Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Russia & Sweden 2014

Stockholm food tour

ABOVE: En route to the food tour starting point

Following highly successful experiences of similar events in places such as New York City and Portland, Oregon, Saturday's highlight was to be a food tour of Stockholm. We had arranged this in advance with the Stockholm branch of the aptly named Food Tours company, an established and successful business in Copenhagen. The tour was due to start at 10am in the historic market hall in Östermalms, over 2km from the hotel, so we knew that it would be wise to allow plenty of time to get there.

ABOVE: Objective achieved!

After breakfast in the Executive Lounge, at which a conscious effort was made not to eat too much, we set out in the glorious morning sunshine to make our way across the eastern side of Gamla Stan and through the Royal Gardens public park. Having completed 90% of the walk without putting a foot wrong, we managed to become temporarily disorientated within a couple of blocks of our objective, so allowing that little bit of extra time certainly proved to have been a sound move.

Our starting point definitely looked the part: Östermalms Saluhall was a venerable and thoroughly impressive market hall which, even at this time on a Saturday morning, already appeared to be popular with local people. We spotted a few 'likely suspects' loitering near the entrance with a similar air of expectation to our own and, sure enough, the group was soon brought together by the arrival of our friendly, Spanish-born host for the next four hours, Francisco. Demonstrating from outset a passion both for food and for his adopted city, Francisco also had that other, all-but-essential attribute of a resident of Sweden: he spoke fluent English.

ABOVE: Our tour gets underway at the Östermalms Saluhall

We began with an interesting overview of the market hall itself, gaining an appreciation of the different businesses operating under its roof, and the initial highlights included some cheese tasting and sampling a slightly more unusual and nicely presented selection of Scandinavian game meats.

Taking care not to get roasted ourselves in the glorious sunshine and atypical heatwave conditions, we then progressed via a variety of stops at points of culinary interest and more general tourist sights, including the National Library of Sweden and Stockholm Concert Hall, venue for the main Nobel prize award ceremony. Food highlights included the 'lisapåväg K25' restaurant (at Kungsgatan 25), the open-air market in front of the concert hall, the 'P&B' delicatessen in the Hötorgshallen food court and the 'Chokladfabriken' chocolate shop on Regeringsgatan.

LEFT: The tour continued via various culinary highlights, as well as some points of general interest, in Stockholm city centre
ABOVE: The tour ended in Gamla Stan

The final part of the tour took us across to the island of Gamla Stan, home to the city's old town area. Sights of general interest along the way included the strikingly red-coloured St James's Church (Swedish: Sankt Jacobs kyrka), the Royal Opera House, the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, the Royal Palace and the German Church (Tyska kyrkan). The final food-related stops were 'Polkapojkarna' (a 19th-century candy factory) and 'Under Kastanjen' ("Under the Chestnut Tree", an Old Town bakery and bistro). The tour had proved to be a hugely enjoyable experience in which time passed very quickly, thanks in no small part to our knowledgeable and enthusiastic host. As on previous similar occasions, we found that the tour had attracted an intelligent and friendly clientele whose agreeable company considerably enhanced the overall experience.

Our own walking tour continues

The official tour may have been over at this point, but our own had simply entered a new phase. We continued our stroll through the old town, fascinated by the maze of alleyways, all busy with people out enjoying the unseasonably warm conditions. Following a brief visit to one of my own favourite spots, the quiet little island of Riddarholmen, we walked past City Hall and then along the shoreline of Kungsholmen.

LEFT: Some old town alleyways in Gamla Stan
RIGHT: City centre tranquility on the island of Riddarholmen

We stopped for a refreshment at a popular spot near Västerbron, the Western Bridge, before retracing our steps to Gamla Stan and crossing the bridge back to the Hilton for a well-earned short rest.

LEFT: Walking along the shoreline at Kungsholmen


Following a pre-dinner drink in the Hilton's Executive Lounge, we made our way to the Melanders Fisk restaurant in the Söderhallarna shopping mall. Although it was only a single stop on the metro, we preferred this option to the alternative of walking: the train ran directly through a tunnel, while the pedestrian route would have involved traversing the hilly centre of Södermalm. The food proved to be fresh and delightful, but the shopping mall location involved something of a compromise in terms of overall ambience.

Altogether, a packed programme and a wonderful day!

Saturday 24 May

Next Day

Previous Day