While in Stockholm, I felt as if I was weaving myself around in a little traveling dance- together and apart, together and apart. Solo, duet, Solo duet.
Next to exploring my hometown and having a mini-moon in New York after getting married, this was only the second time that M and I had ever traveled together. He was called to Stockholm for a conference and I tagged along to explore this new city and take some dance + yoga workshops there. I spent the days where I wasn’t dancing wandering the city on my own, reminiscing about my old solo travel days and how different it feels now, knowing at the end of the day there is someone waiting to meet up with me. Solo, duet.
While M and I may have slightly different “styles” of travel (I am way more of a foodie and he is more of a rollercoaster/bungee-jumper type), we fed off of each others enthusiasms and relished in the simple adventure of seeing a new place through two different sets of eyes. Something rather new and novel for me. Sure, there is always more compromise, which makes the duet perhaps a bit trickier, but constantly dancing a solo can also get exhausting and a little lonely. Having a partner who is simultaneously an enjoyable travel companion was basically a necessity for me.
I'm kicking myself for the fact that I didn’t write more notes while I was in Stockholm- I just let thoughts drift through without catching them, which I suppose is okay to do sometimes. However, I feel like I have slightly lost the words to describe the poetry of this city. Every city has its own poetic vocabulary and Stockholm’s was definitely of a special variety.
What mainly comes to memory is that walking around the city, there was something altogether familiar. I think it is because of the Scandinavian-heavy influence in Minnesota, where I grew up, along with my childhood fascination with Santa Lucia and my desire to be Swedish so I could properly practice the candle-lit holiday. Something about the reserved friendliness of the people and the slushy snow and brisk winds in late March made me feel comfortably at home. There was this chilly exterior and yet so many welcoming, candlelit interiors, minimally yet functionally designed and open to cozying yourself into a nook within them.
Even despite the familiarity, I still felt myself get that new-city thrill as I explored the streets, river bends, and endless list of cafes that I had marked on my google maps. Together and apart, we ate well, explored well and as a result, I feel confident (and feeling the need to go back again) as I write this list of recommendations below.
So honestly, most of our breakfasts were eaten inside of the hotel that M’s conference provided, Scandic Klara. Since the Scandic hotels are a big chain in Sweden, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but not only was the space lovely, the included breakfast was quite impressive. Spread out in a large atrium, I felt more like I was shopping at a farmers market than mingling at a hotel breakfast buffet. They had a yogurt + granola stand, a charcuterie stand, fresh squeezed juices, out-of-the-oven breads with gluten free and vegan options for absolutely everything. We couldn’t really say no to all of that. The couple times breakfast was consumed outside, we ate here:
We had breakfast here on our first morning together, when M didn’t have to rush off to a conference immediately. Housed in a building that used to be stables, the interior has the feel of a minimalist, dusky and candlelit chapel, with arches and moody lighting. There is a store inside, but it was still closed at our early rising hour. I had a delicious jar of chia pudding + amazing coffee while M had a little sandwich with cheese and fig jam. Yum.
-Pom & Flora
One of my favorite things about getting back into blogging has been the amazing people you meet through the community. Since one of my favorite bloggers happens to live in Stockholm, I decided to drop her a line and was thrilled when the lovely Agnes from Cashew Kitchen agreed to meet me for an early breakfast at the cute cafe, Pom & Flora. We both got green hulk acai smoothie bowls with all sorts of happy-health-nut toppings + chatted about food, running a website, photography and life. Thank you blogging, for being something not so isolating after all.
Since Stockholm is a big European city, I am not sure there is a time of year where you will not see tourists. Therefor, I found it best to visit the museums (and any other more touristy destinations) first thing in the morning in order to avoid lines and crowds. The first that I visited was the Moderna Museet, which has an incredible collection and brings in some fascinating rotating exhibits. It was such a shame that I just missed Marina Abramovic performing there live, but some of her pieces were still there including these crystal “slippers” and beautiful crystal-set seats, which were marked with very simple instructions: "Sit on the chair. Motionless. Depart."
I also went to Fotografiska just as it was opening (thank goodness because an hour or two later when I left there was already a long line) and it was so worth the visit. The exhibits were all breathtaking in completely different ways. After moseying around and drinking in all of the inspiration, it is also lovely to sit in their cafe, have a tea, and look out over a perfect view of the water.
Being the old center and the traditional tourist area, this little island is worth a visit for it’s lovely winding streets and old-european-town-vibes, but also I would recommend seeing it in the morning if you want to avoid crowds. It was so peaceful to wander the streets alone around 8am, letting myself get lost until I hit the shore and found my way off of the island.
-Just for dancers: Dancecentrum is a wonderful place to take morning drop-in workshops for professionals.
-InBalance Yoga- Lunch Hour Drop-in Class
Agnes recommended this center to me for drop-in yoga, with this class in particular. It was an invigorating class- full-body heating vinyasa interspersed with words of wisdom and humor from the instructor. I can now second her recommendation.
-The Greasy Spoon
M and I had breakfast-for-lunch here on our full day together and while it may be a bit overpriced for breakfast food (what isn’t overpriced here), it was refreshing to see a menu all in english, their decor was kitch-y and adorable and the Eggs Benedicts that we got were delicious. Nothing like homemade hollandaise, not to mention one mixed with beetroot.
Incredibly classy food halls seem to be a thing in Stockholm that I was not aware of. I had lunch at this particular hall (that just happened to be right next to Dancecentrum) where I got an amazing super-packed veggie wrap at one of the market stands near the front.
Simply, one of the best falafel pitas I have had in a long time. Amazing sauces, good fresh ginger beer to wash it all down.
These are everywhere and will make you want everything. On the entire trip, I wandered into too many design stores to count until I felt like crying every time I looked at price tags. I will say that Design Torget was a bit more affordable than most and had a great collection for many different aesthetics.
-Second hand shopping in Södermalm
When M first went to Sweden, everyone was talking about how excited they were for second hand shopping and having never heard the term he thought “what is second hand- a brand?” He was a bit less enthusiastic when he found out that it is rummaging through other people’s unwanted (but hopefully washed) clothing items. I, on the other hand, tend to be very enthusiastic about second hand shopping and love finding hidden gems among racks of randomness. This area is the place to go- there are shops on every corner.
-Walk along the water
Bundle up, drink in the sights, smell the brisk wind-off-the-water air, and feel contented.
Not gonna lie, I went to this lovely turn-of-the-century style cafe twice to get their kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) because they were just that good. The pistachio cream-filled ones especially.
This place may be in a mall, but it’s got a lovely airy feel, a gorgeous wooden table with design books spread out if you care to browse, and some pretty amazing carrot cake.
-Johan & Nyström
This place was recommended by several people and blogs and I can vouch as one more voice in the crowd. The matcha latte was so good (or maybe it’s just because after seeing so many on Instagram while I am in matcha-less Morocco I was having a serious craving) and it had this casual hang-out, lounge-around kind of feeling to it. My kind of place.
I wish I could give better dinner recommendations, but honestly at the end of each day we were pretty exhausted and not always up for finding the best hidden gems the city has to offer. We had some great + authentic Lebanese from the Kungshallen food hall and absolutely delicious tacos at on of the many Taco Bars. Good flavors and not too expensive, plus it was the only thing we really found open after 9pm on a weeknight- be aware, night owls.
Three and a half days in Stockholm did not feel like nearly enough and I am sure there is so much we missed. I am hoping to get a chance to go back someday, perhaps explore more of Sweden, dance all over the place and recapture the poetry of the place. In the meantime, the list of places M and I want to travel together is only getting longer and longer, so onto daydreaming about the next duet adventure…