Stockholm! We will definitely arrive today, and I can’t wait. We’ve been on the A4 for so long that it’s starting to do my head in. Still though, we’ve made good headway in milage and there’s a lot to be said for that.
Forestry has long since given way to farmland. Postcard pretty country farms give way to industrialised open land. Traffic builds. Slowly, the city overtakes and the pace of life lifts. Moose signs no more. *Sigh*. Nary a wild moose whisker was sighted.
Worryingly, the weather is miserable. Cold and rainy, it does not bode well for swanning about Stockholm in a sun dress, nor enjoying a sun kissed peddle through town. Hmmm.
The approach into the city is a little challenging – quite a few turn offs have two or more options and little time to negotiate the right one. We get there with a few hairy moments. Our home for the next few days is the island of Langholmen, a brisk walk along the Riddarfjarden waterway to where all the action is.
We arrive late afternoon to a steady drizzle and set off to explore the southern most neighbourhood, Soedermalm, first. It takes a while to wrap our heads around where we are – land and water are so entwined in the capital that it’s difficult to get your bearings quickly.
Our walk along the Riddarfjarden takes us past a series of decommissioned boats of all types, some going as far back as the 1800s, now used as residences, bars, restaurants and even hotels.
Deemed by Vogue to be the “third coolest neighbourhood in the world” Soedermalm is hipster chic. It’s a funky, arty neighbourhood with a young, casual vibe. It has quite a Parisian feel to it with chestnut trees in full fruit, their leaves just on the edge of turning for autumn.
The main street, true to its reputation, is full of art showrooms, silversmiths and other craftsman. There’s a good offering of boutiques too.
The water’s edge boasts a series of beautiful old buildings of quite differing styles, influences of Gothic architecture, 17th and 18th centuries styles are the closest common denominators. The island rises on a sharp hill, giving way to the shops and residential areas behind.
Behind the impressive architecture and cobbled shopping streets, it’s mainly residential, apartment style living, broken up by green areas and children’s playgrounds – another Parisian touch.
It’s not long before the weather drives us indoors. Just as well there’s a cake shop nearby with Prinsesstarta (Princess Torte) and good coffee on offer. I blame Mary Berry, the English chef from the Great British Bake Off, for getting me addicted to this cake, a Swedish specialty. It’s a very light sponge base, with layers of creme patissiere, fresh cream and raspberry, covered in green tinted marzipan. Yum! Usually a whole cake, this one is a cheat’s version, of open serves.
Cakes demolished, we are determined to address one more craving – a good Asian meal. We’ve been really missing Asian food and there’s a highly rated Vietnamese restaurant on Soedermalm.
We book in, duck off for a pre-dinner drink to hide from a sudden downpour and then head back for what does prove to be an excellent meal at the packed Nem Nem Quan. The definitive highlight is a rice noodle pork and mushroom dumpling – divine.
After dinner, we take the long way home, walking through the residential area and the parks back to our island. Let’s hope the weather gods are nicer tomorrow.