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My Stockholm, an enchanting city, Sweden

Traveling has been in my blood since I was 17. It’s definitely one of the healthier addictions out there.  It takes just a couple of months back in South Africa when that urge hits again, and I find myself online, browsing far off places.  And the one I keep going back to, is Sweden. It has, over the years become my second home and I’ve grown to understand the people and culture, which is very different to South Africa.

Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, stretching across 14 islands,  is best explored on foot.  Although the bus and metro are super efficient and run like clock-work covering the entire city,  you can see so much more by walking.  I’ve been there so many times, I’ve lost track, but each time I go back I discover new treasures.

It’s a romantic city to enjoy with your lover, and also a great one to explore solo.  It’s also one of the easier cities to get around as it’s small…even for someone like me with absolutely no sense of direction.  At all.    But when I’m traveling solo, I love the thrill of getting lost.  There is nowhere I need to be, and my time is my own.

We all have our own preferences when traveling. I love finding vintage shops, going to markets and soaking up the ambience in local cafes and restaurants.  And I can think of nothing worse than running around and trying to fit in every gallery when there is so much beauty to be seen outside.  But if you must see one gallery…then I recommend Fotografiska.  They also serve great food and are open until after mid-night, so it has a fantastic social vibe too.  Every place I travel to, I buy either a piece of art or something from a vintage shop.  Always something unique to remember the place by.

The first day in Stockholm I spent with friends, and then had 3 more days to myself to walk, explore, take photos, chill in cafes and think about life.

So here’s a list of my favourite things and places in Stockholm:

Hötorgshallen – it’s a food market in Old Haymarket, Normalm (closest metro Hotorget) with food from around the world.  Fun to just walk around and taste bits and pieces. Look out for “Himalaya Te & Kaffespecialist“.  They do tea, coffee and jelly sweets, beautifully wrapped.

Vau De Ville brasserie. In the heart of Stockholm.  A great place for lunch and people watching!  I can recommend the meatballs (my favourite Swedish food)

Deli o Wine by Carotte:  a charming restaurant and wine bar.  Perfect little spot to soak up the city vibes. Get a table outside and enjoy the charming blue trams driving by.

My hotel of choice is Elite Palace Hotel in the popular Vasastan area.  I love this hotel because the staff are very welcoming and friendly, and go the extra mile, the rooms are spacious and the breakfast caters for everyone.  There is also a huge gym, and it’s close to all the areas I wanted to explore.

Cafe Andra Bullar:  my favourite little cafe/coffee shop near the hotel on St: Eriksgatan.  They do a delicious chai tea with cinnamon, and all their meals and cakes are home made.

Nybrogatan 38: a mediterranean style restaurant in the area of Ostermalm, Stockholm.  This restaurant was recommended to me by a chef, so I knew it had to be good.  But unfortunately at the time i was with friends, and we sat down…then realised we were pushed for time as they had to head back to get their train. So it’s top of my list for my next trip to Stockholm.

Gamla Stan:  The old town, a well preserved medieval city centre(‘gamla’ meaning old)  is a tranquil place to blissfully lose oneself in the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets.  It is pedestrian friendly, and I recommend going super early to avoid the crowds.  I arrived about 6am and it was so peaceful to walk around and take photos with no people around. When the area started waking up just after 7am, I headed to Sara’s Art & Coffee Shop.  It’s at Västerlånggatan 45, and is the perfect little romantic spot to cozy up in a corner with your partner. And equally divine to just hang out on your own. It’s one of those places that pulls you inside by the freshly ground coffee aromas and is hard to leave.  Really beautiful energy (and cakes! You need to try the Swedish kanelbullar, a melt in your mouth cinnamon bun).  Look out for the narrowest street in Stockholm, Marten Tortzigs Grand (close to the cafe,) with the width tapering down to 90cm!

SoFo: Short for South of Folkungsagatan and describes the trendy part of Sodermalm area.  It’s a beautiful walk from Gamla Stan to SoFo over a bridge with views of the city.  I found it to be the most creative, colourful and interesting mish-mash of shops specialising in vintage, jewelry, music and design.  There are also ample cafes and restaurants, all with their own charm.  Head to Nytorget Square to Urban Deli. A quirky restaurant/deli with a fantastic, trendy vibe. You can’t visit SoFo without popping into a few vintage shops.  I discovered “Lisa Larsson” vintage store, and it was a treasure trove of clothes, jewelry and shoes.  When I walked into her shop, Lisa was there, and we chatted a while about her shop which she has had for 32 years!  I didn’t want to leave, and spent almost 2 hours there trying on all sorts of things…secretly wanting to stay and listen to her singing away to all the old songs from the 1950’s and 60’s, while bathed in the smell of flowers and mothballs.  She mentioned that she initially sold cloths from the 20’s to 70’s, but more recently has included a small selection of designer clothes. I asked her if she’d mind if I took a few photos of her and her ‘palace’, and she humbly agreed to it, carefully applying her orange lipstick. Her friend from the shop next door arrived, and the 3 of us chatted about love and relationships…with us all sharing something from our past.  “Appreciate and treasure the past…it is part of your journey and growth. Even beauty grows from the weeds of heartache. Love…let go…forgive…move on.  Keep space for the new and embrace it.”

Some useful Swedish words:

fika: “The Kitchn” blog (yes it’s spelled like that) sums it up – saying “Fika {fee-kah} isn’t just a coffee break…It’s a moment to slow down and appreciate the good things in life.

Lagom:  The Swedish ethos of  ‘lagom’ means “not too much, not too little, just right.”…and applies to everything from food, clothes, coffee, the weather etc

Mysa: pronounced ‘mee-sah’ – the idea of mysa-ing is about relaxing on your own or with someone, hanging out,  being content in the moment.

Mysig: pron. ‘mee-sig’ is anything cozy or pleasant.  Candles flickering…blazing fire…and something warm to drink. Just saying it makes me feel cozy.


Above:  With friends Monique (book author) and Anders. We had just all landed 3 recipe publishing deals, so were about to head out and celebrate. These are our happy faces after just having stepped out of the publishers office!



Above: Vau De Ville Brasseries

Above: Deli o Wine by Carotte


Above: Cafe Andra Bullar on St: Eriksgatan

Above: the view from The Elite Palace Hotel, Vasastan



Above: Best little cafe in Gamla Stan! And you can enjoy some art while sipping on your latte.

Above: Urban Deli – great stop for lunch or a coffee

Above:  Best vintage shop in SoFo! Liz Larsson!

Above:  this is a common site in Stockholm. The Swedes love mixing work with pleasure over some ‘fika’s’


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