As I relive this Baltic adventure, I can't help but imagine which city I would live in given the choice. Ask my two male counterparts on the trip (my guy and my dad), and both would say Stockholm. Without a doubt, I would pick Helsinki, Finland.
Clockwise from top left:
1. The entryway in the Kiasma, the most amazing modern art museum. My favorite: a phenomenal exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe, including an original portrait of Yves Saint Laurent and a rad video of lover/muse Patti Smith.
2. Luxbag, a boutique specializing in designer bags, shoes, and ready-to-wear. See all that Givenchy, Céline, Balenciaga, and Fendi? SO right up my alley.
3. An exhibit in the Kiasma.
4. The original Finnish Marimekko store.
Obviously, this underrated city is teeming with phenomenal design, delicious food, and great shopping. What more could a girl want? Maybe a more understandable language (Finnish is SO odd)... but at least they all also speak Swedish and English.
As far as Sweden goes, though, Stockholm was an incredible city. The people are all gorgeous, well-dressed, and incredibly nice. They have an amazing music and bar scene, and the way the city is arranged is super cool. You see medieval towns alongside skyscrapers next to an amusement park. Not many other places are like that.
Not unlike Venice, Stockholm is easy to get around by boat. We found this out quickly when we learned that the Swedish Kroner was vastly more expensive than the dollar, and getting someone to drive us around was really adding up. Get tickets on a mini ferry boat for the day for three, though, and it's much more doable.
1. Lunch at the Grand Hotel, a favorite of visitors looking for an upscale place to stay & eat. Among their frequent visitors: Vladimir Putin and Bill Clinton.
2. Acne Studios within NK (basically Harrods of Scandinavia). Acne is one of my favorite designers, and it was founded in Stockholm, so it's only appropriate that I stop by one of their boutiques (disappointed I didn't make it to their flagship like I did with Marimekko in Helsinki, though).
3. Boqueria, a super cool stop for drinks and a local DJ. They serve Italian-inspired food and delicious beer. Ross & I stopped in during a last-minute bar crawl in an effort to see the nightlife.
Our ship stopped briefly in Warnemunde, Germany... a pretty basic town, so we made the most of it and took the train into Rostock to check out this amazing astrological clock built in the 1400s. It tracks zodiacs, moon phases, and the gregorian calendar. It's been accurate since it's creation.
Our last stop on the cruise: Copenhagen again. Since we'd already seen it and Mälmo, Sweden is a short train ride away, we hopped on the train to head to one of our most anticipated destinations: the local restaurant and food critic favorite, Saltimporten Canteen. My dad and I have been making a recipe that Bon Appetit borrowed from Saltimporten for years, and we couldn't wait to snag a seat here. Of course, we anticipated a michelin-rated, reservations-only kind of place, but what we found was so much better: a secluded location on the edge of a dock normally reserved for Salt Importing warehouses (thus the name), and a bunch of communal tables that are only open for business two hours per day. Oh, and it only serves one dish each day. When we came, they were serving only charcoal-dusted Lamb stew, wheat beer, and slice-your-own freshly baked french bread. It was the best meal we had the entire trip.
The pics above from top left:
1. My adorable dad THRILLED that we made it to Saltimporten.
2. One of two chefs/owners of the restaurant.
3. Our devoured meal.
4. The cool hotel we stayed at in Copenhagen.
Our final destination: London. We have a close family friend who lives there, and she was generous enough to let us stay with her and show us around the city. It was a phenomenal city that I'd love to spend more time in one day. Five days was not nearly enough.
Clockwise from top left:
1. Amazing macaroons from meringues from Paul Rhodes Bakery in Greenwich
2. Myself, my dad, and Geraldine in front of Buckingham Palace
3. Big Ben (of course)
4. Lunch in the old Trafalgar Tavern on the Thames
My dad and I spent an entire day in Harrods to boot. Most of it in the Alexander McQueen boutique where we couldn't help but pick up a couple of things! More pics of that to come.
After exhausting ourselves of too many pastries, cities, and drinks, we headed home. I just about cried in the airport when I had to leave, but I have no doubt that I'll be back some day soon.