Stockholm, Sweden was another place on my bucket list that I knew virtually nothing about but found myself on an airplane heading towards it.

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a big fan of walking. It turned out that Stockholm was built for walkers and I quickly learned to take advantage of the many pedestrian lanes. Walking is great because it clears my mind and reduces me to a pace that allows me to take much more in of the scenery around me.

While being an inefficient means of travel, walking is an incredibly efficient means of living. This makes it a great way to meet a new city.

When I get to a new city, the first thing I do is check into my hotel/hostel/rental, write down the address and randomly pick a direction to walk. For this first venture out, I don’t do any research. Generally I just have the goal of finding something new to eat.

It was snowing outside but it wasn’t the cold that distracted me, instead it was the architecture. Stockholm is beautiful! It is a mixture of old Scandinavian castles with modern texture diverse buildings.

Stockholm Modern Design

I enjoyed the relationship between the new and the old

stockholm architecture

Great example of old stockholm architecture

In hindsight, it was exactly what I was hoping Sweden (home of Ikea) would look like. I just didn’t know I wanted that until I got there. I spent a while generally getting lost and wondering around looking at interesting things.

Design in Stockholm

Stockholm Tracking Lighting

Notice that the street lamps are set up like track lighting, thus avoiding the need for a lamp poll.

Street design

Notice that the pedestrian and bike lanes are protected from the road by parking spots.

Stockholm Doors

Instead of having swinging doors in this restaurant, they used sliding doors that opened with the waiter tapped the door with his or her foot.

Stockholm has square trees

Even the trees in Stockholm have been designed ;-p

Stockholm Bunnies

Stockholm bunnies

Beautiful parks

Beautiful parks

Stockholm Airport

Notice how nice and fancy the airport was in Sweden

Stockholm train

Lastly, notice how clean and well designed the train into town was.

The first walk in a new city is the least intimate. It is entirely superficial but also the most exciting.

After walking around for a while, it was time to make my first move. The previous week I had been in Spain so I was crazing something that wasn’t tapas or pastries. In Stockholm this led me to a local brewery that specialized in beer, steaks and seafood. Ever since I did my 30 day Vegan diet, I have completely lost my appetite for steak (and oddly chocolate as well). I grew up hating fish but now find myself eating it regularly. I suppose this lifestyle is healthier than my old eating habits but my real reason for doing it is because my stomach is demanding it. In arguments, my stomach always wins. No exceptions.

The menu was heavy on meat (a trend I noticed at all of the restaurants I went to in Stockholm) and had a dessert menu that took up two entire pages.

I ordered the Swedish salmon, flirted with the really cute Swedish waitress and got talked into buying the local beer. Not the worst experience I have ever had :-)

Real Swedish Fish

Real Swedish Fish

The food was very good and the beer ended up being exactly what I needed. If I have learned anything on this leg of my adventure, it is that Europeans know how to brew beer. I am yet to try a new European beer that I have not liked.

It was late when I got back so I finished up a few business meetings (being based in Seattle but working from Europe is awesome from a timezone perspective) and went to bed around 1:00 AM local time.

I woke up the next morning, enjoyed a breakfast of various sliced meats, swedish meatballs, various cheeses and a variety of fruit. (Yum!) I went back to my hotel room, looked up the best things things to do on Lonely Planet, skimmed the wikipedia articles on Stockholm and Sweden and viewed a map. After that I was on my way.

Stockholm is a modern city built on a series of interconnected islands. It is by far the most walker and bike friendly city I have ever been to (woot!) and as such I felt at home. Today’s plan was to explore more streets, eat more food and meet more people.

I am not sure if I look Swedish but I had a lot of people come up to me and in the local language ask me for directions. Usually, I would laugh and reply to them in English (my favorite language as it is the only one I speak) that I was just visiting. They would laugh and I would ask what their favorite things in the city were. This was both a great way to get to know the city and to get to know the people a little better.

The people were generally attractive (blond hair, blue eyed), spoke with a seducing accent and were quite willing to help. If you are a female Swedish reader of my blog, don’t worry, I will be back!

This trip was a great reminder of how long it takes to really get to know a city. I hit all of the major attractions, walked all of the major streets but still felt that I was only sampling the city. Just like a normal relationship, building a relationship with a city takes a lot of time.