Over the holidays, I finally had time to go through all the photos I took during our trip to Sweden last summer, and looking at the images reminded me of what a fabulous and relaxing vacation it was; the best we’ve had in years. Traveling went smoothly, the weather was good (most of the time), and best of all, we had no plans, no schedule, nothing we had to do. We spent many of the days just wandering around, seeing places in (and slightly out of) the city I had never been to (why don’t you do that kind of stuff when you live somewhere, just when you visit?), and it was a wonderful luxury to have the time to follow any whim or distraction.
During these three weeks, we both visited old favorites and discovered several new ones, and I thought I’d share some of them here in a series of blog posts. I have said it before, but I’ll say it again: Stockholm might not be in the top 5 on people’s “must see” lists, but honestly, it should be! It is such a gorgeous city, and it always amazes me how quiet it is, and how close you are to nature. There is lots of it in the city center itself (water everywhere, parks, etc.), but you can also get out into what feels like the countryside just by taking the T three or four stops.
One of those countryside-feeling places is the Bergianska Botanical Garden, 4 stops from the Stockholm Central Station on the red line. I had never visited before, and immediately fell in love with it, and we actually went back a second time before we left. This place is so pretty and peaceful you just don’t want to leave, ever. We arrived mid-morning on a gorgeous, sunny and warm day, walked 10 minutes from the T and arrived at the top of a gravel road leading down to the garden. It lies on the banks of Brunnsviken, a fairly large lake, and even though there are buildings around it, they are not right at the waterfront, so all you see is greenery (and the occasional boat going by).
Bergianska, which was founded in 1791, is a research and teaching garden associated with Stockholm University. It is much larger than it first appears to be, and we spent the entire day wandering around, looking at the various plants, birds and the view. There are many parts to the garden: ponds, greenhouses, separate garden areas (a fruit garden, an herb garden, etc.), walkways along the water, 2 cafes, and lots of places to hang out and relax. We were there on a weekday, and we did see a few other people, but many times, it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
We had lunch at the Old Orangery cafe, which is gorgeous and the food was delicious. They use local organic ingredients, and I strayed from my vegan ways and had a simple but fantastic open-faced cheese sandwich. B, who is the sweet tooth of the family, had the amazing looking chocolate cake, which he said tasted as good as it looked. The orangery is a beautiful building, decorated in a French country, shabby chic kind of style.
We ended our visit by sitting for probably at least an hour on a dock, feet dangling above the water, looking at birds and boats going by. The air was still and warm and had that Swedish summer scent I remember from my childhood (warm earth, pine trees, slightly “oceany”), and it was so peaceful we had to drag ourselves away when it was time to leave.
If you happen to be in Stockholm, I highly recommend visiting Bergianska. Entrance to the garden is free (there is a charge for the greenhouses), and it’s open year round. And if you get a “Stockholm card”, the T is free too, so it’s a perfect low-budget day out.