I just finished a book that I could hardly put down: “The Man Who Smiled” by Henning Mankell. I don’t read mystery novels that often, but this one, in addition to having both an interesting mystery and interesting characters, was particularly fun since it was a Swedish mystery novel. Even though the novel did not take place in Stockholm, reading it brought happy thoughts of our trip to mind.
Mr. Mad Cow and I both really enjoyed our recent long weekend in Stockholm. I’ve heard that Sweden’s capital should be ranked among the most beautiful cities in Europe and I am very happy to report that the city’s aesthetics lived up to the hype.
We arrived in Stockholm on Friday evening around 7PM. By the time we got in the city from the airport and checked into our hotel, it was close to 9PM. Thanks to Scandinavia’s fabulously long summer days, it was still very bright outside, ideal for some aimless wondering around. (A side note: our hotel, Queen’s Hotel, was a great surprise. I picked it based on its location-right in the center of everything, its availability- many hotels were already booked for that weekend, and its price- it was only reasonable for Stockholm. I read several negative reviews online, so I was not expecting much. I don’t know what these people experienced, but Mr. Mad Cow and I had NOTHING to complain about. The hotel had a fabulous breakfast and free internet access in our room!!!)
The next morning, we took our time getting out of the hotel and stumbled upon a fruit market on our way to the tourist information office. Strawberries were in season, so we bought two containers of them to munch on throughout the day. (Interestingly, the local Swedish strawberries were much cheaper than the local Swiss strawberries that I pick up from the farmer’s market in my neighborhood.)At the tourist office, we picked up a quality map, got some questions answered, and then headed out to explore the Gamla Stan, the city’s old town. The neighborhood was very quaint, even though it did have two overly touristy thoroughfares. The side streets were nonetheless charming. On one of them, we found an old Viking rune stone that was part of one of the buildings.
Unfortunately, it was a bit chilly out and I ended up purchasing an expensive (but handmade and very cool) wool hat in a yarn store. Maybe the whole thing was meant to be, since right next to the little yarn store, run by a little old Swedish lady, who spoke little English, Mr. Mad Cow and I found this awesome cafe where we had lunch. The cafe was in this old building that had exposed beams in the ceiling and eclectic decor. They served a variety of quiches and desserts, and they had a lunch special of quiche, salad,a drink and coffee for 70 kr, which was a very good price in an expensive city. Mr. Mad Cow and I ordered the spinach feta quiche and we both agreed that it was very tasty.
Then we spent the afternoon exploring Soedermalm, a former working class neighborhood on an island south of Gamla Stan, another island. (Stockholm was built on a series of islands.) Soedermalm came recommended to me as an active neighborhood with a great cafe and bad scene(Thanks, Jean-Vianney.) We picked up a walking tour map for the neighborhood from the tourist office, so we followed that around. The walk ended right in the midst of the cafe area. Both the map and the Swiss magazine recommended going to Cafe String on Nytorgsgatan 38, but the place was packed when we found it, so we continued to meander about until we found Louie Louie Cafe on Bondegatan. It was a great place to sit down for a couple hours. I’m not sure what Mr. Mad Cow worked on, but I read some writing that Abbie had forwarded to me.
Once evening came along, we left our cafe and walked to Kungstradgarden where they had big screens set up for Euro Cup viewing. Sweden was playing Spain. At first, it was a good game, but then it started to rain, so we decided to go out to dinner. The game did not end well for Sweden, but Mr. Mad Cow and I had a fabulous day despite the score.