Oct '20 — Sweden, Stockholm

I've never been to Sweden before. When I was a kid, I liked Sweden for three reasons: a) ABBA, b) Karlsson-on-the-Roof, c) The Pirate Bay. Now I just thought "okay, it will probably be cool".

It was cool. I've only been there for two days, but it was cool.

Stockholm is—the best of Berlin and Saint Petersburg put together. I don't like either Berlin or Saint Petersburg, but they have enough good bits when put together. Stockholm was great.

In Stockholm, things like "chess pieces at a railway station" feel like somebody genuinely put them there for people to have fun. In many other places, I would have thought instead "somebody did it to be wacky".

I also forgot my luggage in the bus and was very anxious about it. Got it back the next day, though.

In Stockholm, everything is rich in content or detail—a quality I loved in Tel-Aviv. If there's a hat shop, there will be a thousand different hats there. If it's a trinkets store, it will be a small multicolored thing no matter how much bleakness is around.

When I was going to Sweden, I thought "okay, socialism, so brutalism probably, gray buildings everywhere probably". No. The buildings are nice and pastel-colored. They go well together while still being different. This is the street I lived on:

Look at the roofs, look at them, just look at them. The city has a texture. It does not look uniform—once you shift your gaze a bit—but still has texture. Some cities don't have any places with a texture, just a messy mess.

And yes, they have a river. You can't see it well here. Go to Stockholm and then you can see it all day long if you want to.

I love cities that are wide but not tall. Human-sized in terms of height. Perhaps a jungle (like New York) is also acceptable. Anything in the middle is kinda meh.

Stockholm is exactly human-sized. Look at the street lights:

Another quality I'm looking for in cities is that they must be made for the convenience of their citizens, not tourists. A good thing to look at is subway. Stockholm's subway is a) broken in places, b) smells a bit, c) still looks interesting. Not impressive, but interesting. That is—they genuinely cared about making it look interesting, and they also care more about making trains run well.

Stockholm can be quaint. This bit is Sydney-like: a lot of nice space to walk, or to go/scoot through.

They have three different electric scooter brands to choose from. I recommend Voi over Lime.

Not all of Stockholm is great. Just in case, I will demonstrate the bit that is very anti-quaint. This is also Stockholm, but it's a mess. Gray, brutalist, a bunch of different things together, lions for whatever reason. Meh.

And now back to good Stockholm.

Look at this inner yard with decorations and cozy lights and everything!

Look at this lively street! Look how it goes down! Cities that go up and down are greatest in the world, and other cities are inferior cities.

Cities without pedestrian streets are even more inferior cities. Stockholm has pedestrian streets. (Oh, turns out Berlin will also finally get a pedestrian street. Maybe.)

The south of Stockholm is cozy, the center bit is old, and the north bit is modern-y. All three bits are expensive, though.

I found a castle somewhere around the old bit, and behind the castle—a wonderful bunch of rocks with an awesome view:

In conclusion:

  • Stockholm is interesting;
  • Rich in detail and contrasty;
  • Goes up and down;
  • Different things go well together;
  • Has everything;
  • Is pretty expensive;
  • Everybody speaks English, even the grandma who I asked about bus tickets and she said "of course I speak English" and showed me how to install the ticket app.

I recommend Stockholm over Saint Petersburg, Berlin, or Warsaw. The closest match to Stockholm might be either Zurich or Vienna.