I never did read the cult classic Girl With Dragon Tattoo nor have ever wandered too far north of the Baltic Sea for that matter, but on a recent Sunday I find myself among very tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed strangers walking down the medieval streets of Stockholm’s historic center, Gamla Stan. With the multiple-day transportation SL card, it is rather easy to pop in and out of the Tunnelbana (metro) and navigate the islands that make up this most populated Scandinavian city.
I’d read that this capital city is divided into three main parts: Innerstaden or Stockholm City Center, Söderort or Southern Stockholm, and Västerort or Western Stockholm. Within each part there are multiple districts. And as I find out over the next few days of my stay, each district has its own charm, personality, and purpose. What I also realize is that a lot of the furniture systems found at Ikea are named after these neighborhoods!
The streets are clean, the air is clear, and the people in equally fine physique. It all makes sense when you realize that there are some 100,000 islands making up the countries of Sweden and Finland. Water is as much a part of their existence as the focus on maintaining a very green, health-conscious lifestyle (though you might not know it from some of the traditional dishes which I’ll share in another entry). The Stockholm archipelago itself extends about 60 kilometers in a north-south trajectory and consists of about 30,000 islands/islets. If I were surrounded by water where I lived I’d be outdoors all the time, too:
So on this quiet Sunday afternoon, amidst the narrow historic alleys,
and cobblestoned squares…
I think this could be anywhere in any random European town…until I hear the charming hej! (sounds like “hey” and means hello) as people greet me and each other, and I know I can’t be anywhere else but Sweden.
So Hej! Hej Stockholm! Can’t wait to see what else awaits me here…