In many ways, this trip has been almost two years in the making. Aaron's work schedule is such that the best times for us to travel are summer, holiday, and the one very specific week in the spring that he has off. We tried to plan something for last summer, but with our cross-country move from LA to Austin, we never got around to planning it and instead spent June and July exploring our new Texas digs. Holiday rolled around, but we knew we wanted to be in town for Christmas and there just didn't seem to be enough time on either end for a big overseas adventure. Needless to say, when Aaron found out his spring break dates in January, the first thing I did was start looking into destinations. Anything tropical was (sadly) out of the question because of the pregnancy and Zika. We also didn't want to go anywhere we had already been (which is most of Europe thanks to our mid-twenties backpacking... err, carry-on bag... adventures). Lastly, we had American miles that were expiring soon and needed to be used, so it also had to be somewhere American flies. Oh, and did I mention we had 9 very specific, non-flexible days total with which to work? It was quite the puzzle to solve, but that, friends, is how we landed on (or should I say in?) Stockholm!
A little back story on Stockholm: It has been settled since the Stone Age (!!!), about 6000 BC and was founded as a city in 1252. Some of the buildings in Gamla Stan (the old town neighborhood) are still original to that century which is just mind boggling to think about. (Also, they're stunning!) Throughout it's history, the city was commissioning foreign architects to assist in building the city, so we were constantly turning a corner and saying, "This reminds be so much of Amsterdam!" or "This reminds me so much of Paris!". Stockholm definitely has her very own feel, though. And how perfect are these cobblestone streets?!
I can't recommend our hotel enough. This is the part of the post where we would normally give you options, but I just can't imagine a better hotel than Hotel Rival where we stayed. It's located in Sodermalm, which was our favorite neighborhood in all of Stockholm. It's much quieter than a lot of the city and has great walkable restaurants and shops and the best coffee shops in all of the city. The breakfast which was included in our room stay each morning was amazing! There is an entire menu of made to order items like eggs benedict and omelettes and Swedish pancakes in addition to the delicious buffet. (Also, their croissants were the best we had anywhere in the city. I'm having withdrawals!) Our room was nice a spacious and our window and balcony overlooked the park and all of these quaint buildings. Also, the bed was so comfortable!
Is it just me or is good food and drinks the best part of every trip?! Pregnancy had my drink category relegated to coffee, but lucky for me there is so much good coffee in this city... even decaf! Here's what we loved:
1. Johan and Nystrom was our favorite coffee shop in the city. Both this shop and Drop Coffee (which is also great) are walking distance from Hotel Rival. Great pastries and lounge seating and the nicest, most friendly staff. Our barista there had recently won a best barista in Stockholm contest!
2. Meatballs for the People: So good we ate there twice. The menu is super simple, but the food is so, so good. (It's also an affordable option, too.)
3. Woodstockholm: Now speaking of things that are not affordable, this place is a splurge, but the food is really unique and tasty. Would definitely recommend it if you're looking for a memorable meal, but not if you're traveling on a budget.
4. Pom and Flora: Think healthy, delicious breakfast and brunch and the best acai bowl I've ever had!
5. All of the Stockholm Lunch Specials: Every day at lunchtime, most of the restaurants have a pre fixe lunch menu with three options and a set price of around $11-14. You get so much food and it's always so good!
6. Our favorite meal of the trip goes to Rosendal Tradgard... hands down. It's a collection of greenhouses and gardens serving up fresh garden to table fare every day. It's a limited menu of things that you can choose from on this long open table-- think open faced ricotta and parmesan toast with tomatoes and pesto toast with asparagus and cucumbers, as well as a few salads that you can order. I had a roasted carrot salad with feta, orange slices, and red pepper flakes that I will forever remember! (More pictures below...)
One night we just stayed in our hotel room, Uber'ed some pizza over and watched movies all night (jet lag!) and it might have been our favorite night of the trip! My how things have changed since we were traveling in our mid-twenties!
1. The subways are just incredible in this city. We spent a lot of time reading up on the artists and artwork and then going to check them out. Some of our favorites are here in these photos.
2. Fotografiska Museum: I loved this museum more than most. We made it in time to see the Patrick Demarchelier exhibit which I particularly enjoyed. There were also these really interesting photos of fetuses in utero. (Pretty sure it freaked Aaron out, but I kind of loved it!) On the top floor of the museum is a cafe with the most beautiful views of the city. It's seriously worth visiting just for that view!
3. Stockholm Public Library: We didn't stay long here, but it was worth the visit to check out the architecture. Some of the older books in the collection are really interesting to flip through, too.
We walked almost everywhere and were constantly greeted with really cool shops. These are just a few!
1. Bolia: We will probably end up furnishing some of our new place from this brand. We really, really loved the designs! There was one couch in particular that I so wish would fit in our new living room, but sadly won't.
2. Twist & Tango: The best women's store that I went into all week. I got the cutest pair of espadrille and leather low platforms and had I not bene pregnant would have tried on everything in the store. It's a good mix of interesting pieces and basics that you can wear for every day.
Just a walk around Sodemalm will turn up dozens of great little boutiques. We wandered into paper stores and book stores and shoe stores galore! Not to mention there seems to be a chic lighting shop on every other corner!
Until next time, Stockholm! What destinations are on your current bucket list? Next up for us is probably Iceland and some sort of tropical adventure post-baby!
Photography by Aaron Pinkston-- for the most part, some are very obviously my iPhone 😉