Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meandering along Monteliusvägen

The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html

I'm not quite sure how it's possible, but somehow we'd already been living in Stockholm for more than a year and I'd never made it out to one of the city's most famous (if not the most famous) lookout point. Just inland from the northern border of Södermalm, and up a steep, but not too steep, street lies Monteliusvägen, a quarter-mile pathway that curves along the hill and offers the most spectacular views of the city.

I suppose it's just that I don't spend much time in Södermalm (also known as the Brooklyn of Stockholm). Apart from bicycling along its eastern edge on the way to school from Hammarby Sjöstad last summer and fall, and actually buying said bicycle from a shop there, we just hadn't had many reasons to meander about the island's very charming streets.

But since I was meeting a friend in Södermalm for lunch earlier this week (at La Neta, a fast food-style Mexican eatery that was good, but certainly no Fonda) and had the afternoon free afterward, I figured it was time to see for myself.

I started heading uphill (along the way seeing many a familiar setting from the TV show Welcome to Sweden) and came across a charming set of signs pointing me along my merry way before I finally made it onto the pathway and saw the long-awaited view peeking out from amidst all the greenery and lilac bushes.

Signs for Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
Signs for Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
Once I rounded the bend I saw that I wasn't the only one who fancied a beautiful view on a gorgeous Swedish summer day. People reading, couples and friends lingering over coffee, families with their lunches spread out around them on benches and grassy areas alongside the path, and school groups with painting and drawing supplies were there, too.

And who can blame them? If I lived or worked that close to Monteliusvägen, I'm sure I'd be there every sunny day, too.

(Although now that I know how lovely and peaceful it is, I've no doubt that I'll find excuses to wind my way back up—soon, and frequently.)

The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html
The view from Monteliusvägen, Södermalm, Stockholm  |  Monteliusvägen on afeathery*nest  |  http://www.afeatherynest.com/2015/06/monteliusvagen-sodermalm-stockholm.html

(A bit of an overload on the picture front, but choosing just one—or two—to share proved entirely too hard.)

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One year ago: The Swedish deluge & Evening bike rides & Late to bed, early to rise
Two years ago: La bella vita & The case for Swedish
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Monday, June 8, 2015

Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon

Karamellan Drottningholms Slottcafe  |  Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

For our first weekend motorcycle ride we decided to head northwest of the city, an area we hadn't really ever explored before, apart from one afternoon spent apple picking on a farm last fall. We had planned to find a place mid-way out on our drive to stop for brunch, but the only thing my trusty Google Maps revealed among the inner archipelago islands looked a bit too rustic for us. Then I realized we could just have brunch at the beginning of our ride, versus the middle. Somewhere closer in to the city. Somewhere the opposite of rustic.

Like the royal palace.

Turns out Drottningholm, one of the residences of the royal family, has a lovely little pavilion on the grounds serving all sorts of yummy treats perfect for brunch, so we stopped there first. And since there was quite a wait for our dishes to be ready, we had time to take a walk on the manicured lawn and alongside the waterfront.

Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle Cafè in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle garden in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle garden in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle garden in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Drottningholm Slott Palace Castle garden in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
After we ate we hopped back on the bike and headed further out in Ekerö towards Munsö, where I'd read that a (not exactly natural) phenomenon known as Stockholm's Blue Lagoon was situated.

As soon as we had left the castle behind the highway turned into windy country roads, just like the ones I was used to driving along in Virginia. There were no big-box stores, very few stores of any kind, actually, and lots and lots of horse and sheep farms dotting the meadows we drove by. In fact, as we got closer to the Blue Lagoon, we saw quite a few people out riding their horses, including one young girl with blond hair flying behind her, followed by her dad racing along in her hoofprints on his bicycle.

When we turned off onto the road towards the Blue Lagoon, which I thought was a driveway to a farm (and which it technically was), the road suddenly turned into a pathway through a forest, which would have been impossible to drive on in a car, but it was no problem for the motorcycle. We wound among trees and bushes down the hill and around a few bends before we finally came upon the lagoon.

We were the only ones there (at first), so we spread our blankets out in a choice spot in the sun, turned our cast-off jackets into pillows, arranged our bottles of water, deck of Scopa cards, and my book around us and settled in for a little nap.

The Blue Lagoon // Den Blå Lagunen in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
The Blue Lagoon // Den Blå Lagunen and horse in Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
But less than 10 minutes later we heard the sound of a horse crashing through the underbrush leading out to the "beach". The girl and her father we had seen earlier had just arrived and she galloped her horse right into the lagoon. R spoke with her father for a few minutes as we admired the sweet horse and found out that he has a knee problem so he takes in a little water therapy every few days and sure enough he suddenly began kicking each leg in turn.

Once he'd gone through his exercises, they took off. And then two dogs—a large, floppy-eared Golden Retriever and a teensy Chihuahua came tearing around from the other side of the lagoon. The Golden throwing himself right in to it, while the Chihuahua watched curiously from the sand before they took off chasing each other around on the sand before they, too, disappeared into the brush.

And so it was for the rest of the afternoon, every so often a few people arrived by motorcycle or horseback or on foot with their dogs trailing them for a little dip and some sun. But it'll still be a few weeks before it gets really crowded, so we enjoyed the stillness.

Until we suddenly got hungry with an irrational craving for Indian food. Being too faint with the image of naan bread and curries and pickles dancing around in my head I couldn't Google, so we decided to drive all the way back to Hammarby Sjöstad where we had remembered seeing an Indian restaurant near the waterfront, one we had never tried but had looked promising. Despite it being a 45-minute drive away, we entered it into the GPS and headed south.

When we finally arrived, I remembered how much I loved living there and really miss the atmosphere of that pretty neighborhood.

But given how delicious the Indian food was at Namaskaar (naan and paratha bread aside, which were oddly sweet), I'm sure we'll be back, though maybe next time we'll get our meal to go and set up one of our old picnics on the pier.

Indian food at Namaskaar in Hammarby Sjöstad Stockholm  |  Our first weekend ride: Drottningholm + the Blue Lagoon on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

All in all, a very successful first pleasure ride.

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One year ago: 1st day of SFI & Have needles, will travel
Two years ago: Date night, sort of & Turmeric tummy tamer

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Strolling in the sunshine (finally)

Grand Hotel Strömkajen Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
After weeks and weeks of gray, gloomy, boo-hoo weather, we finally had a few days of sunshine last week (meaning, two days) (and now the gray is back with a vengeance—10C / 50F at the beginning of June? Really?!).

Knowing I shouldn't let a good-weather day pass without making the most of it, I took advantage of R having an appointment downtown before a family lunch at Bockholmen to hop on the back of the motorcycle with him and spend the hour and a half before our lunch and during his appointment to take my first walk ever past The Grand Hotel on Södra Blasieholmskajen along Strömkajen and across Skeppsholmsbron to the island of Skeppsholmen, one of Stockholm's 14, and one that I hadn't ever been to before.

Strömkajen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
The Royal Palace, Strömkajen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

It was the most perfect day to be out—the waterway was lined with people outside for a coffee or an ice cream, sails were being hoisted and boats polished along the docks, and there was just an incredible energy in the air—probably every one else felt the same as me. Carpe diem, and whatnot.

The bridge across from downtown to Skeppsholmen is teeny tiny (with one-way motor traffic), but the pedestrian walkways bordering the road are roomy and there's a spot in the middle where two shiny gold crowns, one for each side of the bridge, stand waiting for you to take a picture of them (like Chicago's bean). So, I finally joined the ranks and took a few of my own before continuing over to Skeppsholmen.

Skeppsholmsbron, Strömkajen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Skeppsholmsbron, Strömkajen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Gamla Stan, Strömkajen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com

Not that Stockholm is a hustle-y, bustle-y city, but stepping onto Skeppsholmen I noticed an immediate difference. It was a bit quieter (the loudest sound being the clanging from the above ship's rigging), and I felt the strength of the sun much more, and since the island is more fauna than water and buildings, the intensity of the green everywhere and the scent of jasmine and lilac in the air were more powerful than elsewhere in the city.

As I walked along the coast of Skeppsholmen without any particular destination in mind and the vague idea that perhaps a fika would be nice, I realized that the island reminded me of NYC's Governor Island, except a little less creepy, seeing as how it's inhabited and populated every day of the week, not just weekends.

But it had that same bucolic feeling, with charming low-rise buildings and hills and random art sculptures (okay not so random since there's a major museum there). As I passed this yellow building I thought it was an apartment building, but it turned out to be Hotel Skeppsholmen, a place I had saved on Google Maps, but as I was on the way to lunch and they only served proper meals, I kept on walking, keeping an eye out for a suitable place to fika.

Hotel Skeppsholmen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
View from Moderna Museet, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
Cafe Blom, Arkitektur och designcentrum, Skeppsholmen, Stockholm  |  Strolling in the sunshine, finally on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
I finally found it as I steered myself up a slight hill towards Moderna Museet, where a gorgeous view of the city awaited from its terrace and where I could pass through to the Architecture & Design Center's adorable outdoor café, Café Blom where I indulged in my newest Swedish treat: the vast array of lovely waters, teas and tonics, in this case an Elderflower sparkling soda water and a nöttopp (my alternative to my usual chokladboll, this one being a hazelnut, gooey ball of amazingness sans chocolate).

I perched myself outside and pulled out the book I had stashed in my bag that morning—one of the Anne of Green Gables books, a series I re-read every year or so. Just me, Anne, a little birdie who didn't sit still long enough to be photographed and the sun.

(And then R, who zoomed up after a bit to take me away to lunch).

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One year ago: Cleo, my new Stålhästen & Socializing in Stockholm
Two years ago: Sublime Saturdays & Sundays & All the small things