Långfredagen i Stockholm

The day started with a rather fine coffee at The Diplomat, a grand old hotel on the waterfront in Stockholm. We had arrived earlier than expected for our planned archipelago tour. I was anticipating delays on the transport system due to the public holiday, but it wasn’t too bad after all.

As we cruised around the inner archipelago, we noticed there there were still many large blocks of ice in the water. We were also told there was one section of the tour they would normally cover during the summer, but couldn’t this time due to the ice. The guide explained many of the people who live on the isolated smaller islands use the ice as a “bridge” to nearby islands with transportation back to Stockholm.

Sue was surprised by the large number of Swedes on many of the tourist adventures we’ve been on. That’s when I mentioned I will often do “tourist things” back in Sydney. I love a good walking tour. I stop short of the “Hop On Hop Off” bus thing, but I love visiting Darling Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who say, they’ve lived in a town most of their lives and have never visited a place because “it’s a thing for tourists”. I figure that if people will travel from the other side of the world to see something in your town, there has to be a good reason for it.

Being a tourist is quite exhausting though; all that walking around and looking at things. And it makes you hungry. We had lunch at a terrific place called, Italiano. Great coffee, great food, great atmosphere. Highly recommended.

After lunch, Sue went to church (and later came home to read), while I went off for a bit of “James Time”.

I noticed the people of Stockholm have started to re-emerge from their winter slumber. Even in the last few days, the amount of outdoor seating at restaurants and bars has increased significantly. In the centre of Stockholm, for example, there’s a terrific little bar on a moored boat which is always popular during summer. There were quite a few people on board, rugged up with blankets on their knees. Nearby, others were simply seated on the footpath, with their legs dangling just a few centimetres above the ice.

I also noticed posters for some upcoming concerts and shows. Dire Streets (OMG) are coming to Stockholm soon. On a local level, I noticed posters for shows by Anna Järvinen, the Gyllene Tider reunion tour (the band Per Gessle was in before Roxette) and a show by Orsa Spelman (playing at Rival, the hotel owned by his sometimes bandmate, Benny Andersson). I’ve also heard there’s a musical coming up soon based on the classic Swedish film about an “ordinary woman” who enters Melodifestivalen called, Livet är en schlager. It’s a film I love very much, and it’s the kind of thing which could tempt me back to Stockholm. I’ve been looking online for details, but haven’t seen anything yet. If you know, can you please comment below with the details.

I spotted some terrific public art under the bridge at Hornstull Strand. Someone had printed (or maybe lasered) a series of images onto concrete squares and had simply left them on the footpath for the world to enjoy.

Not far from the aforementioned “public art”, I discovered Loopen Restaurang. Positioned out on the water, and with palm trees and outdoor furniture, you can imagine how popular it could be in summer. But even on Good Friday, with strongish winds blowing and temperatures hovering around zero, it was reasonably popular. As I drank a glass of wine, I sat outside in the sun until finally, the lure of some indoor heating became too much. An older woman asked if it was okay if she and her friend joined my table. Surprisingly, for Good Friday, many bars and restaurants were open. I found a great spot to “people watch” on Götgatan, the main street of Södermalm. It was a bar called Fenix. The seat I took was in the window which overlooked the place where smokers took refuge. Unlike Berlin and Copenhagen, smoking hasn’t been allowed in bars in Stockholm for many years. As the smokers enjoyed their cigarettes, I noticed a lot of people coming up to them asking them for money.

Noticeable street-beggining is the one thing that has really stood out on this trip compared with previous ones. I gave some coins to a woman seated on the footpath near Mariatorget station. I’m always more inclined to give money to women than men. I know it’s an over-generalisation and an over-simplification, but I’m more inclined to think they have children at home they’re needing to feed.