Answer: Not enough.
Sandwiched on our EU Tour between Denmark on the left and Finland on the right, many of my friends and acquaintances have visited and left singing it’s praises. You’ve probably already got a view about Stockholm even if you have never visited, I know I did, but our staging post between the train from Copenhagen and the now infamous ferry ride over to Helsinki, Finland still held some surprises for us on this second stop of our Amazing Scandinavian AdventureTM.
Next up on the Scandinavian tour of Europe, the Family P. crashed through Sweden and Stockholm in particular. I’ll be honest with you. I thought I was going to like Sweden before I got here and I was right. Stockholm, like so many other European Capital cities, is a fantastic blend of design, lifestyle and attitude gathered from all the corners of the continent then given their own local spice. Stockholm is in parts beautiful, frustrating, delicious and utterly non-logical, all rolled into one.
In order to get to see the city, we opted for the tried and tested self-guided walking tour. Wandering around the old and new parts of the city, we couldn’t have looked more like the lost tourists that we were hoping to avoid but it provided us some amazing flexibility to see the bits of the city that we liked and stop where and when we wanted. We used HappiestOutdoors.ca‘s self-guided walking tour which was great and I can very much recommend it, with loads of useful and interesting information peppered into a walk that took us through a journey of the city in about three hours.
The memorable sights that we managed to squeeze in during our visit included (but are not limited to); The Stockholm Palace, the Abba Museum, the Old Town, the medieval Riddarholmkyrkan Church, Stortorget and the Vasa Museum. There are plenty more that we didn’t get to see of course but having only a couple of days to distill the city into memories meant that we had to prioritise, and there was no way I was going home without getting my Abba on. SHOCK NEWS: The Family P. were so busy singing and dancing to Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Super Trooper, Take A Chance On Me, Knowing Me Knowing You and their other top hits that we didn’t manage to take any photos. I know, I’m gutted as well, but you’ll just have to take it from me that left feeling funked up, significantly poorer but happy. Thank you for the music guys.
Everyone knows that Sweden is buttock clenchingly expensive, this is a universal truth understood by all. As a comparison it’s probably on par with the pricier side of London but the difference is that in Stockholm everything is expensive. If you look hard enough around the streets of Dulwich, you’ll still be able to get a fresh muffin and a half decent cup of coffee for four quid without having to resort to Starbucks, Costa or equivalent in which case you would be losing the best part of a tenner. In Stockholm, it’s the cheapest cup of Joe that will set you back £8 but don’t clutch your wallet to your chest in panic just yet; the redeeming featuring is that even the cheap stuff is pretty good. It’s as if because everyone is forced to spend more, the general expectation of everything is that much higher. I’m quite sure if you looked hard enough, you’ll be able to find some instant coffee as well, but wouldn’t you rather fork out the extra 50 cents and enjoy the real stuff? Yeah, me too.
There are various terms in use today that I loathe, primarily because they are so over used that they have long since been misappropriated by the corporate giants to try and fool us into thinking their products are more than they are. ‘Artisan’ is one such example, as is ‘boutique’. I have seen Tesco use both words in their descriptions and to be honest, I can’t think of anything less artisan than Tesco. So if I’m going to use one of these phrases then I hope you will extend me a certain amount of flexibility as I describe Tradition as a *shudder* hidden gem.
Tradition is a small restaurant tucked away in the old city down a few winding streets and alleyways that I needed google maps to find. It’s dark and dingy from the outside but inside it shows itself to be sophisticated, friendly and just modern enough without the stark Scandinavian minimalism that blights the Ikea-ised modern world of today.
The food was also fantastic but not without challenge it must be said; the Child struggled with her reindeer tartar dish but Mrs P. and I loved the rest of the meal along with the ambience and very friendly staff so chose not to look too closely at the bill.
We also had the pleasure to meet Armin, born and bred in Stockholm. He wasn’t short of opinions when it came to Brexit and those opinions were pretty much chocka block full of confidence and courage in Swedens ability to weather any storm that Brexit and Europe can throw at it. Mrs P. and I have honestly never met such a convincing and self-assured young man. Brexit was the wrong move for the UK, Armin was clear on that but Sweden had and will contnue to carve it’s own piece of Europe and that was fine by him.
We made the easy trip to Stockholm by train from Copenhagen and as the countryside rocked past we noticed that even in April the lakes were frozen and the snow was still several feet deep in places. Capital cities hardly ever reflect the nature of the country at large but this just gave us a deep resolution to come back and explore the Northern wilds of Sweden in more depth.
The #2MenEUTour Big Brexit Tour journey so far: