First week in Stockholm, Sweden 2010

Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm's the place to come for a sweden holiday.

Kungstradgarden, City

Flying is awful.
Don’t fly if you’ve got any kind of back problem like I have. It was excruciating flying for such a long time. The turbulence from Melbourne to Hong Kong was terrifying to me. Everyone else seemed to be able to sleep. I was praying. I sat next to a really nice guy from Melbourne with his son who were both gorgeous people, who calmed me a bit by their presence. I think he was actually a soapie star or someone famous but I didn’t know who he was.
Hong Kong airport. What a sight! Barely any colour anywhere except for the ubiquitous luxury goods shops. The entire building is grey and without individuality. The departure area is designed like an gigantic aircraft hangar with windows. Everyone spoke English it seemed and it was easy to find out where you were meant to go. They had Starbucks there. CNN was broadcast on all the tv’s. The service was good. The whole airport is spotless. You forget that Hong Kong’s part of communist China though I’m sure they never do.
Floor to ceiling windows give a fantastic view of the surrounding sea and islands. This was lovely and inspiring and I still felt like I was in my world, the world of the Southern Hemisphere. Eventually everyone gathered for the flight. A whole bunch of Finnish people with children. They seem very cool. Many dressed in black. Quite friendly and well behaved and quiet. I think I was the shortest person standing in the queue, including the children!

Helsinki airport in the snow

The flight from Hong Kong to Helsinki was fantastic in comparison. Virtually without any incident of any kind, it was so smooth. It was quiet and uneventful which I was happy with. There were no beer swilling or domestic argument incidents. Praise the Lord!. Again. The guy next to me slept virtually the whole time. I don’t know how because the seating was so cramped. Some fortunate people had no-one sitting next to them and could lie down. I definitely couldn’t. I may have got 1 hours sleep for the whole two days. I started watching about 3 films but only finished one. Julia and Julie with Meryl Streep which was irritating but moderately enjoyable at the same time, though I wouldn’t recommend it unless you were desperate for entertainment, it was so contrived. A Bruce Willis sci fi film was better which I will try to track down to watch properly and a Harry Potter.
And two episodes of Boston Legal which were screamingly funny and moving at the same time. This is a truly brilliant show. William Shatner makes you love misogynist perverted sex maniacs which is quite a feat.
Seeing the snow for the first time in Helsinki was wonderful. I can’t say it was magical at this point but I was glad to be there. It was snowing quite heavily and thick with fog so we didn’t take off to Sweden on time. Pure light. It was kind of an industrial aesthetic at the airport. Flat, horizontal landscape, dim light, the sound of planes. Slushy, dirty snow on the runways. Men working their machines. I felt relaxed with this though and at home. The people at the airport were seriously cool. Everyone even the oldies wear really cool clothes. Many people speak English but instead of making me feel comfortable, I feel intimidated by their knowledge and intelligence and it’s the same in Sweden. I’ve barely spoken a word to anyone except Hiie since I’ve been here because I’m too scared to. I can understand those timid migrants back in Melbourne. I know you should try but I seem incapable at this stage. I’m just getting used to the sounds of a foreign language everywhere.
Then the next flight to Sweden full of Swedes. These people are seriously good looking. They all seem to wear fantastic trendy clothes. Everyone. There are no dags. Dags must be banished to one of the islands. They are nowhere to be seen.
Coming into Stockholm was truly magical. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Like entering another world entirely- not our planet but another one outside our solar system. I had a window seat. Absolutely everywhere is covered in snow and the sun was setting and so it seemed to create this kind of phosphorescent reflection on objects which gave the landscape an unearthly violet/pink look.

City street Stockholm

Fountain in Stockholm.

Our outdoor furniture covered in snow.

View from our doorstep

Sunday 31st January
Went to the National Gallery, one of the best attractions in sweden. Saw some great paintings. That is paintings that are famous in art history. Like Rembrandt's 'The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis' which didn't really affect me on the day. The darkness of them holds no interest at the moment. I wizzed through the paintings really. Two Goyas were fantastic brilliant paintings. Still as fresh as a daisy paintwise and whose vision is still fresh and disturbing today. They have some wonderful Bonnards which were gorgeous too. The real highlight was an exhibition about the european roots of design in Sweden. Which had some absolutely magical porcelain, majolica, silverware and tapestries. Again I thought how great the Italians were. Innate sense of order and harmony. Not afraid of colour and bursting with life on even the simplest plate. The Della Robbia bust was a highlight.
Went to lunch in the Atrium restaurant in the gallery. It's much cheaper to eat out here than in Melbourne. Everything seems to come with a salad in Stockholm. A lot of roast meats with vegetables.

View on the way to Skeppsholmen

Jacob's Church, City

We're walking everywhere and catching public transport which is easy. There's no way I'm going to drive here because of the snow. There's hardly anyone on the trains compared to Melbourne and it's well run and organised it seems. People are very polite when you're crossing the roads and everything which is a shock. It's like a large country town in terms of the manners but people aren't as immediately friendly as in Australia.
Everywhere you walk is like a postcard. It's such a beautiful city. I noticed there's virtually no graffiti or rubbish though Hiie says there is.

Chapman boat, Skeppsholmen

Monday 1st Feb
Went to Ikea. Gosh this is exciting! Bought some stuff/a table that I can work on. We ate there- it was packed at 11am- had a semla cake which is a local thing- was nice, very sweet probably wouldn't have one again. The coffee was under a dollar and it was good too. Had a bad day slipping and sliding and fell over a lot because of my shoes. You've got to have the right shoes or it's hell. It is cold so you have to wear hats and gloves and layer after layer though I've got used to the cold a bit. I'm not wearing tights under my pants any more because you feel so fat and you can barely move. It's really not that cold I've persuaded myself.

Tue 2nd February
Travelled over to an area called Sodermalm which I loved. The vague purpose was to visit Greta Garbo Torg (square) Remember the old Hollywood movie actress that I loved who was Swedish. 'I vant to be alone' she supposedly said. It was a cute little square covered in snow but which has a small market in summer. On the way we had lunch in a really special cafe called the Blue Lotus which was filled with buddhas and and small hindu sculptures and paintings. We both loved it and of course they give you large sized meals and cup of tea for about 7/8 dollars Aust which is fantastic. All the waitresses in the groovy places are unbelievable good looking.

Greta Garbo Torg

It's quite multicultural here especially where we live though not as much as Melbourne though I don't really know.

Went also to the Moderna Museet (modern art) Fantastic museum located on an island (Skeppsholmen)-one of the many in Stockholm which we walked to and of course is absolutely stunning-full of beautiful buildings and there's boats and ferrys everywhere all over the city. Saw an exhibition of a Swedish painter named Evert Lundquist who I loved. Expressionist. The highlight was a Matisse painting of a Morroco landscape. Hiie got asked by the guards 3 times not to put her back pack on her back. The guards are serious here about this. There are millions of fantastic cafes everywhere so of course we had a coffee in the gallery afterwards and watched the snow falling. The young men here are seriously fashionable and seriously good looking.

Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm

Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm

Royal Opera House, Stockholm

On Skeppsholmen

Sculptures out front of Moderna Museet

Walking over the bridge to Skeppsholmen

Wednesday 3rd February
Went to the local mall-Kista Centrum. It's quite ok as malls go. It's embarrassing not being able to speak the language but everybody politely speaks it if you ask.
There's not the foreign language newspapers here as in Melbourne. You have to go to the city to get the English newspapers which I've done. The English paper The Sunday Times is good. I've been reading online to know what's going on in Australia. There's Australian shops here like Quicksilver. Mainly fashion. I'm glad about this. Sweden's not as dominated by American culture as Australia is. Though they seem to have a real love for English speaking cultures.
Little fast food- though Macdonalds, Pizza Hut is here of course but not on every corner. The food's healthy though at the mall. There's not the greasy food from what I've seen. They haven't allowed such out of control development and the tearing down of buildings like Australia too. They really treasure their own culture, there own past. That's how it seems anyway.

Thursday 4 February
Trying to go for a long walk everyday in the snow. It's so incredibly beautiful it's hard to believe it's real. Everywhere you look is a postcard. People leave food out in the trees for the birds because of the snow. You hear woodpeckers pecking away in the trees because it's so quiet here. It sounds like someone chopping wood. It's a three minute walk from our house and you're in the country. It's amazing. And then in the other direction it's a 3 minute walk and you get to the train station and local shops. It's a really great spot.
People don't acknowledge you really when you walk past them, they're really reserved. I don't mind it because I can't speak to them anyway. You see older folks doing their exercise on skis with poles quite frequently.
It's funny seeing the dogs out for walks in the snow, they seem to love it and I've seen a few frollicking in the snow and it's hard for me not to do this too but I don't because it's too cold to be wet.

Open area 5minutes from where we live in Kista


They're more organised environmentally than in Australia. For every small area of houses there's a place where you all put your rubbish and the bins are divided for recycling. So there's always about 6 bins for paper, plastics, metals. Cardboard, bottles etc. Why they can't do this in Australia is beyond me. They're just not that serious about the environment that's all.

And they design all the public facilities like these and toilets, bus stops, phone booths etc really aesthetically. I suppose the Swedes are famous for their design. I won't go on any more and annoy you.
And they have public washing machines and dryers for free too!

Friday 5th February
Met up with Hiie's daughter Mari first thing in one of the groovy cafes she wanted to show us. She's a gorgeous, charming 20 year old who came for the day to Stockholm with her friends from Estonia to do some shopping. She's studying aeronautical engineering at Tartu university and of course speaks really good English. She left with a flourish- off to her friends after a quick coffee and cake with us boring old farts.
We then ventured off to this really special place in Stockholm called Gamla Stan (Old town) which was the original town of Stockholm begun in the 13th Century. It is packed floor to ceiling with relics, churches, the Royal Palace, cafes, antique shops, government buildings all crammed into narrow little streets. It's like being in a medieval movie set. There's not many tourists anywhere because it's winter I guess so it's relatively quiet in the churches and public places which makes it more pleasurable to get about. Visited this German church which was just divine. I'm running out of adjectives already!

German church interior, Gamla Stan

Looking towards the German church spire

Entrance to Gamla Stan

We walked there from the central train station in the city which is about an half an hour walk but you don't mind because everywhere you look there is some incredible building or sculpture. It was a beautiful sunny day of minus 2 degrees!
Later we had steak for lunch at this cafe/resaurant which amazingly was fairly cheap even though it's a big tourist destination. Very considerate of them! The cafe was like a cave. Very cosy. Everywhere has English, Australian, American music playing and a lot of American soul music from the 60's which I'm happy about.

Telephone box, Gamla Stan

Going into the German church, Gamla Stan

Altar at the German church, Gamla Stan

Swedish Academy

We visited the main city square in the afternoon which is called Kungstradgarden. They have an ice skating rink at the moment which is the pond normally. I won't be skating. I'm having a hard enough time walking in the snow. It was originally the kings kitchen garden in the 15th century. Adjacent is a chuch named Jacob's Church (16thC) which is quite strikingly coloured on the outside but kind of depressing on the inside. Heavy columns run down the nave and which feel like weights on your mind and quite colourless. We went to a free organ and piano concert in the evening here which was quite good though Hiie wanted to leave early and I felt guilty because the composer was there.

Stained glass German church, Gamla Stan

Align CenterLooking out of cafe window, City

Looking out of the Kaknastornet tower down below

Hiie in front of the Maritime Museum,
Sunset in Stockholm

Sunday 7th February
We travelled to Djurgarden which is an island right in the centre of Stockholm covered in a large park which was once the royal hunting grounds. By the way Gamla Stan was an island too. Islands everywhere. You're constantly crossing over bridges to get to them. But they're all very close together so there's not too much walking. At the moment a lot of the water is frozen on top, not too heavily though. The ferrys just push on through it.
The main purpose was to visit a gallery called Thielska Galleriet which I'm glad I did because the gallery was not only beautiful to look at (a former private house) but contained some great paintings, quite a few by Edvard Munch, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard and some Swedish painters. Just a perfect day walking and looking in the snow.

Thielska Galleriet, Djurgarden

Swans, Djurgarden

Through the trees, Djurgarden

Riding in Djurgarden

Stockholm guide: use google translate to translate websites into any language.





  1. Hi Sue,

    I can't believe how beautiful your photos are! Really amazing. I love the one of the swans- it looks like a painting. Seems like another planet over there, so magical. I hope you keep warm and enjoy the big cups of tea!

    Good Luck,

    PS: your fish are doing really well.

  2. Thanks Holly
    I'm glad the fish are well thanks to your suggestion.
    It is another planet over here. A snow planet. Every day I wake up and look out the window and there's snow. It's amazing. I just love it. It's so pure and soft. You just feel like rolling in it. Went to the sea today and the whole thing was frozen. There's no one around and then you go into a cafe and there's the whole town enjoying themselves. Everywhere you go indoors it's 25 degrees which is great, it'd be hard to handle the cold unless you could get away from it. I'm much warmer here in Winter than Australia which is amazing.

  3. Dear Sue,

    How are you! Looks like you are having a wonderful time over there. Amazing photos. Will ring you tomorrow. Did you get my text? I wasn't sure if it worked. When are you coming back? we miss you!! :) love larne xxxx


Post a Comment

Popular Posts