Stockholm, You’re More than Just a Pretty Face

Stockholm at night

I’m going to go ahead and blurt it out, I fancied you from the moment I saw your photograph. So can you imagine my surprise after I discovered your personality not only matched your looks, but surpassed them? It didn’t take long for me to realise you are so much more than just a pretty face, or do you prefer to be called handsome?

The more I saw of you, the list of why I liked you grew and grew, even after I returned home I found more reasons to appreciate you. Maybe it was something I heard, or just something I read that I had missed the first time. It didn’t take me long to see you again, although at the back of my mind I worried whether we’d still have a spark, would I like you as much as the first time? Should I risk ruining my warm memories of you with another visit?

Stockholm, Gamla Stan

In the end I decided if we couldn’t get along, then maybe you were never really what I thought you were in the first place. But I needn´t have worried, you were just like how I remembered. Only this time you were shedding some layers and turning a beautiful shade of red, orange and brown: autumn had just begun. I bought my friend Clara along to see you, and she too revelled in your understated demeanour.

Stockholm archipelago

It wasn’t until we visited you in Södermalm that we noticed you were looking more hip than usual, the beard suited you and so did a few extra tattoos.

You, Stockholm, have so many qualities I admire. You’ve got character and substance, you’re cool and open-minded, you’re romantic and creative, and most importantly, you want to help people and the planet. That’s a massive turn-on.

You take care of so many people fleeing countries of war, and I’ve seen the monuments you’ve erected which symbolise a zero tolerance on violence. You lead by example. Although I understand in recent months you’ve developed a blemish aka a new government, hopefully this won’t change you a lot, and you’ll keep what the whole world respects you for: your acceptance towards others.

The knotted gun named Non-Voilence sculpture by artist, Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd
The knotted gun named Non-Violence sculpture by artist, Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd.

Non-Violence Project
Restaurants also belong to the Non-Violence Project.

I’ve tasted your food, so scrumptious and fresh – did I hear you say Fika? You take pride in what’s local, sustainable and organically grown, you like doing things the right way, and if that means taking longer and costing more money, then so be it.

Hotorgshallen food market, Stockholm
Hotorgshallen food market

Hermans Vegetariska Restaurang, Stockholm
Get fantastic vegetarian food at Hermans Vegetariska Restaurang.

Blå Porten Restaurant, Stockholm Yummy deserts at Blå Porten

You are intelligent and you admire the quality in others, when every year you hold the Noble prize ceremony and give recognition to those pushing the boundaries of modern thinking. You are a longtime supporter of equal rights, one of the first to introduce same-sex marriages and woman’s suffrage. You are a free-thinker!

I love you during spring as you emerge from hibernation, but summer is when you truly shine and everyone is out to enjoy you. And why wouldn’t they? Each day stretches into the next without a true sense of darkness taking hold, the sunlight never wanting to leave the night sky. Exploration of your many islands and skerries occupies visitors and locals alike, they hop on and off boats, some go swimming whilst others just dip their toes in to relish the coolness of your waters.

There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to explore you, any direction is the right direction. However, there is a particular view I like to see you from and that’s from above. When I climbed up the spiral staircase of the bell tower and saw you in much of your entirety, I couldn’t quite believe how spectacular you looked. Brimming with bridges, water and Baltic architecture. Although, I need to tell you to get rid of that mesh guard, I know it’s to protect people from falling down to a grizzly death but it spoils the view. I did manage to pretend it wasn’t there by peeping through the holes… but still…it’s ugly… get it removed.

Beautiful Stockholm

But as I have previously written, for everything you are on the surface, you are infinitely more intriguing below. I mean this literally as well, just take a look at your underground. There’s a whole neighbourhood to explore down there. You’ve claimed the title of the world’s longest exhibition, spanning over 90 stations. Once I discovered this quirky side to you I spent hours and hours train hopping, crossing barriers and borders and taking photos to show people back home. What I really should do is ask the London Transport Board what the hell they are playing at! LET’S BE LIKE STOCKHOLM! If they did up the ante, I think it would save tens of thousands of Londoners from depression. I’m not kidding.

Stockholm Underground, Stadion Station
The Rainbow inspired Stadion Station

I thought you looked the best at Solna and Stadion station, but I loved the messages and drawings you left for me to read at Östermalmstorg. And about those messages – my dad said he remembered reading them in the 70s, all those years ago. A quick visit to see you ended up lasting two years. You made him happy, it was the era of all that love, and although he finally left and rooted his life in England, he didn’t forget you. So like father, like daughter, it was always going to be in my blood that I would like you Stockholm, because you’re more than just a pretty face.

Östermalmstorg station. Stockholm
The inspirational drawings and people at Östermalmstorg station

Do you share my love for this northerly city?

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'Stockholm, You’re More than Just a Pretty Face' have 21 comments

  1. February 12, 2015 @ 10:20 am Pam

    Hey, I’m jealous, the lady’s mine, hands off!! 😛
    Yes, we do share the love for this fantastic city, but you already knew that! 🙂
    Great pics and love letter 🙂


    • February 14, 2015 @ 12:18 pm admin

      Haha Stockholm is all mine Pam! Fight you for him! (Or should that be her?!)


  2. February 13, 2015 @ 5:49 am Mike

    The evolution of your creative writing continues to mesmerize me like a perfect sunset, Shing. I was totally captivated by the story and completely unaware of my surroundings. That is a good thing for a writer (you)! I hope all is well and I sure have missed my blogger friend! Be well and safe always 🙂


    • February 17, 2015 @ 11:53 am admin

      Mike thanks so much for complimenting my writing. The main reason I’ve got this blog is to improve my writing so I’m really happy that as a reader you’ve noticed a difference. Knowing this makes me happy!


  3. February 13, 2015 @ 2:02 pm Heather

    These love letters are always so fun! 🙂

    I have not yet been to Stockholm but hope to rectify that this spring or summer. It looks like a charming place!


    • February 17, 2015 @ 11:54 am admin

      It’s very charming Heather, I’m sure you’ll love it, there’s a lot to discover!


  4. February 17, 2015 @ 8:26 am Megan

    stockholm and i have a weird relationship. i feel if i went to stockholm first, i would have fallen in love more. but i think because copenhagen is so fantastic, i prefer it. and oslo is different than all, but i have a love for oslo because i lived there for so long lol. stockholm is undeniably beautiful though!


    • February 27, 2015 @ 10:21 am admin

      Like you I love Copenhagen too, but I can’t choose between them. When I arrived in Stockholm I thought the same thing: although beautiful there is something I like about Copenhagen that Stockholm doesn’t have, it’s a vibe more than anything else. Copenhagen is cooler (there I’ve said it).

      However, those were my inital thoughts for the first three days, after I saw more on the fourth and ffith (plus Mr Sunshine made an appearance), and after my 2nd visit, I fell in love. I think you should pay him another visit 🙂

      I really need to visit Oslo again, so much has changed there recently!


  5. February 19, 2015 @ 11:34 am Anca

    I think you could make anyone fall in love with Stockholm (or any city to be honest) by expressing in such a manner. Hands down, this is another marvelous piece of writing! Not to mention that every city on Earth is now jealous on Stockholm. 😀


    • March 6, 2015 @ 5:46 am admin

      Thank you for your kind words Anca! Haha, well…. Stockholm still has a lot of competition, there’s a guy called Madrid which I really, really like too 😉


  6. February 23, 2015 @ 10:04 pm Dean Fraser-Phillips

    Anytime you are here let me know! Would be happy to show you some hidden places that do not exist on the map 🙂 I live in Karlaplan and aslo Skanstull


  7. February 24, 2015 @ 3:14 pm kami

    ok, I must admit I’m not a big fan of Stockholm but I blame it on the bad timing, both times I visited it was in winter/early spring time and it was grey and gloomy. Maybe I should give it another chance, at the better time of the year? As what I see and read here sounds like a place I’d enjoy 🙂


    • March 6, 2015 @ 5:55 am admin

      Ok, I haven’t been to stockholm in the winter, perhaps if I had then maybe I would never have written this post at all!! I’ve even heard Stockholmers say they hate the place in winter but in the summer it’s the best place on earth!

      So please don’t write Stockholm off, just make sure you go around summer time, I think you’d love it Kami!

      And I’m a believer of 3rd time lucky haha.


  8. March 2, 2015 @ 9:46 am Victoria@ The British Berliner

    I love the way that you’ve described Stockholm. I haven’t been to Sweden yet but jusging by your post, I sure need to! I have been to Copenhagen and various other parts of Denmark and they’re all so great. I’ll also be going to Finland in a month so that will be fun!
    A lovely post and fantastic colours. ‘Love it!


    • March 6, 2015 @ 5:59 am admin

      Victoria the food in Finland is to DIE for! If heaven could be packaged into a taste it would be called Finland fo’sho’. Yeh, head to Stockholm you’ll love it! 😀


  9. March 3, 2015 @ 3:04 pm Franca

    Simply beautiful! Stockholm is on my list for sure, love the Stadion Station, very creative!


    • March 6, 2015 @ 6:00 am admin

      You guys will love exploring the undergrounds of Stockholm and when you do I can’t wait to read about it!


  10. March 9, 2015 @ 12:14 pm Monika

    If I had only read your post before my visit! I´m sorry I missed the underground part. Anyway, Stockholm is indeed beautiful – it´s a pity I did not have much time to explore it. I would happily risk another visit, not sure though if in the near future.


    • November 11, 2015 @ 11:29 pm Shing Yoong

      Sorry, I must have missed this comment Monika! Haha, it’s soooo annoying when you come back from somewhere only to discover you missed off something really cool. But on the plus side, you have another reason to return!!


  11. September 21, 2017 @ 11:59 am Emma

    I love your photos!! I wish I saw that rainbow subway station when I was there. I actually just made a post about Stockholm and I really admire your way of talking about the city! I wish I could blog like that 🙂


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