Another Town, Another Train

Stockholm has a remarkable metro system. It feels like the stations have been hewn out of solid rock, which they probably have, but the tunnels are left bare stone everywhere, painted in lots of colours and designs.

We took our usual bus and  train towards the city but changed onto the metro at the first interchange. Our tickets were valid for a 75 minute journey so we hopped on and off of trains and tried to see all of each station in the few minutes between them. We made it to the end of the line a couple of minutes over time but you don’t need to show a ticket to get out of the station so we were okay.

Stockholm has an ABBA museum – unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit – but there are posters for it everywhere. Each one has the name of a song on it so you spend most of your time walking round with an ABBA song in your head without really knowing why.

We walked across a couple of bridges – it’s hard not to – and headed for Moderna Museet. This gallery has an extensive collection of 20th and 21st Century Art from  Sweden, Scandinavia and beyond. It also has a good cafe and restaurant so we started with Fika – coffee and buns of course. Refreshed and ready for art we headed for the galleries. There is an overwhelming amount to see; each room has a broad theme but the works within them range from sculptures to paintings to designer houseware.

After a few hours we needed more refreshments. The restaurant had some good cheese sandwiches – no buns this time. We went back to see a few favourite works again then exited via the gift shop.

We retraced our steps back towards the main station and onto the train for the airport. Time for one last Fika, we shared the bun this time!

We enjoyed Stockholm a lot but it’s a small city and I think we’ve seen a lot of it; but if Radiohead play there again…

Stockholm as locals

Saturday 10 June 2017

I can’t remember the last time we got up so late on a Saturday morning. For us. It was after 9am. We slept well in our little cabin. That was an unexpected bonus about us staying away from the city centre.

The other benefit was that when Andy went off to his gig on Friday night, I walked around the lake – taking in the wildlife, enjoying the nature and exchanging greetings with locals – walkers, joggers and families taking a stroll. At one end of the lake, I came across many families sitting on the grass. Children running around; grown-ups chatting with a glass of wine or beer in hands; picnic tables laden with home cook dishes… A whole community coming together. I carried on. The path less trodden. I half expected to find a body in the overgrown grasses near a pond; I think I watch too many Nordic Noir series! I sat on the pontoon for a while and watched the birds, the ducklings and brave swimmers (wearing wetsuits).

Breakfast was simple. Slices of rye bread we got from Fabrique yesterday with butter.

We started our day with a walk to the pontoon. Perched on a bench, we listened to the birds, and relaxed by the water. If we lived there, we’d come in the morning with mugs of coffee.

We got the bus to Brommasplan station, and the metro to town. It’s about thirty minutes door to door.

Flat whites? Oh yes, and very good they were too. Johan & Nystrom is a popular place and the outdoor terrace was busy, but we managed to find a couple of empty seats, next to the knitting ladies.

This is a less touristy area somehow. It has a great neighbourhood feel with plenty of cafes, restaurants and independent shops. This was a surprise to us both as we had dismissed the area the previous day. Just goes to show why exploring further, beyond main thoroughfares, is always worth it!

Lunch was a delicious smashed avocado and black sesame seeds over sourdough at Petrus Bakery. Simple and tasty.

From there, we walked along the waterfront to Fotografiska – the world’s largest photography museum. Each floor had an exhibition, with background information and short films. We enjoyed taking our time, stopping by the images that grabbed us, sitting down to watch the films. The exciting news is that we’ve subsequently found out that Fotografiska will be opening a gallery in London in 2018.

The café, on the top floor, has great views over the old town, We sat for a while with a drink and a cinnamon bun, watching the view and chatting over the various exhibits. Andy’s mind was buzzing with creative ideas.

We spent a couple of happy hours walking around the old town. First following a self-guided walk and then wandering around, walking down side streets which took our fancy. The area is full of old colourful buildings and architectural details. Very graphic. We stopped by the Royal Palace just in time to see the end of the changing of the guards.

Walking away from the palace, we found Rag and Bone, the statue strategically placed to be near the Parliament and the Royal Palace to highlight the discrepancies between the rich and the poor.

Back to Södermalm island. We made our way to Laveau’s Little Quarter for cocktails. The ‘craft‘ cocktails were excellent. It looked to be a trendy place. We were there early and it was still very quiet.

We couldn’t resist popping into the cheese shop opposite. We purchased a lump of Svensk Wrangebacksost Eko cheese to take back to the cabin.

Our feet were full of walking and it was time to head home.

Back at the cabin, we listened to a podcast about Stockholm and Swedish traditions and history. Andy made a start on dinner – a simple salad. And of course, our Swedish cheese and rye bread to follow.

Electioneering

Friday 9 June 2017

Very early start, the taxi arrived to take us to Heathrow at 4:30. The driver had the election news on the radio; a fascinating morning to be up early.  The sun was coming up over the river as we drove past Battersea Power Station. We were quickly through security and into Pret for breakfast.

Stockholm airport is of course very efficient and within a few minutes of leaving the plane we were on the platform waiting for the express to Central Station. It’s a 30 minute journey into the city. We were staying out of the city centre so we left our bags in a locker and went to explore.

The city is built on a number of islands; there is water everywhere. It’s a short walk from the station to the bridge to Gamla Stan Island. This island holds the oldest parts of the city. The majority of the buildings are old and ornate, painted in warm reds, oranges and yellows. We planned to explore this area on the next day so headed across the island and onto the larger Södermalm island. This island is home to residential and shopping streets and a number of highly recommended bun shops and cafes.  Our first stop was Fabrique bakery, this chain has a number of outlets in the city as well as one in Hoxton. The Swedish concept of Fika involves coffee, usually accompanied with buns, pastries or pie, traditionally this would be cinnamon buns – who are we to argue with tradition.

Next stop was Coffice coffee shop, recommended but a bit disappointing.

Lunch was a treat. Herman’s has a large buffet with many hot and cold vegetarian dishes. The garden rambles along the edge of the island with great views back over the old town. The food was very tasty, lots of variety of colours and flavours.

We walked back through the old town to retrieve our bags and get a metro and bus out to our AirBnB. We’d chosen somewhere about half an hour from the city centre; it felt much more. Behind the house there’s a Nature reserve with a large lake in the centre. This has a path right round that was well used by walkers, joggers and cyclists.

Not surprisingly the apartment looks like something from an IKEA brochure, but everything was comfortable and worked well.

No need for dinner after our large lunch so after a bit of a walk around the lake, I headed back into town for the reason we were here – Radiohead at the Ericcson Globe.  The globe is the largest spherical building in the world, as well as being an event venue, it forms the centre of a huge model of the solar system.  Each body is to scale and, the Earth (65cm diameter) is at the Natural History Museum 7.6km away. Jupiter (7.3m diameter) is at the airport 40km away and Pluto (12cm diameter) is 300km to the north.

We’d seen a surprisingly large number of French people around the city centre earlier, the sign outside a bar explained why – Sweden v France in a world cup qualifying game close to our apartment – Sweden won 2-1 with a controversial 93rd minute winner.

I’d been looking forward to the gig for a long, long time and although expectations were high, it exceeded them all.