Today we’re highlighting a bike tour in Stockholm, from the desk of WIT Field Correspondent, Wailana K. There are countless amazing tours available to enrich your travels. Talk to your WIT Agent about organizing a unique day tour right for you and yours in Europe and around the world. Phone 503-224-0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the evening of Wednesday, I received a little message in my inbox:
“City Bike Ride! Join the joyride! We will show you some of our favourite places and bonus information on Swedish culture in general, and the mentality of Swedes in particular.”
Needing to stretch my legs out in the Stockholm summer sun, I was more than eager to jump onboard, so I signed up and the next morning found myself in the lounge of City Backpackers Stockholm.
The lounge (which doubled as a cafe) had comfy leather couches. white walls and arched windows that brought a lot of light in. I chatted with some fellow travel bloggers who were to join me on the tour; they were in town for a conference. They all had name tags and were playing with their gadgets: laptops, go pro, a small handheld camera. I introduced myself to them but had hardly time to socialize when the guide, Michael, hopped to action. Michael was an unassuming 30-something Swede with a newsy cap and a boyish grin. He led us to the back yard, where he pulled out the bikes and announced they would be our trusty steeds for the next two hours. They were all brightly painted in red and (sans gears) relied mostly on back pedals (which, I was to discover, is something pretty common in Swedish bikes).
With all the bike paths, Stockholm treats its cyclists quite well. For the next few hours, we followed our guide faithfully, winding our way from the ritzy shopping area of Normmalm out to the more hipster neighborhoods of Södermalm. My bike clattered as it went along, protesting against the exercise — but the views of Stockholm’s gorgeous waterways made up for it.
Michael’s enthusiasm was only matched by his humble way of sharing his hometown. From stop to stop he led us effortlessly. We took a break at the Astrid Lindgren statue in Tegnérlunden Park. We passed the corner of Norrmalmstorgsgatan and Hamngatan, birthplace of the Stockholm Syndrome robbery. At Berzelii park in front of the Royal Dramatic Theatre, our guide passed out little salty licorice cubes, meant to “enliven our tastebuds to Swedish flavors” — but, even after a year of Iceland and its licorice ice cream, these were far too strong for me to handle!
On Sveavägen street, we paid our respects to the memory of Olof Palme, former Prime Minister of Sweden who was assassinated in 1986 by an unknown gunman. He was beloved by the city’s inhabitants and the day after the shooting you could barely walk for all the roses on the crossing.
After a picturesque ride through Gamla Stan, we hiked up some craggily cliffs near Södermalm’s Master Michael’s Street, where you can locate some of the oldest buildings in the city. A brief climb revealed a terrific panorama over the waterways. It was a great place for a picnic—which was perfect as Michael busted out some cardamom cookies and tea.
Then it was a waterside ride out to Marieberg. We passed kids turning wheelies at the Rålis Skatepark in Rålambshovsparken. Here Michael shared an interesting tidbit about the Swedish Law of Jante. So Jante is the cultural phenomenon of not standing out in a crowd. It is like an unspoken rule that a proper Swede should play it modest and quiet, rather than boast or even mention your individual success and achievements in life. Michael even mentioned it was difficult to talk about himself and his life because of this. Curiously, however, the recent boom in tech startups and freelance businesses led to more Swedes talking about themselves and their companies—you know, just in an effort to foster business-to-business relations. Startups essentially were making Jante obsolete, at least in some circles.
Finally, it was time to head back. Our guides celebrated the tour with a late lunch at Nomad, the hostel’s tasty restaurant. They served all types of potatoes and smoked fish and caviar. We were in for quite a treat when, after some home-infused schnapps, the chefs began to serenade us with some traditional Swedish drinking songs. (Here’s one of them: Helan Går)
Planning a Trip to Europe? Why not stretch your legs in the meantime? A bike ride is a great way to explore a city—quick, fun, and eye-opening you race through the streets. Plus the tour guides usually do a good job of spoiling you when you’re done! Talk to your WIT Agent about organizing a unique tour for you and yours in Europe.