Stockholm: Fika, food, and metro station art
After visiting Copenhagen and Billund, we hopped on an internal flight from Billund to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. It was a relatively short and underwhelming flight but we had access to one of the airport lounges beforehand. Nicer than the flight itself, if you ask me. 😛
We arrived in Stockholm in the evening and purchased tickets for the Arlanda Express, the high-speed train that would get us into Stockholm city. Getting around on public transport in Stockholm was really easy as contactless pay was an option, so we could just use our phones to tap our credit/debit cards. Each time you paid, you had essentially bought a single trip ticket that was valid for 75 minutes, and you only have to tap once you hop on a bus or enter a metro station—no need to do it when you exit.
Since we arrived in Stockholm in the evening, dinner was the first thing we wanted to sort out. We were staying in the hip neighbourhood of Södermalm, and after walking around some of its streets, we ate at Bird. They specialised in fried chicken done in some really creative and tasty ways, pretty much an Asian fusion style. The chicken was soooo tasty. We got a few different types and a few sides to share, and really enjoyed our meal. It didn’t seem like the restaurant was that busy, either.
We didn’t make a solid plan on what to do whilst in Stockholm. We really only had some shops we wanted to look at, planned to have a look at some of the best art in some of the metro stations, and visit the ABBA museum and the AVICII Experience (I guess technically a museum as well). We ended up visiting the museums first.
Södermalm had lots of cafés, some of which opened late, true to their attitude towards spending time with friends over a cup of coffee and a snack—otherwise known as fika. There was none of this “grab and down a cup of coffee” that we seem to have in some cities in Australia. I wish we would take a leaf out of the Swedes’ book sometimes. I still can’t get over cafés closing at 2pm.
I found that filter coffee was just a little bit hit and miss in Stockholm. I suspect they use a dark roast or like it much stronger, which I only like if I’m doing something like a Vietnamese iced coffee or a Turkish coffee. 😆 Still, our first coffee stop in Stockholm, Cykelcafe Le Mond, was where I splurged on a V60 (yes, everything is expensive). Le Mond was themed with a lot of bicycle photographs and artwork, and even a television showing the Tour de France (I think). I don’t even know if it was live or not, but it certainly felt so. 😆
We had to take a bit of a long walk due to some maintenance work in the metro, but soon found ourselves on a ferry across the water to Djurgården, the island where the ABBA museum is located. There are a few other museums here, some open gardens, and an amusement park called Gröna Lund.
I’ve seen reviews that don’t recommend the ABBA museum unless you are an ABBA fan. I don’t know if I would call myself an “ABBA fan”, but it was the music I heard growing up, and it was amongst the music my parents enjoyed. The museum was great, although we decided not to use the audioguide. The museum was interactive enough as it was, and I don’t think we missed anything. I’d say we probably didn’t care too much about the section towards the end that was dedicated to the members’ careers beyond ABBA splitting up.
We visited the Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet), also on the island, which was a museum dedicated to a famous ship that sunk just minutes into its maiden voyage in 1628. It’s a tragic story, but I didn’t understand the hype behind the museum. Yes, it’s a huge ship that has been preserved, but I left feeling really unsure if the museum was necessary. Nick was a fan, but he’s into ships, and he did ask me if I thought it was at least incredible that they managed to recover such a large ship and build a museum around it. I said it was fascinating indeed, but maybe I would be more fascinated in a story about the intricacies of building the museum around such a huge ship, rather than the story of the ship itself. I was also somewhat uncomfortable with the displays of skeletal remains of some of the victims of the ship’s accident, so we just ignored and skipped that part of the museum.
It started to rain heavily at this point, and we stopped and had lunch at a café to take cover. We weren’t super prepared, and sadly it looked like we weren’t going to be able to explore more of the gardens and outdoor part of the island. We decided to head back to the city centre and browse some shopping malls. We decided to do the AVICII Experience since we were nearby. Just the weather was starting to improve, just our luck!
Nick is definitely a bigger fan of AVICII’s music than I am. but I also find his death such a tragedy. The museum celebrated his musical creativity and his life in such a positive way. The museum felt quite immersive with his music being played in some rooms, and videos of interviews with people he worked with, and of him in the studio, were aplenty.
A dimly lit corner near the exit served as a memorial for him as photographs and short clips were projected onto a wall. I felt myself tearing up remembering that the world lost a great artist.
The following day was dedicated to exploring various neighbourhoods in Stockholm. The weather was much better so we wanted to walk around quite a bit. We went for a wander down Monteliusvägen, a short walk that gave lovely views of Stockholm over the water. It’s not too long of a walk and definitely worth it! We looked in a couple of clothing boutiques and vintage clothing shops nearby then found ourselves in Skinnarviksparken, an area with some flat rocks that locals apparently love to chill out and picnic around during the summer.
We were hoping to find the area of Liljeholmen more interesting, but it felt kind of corporate and tired. Somewhere, Nick read that it was supposed to be buzzing… guess we got that one wrong. We grabbed a bite to eat then headed to Kungsholmen and Norrmalm, both of which were across a bridge and further north. I wanted to walk through Kungsholmen and its parks, but that was about it. It is meant to be a neighbourhood that is very family-friendly. Since there wasn’t too much of interest for us, we went to Gamla Stan and immediately felt surrounded by tourists. Staying in Södermalm felt comfortable and like we weren’t right in the city centre, which we usually prefer. But as soon as I heard tourists speaking in English and seeing souvenir shops sell tacky souvenirs, I didn’t want to be there long. 😛
We grabbed dinner at Tacy’s since we wanted to try a restaurant in Södermalm. Tacy’s was a cool Mexican restaurant that was hidden in a basement of a building, which you had to access by going through a fancy restaurant (called Symbio) and then going downstairs. That gave it a bit of a secretive nature for sure, since there are not very explicit instructions on how to find it. 🌮
It was forecast to rain the next day, and we had planned to visit some metro stations since we would be underground and indoors, and stay out of the bad weather. We shortlisted a few that we really wanted to see, and essentially took cool photos as we visited them all. Nick mapped out a route that took the metro (and one bus) to efficiently go between the stops in the least amount of time, and it also had us end up in the station located near the shops we wanted to browse afterwards.
Not a bad way to spend a rainy day. We had a wonderful time in Stockholm. It feels like we covered a lot of ground, and did a lot of exploring, but Stockholm has so much to offer and we really feel like we barely scratched the surface. We will likely be back one day.