I was sitting on the waterfront of Strandvägen and couldn’t believe that it was 20°C and that it was in Stockholm and that spring has finally (finally!) arrived. I had a book with me but I couldn’t concentrate on it and was just discreetly observing people walking in the streets, sitting near the water, laughing, talking, eating sandwiches.
On the other side of the water was the Radisson and further on the left Djurgården and you could see the beautiful building of Nordiska museum. So I was sitting there and when I was closing my eyes all I could see was the red color of my eyelids. And all I could think of was: “I love Stockholm, I don’t want to leave!”. It’s almost the end of my Erasmus year and all my international friends are leaving in a couple of weeks.
A woman was standing on my right side, several meters away from me and was looking at the water. Suddenly a little boat arrived navigated by a smiling man with a big brown dog on the bow of it barking. The boat moored in front of the woman, she jumped on it and they went away.
People on the waterfront didn’t even glance at them and I thought that I have had never seen anything so special turned to be such a casual thing and that Stockholm is special because of these small things. So here what I’m going to miss about you, Stockholm.
Water, water everywhere, water surrounding the islands of the city, deep blue in the sun, dark in the autumn, white and covered by snow in winter.
… and all the delicious cakes.
I have the feeling I wrote about fika more than about anything else, but I will really miss the cozy swedish cafés in winter.
To be fair I’m not a big fan of cinnamon but what I do genuinely like is the smell of the cinnamon buns, kanelbullar, in the metro which reminds me of my childhood, of a the warm house and Christmas.
What amazes me in Sweden is the relations based on confidence that you find everywhere. Like in the cute bakery that I discovered which had has a self-service with a price-list and just a jar. So you take the bread that you want and put the money in the jar and no one keeps an eye on you. This would never work in France, and certainly not in Russia. And this type of reliance is just a way of life and it’s great to feel that people trust you.
* Endless sun
It’s crazy how during the spring and summer the sun literally goes down at half ten and rises just after 3 a.m. Nowadays the sky is never completely black but gets dark blue during the short night and the birds are singing all the time which can be kind of confusing. Sweden drives me crazy. In a good way.
For me as a girl, this point is pretty important. Going back home after a night club wearing a short dress and feeling in security is priceless.
I got absolutely addicted to the sauna/jumping-into-a-frozen-lake combination which makes you relive and is the best way to fight the winter sleepiness.
* Lilacs in spring
Purple, lilac, white. I simply love these flowers and I have never seen so many of them in a city.
OK, a lot of people think it’s weird, but seagull is one of my favorite animals/birds. For me who spent childhood in Russia, white seagull represented the infinite sea, travel, freedom.. it had something tragic and fateful (Chekhov had something to do with it for sure). That was before coming to Stockholm. Here I realized that these birds were quite aggressive and cocky but, you know, whatever, I want to keep my idealistic picture of it anyway.
Sorry, Stockholm, but here is what I will not miss when I’m back to France:
Kind of a cliché but I will definitely not miss the darkness of the winter. Even more than the cold, the never-ending nighttime from November to Mars was one of the biggest surviving challenges for me.
Sorry to say that, but even if Swedes drink a lot of coffee the “bryggkaffe” (filter coffee) which is the most common type is usually pretty bad (I got the habit to drink the home-made cappuccino that my friend from Florence does.. Sweden, you can’t compete with Italy on that matter).
* Extreme orderliness
I know this point might seem strange but for my chaotic Russian soul in Sweden everything is too well-organized in Sweden , too well-regulated, too well-established. For me when you take the metro at off-peak hours or go to a supermarket on a Friday evening and it’s full of people but almost quiet at the same time, something must be wrong.
It’s not that I’m against politeness, it’s just that in Sweden it’s not a rule to say: “No, you’re wrong”. Even in class where the professor is supposed to tell you if you’re saying something that is not true right or not exact or if you’re simply saying something completely false, he/she will never do that. Instead, you will hear: “Hm… yes, you could say that.. (pause) Hm… but also…. (then follows the right answer)”. Well, I want to be criticized, I want to hear that I’m wrong if I actually am, I want to know that what I’m saying is complete nonsense because it’s the only way to learn.