The island of Söder, the southern part of the immediate city centre, used to be Stockholm's working class quarters. My father's granddad used to deliver beer by horse and carriage from one of the breweries here. These days it is incredibly gentrified and one of the hardest places in the city to find an apartment in unless you are loaded or prepared to rent in third hand from a cousin's nephew's father's best friend's mother...sort of. Lots of cultural- and media personalities live here and it is easy to see why, with bars open around the clock, great public transport and the hills with the ever present lake or sea below. But this means that the atmosphere has changed. What used to look almost like a Swedish small town with little red wooden houses (with outdoor toilets and no mod cons until late...) is now block after block full of modern housing. But here and there, little pockets of the old remain and is today carefully protected, such as around Mariaberget and Fjällgatan (see sight tip).
Liljeholmen's pool which opened 1930, once a year invite all homeless to come swimming and get an opportunity to change clothes. The little 17 metre pool can also be rented for private functions Saturday nights, and there are frequent cultural arrangements. It is in a great setting on a barge in the water on Söder, so first you can go for a swim and then hit the bars and clubs :)
Now this is a custom that I really enjoyed a lot:
the weather was fine and we did enjoy the outside - and would have loved to sit outside in the cafés and restaurants: but it was still a little chilly despite the sunshine!
at many places we saw blankets that one could use when sitting outside - what a fabulous idea!!!
We all know that Sweden is one of the cleanest and healty countries in Europe and they are really proud of it of course... But one the nicest advantages is that everybody drinks water from the tap in Sweden because it´s such good quality!
In supermarkets you almost don´t see big bottles of water because nobody would buy it! That´s something very nice in my opinion!
Something really swedish in my opinion is "fikar"... that simply means having a coffee with some cake or cookies! When you look in town or in malls people are doing it all the time!
They just love it!
The national colors of Sweden are blue and yellow and you can find these colors EVERYWHERE! Well, since we arrived on the King's 60th birthday it could have been the reason for so many flags, but funny enough (and there is a proof in the second picture here) even nature goes national!!!!
Of course in every monarchy you will see Royal Guards in front of the Royal Palace. In London they are good: not moving at all or reacting to the tourists. In Copenhagen, Athens or Prague they are a bit worse: you can see them looking a you, or even see that they are bored by their work.
But in Stockholm I've seen the worst Royal Guards ever. The teenagers that play guards here really don't care about their appearance at all. They are talking to eachoher, laughing, looking after girls: not scary at all! The only thing that remembers you of the fact that they really are Guards, are their uniforms. At least the uniforms are nice!
I'm sure similar sights can be found in other northern cities around the world in winter but I still find it quite a sight when lorry after lorry queue up on quays to dump their snowy load in the sea...I'm not sure if they are allowed to do this everywhere, bearing in mind the tarmac and oil residues just dumped in the sea along with the snow...
As it is in all the Scandinavian countries, ice cream is very popular in Sweden. But what makes ice cream in Sweden the best are their waffle cones. In many ice cream shops there will be a person sitting at a large waffle iron making thin waffles and rolling them up into cones. They are usually filled with ice cream while they are still warm. There is nothing like it. The cones that break are put into a basket for kids and other people to take for free. Yum.
Americans may find Hotdogs to be something American to find back in Stockholm. But for the Scandinavians Hotdogs are something of their own.
They consume more hotdogs than americans do, so it's a part of culture to be trying out one.
And the best thing, they are pretty cheap, you can get them for as much as SEK10,-
We spent a lot of the time on our weekend in Stockholm wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere. One thing I noticed during our meanderings were the large number of street entertainers/magicians.
Perhaps the summer brings them all out, but I can't think of the last time I saw someone doing the whole "guess which one the coin is under" game.... which I saw a few times.
Also there was some good busker talent out there - a particularly entertaining saxophonist.
Carry some change with you in case you want to donate or take a gamble!
Swedes love their coffee. Stockholm is covered with cafes and coffee shops filled with friends meeting up for a coffee and some conversation. A Swedish friend has told me that they are more likely to meet up for a coffee than a (alcoholic) drink, and drink coffee all night....how do they get any sleep!!!
We had a few coffees on the weekend and generally the quality was good, and the prices on par with London (ie. not cheap!).
There were a large number of 'chain' coffee shops (though didn't see any Starbucks!) and we stopped in at one of them, Wayne's Coffee for a latte and a break from our meandering.
Snus is a popular ground tobacco product dating back to the late 1700s in Sweden. It contains three major products: tobacco, water and salt. Its looks like moisty brown mush (thats the only way to put it) and has a very strong, disgusting odour. What people do is stick some of it in their upper gums and leave it their for a while.
So its just like smoking, only worse. They have a lot of it all over Sweden; you'll see it in any convenience store (but I wouldn't recommend trying any!)
Karl XVI Gustav (King of Sweden) married Silvia Sommerlath (the Queen) on June 19th 1976. They have three children: Princess Victoria (who will oneday become Queen) Princess Madeleine, and Prince Carl Philip.
This is a picture of Princess Victoria (I obviously didn't take it myself.) She is turning 28 years olf this year, and is HIGHLY respected and well-liked among the Swedish people. When I was in Sweden over the summer, they had a huge celebration for her 26th birthday that was broadcasted on television, and was considered a major event. There were several triathalons, races and fundraisers to raise money for her wanting to help disabled children. She seems like a down-to-Earth person. My grandparents once met the King and Queen of Sweden when they traveled to Canada and apparenltly they were very nice!
If you go to Stockholm, you will be able to visit the palace they live in, and be prepared to see a LOT of souvenirs and postcards of them because they are very popular and loved.
Midsummer is a important part of Swedish Culture, and based on their traditions.
The midsummer celebrations usually occur on the Friday closest to 24 June.
A midsummer pole which is decorated in flowers, leaves, flags and magic symbols, is raised and the Swedes sing and dance around the pole.
Please note that during this time many of the city people go to the countryside, and many places in the city will remain closed during this period.
The Grand Hotel is beautiful and centrally located. I'd have loved to give it a good review....more
This was a very nice hotel for a spouse weekend in Stockholm. Not the cheapest, but quite ok. Nice...more
We stayed there on March 2005. This hotel is well situated at the center of Mariatorget Square and...more