Built on 14 islands (some of them small enough to be traffic islands) and surrounded by a few thousand others from the archipelago, Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen – in Summer. In winter, there’s mot much to see.. the sun hides itself before you can figure out if your eyes are open or not. Summer… the street lights are then only for marking the middle of the road; you get sunrise at 3am, sunset at 11pm, and a nice healthy twilight the rest of the time.
Given all the water around (which is not all salt – there’s a lake in there too, somewhere) you obviously have plenty of fish. And boats. And blonde women resting their chins on your head. Gentle they may be, but the Swedes do everything in the power to live up to the reputation of being giants.
Drinking in Stockholm isn’t exactly cheap, no matter where you do it. In winter, though, you won’t care because no amount of advanced winter wear is going to be able to compete with the efficacy of a strategically placed Aquavit. In summer the weather is decidedly pleasant, but hey who knows when you need the Aquavit again?
Which brings me to what Aquavit is: it literally means water of vitality (no, nothing to do with 30+). It’s a colourless brew from strange ingredients that the Swedes discovered in the ancient past and held on to from there on. The important thing is, its 45% achohol. Aquavit is also called Snaps or Schnapps, and is distilled from fermented potato or grain and then redistilled with flavouring agents. In Germany, they are mostly fruit flavours but in Sweden they tend to the exotic – jeera, dhania, anise, pepper, horseradish, etc.
And of course, for all those culturally challenged drinkers there’s plenty of beer and other alcoholic swill to choose from. Most places close around midnight. The interesting places to drink are Gamla Stan (or the old city) – lots of pubs with history squeezed onto a small island – or Sodermälm where more modern options abound.