Roaming to Stockholm
Our daughter has a cat. Well, she and her husband have a cat. Not just any old cat (apologies to all the other cats). This cat is special. He’s magnificent. He’s old, very talkative, and he’s been a bit sick lately. His name? Dakeeti.
When our daughter first moved to Europe over ten years ago, we kept Dakeeti (along with our son’s part-wolf dog Busa; they became great friends after an initial battle, which of course Dakeeti won). We took him to Europe (he and I watched “Life of Pi” on the plane) and have visited him (and his humans) as often as possible over the years. Recently our kids had planned a trip to the U.S. to visit family and friends, but they couldn’t find anyone to take care of Dakeeti–so we volunteered. We spent two weeks living in their Stockholm apartment, enjoying our time with Dakeeti, exploring Stockholm, and luxuriating in the cool summer weather.
Our daughter, who is perfect, had decided to give us “the best Airbnb experience ever,” and she and her husband did not disappoint. We arrived in the evening and entered the apartment (third floor walkup) to find ten pages of instructions and helpful hints.
These notes were in addition to a lengthy email and–wait for it–a how-to video for the laundry room! They had made room for us in the closet and dresser, provided shower supplies, set out puzzles and crosswords, and much more.
More notes and tips!
Our son-in-law, who is also perfect, left a loaf of his homemade sourdough in the freezer for us. He makes all their bread and proudly wears a t-shirt with his name: Bread Man.
Sourdough boule; we ate every bite!
He also left us a beautiful loaf of banana nut bread. Phil said that with icing, it would taste almost like his favorite birthday cake!
We settled in quickly, slept well, and the next morning we headed out to explore this beautiful city. We walked our legs off, stopping for lunch at an outdoor cafe across from a fountain where tourists were taking selfies (or “ussies,” as that annoying guy on Ted Lasso would say).
Lunch view of fountain and sculpture
We had already visited Stockholm three times, but never on our own, so this was our opportunity to learn and become more independent. We figured out the tram and bus system (sort of), learned some of the neighborhoods (sort of), and saw lots of things we’d never seen on previous visits.
Gorgeous bar we didn’t have time to visit. Next trip!
We decided to buy a pass that would admit us to various tourist activities, which was a pretty good decision. However, we bought the five-day pass, which was a BIG mistake! We are too old and tired to gallavant constantly for five straight days. Lesson learned. Anyway, our first outing was an archipelago tour on a boat built in 1906. The tour was about three hours (we didn’t end up on a deserted island, thankfully!), and it was pretty interesting.
Back on land and after a late lunch, we headed to the K A Almgren Silk Weaving and Museum, which was fascinating. It’s still a functioning weaving facility for artisans, and it dates from the 1800s. The museum profiles many of the women who worked there (the work force was all women, some starting out in their early teens and working their entire careers there), and, of course, the MAN who ran the operation. After the first world war they transitioned to making ribbons for the medals that all the royals and their entourages wore. Each worker had only one job, which must have been mind-numbingly tedious, but the average tenure was many years, and they took great pride in their skills.
An exhibit of a dress made from silk ties
Next we stopped for a delicious cocktail at Exit Lounge, which we’d visited on a previous trip. They have wonderful tapas as well as cocktails, but this time we just wanted a quick beverage before heading home.
Then it was home, dinner, watch Ted Lasso, and sleep fast, because the next day would be equally busy. Have I mentioned that we visited a LOT of museums?
National Museum main hall
We started our day at the National Museum. We didn’t know much about it before our visit, and we were absolutely blown away. What an amazing and beautiful space! And the art is magnificent. Here are a few of my favorite pieces there.
By the time we were ready to leave–after about three hours!–we were famished and ready for a very late lunch. Refreshed, we headed to our next stop, the Nobel Prize Museum. Phil was not enthusiastic about this one, but I really wanted to see it, and we were both glad we did. Our favorite thing was a series of short films highlighting the life and work of Nobel Prize recipients, but we also enjoyed the recreated work spaces for some of the most well-known winners: Marie Curie’s lab, writers’ desks, etc., and also gowns worn to the laureates’ banquets and much more.
By this time we were tired, hungry, and ready to go home. Instead of cooking, which I do most nights, we decided to visit a neighborhood bar and restaurant which became our local hangout. It was a pleasant 15-minute walk from the apartment and offered outdoor seating, excellent cocktails, and delicious food.
Parma Kok & Bar, our local hangout. We ate there three times in two weeks.
The next day we headed to a place we’d visited on our first trip to Stockholm: Artipelag. Artipelag is a unique facility: art museum, restaurant, hiking area, and event venue. On our first visit we had a wonderful lunch on the terrace overlooking the water, and we did a bit of hiking, but this time we wanted to see everything. First up was the “Imagine Monet” immersive exhibit. We’d enjoyed the Van Gogh one in San Francisco in 2021, but this one was even better!
After a delicious buffet lunch (with wine and a fun waiter!) on the terrace, we headed to the regular exhibit, which was much more robust than we’d expected. We also watched a film about the founders of this lovely venue. Here are a couple of my favorite paintings from this visit.
After perusing the gallery, we decided to head out to the hiking paths, which mostly lead to the water. We saw more art along the way and appreciated the picnic tables scattered around for a quick rest.
View from a hiking path
Giant golden egg sculpture
I especially loved this sculpture of a young boy.
We took a very nice bus ride back into Stockholm–much better than the public trains/buses we took to get there–and hit our next sight: the Royal Palace. The guard advised us to move quickly, as the palace was closing in 45 minutes, but that was not a problem; it was HOT in there!
Royal Palace: very ornate, very hot.
Our final stop for the day was Just what we needed: cocktails at the Grand Hotel, Stockholm’s premiere hotel where Madonna, Justin Bieber, and other luminaries have stayed. The cocktails were delicious but super expensive, but it was worth it; that is a gorgeous hotel!
The next day began with disappointment: we had planned to use our pass (the expensive, five-day one we regret) for a round trip boat ride to Birka, the Viking city. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Birka dates from the seventh century and still has many relics from its Viking days. We tried twice, but they were sold out both days. Ugh! There was nothing to do but figure out how to make it a good day. Off we went–to more museums!
We started with a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the entire city, then stayed on the bus to visit Skansen, billed as the world’s oldest outdoor museum. Honestly? We didn’t love Skansen–but if you had young children to entertain it would probably be great.
Next we walked past the ABBA, Vasa, and Spirits museums (which we’d seen on previous visits) to the Viking Museum. That was fascinating–videos of actors portraying various Viking personas, artifacts, recreations, and lots of information–and horrifying in its focus on how cruel and violent humans can be.
Viking Museum: interesting but disturbing.
After a quick late lunch to forestall the hangries, we visited the Nordic Museum, which was excellent. I was too tired to take many photos, but it featured some amazing exhibits: table settings across the ages, the British influence on fashion over the last two centuries, a recreation of traditions throughout the year, and of course more amazing art. I wish we’d spent more time there.
Nordic Museum exhibit recreating the traditional Midsummer celebration
After all this museum hopping (and walking! We walked 15,000 to 20,000 steps each of these hectic days!) we were ready for. . .meatballs! I’d read about a restaurant called Meatballs for the People that sounded irresistable; you choose what kind of meatballs you want, anything ranging from pork or beef to bear or vegan, and get a standard plate featuring your meatballs of choice. We had a cocktail while waiting, then sat on barstools watching the meatballers at work. It was amazing! Mashed potatoes like clouds, delicious meatballs, and of course lingonberries and pickled cucumbers. I loved it so much I bought a t-shirt!
Meatballs for the People menu
We had a lot planned for the last day of our pass. But the next morning we decided to stay home and rest! It was a good decision and I don’t regret it, except for missing the Drottingham Palace, Prince Eugene’s Waldemarsudde, the Riddarholm Church, and the Royal Canal Tour. Next visit!
After a day of rest, which included our continuing Ted Lasso marathon, followed by a day of laundry (all the machines were in Swedish, so we relied heavily on our daughter’s instructional video!), we were ready to re-emerge. We did a little shopping, strolled the streets of Stockholm, and had a memorable lunch at Lisa Elmqvist, the seafood restaurant at the legendary Ostermalm Food Hall, Stockholm’s 130-year-old foodie institution.
My gorgeous, albeit too rich, sole meunière at Lisa Elmqvist
The next day we spent cleaning the apartment, making soups for the kids to enjoy when they arrived home, and packing. Dakeeti began freaking out and jumped into my suitcase more times than I could count! On the morning of their arrival we did one last batch of laundry and waited anxiously for their arrival.
We ordered out for Thai lunch and toasted their homecoming with a bottle of champagne. Then, far too soon, it was time for us to go. We said happy-sad farewells and headed to the airport, where after checking in we visited the AmEx popup lounge for. . .let’s just admit it. . .our second lunch.
Second lunch: delicious!
We were excited to come home after two weeks away, but the memories from this amazing visit will stay with us. I’ll leave you with a view of the gorgeous flowers that are everywhere in beautiful Stockholm. How lucky we are to be living this amazing Roaming life!