Finding Stockholm — The Aesthetically Pleasing City

by Sara · 30.07.2012 · Escapism, Videos · 4 comments

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.

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