Stockholm presented a face that was picture postcard perfect. The weather was warmer than my app had predicted, the sun was out, the sky was cloudless and the waters bluer than I’ve seen anywhere in a long time. Everything was welcoming, everything seemed to whisper, “Stay, stay, this is where you belong.” I didn’t fall for it (see what I did there?) Good weather is always followed by ridiculous cold. (And it was.) Anyway, I got in at about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon — sans luggage, that’s a different story — with the rest of my afternoon free and a rumbling tummy, so I hoofed it up the street, maneouvering sort of by instinct, kinda by map, away from Vasagatan
(which I’d taken to the hotel from the station and thought the restaurants looked a bit too well-heeled for the likes of me) and wound up on the walking street Drottninggatan: Perfect! I grappled with my sticker shock (Cheapest coffee: SEK 34 = INR 268), shelled out beaucoup krona for a tuna sandwich and a biskvi, then walked over to the parliament and into Gamla Stan (the old town). Okay, the photos are out of order. It was incredible — the orange sun reflecting off the gem-like waters and the warm, earth-toned buildings, buskers playing violins, a Michael Jackson impersonator in a shiny silver jacket and one glove dancing to Beat it, and the smell of coffee emanating from every alternate building… (oh and four H&M’s within 200 meters. Plus more further up and around. Swedes must really like H&M.)
In the old town, I passed joyous Hare Krishnas dancing and singing and then wandered up Stora Gråmunkegränd, where I was captivated by the gorgeous pastries at the Café Gråmunken. I got a peanut & chocolate pie and a decaf coffee (swallowed along with double sticker shock = 128SEK= INR 1,009! Holy cow!) and sat in the crooked, sloped cobblestoned alley with a view of the Riddarholmskyrkan.
Then, following the blues, I found myself at the Saturday afternoon session at Stampen, one of Stockholm’s oldest and best jazz bars. I didn’t stay long, and as I exited I found myself eyeing a poster for Aki Kumar doing a special Monday night performance right there. So, here’s a little context: not only is Aki Kumar an exciting, fun, talented blues harp (read: harmonica) player who does funky, rhythm and blues things to old Shammi Kapoor songs [watch], he’s also someone I was supposed to have interviewed for a story (which, sadly, didn’t happen for reasons beyond my control.) We’d emailed and set up a skype call and everything 🙁 No guesses for how I planned to spend my Monday evening in Stockholm!
To be continued …