, but he did walk into the courtyard – I don’t want you to think that not only do Swedish people just materialise places but that it’s accepted as nothing unusual (although that would be cool)). Naturally, we didn’t find ourselves in a rush to leave and decided a dessert would also be a good idea.
We eventually left our little lunch spot and roamed some more of the back streets, going into a few different shops along the way while we looked for a pharmacy. What we weren’t expecting to find, however, was a pharmacy from the 1600s that was still in use! A lot of the historic feel to the place has been kept, which I thought was fantastic (I’m sure most people who live there think it’s no big deal, but then again I am a big nerd). There was an extension out the back that looked a lot newer, but the original pharmacy was definitely still in use, and I believe that computer monitor also dates back a few centuries (I made that same bad joke on Instagram with this particular photo…extra sorry for those poor souls who had to see the bad excuse for humour twice). There was also an old mortar and pestle and a plaque with all the owners of the place since 1674 – interestingly the only female owner was not in the last century at all, but back in the 1700s.
There were plenty of other interesting finds along some of those streets. We walked past some awesome antique shops, many of which weren’t open frustratingly. We heard a lot of different accents on our way, including a lot of different English speakers too (it was the middle of Summer so the peak of the tourist season). We also walked past some darker aspects of history, such as a street named Svartmangatan – translated as Black man’s street. For all the wonderful ways that Sweden has been progressive socially, racism has long been an issue throughout the history of the country and, judging from the election results here last night, it still is an issue (to cut a long story short, an incredibly racist party has somehow become the third biggest party, which has left a lot of the country devastated, embarrassed, and a little bit scared).
As I said before, this was a rushed tour of the city, and so there were a lot of places we just didn’t have time to visit. One place which I regret not going into, and yet I feel I probably needed to dedicate a full day to anyway, was the rather majestic looking Nordic Museum. It was so huge that taking a picture of the longer side required me to stand back. Several hundred metres back, actually. I adore the architecture with this place – I think all good museums should put the effort into looking nice from the outside (because I have visited plenty in my life that look drab and awful until you go in). Anyway, I have heard a lot of good things about this place, so this is definitely deserving of a return trip one day. It was also surrounded by some nice gardens and place to eat and drink.
After this, we went and rested in a park for a little while while we decided what to do next. The rest of the day would be spent in a part of Stockholm called Djurgården, which I will cover in the second part of this post. There we did go into a museum, looking at a couple of different exhibitions from Artpop music covers to Sweden’s cultural history with alcohol and sex. In the meantime, I’ll finish off this post with a few more pictures of the architecture around Stockholm. Enjoy!