A suitcase set for the snow, “Chiquitita” on loop, an itinerary solely dedicated to meatballs, and a mere two-hour flight later, I found myself in the heart of Sweden.
The self-proclaimed capital of Scandinavia, Stockholm has a palette for the finest things in life. Traditionally historic, yet exquisitely curious, the city is an ever-changing and evolving landscape; rich in its culture, people, food and refined Nordic style. Encompassing 14 islands and more than 50 bridges, Stockholm sits on the extensive Baltic Sea archipelago; nicknamed by its people as the “beauty on water”.
From the crimson-hued medieval buildings in the Gamla Stan, to the creative, modernistic walls of Södermalm, the architecture in Stockholm could double as the backdrops to a Wes Anderson film. There is a definitive magic obscured within the corners of this city. Alleyways hide 17th century pubs with taps of wine, and a maritime menagerie secretly stores nautical treasures of seafaring vessels and brass antiques.
In the winter, the city turns inward; the sun rotates by 3pm and the soft snow soon sets to jagged ice. Find comfort by the Christmas markets and you’ll be greeted with smells of fresh cinnamon and Glögg – the Swedish version of mulled wine. Across the city, timeless museums and galleries feed our curious minds with fantasy and facts. Pay homage to the ill-fated sunken ship at the Vassamuseum, learn about the treasures and stories of the Viking’s, witness the world’s most brilliant contemporary photographers at Fotografiska, or marvel at the world of ABBA at the Pop House exhibition. (The latter may have been my favourite.)
Whether it was sitting by the docks on Djurgården Island or climbing the steep, snowy mountains that held the city together, each second in Stockholm felt like a storybook narrative. The city presented me with this blip in space and time to just breathe and think; kindly letting me use its roads and landmarks as a way to outrun my own enigmatic brain.
I like to think that the most important moments in our lives are composed and stored like songs on an album. Stockholm has become my own vinyl record; a personal soundtrack of moments that I can constantly relive and replay. I can spin these anecdotes forever in my head, and eventually I will return back to the winter of 2019 where I stood so sure, hopeful and content. All I ever have to do is press play.