We are in Stockholm for three nights.
There is spring sunshine and a snowstorm…and there is the old, the grand, the brand new, and plenty of food.
Our base for the stay is the comfortable, youth hostel ship – the three-masted af Chapman.
We tuck up warm in the captain’s cabin, all wood and polish, and only a gangplank away from the shore-based part of the hostel.
The weather treats us to crisp, clear sunshine for the first part of our stay. The warmth, like a magnet, draws the locals out from their homes and sticks them to the walls of their houses, where they stand, faces to the sky, sun drenched and at peace.
We meanwhile, eager tourists, rush past to explore the medieval shadows of Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan.
Our visit to this painted corner of Stockholm ends with a tour of the Nobel Museum, before we head back to the covered market, Östermalms Saluhall, and the city’s cafes and shops.
The food is irresistible. We enjoy freshly cooked meals and glasses of beer beside market stalls, and we visit cafes for coffee and cake…the perfect recipes for idle wandering.
The high pinnacle of our visit – the treat – is a trip to the Grand, reputedly Scandinavia’s finest hotel, with bedrooms fit for laureates and presidents. Our visit is to its Veranda Restaurant to reward ourselves with smörgåsbord – hard-earned after city miles that have walked us down to the bones of our shoes.
The day we choose is dressed in shimmering blue, and the waterfront bounces with jewel drops of light. The hotel entrance, pillared and spacious, welcomes us in, and round to the restaurant with its views across the water. Boxes of daffodils, heads tickled by a harbour breeze we can’t feel, line the outside of the wide, room-length window.
Beyond the glass there is the to and fro of Stockholm life – inside there is a delicious space, lined with thick white tablecloths, and garnished with delicate asparagus soup, servings of venison, feathers of fish, and tiny chocolate delights…and all well marinaded with schnapps.
We sink in, and feast happily through the afternoon, dosed by warmth and fine food.
The night that follows is a little different. It is our last on the ship, and flourishes a storm that rolls in without mercy, flattening temperatures and creaking the timbers. In the dark it brings the snow, and its muffled thumps wake us as the wind rattles it loose from the rigging to land in slices on the deck.
By the time we leave in the morning the gangplank is iced cold, and so too is the stone bridge – it’s hard to believe that only the day before it had lounged in full sun across to the city. We struggle over it, heads down into the horizontal snow, a foot-soaked duo in search of a taxi, and drippingly aware that it is only us, and the daffodils, who have been fooled by the weather.
It is a cold and memorable end to an excellent weekend.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2019