Välkommen till Stockholm
In the days leading up to our trip to Sweden—we left August 25 and returned Labor Day—I started to panic that I had built up Swedishness a little too much in my head. I worked at the American Swedish Institute for a year when Tom and I first moved to Minneapolis, so I know my fair share of Minnesota-Swedophiles. I might be one. This wasn’t just going to be a trip to Ingebretsen’s or the annual Marimekko sale at Finnstyle, though. Swedish classes over the 2008–09 winter term at ASI gave us enough of the language to ask questions but not understand the answers. How would we fare? Tom and I had never been to Northern Europe before — and this would be 10 full days in Sweden (with one day in Helsinki, Finland in the middle).
When we arrived in Stockholm on our first Friday there, my worries went away. Getting around was effortless. We got off the airplane, walked through the terminal (already admiring the design of even the airport eateries), and purchased tickets for the Arlanda Express, a high-speed train that would take us to Stockholm City in just 20 minutes. Arriving in Stockholm Central we switched to the Tunnelbana, taking the green line to Skanstull, the closest stop to the Hotel Clarion, our home for the next four days. Exiting the train, we were greeted with arrows pointing us toward… you guessed it… the Hotel Clarion. Around the corner, through a short tunnel to get us across the intersection above, then up one set of stairs the arrows pointed. Emerging from the Tunnelbana system onto the streets of south Södermalm, we saw the Clarion not 100 yards away. We arrived at the Clarion a couple hours early for check-in at 3 p.m., so we walked bleary-eyed down Ringvägen toward Renstiernas Gata, a street I’d noted for a tiny Japanese boutique and organic grocery store. On the way we stopped at Lilla Caféet (translation: the small café) to orient and share a fika of kanelbullar and and kaffe (pictured above and again below).
Refreshed by coffee and sweets, I led Tom on a walk up Renstiernas Gata and back to the hotel. We stopped at Kiki to admire handmade Japanese paper books, ceramics, and textiles (very similar to contemporary Swedish pattern designs). Next we walked what seemed to a tired-Tom like a very long way to Cajsa Warg, a beautifully styled grocery store with plenty of designy food packaging and culinary treats to eyeball. The perfect place to outfit a picnic.
Having reached Cajsa Warg we turned back and made it to the Clarion for check-in. After all the necessary details of settling in to the hotel, we ventured out again for a light dinner at Reggev Hummus & Espressobar where we ordered hummus merguez and a jar of lemonana to drink.
That night we had a not-so-quiet walk along Hammarby Slussväg and Anna Lindhagens väg near the water while Stockholm music fans on a budget covered the area’s hills and pathways to be in range of Popaganda, a two-day music festival with Arcade Fire headlining Friday (though we were in bed by the time they played). This first night’s walk was nice to take in after a long day of travel. I liked seeing the boats, the bright colors of the little cottages, the gardens and the people going by on foot and by bike. A highlight was this sign for cyclists:
Du som cyklar tänk på oss… You who bike, think of us!