When we travel, we don’t usually travel big. Instead, we try to focus on what’s “real” about a city, meaning we try to do the things that are of interest to us and want to avoid the conventional tourist traps. Not an easy task, to be honest, especially when you’re not off the beaten track. That’s why I personally prefer getting in touch with people who are locals and who can show me around. Most of the time, this is the best way to make friends. I’ve learned that about tourists or expats in Berlin as well. As soon as you open up to people and take them to your favorite places, no matter how spectacularly boring they may seem, they’ll appreciate you letting them into a daily routine that is worth much more than a hectically scheduled sight seeing tour which leaves you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with impressions. After all, sometimes a trip abroad is supposed to be a vacation.
That’s why we were super happy to meet our friends from Mash Up International in Stockholm. Mash Up International are a DJ group who produce extroverted, trippy SoCa dance music that you seriously wouldn’t expect to hear in a Swedish club. But not only does it work — it works like madness! We’ll come back to Mash Up International later this week, where you’ll learn more about them and about our travels in general. Stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, we discovered the city by roaming the streets and letting Robert and Thatsanie show us where they hang out, go to lunch or party when they have some free time. We were located right near the Central Station at a hotel that I’d like to point out. The Scandic Grand Central, a warm and lovely complex with a superb restaurant and amazing interieur, is a hot spot in downtown Stockholm for all those who live and work in the area. For us — or every blogger, in fact — the Scandic Grand Central has a special offer: if you’re in the city because of your Social Media or Blog work, they’ll let you stay in their “Bloggers Suite” — for free. No strings attached. When meeting up with the hotels marketing manager we were let into some insight about that choice: they want to support young people, mainly digital entrepreneurs, and their work. I find that that is a pretty good way to approach new media outlets and the people behind them. They have extended their program to one of their franchise in Goetheburg, so if you’re in the area for a job errand, let them know and apply for cost-free lodge. It’s definitely worth it!
Progressiveness in general seems to be a key to Stockholm. Compared to Berlin, everything seems new, flashy, clean and very much aesthetically pleasing. You can pay by Credit Card pretty much everywhere you go (of course, that’s both good and bad if you ask the girl with a terrible financial attitude… ahem) and that’s something I’d definitely categorize as convenient. Even the way the posters on the buildings are stuck on is, I don’t know how else to say this, pedantically clean. While that gives the city a charming sense of beauty, it also makes it difficult to find the dirty, grimy spots that we tend to appreciate just as well. Berlin thrives from its lack of plan, so to say. That leaves much room for spontaneous platforms, loads of urban art and freedom of choice. In Stockholm, on the other hand, everything seems concluded, finished, as if there was no more space for the youth to develop new plans and structures. I might be wrong about that, sure, how could I know from staying three days in a foreign city? That’s just a subjective impression from strolling around. That said, we did enjoy not having to avoid piles of dog shit every five seconds.
We were definitely lucky with the weather. It allowed us to spend a lot of time out on the street. In an act of childish enthusiasm, Thatsanie and I even pulled Marcus into the famous Gröna Lund, an adventurous theme park in Djurgården that we reached by ferry. A theme park! With rollercoasters! Right in the city! Screw the rest of Stockholm, I could’ve spent my whole holiday right there if it weren’t for the atrocious prices for the rides. That’s something you’ll learn to appreciate about Berlin, too, while you’re visiting the Swedish capital: dude, it’s mighty expensive here. A cab ride is triple the price of the same distance in Berlin for example. Therefore we were very thankful for the perfect infrastructure of the public transport. Busses, ferries and trains: thank you!
If you’re not that much into adrenalin pumping rollercoaster rides (how dare you, you party pooper!), you’ll definitely eat your heart out on the culturally stuffed supply in Stockholm. We ended up visiting the Fotografiska, an extraordinary museum of photography that displays various changing exhibitions. We instantly fell in love with the works of Sally Mann whose works are still showing til the 30th of September. Alongside that you can find a special Olympics display with some of the best photographs of all the past Olympic Games worldwide. If you’re only remotely interested in photography, I heartily recommend you check out the museum. You will not regret it.
Of course, nightlife was not left behind on our short trip. On our first night we accompanied the Mash Up crew to a gig in a downtown club called Fredsgartan 12, also known as F12. I’m not gonna beat around the bush, my first thought was: eww. While our friends played an amazing sound full of surprising beats, combining rhythm, hip hop and soca dance electronic music (seriously, how do you even describe that kind of music, you simply can’t), the crowd was more on the Munich side of partying. That’s not bad per se — the mood was right, sweat was dripping from the ceiling and everyone was having a good time. Still, partying can make a hell of a difference to us arrogant Berliners. We’ll say things like “dude, that’s expensive” and “how do you have a good night out in these high heels?” If you’ve never been to Stockholm — or almost any other city for that matter — you’ll be surprised at how different Berlins party standards are to the rest of the world. The night starts pretty early and ends at around 2 AM just as well. You’ll see more of the Mash Up gig in our next post.
But rest assured, F12 was not to be our last stop on the club scene. On our last night we gave dancing another shot and thanks to a couple of recommendations, we ended up in an absolutely stunning location right under a highway bridge called Trädgarden. The industrial, steely flair of the surroundings plus the lights of passing-by traffic way above our heads were unique and fascinating. That night, Jeff Mills was playing rough Detroit techno and the people went bezerk. Mix a creative and original partying location with a dedicated crowd and you got yourself a blast! What can I say? We like to feel “Berlin”, even when we’re far away.
To sum it up, three days are not nearly enough to discover Stockholm. It’s a beautiful, peaceful city with extraordinarily nice people and a shitload of stuff to do if you can make the time. I fell in love for sure and I can’t wait to go back. Districts like the boho-chique Södermalm will leave you in awe for the well designed shops and stores. The cute candy shop “Pärlans” is only one example we tried to visualize. Marcus shot a sweet portraits for iGNANTravel. If you’re ever in the area, do try their amazing caramel candy.
The old town, Gamla Stan, even for being a heavy tourist magnet, is lovely and worth a walk. And then there’s that one thing that gives Stockholm a thousand percent advantage over many cities in the world: man, the water. Let there be water everywhere. Water to sit at, water to ride on, water to freshen up the air, water to swim in. My next trip will definitely include a trip outside of the island-city to rest and enjoy the nature of the country.
You’ll see and read more about Stockholm in our next post about the places and moments that we shared with our amazing friends from the Mash Up crew. A special thanks goes out to the good people of VisitSweden who made sure we had a safe trip and all the information we needed to get around the city.