Simanaitis Says

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THOUGH IT’S ALMOST a century old now, my Cook’s Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, 1923, is a fine means of catching up with this Scandinavian country.

Yesterday in Part 1, we learned about the Øresund and its impressive bridge/tunnel linking Sweden and Denmark; alas, only to find it being chalked One-Way because of the pandemic. Today in Part 2, we visit Sweden’s largest city and its capital, Stockholm, both retrospectively via Cook’s and with recollections of my own visits.

Stockholm. Back to 1923: “The situation of Stockholm,” Cook’s says, “is one of extreme beauty. A well-known writer describes how the Almighty must have selected a section of Scottish lake scenery, a portion of the sea-coast of Naples, a few of the islands of Hyères, some granite hill-tops from the Ural chain, and then, shaking them up together in a large cauldron, poured the mixture out upon the banks of a bay of the Baltic….”

This and a following image from Cook’s.

The guide says, “The first time Stockholm was mentioned as a town was in 1252. During the first centuries of its existence, the town did not extend beyond the area of the three islands: the ‘City within the Bridges,’ where the Royal Palace now stands, the Riddarholmen and the Helgeandsholmen.… During the first part of the fourteenth century the north and south shores, lying nearest to the city, the districts now called Norrmalm and Södermalm, also began to be built upon, but the many wars of the Union period retarded the growth of the town.”

“At the beginning of the nineteenth century,” Cook’s writes, “Stockholm had 75,000 inhabitants, and in the middle of that century the first hundred thousand was reached. Since then the increase has been very rapid, and at the present day [1923] Stockholm possesses about 420,000 inhabitants.”

Today in 2020, it’s more than double that: Some 976,000 live in the municipality, with more than 2.4 million in the metropolitan area.

Södermalm Attractions. Of Södermalm, Cook’s writes, “The southern shore of Mälaren and of Saltsjön is rocky and precipitous, and the houses are built high up on the cliffs. Though this quarter in itself is not very interesting, a visit to this part of the town must on no account be neglected, on account of the extremely fine view it affords…. The easiest way to reach the top of the cliffs is to go up by the Katarina Lift 35 m. high, from which a footbridge leads to Mosebacke Square. From the platform there is a most magnificent view over the city and its environs.”

The Katarina Lift, 1896. Image from Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, “The lift has been closed since 2010 due to a lack of security in the construction.”

In a visit to Stockholm two decades ago, I was attracted to the Södermalm district because, as noted in Wikipedia, it’s known “as the home of bohemian, alternative culture and a broad range of cultural amenities.”

New Year’s Eve celebration at Södra Teatern & Mosebacke. Image by David Schmidt from

Back in 1923, Cook’s said, “A fine view can also be enjoyed from the Mosebacke Restaurant close by.”

Were I to visit again, I’d surely dine there. Its Regnbåge (“Rainbow”) sounds great: “salted and grilled rainbow salmon, butter sauce on lobster fondue, shrimp, dill, chives & boiled new potatoes.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020

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