Lagom is a Swedish word that means enough or just right. There was a beautiful phrase in the wikipedia definition; “It’s the idea that for everything there is the perfect amount: The perfect, and best, amount of food, space, laughter and sadness.” Lagom was explained to me as a positive thing – suggesting balance and contentment in a way that words like average, appropriate or modest don’t really. Lagom was described to me as a state to aspire to in Sweden, rather than striving to be highly individualistic, everyone wants to be just right. Obviously this can be quite conformist at times but a really interesting concept and a perfect way to describe my lovely long weekend in Stockholm.
Blue blue skies, wandering round beautiful streets, making the most of the last few days of summer. Stockholm is a third water, third forest and third city so it felt really spacious and green. Wandering round spotting red squirrels and hares in the middle of the city felt very special and also gave the whole place a really relaxed laidback feel. Everyone in shops seemed very friendly and helpful and patient with our very novice Swedish which consisted mainly of Hej (Hey!) and tack (thanks!).
We went to the new Fotografiska which was a great gallery, in an old industrial Art Nouveau building. It was a stunning gallery space and I’d really recommend popping by. The ambition of the gallery is to exhibit photographers who have never shown in Sweden, we saw a Robert Mapplethorne exhibition which was fantastic and included some of his beautiful portraits of Patti Smith.
I love walking around somewhere were everything seems so different and each district of Stockholm had unique feel from Södermalm hanging out with hipsters, or wandering round Gamla Stan, the old town, admiring the pastel buildings where every alley way seemed to have a beautiful flowers, views or interesting shop windows. We were particularly taken with the old car we discovered in tiny art shop.
I spied some souvenir “Swedish knitwear” which have reindeer/elks all over them. The colourwork did make my heart beat a bit faster and I secretly dreamt of some amazing snowflakey/reindeer sweater of dreams a la Mark Darcy. I suspect these are in the Estonian wool or Scottish Cashmere vein for tourists and not actually knit in Sweden at all. I did stumble across a lovely wool shop in the old town and purchased some beautiful yarn and swedish colourwork knitting pattern. We also found some needles and instructions into how to do viking knitting with a single hook. (It was a cross between crochet and finger knitting!)
Cafe culture is BIG in Sweden. Coffee breaks or Fika are important part of the Swedish day. I was surprised to learn that in Sweden more coffee is drunk per capita than anywhere else (although Norway and Finland are tough competitors).
It is customary to have a cinnamon bun with your coffee and I feel that I have become something of a connoisseur. I had never been that bothered by them in the past but Swedish cinnamon buns were delicious. Often laced with cardamon, I also had one which had black pepper in it as well. I’m quite keen to have a go at making them now I’m back home. The coffee was very strong and the tea very very weak. You often got to make your own teabags up though which was fun. What was really great is that there are lots of independent coffee shops still with no Starbucks or Costas to be seen.
I particularly loved this cafe, Flickorna Helin Voltaire, which was a lovely fairytale of a place. It is in the woods in an old mine which was erected for the Stockholm exhibition in 1897. It as such a cosy cafe with twinkly lights over the ceiling and lovely sunny terrace. The soup was also amazing, tomato and mozzarella with lovely chunks of cheese in it.
We were staying with friends so had the treat of going to a foreign supermarket which I love. It is one of my favourite things abroad – the packaging is just so exciting. I particularly liked the pickled turnips and was delighted to see that filmjolk which I remember from family trips to Sweden was still sold.
While I passed on the ABBA walking tour, no Swedish trip would be complete without drinking a shot of aquavit or eating some herring. I loved that in Swedish there are two words for herring, Sill or Stromming depending on whether it from the West or East side of the country. This is stroming and bought from a street stall outside the T-bahn (tube) station…
I was also quite amused to spy a man rollerskating/skiing down the street…
and enjoyed this advert for the Bjorn Borg men’s underwear:
Beautiful Sweden, I’m sure I’ll be back before long. I fancy a trip to the wilderness of spot of wild camping but for now I’m back home ready to hunker down for the autumn.