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Land of My Dreams: Stockholm, Sweden

I landed in Sweden on Friday, which happened to be Midsommar Eve! I’ve always wanted to celebrate Midsommar in Sweden, so it was a dream come true. The land of the beautiful Swedes! I expected to be greeted by smiling faces and a sea of flower-crowned blonde heads. Alas, my first experience in Sweden involved me trying to find a bathroom, discovering that you had to pay 1.50 USD to go, and then being refused by the grumpy man guarding the door. I was finally saved by an equally disgruntled Swede, who kindly handed me at 20 kronor note and grumbled: “My stupid country, that makes people pay to go to the toilet! Here you go–go on, go to the bathroom”. 

..Glad Midsommar?

My best friend Sandra rescued picked me up from the train station and immediately brought me home to make flower crowns and drink copious amounts of wine. I made a flower crown. I drank some wine. I looked out the window and it was 10:00pm and it was still completely light outside. We went out clubbing and walked home in equally beautiful light.

Ah, Sweden! It was the land of my dreams again.

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The first night I arrived, we celebrated Midsommar until the wee hours of the morning. Fun fact: It never, ever gets dark here! It’s absolutely insane. We’ll come home around 11pm from somewhere and it’ll still feel like late afternoon. 9:30pm feels like 2pm in Taiwan! I can’t get over it; I don’t know if I love it or if I hate it! The Swedes love it, though–they’re out so late, all the time! I love walking around at 10pm and seeing tons of people hanging out at sidewalk cafes, enjoying the daylight.

Sandra and I took a walk on Saturday and went to a few places I’ve been meaning to check out in Södermalm, a super hip area in Stockholm with tons of trendy bars, hip cafes & boutiques. We went to the prettiest cafe I’ve ever seen: Gildas rumand sat there for hours talking best friend things. She also took me to this place she claimed I would adore (and isn’t that the best thing about having the people who know you the best host you around a new city?)–Urban Delia cooler version of Whole Foods. Swedish Whole Foods + Dean & Deluca! I liked seeing all the different things you’d never usually see in American grocery stores (even bougy upscale ones)–like the cracker bread that Swedes love, but I personally think is akin to chewing on a piece of cardboard…

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After our lattes, we stayed in Södermalm and strolled up a hill to a church called Sofia Kyrka. The area provides a great view of the city, but the best part was the walk up, where you can see preserved buildings from Stockholm’s past. (Södermalm used to be mainly farmland!)

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While we were waiting for our dinner reservation, we made our way over to Mosebacke, a music venue (with a restaurant and bar, everything has an alcohol option here) to hear some live music. Right when we went there was a swing-band playing and tons of adorable old Swedish people tapping their toes! Perfection! I would love to see it when it’s not full of 70 year olds, as I heard it’s a great place to have a beer & take in the city, but we’ll see. There were just too many places to go!

We decided to stroll all the way to Gamla Stan, the “old quarter” of the city; with picturesque cobblestone streets and buildings in autumn shades. It’s extremely touristy, but you can certainly see why: it oozes charm! I’d already been there two years ago to see the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace and some other touristy things (I still don’t understand why seeing some guards change duty is so interesting to people…) so we decided to just take a quick spin. While we were there, a store-owner gave us a suggestion for our next adventure on a boat (detailed in the next post!)

IMG_6111We had reservations at Herman’s, my favorite restaurant in Stockholm from my last visit. It’s on prime location in Södermalm–set high up on a hill with several terraces overlooking the water and a stunning view of the opposite islands. I remember being so impressed with the food the last time I went, and this time was no exception: it was perfection! All vegetarian and organic–there were about 15 different cold salads, the most delicious veggie lasagna, an entire drawer full of teas….a whole drawer full of teas! Needless to say, we gorged ourselves in a rather un-Swedish like manner.

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IMG_5934And that was just my first real day in Stockholm! Sandra, Jordan and I were still varying shades of hungover from the Midsommer night before, so I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished.

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