"Stockholm, eh?" was pretty much my response as I stared blankly at my laptop screen. Mike told me he was going to Sweden for work…for 10 days. I was immediately filled with feelings of anxiety – I'm not sure we've been apart for 10 days since the day we first met – but more so was an unexpected wave of jealousy. Honestly, Sweden was one of those places that I never thought I'd go….or even thought about traveling to. However, when the possibility of joining him on the tail end of his business trip came up, I thought about that creaking sound my passport was going to make when I opened it – it's been a decade too long since I'd used it. Being able to share a trip like that with my sweetie – and experience a culture I never realized I'd been missing – was too tempting to turn down. So we sent the kitten to summer camp, packed up more camera gear than clothing, and went off on our Scandinavian vacation…
Let me first say that we were blessed with some of the most beautiful weather I've ever experienced. Temperatures in the mid-70s in August are somewhat like seeing a unicorn for this Southern transplant…especially when it's not accompanied by sweltering humidity. We couldn't have ordered better days. That sunshine & breeze practically begged us to walk and bask in it…and that's what we did. Coming from the South & a state with poor public transportation, the ability to hop a train and then walk virtually everywhere is quite a treat.
I have an unabashed love of Swedish meatballs (actually, I don't think I've met a meatball of any ethnicity I didn't like) and the opening photo was my very first meal in Stockholm and it set the bar really high. The fine folks Mike was working with introduced him to this place called Imperiet…and if a local tells you to go somewhere, you do it. They were sublime – tender, super-rich and creamy sauce, the smoothest potatoes I think I've ever tasted. The lingon and house-made pickles were on the side & they were divine, too. I ate this dish at a couple other spots during our stay in Stockholm…but none quite measured up to those.
There was time during our trip for one fantastically nice meal. David from Green Kitchen Stories, who was unfortunately traveling with his family while I was in Stockholm, steered us in the direction of Restaurant 1900. The interior of the restaurant is both sleek and cozy at the same time – mismatched candlesticks with flames aglow perched on minimalist white tables. The service was really jovial and the food…well…an incredibly modern & simple take on Scandinavian food. Ingredients like cured salmon, chanterelles (which grow wild in Sweden and are darned near everywhere on menus all over Scandinavia when they're in season), venison, and house-made sausages were of the best quality. I experienced my first cloudberry in a reindeer tartare dish and I'm in love.
Rosendahls Trägard is the type of place that doesn't exist for us in Atlanta – open & public green space of the highest caliber. I wouldn't have known it existed in Stockholm if it hadn't been for David at Green Kitchen Stories. He strongly urged that we spend some time here. I can't really find the words to describe how I felt the afternoon we spent roaming the gardens, sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine, watching the birds & children play in the park, investigating the multitudes of things that grow there. Rosendahls was a larger example of something that I fell in love with about Stockholm – the positive reinforcement of public green space and the warm reception its residents give it. At every turn during our days in Stockholm, people were eating outside…having picnics with their loved ones and families. Sitting at an outdoor cafe or on a park bench. I felt so at home there – so healthy and happy. It's something I'm going to strive to do more of here in the States.
Mike and I aren't really the "tourist spot" type. We'd just as soon wander a city and see what we can get into. However, in the weeks before our trip, we kept hearing the same sentence: "You must go to the Vasa Museum." When you hear that it's a big boat inside a building, it's hard to wrap your brain around what you're about to see. I'm so glad we took the time to see the Vasa – it's one of the most remarkable things I've ever experienced.
The Vasa is the only existing Seventeenth-century ship in the world – it sank on it's maiden voyage in 1628. In 1961 – 333 years later – it was salvaged. 95% of the ship is still the original parts and the remainder are continuing to be restored to bring the ship back to it's original condition. In the museum, there are several viewing platforms so you can really see the grandeur and sheer size of the ship. While it's quite dark inside the museum, Mike was able to get these photos of the ship and some of the woodwork detail. It's magnificent…and I can only urge you to see it for yourself if you ever have the chance.
In the between-times during our weekend in Stockholm, we spent those moments really together. Walking along the water. Finding a bar or restaurant on the water for a chance to stop and take it all in. We managed to pack in a lot during those days in Stockholm…but we headed to Norway (the next stop on our vacation) feeling so well rested, healthier and energized. I brought back a lot of Sweden with me – the great way the cuisine mixes colors and texture, the quiet & determined confidence of everyone we met, a stranger's willingness to help you out, and the thoughtful efficiency with which everything is handled. I could write about our 4 days there for, well, days…and you'll see it's influence pop up on this blog on more than one occasion in the future.
In order not to bog you down with 50+ images, I've consolidated all of our Stockholm photos into this Flickr set. There you'll find full size versions of the images in this post and then some. We tried to capture Stockholm the way we saw it & the way we felt about it – feel free to comment or leave questions about any of the photos. Thank you for sharing in our trip by reading this post. Stay tuned – Bergen, Norway is next!