Sleepless in Stockholm

Memorial Day weekend seemed like the perfect time for a quick trip. After pondering San Francisco, Austin, and New Orleans, Sarah and I decided that we might as well make use of the holiday to go somewhere further.  We began searching for the perfect international flight deal.   A few arguments and Google flight searches later, we settled on Stockholm. The flight was direct and Norwegian Airlines had some great deals starting at $450 roundtrip.  Stockholm also seemed like the perfect city to explore in just a few days, vibrant yet accessible.  More than a few people politely told me that we were crazy for going so far, but we knew that with a little planning and a lot of caffeine, the trip would be a success.

We braved Memorial Day weekend traffic and left from JFK on a Friday night.  After a smooth flight and a quick cab ride, we found ourselves at our hotel for the weekend, HTL Kungatan.  We chose HTL because it was cheap and well reviewed, and we weren’t disappointed. The rooms were cozy, the location was central, and the complementary breakfast was a great start to each day.  

By 2 pm on Saturday, we were showered and ready to explore.  Our first stop was lunch.  To spare us the torture of wandering around jet-lagged on an empty stomach, I picked out our first meal in advance.  Located just two blocks from our hotel, Kajsas Fisk’s signature fish stew was just what we needed.  Stomachs full and flat whites in hand, we spent the next few hours wandering through Stockholm’s Old Town- Gamla Stan- and across the river to Sodermalm.  The rivers and bridges were charming and flanked by impressive architecture.  Our walk was full of great views, but the best by far was from Monteliusvagen, a small walking path in Sodermalm.   We walked for hours, soaking in the never-ending green squares and fountains of Sodermalm and cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan.  Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

When we arrived at Smorgastarteriet at 8 PM, we were running out of energy.  Unbeknownst to us, our night was just getting started.  4 hours and 8 courses later, we left the restaurant amazed and exhausted.  The tasting menu, served simultaneously to all patrons, was one of the best meals I had ever eaten.  Each course was a perfect blend of flavors that somehow topped its predecessor (although the steak tartar was by far my favorite).  Although we were starting to go crazy from lack of sleep, the meal was definitely worth it.  Following dinner, we made the short walk back to the hotel and quickly passed out for the night.  

The next day, finally well rested, we set out on an adventure outside the city limits.  Drottingham Palace, located on beautiful Lake Malaaren, was impressive inside and out.  We spent the morning touring the castle, exploring the grounds, and even going for a hike through the forest paths.  We then took public transit to West Sodermalm, which hosts a flea market every Sunday.   Wandering through the many stalls in Hornstull, scenically located by the water, was a relaxing experience. The vendors were eclectic and I even found a pair of sunglasses that Sarah actually liked.  After exhausting the selection of stalls, we ate some delicious fish tacos from one of the many food trucks nearby.   We spent the rest of the day wandering through Sodermalm and revisiting Gamla Stan before making our way to Ostermalm, Stockholm’s upscale shopping district.  In Ostermalm, we explored the many shops and took note of places to which we would have to return on Monday.  Dinner was at Kryp In Gamla Stan, where we enjoyed traditional Swedish food and I tried reindeer.   

Monday got off to a rough start- Sarah wasn’t happy that I overslept.  Once I finally got up, we headed to City Hall for the first stop on our last day.  After a quick walk to up a series of staircases, we were treated to a beautiful view of the city.  Following City Hall, we returned to Sodermalm for some shopping, but I was secretly hoping to go to a meatball restaurant that I had been eyeing.  I got my wish, and we were able to get a table for lunch at Meatballs for the People.  We both ordered veal meatballs with the customary sides of lingonberries and a potato puree, and they were delicious- definitely better than at Ikea. Determined not to run out of time, we caught an Uber to Ostermalm, where we squeezed in some final shopping, including a few very cool men’s stores.  New purchases in hand, we walked back to the hotel, gathered our things, and hailed a cab to the airport.  Our stay was short but sweet, and I landed in New York wishing I was back.