Moving to a new city is always exciting and it’s completely different than when you are just visiting on a holiday. I feel that once you move to a place, you start viewing it in a very different light….somehow its deeper and more perceptive.
That’s what I’ve been doing this past week in my new city, Stockholm – just observing and taking it all in.
Sustainability and re-cycling
Greta Thunberg may not have been so vocal about climate change or stand up for the environment the way she does, had she not been Swedish. Re-cyling and sustainability are sort of ingrained in the DNA here. You notice it immediately. Starting from your own house or apartment there are separate bins for everything – paper, clear glass, coloured glass, tins, and other recyclables. Most supermarkets are also equipped with recycling machines so you can drop off your bottles and things there too. There are separate bins for clothes & shoes. These are located at street corners usually.
The reason I say that recycling is deeply ingrained in the society here is because I have seen people of all ages, including the older folk, recycle their bottles and tins at the supermarkets.
Today, I went to a hair salon here and I asked my hairdresser about the hair colour products she was using since I had not heard of that brand before. She went on to explain that the company is a small Italian brand and the reason they use their products is because they are 80% green – the most bio-degradable than most other leading brands. Now, this is conversation I can only imagine having in Sweden! We also talked about feminism – another really BIG topic here – but more on that later.
Fika – coffee culture
Just like in the UK, you won’t need to walk more than 5 mins to get to a pub, here in Stockholm, you won’t walk that distance without crossing a coffee shop. Going for a fika basically means going for coffee, and the coffee is usually accompanied with something sweet. So most coffee shops actually double up as bakeries too and they are amazing. One of their most famous pastries is the cinnamon bun, also known as Kanelbullar (you can see one in the picture above). It’s simply divine especially when straight out of the oven.
Something I hadn’t realised in my earlier visit to the city was how green it was and so full of open spaces. Even in the city centre, you are never too far from a park. They come in various shapes and sizes – small, pretty ones with fountains and benches all around; slightly bigger ones with kids play areas and doggy parks too (known as hundpark in Swedish); even bigger ones with separate sections for training and physical exercise and finally, the forests. We haven’t yet been to the last kind but I can tell you that in our one week here, we’ve been to at least ten different parks – three of which are right by us.
And of course, you are never too far from the water. The Stockholm archipelago is made up of 30,000 islands! Green and blue as far as your eyes can see.
Cycling is a way of life
Cycling seems to be a preferred way of commuting here – also a green option. Stockholm as a city is rather small, and it’s easy and quick to cycle or walk to most places. There are dedicated cycle paths everywhere and they are clearly marked. Be careful so as not to walk on them! Walking tracks are separate and are also clearly ear-marked.
Dog friendly – somewhat
For the most part, Stockholm has been dog friendly. A large number of people own pets and it’s common to see them walking alongside their humans. Pets are allowed in all forms of public transport – buses, trains and the metro. There are however, specific areas/sections that they need to be in. So look for the doggy sticker – usually the back of the bus and some of the carriages in the front or the back of a metro.
Most cafes and restaurants that have an outdoors area allow dogs. Few allow them inside, but it’s always good to ask. They aren’t allowed inside most other stores, even the non-food ones. I am stating this because in France they are! Except for the grocery stores, pooches are allowed inside just about everywhere.
However, one of the things that has baffled me and left me a little sad is that dogs here always have to be on a lead, even in the parks. That’s the law in Stockholm at least. At no point, except when in the dog park, can dogs be let off lead. I’ve actually seen people play fetch with their dogs whilst still on leads. While I understand that the law is coming from the point of view of safety, I do feel that it’s a bit excessive especially when in the parks. Dogs do need to run freely sometimes and if they are well behaved and have a good recall, they deserve to have a little more freedom.
There are a large number of dog parks in the city, but they are usually quite small and for some reason, don’t seem to have any grass and are rather flat and barren. I’ve taken Mia to a few now, but she doesn’t seem to like them much because there isn’t anything exciting for her to sniff! No grass, no trees….usually there is just a bench.
I’ve also found that when walking Mia, if we come across someone else walking another dog, they tend to quickly pick the dog up if its small or just cross the road! This is despite the fact that Mia is always on a lead and does not react. They don’t seem to want to socialise the dogs here much maybe because their dogs are the reactive kinds? Or are they reactive because they don’t get to socialise much?
Having lived in the UK and France, where dogs seem to have a more freer life, I am finding this attitude a little irksome to say the least. I am exploring some loopholes