Not Quite Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm is nice. So, we're staying in SoFo (which is kinda like New York's Soho) also know as Södermalm. This happens to be the place where the Millennium Trilogy was set. It's nice, it's walkable, and it isn't ridiculously expensive (but I will say that with six people, everything seems a bit pricey). However, I have a feeling that there's something wrong, but I can't quite place it. Maybe wrong is an overstatement, but something doesn't seem quite right.

Panorama from Söldermalm

Some observations...

People think I'm Swedish more often than not.

They begin conversations in Swedish and then I say "English please" and they seamlessly convert into damn-near-perfect English with little accent. Kind of eerie actually.

Microbrews rock here.

The microbrew scene here is closest to the American scene as I've seen an any country. The selection, quality, and diversity of beers is quite enjoyable.

People here really aren't religious.

And... you don't notice, because why would you. It's just the tiny things that no one brings up. As that is, people here seem really tolerant of each other's idiosyncrasies in a way that doesn't quite remind me of home. I even find myself being unbothered. I think the constant thought that someone's whack ideology is going to make it into policy back home really weighs on me and it seems somewhat unsettling to not have that weight here. Granted, I also don't have that weight here because we're leaving Sweden in about 10 days. I feel like I'm traveling in the states without all the God stuff.

Gamla Stan

The apartment here isn't an apartment

It is a private hostel in a converted lawyers office. I'm pretty sure it isn't zoned for residential occupancy and, while bright and clean, it is not very relaxing. My inability to really relax at night has worn me thin over the last six days.

The night life here is pretty amazing from afar.

I have to admit that I'm old. I'm older when my kids are around. After spending a day with them, I rather enjoy a bedtime resembling theirs. Our place is right next door to a fantastic little local night life spot called Baras Backe with good food, good people, great beers, loud music and late hours. Every night this week I've been serenaded to sleep by a playlist mixing 90s pop, electronica and current pop music; surreal and oddly tasteful. I haven't been about to enjoy the night life first hand because I'm simply not up to the task and, somewhat amusingly, I'm okay with that.

It's oddly American here.

Retail business establishment selection and layout within the city is oddly American. I'm on a corner with five coffee shops: Tully's, Wayne's, Starbucks and two local espresso bars. It just feels like an older, hipster Brooklyn with a lot of thru business traffic (we're right between two subway stops) but without the hipster aire. Nice.

It's not hot, but it feels unbearably hot.

Nights are cool and things are wonderful in the shade. The days run from about 15C to 25C (60F to 77F); super-comfortable, right? The sun is like a death ray. It bakes immediately and (for me) induces some pretty bad headaches. I am really struggling with the environmental differences simply between shade and direct sunlight; I sound lame.

I feel isolated.

When I'm in a more rural place and have no one to talk to, it feels natural and comfortable. Here in a relatively busy and dense city, I'm surrounded by people and yet know no one. We're not here long enough to really meet people and it feels oddly isolating. I enjoy the company of my family, but it's quite fascinating that the feeling of isolation increases when surrounded by more people.

The food here is great.

No, I'm not talking about the Swedish specialties. I've come to grips long ago that Swedish food isn't really my thing. Stockholm is a very international city with lots of immigrants, lots of foods, lots of yum! I've had simply fantastic: Thai food at Ma-Now, American burgers at Prime Burger Söder, eclectic American food at Garlic & Shots, and pastries and desserts at pretty much every coffee shop we've been to. Of particular note are the fudge/mint cookies ate Tully's here. They are like slighly larger Berger cookies from home with something like a peppermint patty smashed in between the substandard cookie and epically delicious fudge. (Honest Berger cookie fans will know exactly what I mean by substandard cookie).

While the experience here is quite positive, something is a tad off and I don't quite identify with this place. Lisa wants to come back at some point and I'm sure I'll come with her and give it another go. Changes I'll make on the next trip? It won't be in August (maybe July or September) and I will be sure we stay in a bonafide living space that allows for downtime.

Theo at Vasa Museum

General Information

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