Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Scandinavian Affair: Stockholm Syndrome

The train journey from Malmö to Stockholm was the epitome of torment - endless hours in slow-motion and the landscape was not so breathtaking as I expected it to be... But the imponent and solemn beauty of this big city made up for the hassle - nothing beats the splendor and majesty of Stockholm in Autumn! And yes, it felt quite chilly over there, almost like the Baltic Sea itself was getting into my bones and lungs. Thank you, faux fur coat, for fighting the cold and making me look like a grizzly bear! There is something regal and almost Soviet about Stockholm's grandeur: the big beautiful buildings with Empire written all over it, the Parisian-looking boulevards, the silent gardens, the bridges adorning the waterfront, the iconic Royal Palace, the opulence, you name it. Our first morning was spent wandering around cobblestoned Gamla Stan, looking for the perfect place for a coffee or a hot chocolate and marvelling at the medieval charm hidden in every narrow alley, illustrated with souvenir shops and façades painted in warm colours like terracotta, saffron and rust. I ended up neglecting my camera a little bit as I spent 50% of the time contemplating the city from the bicycle saddle. You see, I'm not the most multitasking person, and after a bike accident back in Copenhagen I decided I was bruised enough. We explored and eventually got lost around some metropolitan districts of Stockholm packed with boutiques, french restaurants, fancy hotels, sophisticated coffee shops, antique stores and markets - Norrmalm and Östermalm, I believe. Oh, the perks of having no map! Our appetite took us to a cosy restaurant called Salt, where we drank Aquavit, Swedish beer and cider and I ate... moose burger! Delicious, that's all I'm gonna say. I haven't tried the reindeer meat yet but if I ever go back there, I will. Ruthless licensing laws and alcohol taxes make Sweden's capital an expensive place for drinkers so I wouldn't pick Stockholm if party was my first priority. Unless, of course, I was filthy rich. If you haven't been in this splendid city, go! It's pricey and bitterly parky but come on, it's worth a visit. Beyond the design freaks and meatballs, lies ahead the pearl of Scandinavia, triumphant with the aesthetics of the likes of Paris and Saint Petersburg, filled with historical heritage, countless parks and a modern underground system.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Scandinavian Affair: 24 Hours in Malmö

Malmö was the break we needed, a bit like a holiday within a holiday. I knew that it would never feel like groovy Copenhagen so I kept my expectations low. Entering Sweden was, however, an interesting experience. Sweden's third largest city turned out to be more than just a boring gloomy place with Turning Torso in the backdrop. Strolling around picturesque Lilla Torg in the twilight after our first afternoon walk felt delightful. The morning after was dedicated to the simple pleasures of life; we successfully smuggled hotel breakfast to eat later, spent some quality time in the hotel room and got ready for a sunny day outdoors. Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) was a letdown but we had our fix of greenery: parks, cemeteries and gardens with a quiet atmosphere and colours matching its seasonal glory. We made the best out of the outdoor activity indeed, giving both wallet and mind a rest, before our departure to majestic Stockholm.
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