With working from home and travel restrictions firmly in place, the highlight of my day is the stroll through Stockholm. One of the benefits of moving to a new city is that you get to have that “long weekend city trip” feeling for a while. So, while walking the streets of Stockholm I try to savour the newness of it by observing it as a first-time visitor.
Everyone will notice how pretty the city is. This mix between Amsterdam and Vienna while being surrounded by large bodies of water is incredibly appealing. What adds to its charm is the fact that different parts of the city all have a slightly different feel. This is nice especially when your radius is limited to where you can go by foot. Feel like hipster fika? Bröd & Salt in Söder! Feel like fancy fika? Bröd & Salt in Östermalm! The options are endless.
And then of course there are the people of Stockholm. No better way to get an idea of the city than by observing its inhabitants as they roam their natural habitat. A few things stand out.
In other cities I’ve lived in, you would find the occasional, slightly out-of-place looking father behind a stroller with a confused looking baby in it (on a Sunday, when there is no football on, during the summer holiday.) Not here: any day of the week, rain or shine, the streets are filled with men pushing black Bugaboos with abandon. Ok, they are also all on their phones, probably looking at football, but still, their babies get to see their father’s faces more than most.
Speaking of faces: with the black parkas and the woollen hats coming off, the summer allowed me a first glance at what the people of Stockholm actually look like. In this regard, too, the city does not disappoint. Wherever you go, its broad pavements and parks are typically filled with well-dressed men and women in expensive sunglasses.
The women are always elegant, often with longer flowing blond hair and a little dog. A look I’ve come to think of as “affluent Abba”: what the women of Abba would look like, had they dressed in accordance with their wealth today.
If women are known to dress up when going out in other places, the men in Stockholm stand out in that regard. You typically find them in tasteful business attire for any occasion, shiny Swiss watches on display, or with a look that suggests they are just about to board a wooden boat for a few days sailing around the archipelago. This is enhanced by the slightly hard-edged handsomeness mainly the young men display (think how Alexander Skarsgård gets cast and you get the idea).
Apart from the beauty of the city and its people, what makes walking around Stockholm such a pleasure, is that Stockholmers go out not just to go somewhere but often just for the sake of it. To enjoy the city they live in, just like a first-time visitor.
Alexander de Nerée moved to Stockholm with his husband in October 2020. He is Dutch, but moved from Zürich, Switzerland, after having lived in Hong Kong for 10 years. Signing up to move to a country they had never been to, in the middle of a global pandemic, was definitely a first for the couple. One of many more to come. Alexander writes for The Local about his “firsts” in Sweden.