Stockholm: the furthest north I have ever ventured. It is also the first European capital city that I have visited was not scarred by either Nazi or Communist rule during the Twentieth Century (except Madrid; but they had fascism). Stockholm was beautiful, but not quite what I had expected… First of all (perhaps not most importantly, but first nonetheless) is that all the men did not resemble Alexander Skarsgard. I know it’s hard to believe, but it is true. Not only did all the chaps not grace the streets with the gorgeousness that is the aforementioned, but the population of Stockholm was not, as several people I know had observed, inherently beautiful. “I felt like I had all the appeal of the back end of a bus in Stockholm,” one friend noted, “EVERYONE there is SO good-looking you’d have to be a super model not to feel ugly!” This, thankfully, was not true. Sure, at the Pearl Jam concert there were many hot young folk to be spied, but on the Metro and in the city the gorgeous people were as numerous as in the UK. Perhaps it was the different kind of beauty that had so impressed previous visitors; I have never seen as many natural, nay, ‘white’ blondes as I have in Stockholm. However, with the exception of Alexander Skarsgard, blondes do not normally attract my attraction.
Secondly, everybody looks the same. I don’t mean physically; I mean in the way that they dress. I am something of a people watcher so I am always interested in the appearance of the general population when I visit a new place. In almost three days in the capital city of Sweden, I saw just two people who stood out; people we’d call ‘alternative’ in Britain. By British alternative/punk standards, they were pretty conservative. Everybody simply looked smart, or smart/casual. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but in a capital city I expect a bit of diversity.
Thirdly, the weather was not that different to England in the summer, i.e. disappointing. I know that Stockholm is much further north than York, but for some reason I thought that the weather would be sunny, maybe 20C. No; it was cloudy for most our stay. I was actually cold for most of Saturday and lamented leaving my winter hat in the apartment. To add to the surprise- wait for it- it was sunny when we landed back in Manchester! I am so used to stepping into a wall of heat when I travel to Europe, and unfailingly miserable to return to the rain that permanently drizzles on northern airports, that I expected Stockholm to be warm and sunny in June. After all, you never hear anybody complaining about the Swedish weather, do you?
Stockholm is a calm, beautiful, unique city. Definitely worth visiting for a weekend but beware of the extreme prices: £7 for less than a pint of beer. However, everything appears so smooth and civilised that you might be left wondering where the spirit of this capital actually is.