I wanted to start this post and call it “long-awaited”, but since only a couple of aficionados read these notes, I’ll just say it was late. We arrived in Stockholm with the usual thoughts of someone from Southern Europe, which sees Scandinavia as a model of efficiency, tidiness and smart solutions for everyday’s life. We weren’t disappointed of course, but what we did not expect was … it’s even better that we think, and looking and a myriad of big and small details made us wonder how these are not adopted everywhere else in the world. Perhaps having the citizen’s wellbeing at the center of politicians and city planners isn’t so easy… Pictures we post below speak for themselves. Bike lanes everywhere, not just for show, but actually to push people to leave their car behind and enjoy riding a bike. Digital payments are the norm and cash is frowned upon, even in small shops or market stalls. Public buildings, such as schools, town halls, libraries etc. are impeccable and actually better maintained than private property. The level of food, in casual or upscale restaurants, is outstanding: you pay for what you get of course, but the quality is always there. A 4,5 EUR cappuccino comes with a place to sit that is always a pleasure to enjoy, no noise (the horrific clatter of cups and saucers being loaded/unloaded rom the dishwasher which is omnipresent in Italian bars and sometimes covers conversation is completely absent here. How do they wash things?), nice materials around you. There is an obvious obsession for personal care, considering the hundreds of hairdressers/barbershops you see around, and that’s a bit disconcerting.
Overall, it is a very pleasant city to spend a week, it does not have the archeological wonders of Rome or Athens, but the whole experience is so much more valuable. We visited the Nordiska museum, which had an exhibition on the Arctic and on British influence on Nordic fashion. Both very interesting. Then we biked to Hagaparken and the Drottningholm Royal palace. And Lövo island.
Staying in Årsta (thanks again to Home Exchange!), a residential neighbourhood south of Södermalm, was perfect. Our Swedish host Sara was very kind and even allowed us to stay one extra night before boarding the ferry to Tallinn. Yes, that one.