Our family of four spent this BreakAway’s final five days in stunning Stockholm—a Swedish city that shines with history and pride, drips money from its mostly cloudy skies, and is built on 14 islands that lead to 25,000 more. Many (most?) residents have a summer “cottage” on one of those islands. And by “cottage” these days, they may mean McMansion.
So there’s a lot to love. In fact, Stockholm won honors for being my favorite city during a previous seven-month stay in Europe; a future post will show all that remains to adore. This time, though, Stockholm freely revealed its traveler frustrations and quirks. Here are a few photos that share a slice of that pricey pie.
(Nothin’ but) gray skies. We arrived in July to see the sun, damn it. But she was as elusive as a happy-hour beer. My bad: Last time I was there, it was in July and nary a cloud appeared in the sky. But, wise traveler, don’t expect the same magic twice. This time called for jackets and ponchos–but maybe (if you’re lucky) sunscreen and tank tops two hours later. Oh well, Stockholm remains a rare waterside gem. Just don’t count on too much sparkle and shine.
A dear, dear place to visit (but I couldn’t afford to live there). Stockholm ranks as one of the top five most expensive cities in the world. Of course, this veteran traveler knows how to cut corners and seek bargains and therefore sniffs at such stats. Well, believe it. Sure, you can find deals and surprising values. But meantime, visit your Mr. Money ATM early and often.
A propensity to vacate. They must live well in Stockholm–and not need (or want) to work much; stores kept short hours–on the days they were open. And even in the tourist high season, many (especially restaurants) shut down for weeks. A hotelier told us his five fave recommendations were all closed. Meanwhile, everyone told us to eat at nearby Nostrano. We’d love to, except that a small sign on the door whispers that they’re outahere until long after we are too.
A dark side. To paraphrase Bill Bryson in Neither Here Nor There, suicide is the national sport in Sweden. Indeed, the locals could, at times, carry themselves with rushed, brusk attitudes–and even treated each other rather rudely. Sweethearts and traveler’s saints abound too. But be prepared to be ignored, underserved, and stared at.