Stockholm: 22nd-23rd September

The flight to Stockholm was entirely uneventful and the express train from Arlanda to Stockholm Central is so easy I could have laughed out loud. In fact I did. Especially when I discovered the free wifi on the train.

To add to how easy it was, my hostel was just five minutes walk from the station.

The hostel was honestly the most hipster place I have ever stayed in. I forgot to get a picture, but the reception area had random old-fashioned typewriters and packing cases perched artfully on every surface. Instead of room numbers, each room was named after an island in the Stockholm archipelago (I was in Djurgården).

After dumping my bag, I went for a little explore around my little area (around Vasagaten) which was mostly shopping, but also a few little parks.

After getting settled into my room I went and had a lovely meal at El Amir (including a glass of wine that cost more than my last entire dinner) just down the road.

The next morning I started the day with a very disappointing breakfast at what I later discovered to be Sweden’s version of Starbucks (bleh) before jumping on the tunnelbana to Gamla Stan – the old town. Bizarrely enough while on my tunnelbana journey and in Gamla Stan I came across no less than three buskers doing Bob Dylan songs.

Gamla Stan is a little island covered in winding cobbled streets with some of the narrowest alleyways I’ve ever seen.

My first stop was at the Royal Palace – complete with guards – which sweeps around majestically in a semicircle:

I wandered past the palace and down to the waterfront, which is absolutely beautiful. Last time I was here it was all snowy and frozen, which was nice too, but the sea and the sky were so blue and the sun was belting down.

After the waterfront I popped back up into Gamla Stan for more of a wander, coming across George and the Dragon in a sweet little square:

And a beautiful church hidden in the alleyways:

After much confused map-consulting, I finally found Stortorget, a famous square which was the site of the Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520 when 90 people were executed by a Danish king. It’s also very pretty.

I stopped here and had the best mochaccino of my life. It had a dollop of cream in it. It was at a little cafe on the yellow side of the join between the red and yellow buildings, just in case anyone should ever go there. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called.

After coffee I had an explore up and down Västerlangatan, the main shopping street of Gamla Stan, including a brief stop in a little record shop, which was cut short by the very creepy proprietor breathing down my neck. Do I look like the sort of person to steal things? Do I? Next was lunch at Café Art, an awesome little vault café down a precarious flight of steps. Being underground and surrounded by so much stone helps you to forget the heaving masses of tourists outside.

Then I found a great little bookshop which sells Swedish books in English, so I got the one with the preface by Margaret Atwood (I figured she’d know what was good) – Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg (I’m nearly finished and it’s amazing. It reminds me of Nabokov c. Lolita a little).

After that I headed home down Drottninggatan which runs through the little island which has parliament on it:

stopping at several dvd shops in a fruitless attempt to find Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on dvd. Turns out the Scandinavian release doesn’t have english subtitles at all which I guess is fair enough. (Also knowing that the Swedish title bears no resemblance to the english one would have helped. It’s ‘Män Som Hatar Kvinnor’ or ‘Men Who Hate Women’ in case you were wondering).

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