Firstly, I am sorry for the long silence on this blog. The sun finally came out when I left Stockholm, so I put down my computer and frolicked outside for a week in Copenhagen. That post is coming soon!
I arrived in Stockholm on just 3 hours of sleep, but with 9 hours to kill before meeting up with my hosts. So, I stored my hiking pack in a locker at the bus depot, bought a huge cup of delicious coffee (all the coffee in Stockholm was delicious), and began exploring the downtown area on foot.
The first area I came to was the main drag in downtown, central Stockholm. Bustling with shops and restaurants and tourists, and, much to my excitement…
Later, I came upon Kulturhuset, a building full of galleries, shops, restaurants, and a library, where I chilled out for a few hours in the afternoon when the caffeine wore off and I needed a rest:
Inside Kulturhuset, I found an amazing exhibit by Polish artist Katarzyna Kozya. The exhibit was a series of short films on loop, all dealing with death, transience, gender, identity, feminism, and other intense and often dark themes. All of Kozya’s pieces were shocking and thought-provoking (for example, in one film, the female artist – wearing male genitalia – undergoes a bloody public castration before a crowd of young men dressed only in towels…). I spent over an hour exploring the exhibit and watched all the films.
The work of Katarzyna Kozya would not be my last experience with nude, in-your-face, openly sexual and, at times, quite violent artwork in Sweden. In reflection, I am intrigued by the contrast between the somewhat introverted, proper, polished and opulent culture of many Swedes I encountered in Stockholm, and the bold, dark, naked, gender- and sexuality-questioning artwork displayed in exhibit after exhibit throughout the city. It was quite stirring to view a building from the outside – beautiful, decorative, royal – and then walk inside only to find the provocative and visceral work of Katarzyna Kozya or Wolfgang Tillmans:
Anyway, back to Day 1. Here is the view from Kulturhuset at night:
The next morning, it was still raining. I indulged in a much-needed oversleep, then ventured into the city to explore and check out some of Stockholm’s museums (there are around 100 of them!). I walked and walked through the rain, getting lost several times – but always somehow regaining my bearings enough to find my destination. It’s remarkable I didn’t get more lost, actually, as I wasn’t using any public transportation and was only relying on some shoddy screenshots of maps I’d pulled up earlier (I don’t have any phone or internet capabilities when I’m out and about):
These partial maps proved somewhat pointless when I (always) found myself outside of the specific screen-shot area. Further, Stockholm had no evident grid or alphabetic system for the street names, and it’s one of the more confusing city layouts I’ve experienced. Once, I even found myself in a city square where all the intersecting streets were named “Katarina”…
I should note that getting lost in every city I visit is a goal of mine. It guarantees I will always discover something that not every tourist gets to see.
Despite the rain and being lost almost constantly, I enjoyed my time in Stockholm, finding it to be a city of beautiful architecture, centuries-old communities, countless bridges, and lovely artwork:
Ok, for real though, all my pictures are taken outside, most of them are of buildings, and they all have a faintly damp look. This is because I seriously could not afford to do anything in Stockholm, and I also didn’t know or really meet anyone there, so I spent the entire time walking around with my raincoat on, exploring all the different areas of the city, and amusing myself by taking photos of pretty things. Which was everything.
I never plan a lot before going to each foreign city, with the goal of discovering what I’m meant to discover, meeting whomever I’m meant to meet, and coming upon random things that I never would have seen had I not gotten completely lost and had absolutely no agenda. This is only a fraction of what I experienced during my 3 days in Stockholm, but it sums up the city’s feel, and I’m now keeping my Berlin CSing host awake by typing, so time to post!
Last thoughts: If you go to Stockholm, maybe don’t go in October. But if you do, the museums are awesome and the city’s still gorgeous in the rain.
Thank you to Therese and Henrik for your hospitality in letting my sleep on your couch 🙂 And thanks to Elena for hooking me up with these lovely people!