Yes, I know, the title of this post is deceiving. There was really no love-hate relationship with Stockholm (and we weren’t taken hostage either). It was actually all love. All love for the city of Stockholm. Even during the winter. Even without a set itinerary.
The question we got asked most frequently leading up to our trip was “Do you have everything all planned out?” Our response, even 2 days prior to our departure, “Errr, yes?” (in truth we had spent a lot of energy planning Iceland, so we were okay winging it in Stockholm for the most part). But once we arrived it was easy to fall into the rhythm of Stockholm and find our way through the city full of contrasts. Where new meets old and modernism meets history; where minimalism is a necessity among ornate gothic architecture; and black is the official country color (not really, but I do feel a strong desire to update my wardrobe with #allblackeverything since returning).
Check our day-by-day highlights from Stockholm below:
It is aways an adjustment, and force of nature, to stay awake the duration of the day once landing in a foreign country after a red eye. Therefore once settled into our hostel in Gamla Stan (Old Town), we immediately sought coffee at a nearby cafe called Fabrique. Continuing to fight off sleep, we perused our neighborhood (or as we often called it, our island). We stopped in Storkyrkan (the Stockholm Cathedral constructed in the 13th century) & Nobelmuseet (The Nobel Museum).
As the sun began setting, we continued to walk around Gamla Stan & ducked into the bar Österlånggatan 17 after seeing a sign for discounted bubbles and a neon that read “Cocktails & Dreams.” #YESPLEASE.
We opted to cross the bridge to Södermalm to check out Fotografiska (the photography museum) and search for some semblance of a Thanksgiving meal (aka Swedish Meatballs). While we sipped on more coffee & tea at the cafe inside Fotografiska, we found a restaurant called Pelikan in Söder that was known for their Nordic fare, and of course, Swedish meatballs. We split an order of the Swedish meatballs & the roasted duck. While it was a bummer to not be housing down plates of turkey & stuffing, this was one hell of a supplement for the feast.
After dinner, we rounded out our day by bar hopping & staying up way past an appropriate bedtime. But who honestly needs to know about that?
We woke bleary eyed, but we knew we ought to tackle the day. We hydrated, caffeinated and fed ourselves at the cafe across the street, attempting to collect ourselves before high noon approached. We had no set plan for the day but thought it may be a good time to see one of the palaces. Instead of recognizing that the Royal Palace was located only a few blocks away on Gamla Stan, we searched for Drottninggatan Palace & its gardens. Our map and lack of judgement actually took us to the street of Drottninggatan in Norrmalm (the actual palace was 40 minutes & a drive away). So we ended up strolling the streets for hours and watching the locals shop on Black Friday (yes, that American tradition has seeped into the veins of Europeans & it’s truly awful).
In need of an escape from the cold, we stopped in Cafe Söderberg in Kungsträdgården on our way to the museums in Djurgården. After properly caffeinating, we ended up in the Spiritmuseum. A museum dedicated to – you guessed it – alcohol & spirits! Lucky for us, the special exhibit was all about champagne.
After successfully reading about the history & production of champagne, playing a spirits trivia game and experiencing an out-of-body hangover, we took the bus back to Gamla Stan to grab dinner & decide on our evening adventure. We grabbed wine and an appetizer at a local Italian restaurant, Agaton, to pregame before our actual dinner. We made our way down the street to Aifur Krog & Bar. A Viking-themed restaurant complete with a Viking welcome, clay beer mugs and pitchfork utensils. The food was also insanely good – we ordered Swedish meatballs (of course) and the deer venison dish.
For our night cap, we hopped over to the clubby area of Söder to Kvarnen – a beer hall with a grimey dance club in the basement. Talk about a strong finish for a Friday night.
I suppose now is when we coin the phrase “Sleepless in Stockholm,” although that doesn’t quite rhyme as well. Our plan for Day 3 was to head up to the Archipelago via way of a boat tour, and thank god the tour was full when we arrived – no amount of dramamine could save our souls on the Baltic Sea. We quickly found the nearest coffee & pastry shop (Butiken in Östermalm) to lift our spirits & determine a game plan.
We checked out the Ericsson Globe & SkyView (a bit anticlimactic) and then grabbed ramen for lunch at Cafe Steirnen before heading to the Vasa Museet. The Vasa Museet is a museum built around a mostly fully intact 17th century maritime ship (the Vasa) which sank in the Baltic Sea on her first voyage. The seven-story museum is more than impressive, one could easily spend an entire day perusing the information and checking out all the artifacts. We had a couple hours and stayed until they nearly kicked us out at closing time.
Because we were living our most caffeinated life, we stopped in Sjöcafeet after the Vasa, an adorable cafe/restaurant at the welcome center to Djurgården. Now that we were amped up and ready for more adventures ahead, we opted to do some physical activity and go ice skating in the park at Kungsträdgården. The rink was decent size, but being a Saturday night, a lot of people had the same idea we did. Nevertheless, it was a ton of fun and it made you feel like a kid again (give us all the Christmas feels).
For dinner, we went back to Gamla Stan to a place called Sally’s. At first we were apprehensive as were heard the bass bumping from the basement nightclub (guess it’s a thing here), but after some coercion by the owner, we decided to give it a try. We were blown away with the food to say the least. From the beef flatbread to the deer croquette to just the plain bread & butter, it was a fantastic meal.
And while we were intrigued by possibly checking out another grimey basement bar, our better judgement said otherwise. Knowing our next day was a travel day to Iceland, we limited ourselves to one night cap at the nearby English pub. Finally, more than 4 hours of sleep was ahead.
Stay tuned for the second leg of our trip – Iceland!
Mel & Steph