Earlier this year, I got out my travel bucket list and finally ticked off a place I had wanted to see for ages, Stockholm. The idea to travel to Sweden came to rather spontaneously, when I was sitting in a group room at uni and realised two things: 1. I didn’t have any plans for reading week and 2. I was suffering with severe wanderlust. Sweden had always been a country I really wanted to visit and when I found out that neither flights nor rooms were expensive during my week off, it was a done deal. So fast forward a few weeks, I was travelling to Stanstead Airport, about to board a plane to Stockholm. Although I usually don’t like window seats, I was glad to have one for this flight as the views were simply stunning when we landed – it basically felt like landing in a winter wonderland. On arrival, a bus was already waiting outside, ready to take passengers to the centre of Stockholm (can all transport from and to airports be this convenient, please?). When I finally arrived in Stockholm, it was snowing and despite wearing 2 jumpers, I felt like I was slowly freezing – keep in mind that I wear a jumper when it’s 20 degrees outside. But despite the freezing cold, winter in Stockholm definitely had its charms – it was so beautiful, especially in the mornings when the snow lay there almost untouched. Snow can turn any place magical, am I right?
So first things first, the hostel. I had a booking for a 4-bed ensuite dorm at Generator Hostel, which was located close to the central station. Luckily, that meant that it was only a 10 minutes walk from the bus stop. My first impression of the hostel was great – the guys at the reception were friendly and welcoming and the dorm was spacious and clean. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in such a spacious and tidy hostel room, if I’m being honest. And although the bathroom was small, I was glad not to be sharing it with the rest of the hostel guests and luckily, my roommates turned out to be really sweet. If you’re ever looking for a cheap place to stay in the centre of Stockholm, I can definitely recommend this one! Having warmed up, I decided to venture out and get a first impression of the city. Obviously, I visited the most iconic place first – the McDonald’s near the station to finally get my hands on a McVegan. And I have to say, it was so good. Not only was it really cheap, it also far exceeded my expectations, especially since I had never been a fan of their veggie burger. Can we please start a petition to bring the McVegan to the UK?!
After a late lunch, I took the metro down to the Fotografiska, a famous photography gallery. The gallery wasn’t free but it was certainly worth it – one of the most fascinating exhibitions included X-rays of people, clothes, electronic devices, cameras and much more. Especially the fashion section was stunning. Another exhibition that was truly mind-opening thematised how fashion has impacted China and how young girls are slowly breaking free from traditions. The photograph that really captured my eye was one of a young woman posing on the Chinese wall, it really emphasised the contrast between conservative traditions and self-expression through fashion. Lastly, I saw a gallery of self-portraits taken by a woman of colour. Through these portraits, she reflected on stereotypes, feminism, her culture and identity. The photos were incredibly powerful and moving, especially the one showing her critically observing her face and body in a mirror – do we truly see ourselves? Our does a mirror actually mirror society’s opinions about us? Having visited the galleries, I went up to the café on the third floor and treated myself to a chai latte (that was about 5 quid by the way, who says London is expensive.) Whilst I was sipping on my chai latte, I cherished the stunning view over the city, wrote a poem and then just let my thoughts flow. It was such a little moment but not only a moment where I experienced true happiness but also a moment in which I felt proud of myself – only that morning, I had felt very overwhelmed at the airport, partly regretting my decision to go on a trip, thinking that maybe I wasn’t in the right ‘mind’ for it. But then, a few hours later, I was sitting there, utterly content and enjoying the beautiful scenery. So I wrote a poem about how everything passes as a little reminder to myself.
Later that evening, I had a pad thai near my hostel before going back to catch a few hours of sleep, I was really tired after a day of travelling and exploring. The next day started off with a lovely breakfast at Espresso House – I bought a chocolate ball that I assumed to be filled with dough but actually, it was filled with pure chocolate. Oh well, after a glorious feast and a sugar rush, I headed out into the city and explored Gammla Stan, the old town of Stockholm. I saw the Royal Palace and the Opera House and apart from that, I mostly just wandered around the little streets, in awe of all the cute shops and restaurants. I couldn’t resist popping into a shop selling stuffed animals and although I entered with the intention to only have a look, I left with a little stuffed penguin that I named Kalle. For lunch I chose an Italian restaurant and had some yummy veggie pasta and a chai tea that I got for free as I’d had a main course. I’m not sure if that’s a Swedish thing but anyway, I love it. For lunch I deliberately picked a table next to a radiator because by that point, I was half human and half snow-women. After lunch, I walked all the way to the ABBA museum, along the harbour from where I had a stunning view over the other side of Stockholm. Despite the cold, I could not resist whipping out my camera. The ABBA museum itself was fun, although it would have been even more fun visiting in a group. You could do a lot of interactive stuff, ranging from trying to mix Super Trouper they way they had mixed it to singing karaoke and acting as the 5th band member on stage. What I found most fascinating was to see how the band members used to live, all of their houses seemed so lovely and cosy.
Next, I decided to indulge in a Swedish tradition, fika, which to my knowledge basically means coffee and cake. Definitely something that is right up my street. After some googling, I found a café serving vegan pastry, called Naturbageriet Sattva. The café was everything I could have wished for – the interior was simple but cosy and the cinnamon buns were incredible. As I fancied a coffee break anyway after a long day of walking, I stayed there for a good hour, sipping on my chai latte (I’m definitely guilty of having too many of these if you haven’t noticed already) and reading my book. Since I had done most of the things on my list, I decided to have a relaxed evening and explore SoFo which apparently is to Stockholm what Shoreditch is to London. I really enjoyed this area although a lot of the shops were closed as it was late on a Saturday. I did eventually end up at a shopping centre where I admittedly took advantage of the sale at Monki. I got a skirt for 4 quid so I can’t complain can I? I know that this post is basically turning into a food diary but oh well, for dinner I went to a vegan restaurant called Chutney where I had one of the best burgers of my life. The atmosphere in that restaurant was amazing, it felt like being part of a community. Sweden, you know how to do burgers.
That night I didn’t get much sleep (oh the joy of staying at hostels, am I right) so I decided I needed a hot drink that morning to wake me up. I ended up at Wayne’s Coffee where they didn’t only have vegan cookies but also created a vegan bagel from scratch that was loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and avocado. Major points there. Although I’d only planned to have a quick breakfast, I ended up staying there for a while, just relaxing in one of their armchairs. It was so comfy that I was contemplating just spending the rest of my time there. But there was one list thing left on my list – the Public Library. Admittedly, I went to the wrong library first (oopsie) but then I finally found it and was definitely glad that I went, it was absolutely stunning. If I didn’t have to catch a bus back to the airport, I would have probably stayed all day, it was a little book heaven. And they actually had books in so many different languages, I even spotted some French and German ones. Leaving the library, I had a quick lunch (again pad thai, I was basically alternating between that and burgers) before heading to the airport and catching my flight back home. Although I was glad to leave the cold, I still wish I could have stayed longer, I definitely fell in love with this city and its cute cafés and stunning buildings. Also, I’ll make sure to continue the tradition of fika.
Have you ever been to Stockholm? xx