I have something to confess…
The main reason I suggested to my husband that we should do an easter trip to Sweden was because I am completely besotted with Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård, who plays the sexy viking vampire Eric Northman in True Blood, and voted sexist man in Sweden 5 years in a row. Don’t you think the little dot in his name look sexy too?
Stockholm was everything I imagine it to be and a lot more.
1. You had me at ‘Hey!’
When you walk into a restaurant or a retail shop, this is the first thing you hear. ‘Hey’ is how the Swedes greet you. It didn’t take long before the casual ‘hey’ comes rolling off my tongue with ease. The service in most places we went to was great; you get a feeling that people are genuinely friendly and proud of what they do. All the Swedes spoke impeccable English, with an American accent to boot!
2. Smorgasbord of everything local and unique
The swedish word ‘Smörgåsbord’ became a commonly used english word to describe a myriad of choices and variety. Sweden is one of the few countries I’ve been to where shopping is still a unique and interesting experience. They have a long list of established, homegrown boutiques and fashion brands like Acne, Filippa K, Whyreds, Odd Molly and Cheap Monday. The only internationally recognised retail shop on every other street is H&M, but hey, isn’t that swedish too?
There are no Starbucks in Stockholm, instead, their local cafe chain, Wayne’s Coffee, with each store having their own unique design, will give Starbucks a run for their money any time!
3. Style Nordic
I was surprise to get a strong sense of being in New York, particularly the chic Soho area, in Stockholm. I was expecting more understated, minimalist, basic ikea style. The design of many cafes and even the hotel we stayed in is very mod, very modern but at the same time, eclectic. I past by a men’s boutique that sells vintage t-shirts and cool music gadgets like neon pink headphones. It has a row of white baby seals lamps hanging upside down from the ceiling. The fashion style seems to be influenced by the 1960s teddy boy subculture, where smart tailored suit jackets mixed with a bright colored pair of skinny jeans rolled up to show a peek of white socks seem to be the order of the day for the young and trendy here.
This is the country that gave us Roxette, The Cardigans (my favorite band!), Ace of Base and Abba. I found Abba’s signature one-piece tracksuits at a sportswear shop. Imagine going for a jog in one of these! How do you pee???
I love our hotel with its mix of moroccan tiled floors juxtaposed with clean rows of black retro high-stools at our breakfast buffet restaurant, and the mix of modern chairs with old church pews at the business area in the hotel lobby. I love getting into the elevators with acid jazz and lounge music playing on the PA system. We love being greeted by the little poster when we enter our room, with lyrics from Lou Reed’s haunting song ‘Perfect Day’.
4. Blonde beauties or mysterious brunettes?
Without a doubt, the ratio of good looking women to good looking men here is exactly 1:1. Thanks to the nice cool weather, my little boy is usually passed out for a few hours in his pram and that gave us some downtime to people watch in restaurants. I told my husband that the swedes can be easily put into 2 categories of ‘looks’. One is your classic Elin Nordegren (Tiger Woods’ ex) blue-eyed, blonde hair; and the other is the more sporty, dark haired with more angular features like the crown princess.
5. Wide open spaces
I was amazed by the open spaces within the city centre, the beautiful waterways, ports and bridges and the fact that we can see so much of the clear blue skies. The central part of the city is made up of 14 islands and you can easily crossed over from one to another via bridges and boats. It is one of the prettiest and cleanest European cities I’ve been to.
Hope everyone’s had a happy, blessed Easter!