Monday, September 30, 2013

Stockholm - Reindeer and a soccer riot

I've never been to Scandanavia and several flights to Berlin had layovers in Sweden or Finland. I decided to create a 48 hour layover to see a new city!

SAS wasn't my favorite airline to be honest. I've had better coach experiences, but I've had worse I guess.  It wasn't packed, though so I was happy about that. Dinner was only one choice - meat stew. No fun local touches. Small seats. KLM last year was better. I alternated between reading and watching the are-we-there-yet channel:

One of the movie choices was Sideways. I forgot how absolutely hilarious that movie is! 

I took the cheap bus into the city and walked a mile to the hotel. 

I researched this weekend forever. I booked the Story hotel months ago, which is kind of an edgy hotel with a cool bar and restaurant. Sweden is crazy expensive but I paid for the room months ago so it wasn't as painful. 

Art in the hotel. I felt like this little girl was judging me for taking a two-hour nap. 

I got up and explored my neighborhood. It was so cold - in the 40s and many places had people sitting outside! I liked the concept of these fuzzy chairs for keeping warm in the cold:

I explored Sauhall, close to the hotel. 

It only got up to 52 that day. Being from Chicago where people wear shorts as soon as it hits 55, I appreciated that the Swedes didn't wimp out on the outdoor seating. They sometimes provided blankets! 

I loved this sign:

I explored Gamla Stan, the old historic touristy part of the city:

I was jet-lagged and loopy! But extremely happy to be traveling sonewhere new:

At 4PM I gave up walking and sat with a glass of wine while icy blasts of wind came out of the harbor. I kept telling myself "I am not cold I am not cold I am not cold this is great not cold"

I had been looking forward to this dinner for a month! I went to Kryp In so that I could try reindeer:

I had an incredible three-course meal! Fantastic way to tell my stomach that we are in Sweden: 

I walked home through beautiful streets back up to the main commercial part of town where I was staying. 

I bought the iPad mini a few days before the trip. It was a great decision. I used to travel with no phone, I would just go to Internet caf├ęs once in awhile that always had filthy keyboards and students in them.  This trip I took my iPhone,iPad and garmin GPS watch for the marathon. I feel like a total sell-out from my old more spontaneous days. I just don't understand at all how people can be afraid to travel when there's so much technology to help you. Going to Europe can be as easy as going anywhere at home: 

I used the Stockholm metro a lot to save my legs for the marathon. The metro was clean and easy to understand. A monkey could take the metro by himself, it was that easy. Unlike the CTA that might have chicken bones or an empty bottle of wild Irish rose rattling around on the floor, there were spotless seats and vegetable/flower markets in the Stockholm underground stations.  I still walked for miles because it was so much fun, I couldn't help it. And still wore myself into the ground.  My favorite thing to do is explore a new city. 

Stockholm residents were for the most part beautiful people. There are tall, beautiful people everywhere! Nobody was all done up and a lot of the guys wore cute ski hats and sported scruffy faces. Hipster dads everywhere pushing their babies in strollers.  Everything was sleek, modern or vintagey mid-century Swedish-modern (like the furniture shops). Everybody spoke near-perfect English.  Stockholm was like this magic little cheerful city where everything seems perfect. 

The second day I explored sodermalm, the more Progressive neighborhood. It reminded me of nicer parts of Brooklyn or Chicago. 

I was walking to dinner when there was a crazy ruckus on the street. I noticed that a lot of guys in black and yellow scarves had been drinking all day at a big outdoor bar. The were pre-gaming for a big soccer match. The team on the north side of Stockholm was about to play the south side team and they all walked to the game en masse, breaking bottles, singing, chanting and setting up smoke bombs along the way. They marched up the street, then street sweepers came and cleaned it all up as if nothing had happened! I'm glad somebody in this town caused some trouble, I was starting to think things were a little too perfect around here!

I had dinner at Pelikan, where a table of old men were dining together next to me and broke out into song. 

I took the metro home and went to 7-11 to buy yogurt and a banana for my 4AM wakeup before my flight to Berlin. I saw this bin of Swedish fish, which just said "pastellfisk"

I used my restaurant coupon to get a beer in the bar area of the hotel (this is the restaurant, below) where models were groping eachother to dance music,  it was that kind of place. I downloaded some photos from my day in the corner and went to bed. 

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