Stockholm, SE – Part 2

Stockholm, SE – Part 2

Welcome back to the second article about Stockholm. Didn’t really plan to write a 2-part piece on this, but when I started writing, I just realized that there are too many things to include, hence the decision not to cram them all in a long text. Today we’re talking about places to visit here, using the word in its very broad definition.

List #2: places

This was a tourist trip, so let’s get as touristy as possible.

Vasa Museet. The museum is built (literally) around Vasa, the great ship that sank after only 1.5 km at sea and was retrieved after 300 years of being under water. At first sight, when you enter, the museum is a bit underwhelming. I mean, yes, there is the ship there, in the middle, but you circle it two times and that’s that, right? Well, not quite. You get to know how the ship was built, then how it sank and was rescued, all that in a very captivating way of displaying the events. Just as an example, on the second level of the building, there is a real size replica of a cabin, giving you a sense of how it felt to be on the ship.

There are also a lot of objects rescued from Vasa and, most captivating – albeit in a slightly creepy way – the skeletons of some of the people who drown with it and the very realistic reconstructions of their faces based on the bone structure. These were creepier than the skeletons, to be honest, but amazingly well done.

Skansen. This was not part of this trip, but I went there last winter, during a work trip, and loved it entirely. It’s basically a village museum, showing you how people lived throughout Swedish history. My favorite was a house dating somewhere around 1950s, where you could see the household prepared for Christmas, as all of them were in fact, given the time of the year. I would say this is a place to put on your list of places to visit in any season, but if you happen to be there around Christmas, make sure not to miss it. It is indeed delightful.

One particular thing that I liked is the similarity of some of the motives in the tapestries and other objects to such Romanian motives. Haven’t researched this at all yet, there must be some anthropological influences happening at that time, but surely it was a nice thing to notice.

Nordiska Museet. This was the biggest surprise of them all. Because I was expecting lots of history, and Vikings and such, which would not have been a problem at all – I’m sure I would have loved it. Except that what I got was so much better – an exhibition on Swedish customs and civilization. Super realistic or creative reenactments of Midsummer, Christmas, Easter celebrations and such, what you would find on the table at, let’s say, a birthday celebration, how a wedding would look like… I know I used this word before, but it was all utterly delightful. And the level of detail with which food was reproduced is fantastic; you knew very well that what you saw was not real food, but you couldn’t help yourself craving it. I, for one, couldn’t.

Fotografiska. I knew I would love this, just didn’t know I would love it that much. In my book, Nordics are best when it comes to design and visuals, so I expected this museum to be great. But in all honesty, although I do enjoy seeing museum when abroad, there’s a degree of boredom attached to this. Don’t know if you can relate, but yours truly got tired and a bit bored of the Louvre at some point. Well, guess we’re just not perfect 😊 Anyway, I didn’t get bored here. Main ingredient for this is, I think, that the size of the exhibition was just enough to let you enjoy it. And that it was current, with contemporary artists whom I just loved to discover. Chen Man was my favourite, a Chinese fashion photographer with stunning visuals, but also loved Nick Veasley’s use of X-Ray to create super captivating photography.

Also, this museum ranks a solid ten on the comfort scale, if this is even a thing. You have everything you need to make your visit enjoyable, including cloth towels at the bathrooms. Hey, it’s a small thing, but such a nice touch, pun intended.

Espresso House. Any of them, as there are so many. This might be the Swedish equivalent of Starbucks (with better coffee, though) and it’s quite mainstream. I usually like smaller, specialty coffee places, but in Stockholm this is the place I loved the most. Probably because it’s cosy, welcoming, always a good choice for a fika (which is the best excuse for us who don’t have such a concept for indulging in sweets, pastry and coffee). And because it’s such a good sensation to get out of the cold and spend some time here. You actually get to kind of love the cold a bit, if that makes any sense.

Aaaand….I’m gonna stop here, because otherwise I might decide for a 3rd part of the article and who knows when I’m going to stop? But, mind you, the list of words, or places, or wonderful things about Stockholm isn’t by any means complete. Of course, I’m biased and, of course, there are aspects that you’ll probably not like there, but no doubt it’s worth visiting this city.

Hope you’ll enjoy it, with its windy and cold wonderfulness! 

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Stockholm, SE – Part 1

Stockholm, SE – Part 1

Having worked for a Swedish company, I have traveled to Stockholm on quite a few occasions, but never had the time to see the city as you do it when you are a tourist. I mean in that relaxed, “don’t care what time it is and have no schedule” way. Of course, I took advantage of each travel to walk around a bit, see some places, fall in love with the city at the end of office hours, but it was about time for a full-blown romance.

Stockholm waterfront

Enter Winter of 2018! Just a 3 days trip, but more than enough to confirm that despite its cold weather and (moderate) darkness, this is a feel good and comforting city that, maybe unexpectedly, gives you a sunnier outlook on things.

And because I have a thing for lists (guess my colleagues know that😊), I have not one, but two for you and I hope that they will come in handy when planning your trip to Stockholm. To keep the article to a decent size, will cover the first list in this one and come back with a second part.

Enjoying a walk in Stockholm
One of the many boats in Stockholm

List #1: words that describe the city

Cosy. And terribly so. I’m not kidding. Yes, this is a place where you do need to wear something under your jeans (hello, trusty leggings!), layer up heavily and expect low temperatures and early evenings in the cold season. But it is also the place that will give a lesson on good living at literally every corner.

Since I’ve mentioned the weather, let’s spend a few words on that. Yes, it is cold. But I would say that winter is actually the only time when your expectations will be met. It wasn’t colder than at home, it was just windier, which might feel colder. So no fuss about this, you’re already prepared to freeze a bit. Not the same in other seasons… May – my first time in Sweden, I was totally frozen and drenched. September – never mind that it was practically still summer at home, here it was a total different story. My point is, in winter you get winter. Period.

Closing this bracket, Swedes master the art of counteracting the cold climate with warm interiors. Swedish design, as I see it, is all about enjoying the indoors. You get warm textures, good lightning, simple and comfortable furniture, yummy smells (imagine the smell of crusty bread. And coffee. OMG). And there is an easiness and non-fuss to everything that you actually realize that you don’t need much to be comfortable. Well, the famous lagom.  You’ll feel it, no doubt.

Sorry for the long ode to cosiness, but this is my main word for Stockholm and I just had to grant it some space. But, of course, some examples are in order. Where will you feel it? Well, everywhere.

Starting, for instance, with the airport train to the city, Arlanda Express. Clean, fast, comfortable and with a great design. At your hotel, certainly. Even if it is a small one, you’ll probably get a nice lobby/bar and an even nicer breakfast room. With crusty bread, included, of course. Then, in the coffee shops, no doubt. And also in shops, and in the museums. And the list could go on and on.

Gamla Stan
Another street in Gamla Stan

Stylish. With a sworn love for COS and Nordic furniture, I’m totally biased here. But really now, what’s not to love about understated and comfortable glam? You know, that kind of everyday luxury. I’m definitely sold for life, but if you need further preaching, just go to Stockholm and look at the people in the streets. They are so well dressed! And, very important, they feel at ease and comfortable in their clothes. No heels that are too high, so they hurt when walking, no clothes too tight, no colours too bright. Everything is just about right.

Stockholm city center
Beautiful building in Stockholm
Stockholm architecture
Walking Stockholm

Optimistic. Days might be short (especially the shortest day in the year, in December, when the sun sets around 14:30 or something), the cold might “bite” a bit, but the city itself oozes well being and optimism. And when it’s sunny, it’s sunny. Just imagine the sun glazing over the vast array of water in the centre of the city. And the short days in the winter are counterbalanced by the long ones in the summer. By the way, do you know about Midsummer? I do suggest to Google it, otherwise this text will never get to an end😊

Stockholm architecture #2

Beautiful. Streets, buildings, views, people. They are beautiful. Yes, I must admit publicly that I would simply stare at people. I mean, they kind of won the genetics lottery, haven’t they? Tall, fit, blonde, healthy looking. Yeap, they’re straight up beautiful.

The city itself is scenic. Wherever you look, there’s a great view. While meeting a friend that recently moved there, he said that – unlike other cities where you would take a picture, apply some filters, post it and get a lot of likes from friends – in Stockholm you can turn around anywhere in the city centre, take a picture, post at it is and the people will be wowed. That was quite funny, because the first picture I posted from the trip was a #nofilter one and it was great.

Cruise boat docking in Stockholm

The list of words can go much longer, but, let’s leave it to this for the moment. Otherwise, really, this text will never ever end.

As promised, List #2 will come soon, in the second part of the article about Stockholm, stay tuned for that.

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Weekend lunch combo: Energiea and Origo

Weekend lunch combo: Energiea and Origo

Actually, this is valid for every day, but if we’re going for full disclosure, this is where my weekend lunches are most likely to happen: super good food at Energiea, topped by super tasty coffee at Origo.

And if this means that I’m super extra boring, well …I admit and proudly so😊

First thing first: both places are located in Bucharest, one next to the other. So, one trip, double gain. If you live here, you probably already know them; if not, and you’re planning a visit, make sure to put them on the list.

Second first thing, if you’ll allow me this wacky figure of speech: your taste buds will thank you. Of course, food preferences are extremely likely to differ from one person to the other, but I can say that, for me, Energiea is the place with the best food in town. Not the most cuisine or the most sophisticated, but definitely gourmet and everything that I’ve tasted here was excellent. And, very important, it remains so over the time, meaning that the quality stays the same and you’ll be guaranteed the same experience over and over again.

My personal favourite is the goat cheese salad, which works really well with the Artisan burger or with their signature fries. And a note of caution here, if you make either of these combinations, make sure that’s a meal for two, because the dishes are quite large in size.

The place itself looks very good. Again, this is a matter of preference, as what you will find here is an industrial design, kind of shabby and run down at first sight. Not the glamour kind of place, but definitely designish and cozy and I’m sure that the eclectic mix of elements will appear as at least interesting to everybody.

Another aspect that ranks high on my list of reasons to love Energiea is that the staff here is really nice. Being asked whether you would like your usual table sure sounds good to me, even if – once again – that might show just how boring I am😊

Last item I’ll add here, so that this post won’t get too lengthy, is that this is one of the most kids and dogs friendly place I’ve ever been to. Everybody is welcome and no, until now, I’ve never heard any kid screaming his or her lungs out or any dog making trouble. What I’m saying is that even if this is not your piece of cake, you’re going to have a good time.

Moving on to Origo…well, for this you only need to go next door. Or almost. Anyway, if you see a place where a party seems to just go on and on, that’s the one. When you enter, you’ll for sure be greeted by one of the baristas and you cannot fail to notice the good mood of everyone around.

The place is small and it feels like a community. Also, the baristas tend to remember you and what you like to drink and, really, what’s not to love about that?

To my knowledge, this is the first specialty coffee place in Bucharest – or, just to make sure I’m accurate here – the first I heard of. The design remained the same over time and it’s still fresh and modern. You may call it cliché, but the coffee cups decorations are done in a really smart way and still don’t look outdated to me.

Not to miss the most important aspect, yes, the coffee is great. And you can have it on site, to go or to prepare and enjoy at home. Either way, make sure to spend at least a few minutes in the coffee shop…I’m telling you, the good mood here is contagious…

And yes, if you had lunch next door with your kid and dog, bring them for a coffee break too. There’s a Babycino and a bowl of water waiting, so you’re all set to extend your weekend lunch a bit more.

Enjoy!

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Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

My favourite city in the whole world is in Italy, but it’s not Rome.

Rome is, though, the Italian city which I would love to live in.

Having recently paid a visit to the Eternal City, I figured that it would be a suitable start for the Places series. Which, by the way, will probably not be a traditional travel section, since I will not stick to cities and travels, but plan to take full advantage of the broad meaning of the word “places”. And, also, it’s definitely going to be very subjective, so I gather that you will find elsewhere better tips&tricks. Still, I hope you find this enjoyable.

So, getting back to Rome, here are a few reasons for which I find that the city lives up to its reputation and more.

Vatican City – well, that’s a hard one to miss. If you know nothing about Rome, chances are Vatican still rings a bell. And rightfully so. Yes, you’re up for a several hours queue to visit the museum, but I think it’s totally worth it. Once inside, you get the feeling of that time when this place was basically the center of not only the religious world, but also the political one and you get a grasp why. It’s magnificent beyond any doubt and even if you’re not an art connoisseur, you will still appreciate the masterpieces inside.

Trastevere – that’s the young and hip spot in Rome. At least, that’s how I find it. It’s a 20 minutes’ walk from the Vatican/Prati area and it’s packed with restaurants and bistros, for every taste and mood. That nice, cozy, shabby, corner restaurant…only that you find it in countless interpretations. People are especially lively and fun here, so would definitely recommend to give it a try.

Mimi é Coco – this is the coolest restaurant we’ve been to in Rome. It’s located in the Piazza Navona area, on a small street right next to it. Might have missed it (not because it isn’t pretty, but because all restaurants in Rome are pretty😊) if it weren’t for the joyful noise spilling into the street and an actual queue of people waiting for a table to become available. So, we’ve joined them and 30 minutes and some complimentary prosecco later, we understood why this place is so cool. Of course, the food is great, but I think the atmosphere is what makes it the best. The place is the definition of making you feel welcomed. I agree, it’s a very elusive distinctive feature, but I’m sure that if you try it, you’ll get it.

Feeling at home. I think Rome does this, it makes you feel like you belong, even it’s just for a few days. The fact that we stayed at a B&B in an apartment building probably helped. And the fact that the breakfast was served at a nearby corner café, where people in the neighborhood stopped for a brief morning coffee. I really enjoyed seeing them coming in, super noise and jolly (how are the Italian always in such a good mood? I need that recipe), talking to everybody and starting their day. I mean, kick-starting their day.

Wandering around. That’s an easy one and, to be fair, not an exclusive trait of Rome. But it’s one that just keeps on giving. Take the streets aimlessly and you’ll not get bored, that’s guaranteed. Maybe you’ll find a small church and take a look inside, or yet another great little restaurant, or an open market. Or just the street with its own undeniable beauty. In any case, it will not be in vain.

 

That’s my selection for now, until the next visit, but would love to know what’s your take on Rome and how it makes you feel.

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