YEAR OF TRAVEL: 2012
HOW WE GOT THERE: Aeroflot (Hong Kong to Moscow); SAS (Moscow to Stockholm)
FLIGHT HIGHLIGHTS: Aeroflot’s steward service was mediocre at best on the way to Moscow — with no snacks between meals; SAS wanted to charge us for sparkling water; 80s rock legend Billy Idol flew coach with band and roadies on Stockholm leg.
CITY BRIEFING: Surrounded by a myriad of waterways and islands, Stockholm is a laid-back pedestrian paradise – inspiring during the white nights of summer and probably bleak as shit in winter. The kids are hip, the design is sleek, but the city is grounded by its historic structures, scads of centuries-old buildings with Peter Pan-like rooftops and loads of European charm.
- Have some coins handy as the public toilets are of the pay-as-you-go variety;
- Be patient. A couple of customer service folk were friendly but for some reason couldn’t or wouldn’t give us a specific answer (Example: What time does the sun go down? Answer: Late . . . Second Example: How do I get to H&M? Answer: Turn left, walk towards NK, then ask somebody how to get there);
- Stockholm seems relatively safe but pickpocket warning signs show up from time to time. UPDATE: One of our friend’s wallet was lifted in the city’s old town area in June 2012;
- To save some big bucks, ride the bus from Arlanda airport;
- We could have acquired a parasite or virus elsewhere, but for some reason, Swedish food makes us gassy;
- Buy some Scandanavian salt. It’s the best you’ve ever tasted. One brand we like: FALKSALT.
Gamla Stan, or Old Town, is quaint (but has at least one pickpocket lurking about); Sodermalm is an up-and-comer, a hipsterville with a burgeoning district called SoFo.
H&M – Yes, they’re now everywhere – but the clothes, from shirts to boxers, are cut more stylish in this town. Our H&M fave is the one near NK Department store. Directions? (Walk towards NK Department, and ask someone to direct you to the nearest H&M.)
Grandpa – Not the greatest, but this shop, filled with clothes, knick-knacks and vintage finds, is a good starting point for your SoFo journey. (Sodermannagatan 21, 08-643-6080, www.grandpa.se)
Tjallamalla – A Sodermalm fashion fave holding court amongst fun vintage and antique shops. (Bondegatan 46, 8-640-7847, www.tjallamalla.com)
Stutterheim Raincoats – A trendy upstart focused solely on rainwear (Asoegatan 132, 2-328-8300, www.stutterheim.se)
Ahlens City – Decent mall and good pay toilet. (Klarabergsgatan 50, 8-676-6000, www.ahlens.se)
Granit – Great homeware shop – everything from containers to lanterns to utensils. Hope they go worldwide. (Goetgatan 31, 8-642-1068, www.granit.com )
If you have the cash, Grand Hotel is the standard (www.grandhotel.se/en).
The Berns (www.berns.se) with its stunning chandelier-strewn restaurant is a site to behold.
The Hilton Stockholm Slussen is a good mid-range stay (www.hilton.com).
For a cheaper alternative, we recommend the Best Western Columbus (www.columbus.se).
We enjoyed eating at one of the Ciao Ciao pizza restaurants around the city (https://www.primociaociao.com) and the Hilton Stockholm Slussen had some delicious Swedish meatballs .
Go to Gamla Stan, but watch your purse and wallet.
Note: Please check with each venue as address and hours of operation may change.
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