If you’ve always been obsessed with Sweden or
If you don’t give a fuck or even a few rocks about Scandinavian shit, then I suppose you can stop reading.
However, hello? Durban has been bumped off my Top Five list (sorry Durbs, but I simply have to squeeze in Stockholm somewhere), and now it sits pretty next to Rio and Berlin as one fuck off incredible city.
Surgeons could perform hysterectomies on the pavements. There was a leaf blower at the airport at 2:30am, blowing away dust – I can only assume – it’s pristine. The air smells like Canada.
It’s been researched and apparently Swedes are one of the happiest nations on Earth. They don’t see the sun for almost nine months during winter, and yet they’re flag-waving blonde, blue-eyed bundles of Scandinavian happiness.
The one thing I can only fathom is that it’s highly socialist. Sweden doesn't even like the EU much. It’s almost a communist state, except that everything works, people are happy, and there's pop music everywhere.
University is free. Nannies and childcare is free. Mums AND Dads get between them 450 days of paternity and maternity leave. The health system is free. The streets are clean, and shit works.
Stockholm has a population of just over 2 million people, so it’s hardly crowded. A third of it is made up of waterways of inky black Baltic sea, and the other ‘eco-parks’, running amok with elk.
Bjorn Borg and the Abba members aside, they’re a humble, rule-abiding nation, but without the [German] extremist bent.
It’s free until someone pops a cork
It’s all free. With one minor concession. You’ll get another asshole ripped out of you with taxes.
Taxes are synonymous with clean, well-run ‘everything’s free’ cities. But then you pay up to 80% tax on a cocktail.
We had a fair bit of Absolut Vodka (when in Sweden), and subsequently spent a night repaying a mortgage. Booze and food is expensive, as is accommodation.
What I spent in Stockholm in 4 days, is what I can happily live on in Africa for 3 weeks. (If nothing breaks. Which it is prone to do in Africa. So maybe it’s all even at the end of the day.)
You can cycle and not die
There are cycling lanes on every piece of road in the city. There are an abundance of parks and bridges. We cycled almost 30 k’s, across 4 islands in one day.
If you like islands, you might like Sweden
There are 14 islands that make up the city of Stockholm. There are another 24 000 off the coast further north.
We stayed in a prison cell
We paid for doing time. The Brit and I are getting good at this. We stayed in a converted prison in Oxford, and now on Langholmen (‘Long Island) in Stockholm. This one came with striped bed linen. Nice touch.
And so clean and nice, you could lick the walls.
Swedish sounds like something off the Spaceship Galactica
Honestly, we were in hysterics. It sounds like a script out of Star Wars.
”Zorg torg smorgasbor? Snus, hej. Sok torg! Hurney gurney hurney gurney?”
Are all Barbies. Even the boys. They are so exquisite, I found myself staring open-mouthed and drooling at this one girl in a coffee shop (alongside my boyfriend who was doing the same), to the point where I actually had to wrench myself away before she thought I was a lesbian.
They are a very very hot race. Strapping, but crafted from wax. Ridiculously beautiful, the lot of them.
The men all wear their hair in these gelled coifs, which is vaguely amusing.
And all of their jean pant are turned up.
We went to the Stockholm Ice Bar
Cost a fucken packet – but you go in, they give you coats, gloves and Viking hats (nice touch) and you drink Absolut in this ice cave. The glasses are made of ice, the walls, and the bar counter. It’s cold, so you can only really have two shots before it starts getting uncomfortable.
We saw Bjorn Borg’s holiday house
The barge guide told us so. Also a member of Abba.
We ate herring and pickled salmon for brunch one day
Should’ve bought a Volvo. Would’ve cost the same.
All houses are either red clapboard barns, or look Flemish-like, or are otherwise castles with full on turrets.
They sound more ostentatious than they are. Stockholm is a rich city.
It was so beautiful.