Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stockholm part I - Östermalm and Vasastaden

Stockholm is my favourite city. I travel there twice a year, and I've realized I don't really have to make lots of plans, it's enough just to be around, strolling the streets, feeling the atmosphere. I just got back from this years summer trip and thought I'd share some of my best Stockholm tips for those who like to travel a bit unconventional. I must warn that I have no clue about nightlife or restaurants, I never go there. I hate shopping malls. Instead, some of the things I do love is architecture, history, neon signs, parks, bakeries, small cafés, cinemas, swimming....and of course I love shopping, just the indipendent way. I'm starting off my guide at Östermalm and Vasastaden, the two areas of the city I heart the most. 

Top tips Stockholm:
> Rent a bike  Gamla Stans cyckel is the place. Stora Nygatan 44. Stockholm is wonderfully equipped for cycling. Gamla Stans cykel will give you a free map.
> Stay at Stureparkens gästvåning. Sturegatan 58. Cosy and cheap, quiet, with a kitchen for you to cook, no need to eat out and spend tons of money. Have breakfast at the balcony or chill in the really nice living room. 
> Use the metro if you don't cycle. It's safe and will take you anywhere. 

So, Östermalm. As I said, watching architecture is top priority. If you're into jugend and the heavey, national neo-baroque style of the early 1900s, Östermalm is for you. Lärkstaden (pics) is to die for, take a walk around f.i. Odengatan, Tyrgatan, Friggagatan, Baldersgatan and you'll see what I mean. The Engelbrekt church is magnificent. Lärkstaden (Lark city) is drawn by different architects, there's a good wiki-article in Swedish, and a shorter one in English. Don't forget to look through the glass entrance doors for magnificent interiors. The interior photos above are not from Lärkstaden, but from Karlbergsvägen 45 in Vasastaden, an area who also holds brilliant buildings. 

Two highlights of the period. Tekniska högskolan (Stockholm technical college) Valhallavägen 79,  and below: Östra Real, Karlavägen 79. It doesn't get any better. 

Stockholm is also a modernist city, and just north of Östermalm on the other side of Valhallavägen lays Gärdet, a modernist part of the city, build in the 1930ies. Lots of details like doors, window and signs are preserved and it's really a gem for modernist junkies like myself. You should especially check out Rindögatan 19, 1938, arch. Sture Fröden, complete with the original aquarium still in place in the entrance hall. Gärdet also had two cinemas: Paraden (1932-1984) Valhallavägen 147, and Gärdet (1939-60)  Dalsbergsgatan 46. Both are easy to spot, though closed down, and especially Gärdet is worth a visit. The vestibule is preserved, as well as the ticket office, with an old map of the cinema and some other curiosa. The circular window in the facade? That's where the technician sat, running the movie. 

For cosy shopping at Östermalm, start at Östermalms torg and walk Sibyllegatan or Nybrogatan. Here you'll find clothes, antique, furniture, design, toys....whatever. A favourite is Sibyllans tea and coffee store (nr.35, At Sibyllegatan 26 there's the remains of the cinema Puck, closed down in the early 1980ies. Watch out for fab neon signs. Sturegatan also has several small shops, worth visiting. 

Don't miss Saluhallen at Östmalms torg. Any kind of food, fresh and deliscious. The building itself is worth your time. If you prefer an ordinary food store, two of my faves are located next to it: Hemköp and Coop Konsum. The pick-yourself-salad bars are highly recommended, totally tasty!

Sweden is really good at fresh interior and home design, one of my favourites are Littlephant. They have a showroom and shop in Runebergsgatan. The sweet girls there will make you feel most welcome and you can buy the most yummi handbags, mugs, fabrics, posters, toys++ Open Thursdays 12-18, but if there's someone in studio, just knock. 

When at Östermalm, don't miss Park (1941, Sturegatan 18), Stockholm's best preserved cinema of its time period. 

On the other side of the streets lies a beautiful park, Bibliotekslunden, and if you follow Sturegatan up north, there's Stockholm stadion, home of the Olympic Games 1912. Keep walking, and you'll find yourself in the middle of the forest. How fab is that? 

Vasastaden is the other area I'll tell you about. This here is Birkastaden, photo above is from Rörstrandsgatan, with cute cafés, the second hand store FiftyFifty, great at vintage porcelain, more vintage stores, interior shopping and Birkagott, the cutest, tastiest candy store I know. The bakery I found on Karlsbergvägen 45. Don't miss local raw food ice cream you can buy here.

Vasastaden also had two Myrorna, Swedens charity second hand shops. Really cheap clothes ( I bought six jeans shirt for 250 sek), shoes, books, interior... They're located at Tomtebogatan 5 and Norrtullsgatan 9. Next to the latter is Lise Lottes hembakeri (bakery). Need I say more? A little further up the hill is Observatorielunden, the park with the old Observatory, now a museum. Highly recommended, but I believe it's closed at the moment, due to financial problems. Fingers crossed it will open again soon! 

In Vanadislunden, the old 30ies swimming pool is restored and opened again this summer! Couldn't be any better. Google "Vanadisbadet" and you'll get the info you need. 

Vanadisbadet in the 50ies.

Into books? Into architecture? Just want a wow-experience? Stockholm's main library is one of a kind! Drawn by famous architect Gunnar Asplund and opened 1928 cannot be described, it must be experienced. Odengatan 63. Take the main entrance, walk up the stairs....and you'll see what I mean. 

I told you I'm crazy about neon and signs, here's a selection from Östemalm, Gärdet and Vasastaden. You don't have to walk far to find treasures, just head out. Odenplan is a good place to start. Sveavägen, Odengatan, Sibyllegatan are my secret whispers in your ears...

One last inside tip: Sveaplans gymnasium for flickor. Once, a girls school, now a part of Stockholm university. One of the city's finest modernist buildings, 1936, arch. Nils Ahrbom and Helge Zimdal, located at Sveavägen 160-162. Stroll to the back and peek through the windows of the aula for somthing really special. 

This was my first little, tiny Stockholm guide. Will do the other parts later; Södermalm, Gamla Stan, City, Kungsholmen, and then the suburbs. What would you like next?

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