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Weeknote 54

Some satisfying user research plus an epic sized weeknote of my Nordic adventures

Some satisfying user research

Ahead of my trip to Sweden the previous week, I'd a busy time at work, observing some user research sessions on a prototype I've been designing for the GDS Publishing team. The second design iterations seemed to prove a success, so relatively satisfied about that.

New local Peruvian restaurant find

En route to Heathrow last weekend by an assortment of London buses, on a somewhat circuitous route due to engineering disruption on the Piccadilly Line, we discovered Quinoa Arepa in Wandsworth which serves the best arepas I've tried yet!

close up of arepa with beans and avocado

Nordic adventures

The past week, X and I travelled to Stockholm to visit some of her family there. It was my first visit to Sweden, and I was suitably impressed with how efficient and tidy the country is.

To Malmö

Before we'd time to explore the Swedish capital, we were off south on the classic Snälltåget train to Malmö and Copenhagen to spend a couple of nights. On the way I'd my first experience in a train dining car where I'd a delicious hearty meal of steak with a creamy tarragon pepper sauce.

I'd not been to the coast for several months, so Malmö offered an excellent opportunity to take in the sea breeze and capture some great photos. Although only there briefly, I liked the calm vibe of the city that sets it apart from other parts of Sweden. It's somewhere I'd like to spend more time exploring someday.

left to right, river view of Malmö with buildings either side, sea view towards the Oresund Bridge from pier
Calum beside a green background and cyclist mural

Copenhagen via the Øresund Bridge

I'd my first experience crossing over and under the sea in one journey by train via the Øresund Bridge en route to Copenhagen to spend one night there.

view out of train window of Øresund Bridge

It was my second visit to the Danish capital, but my first opportunity to visit the Design Museum there. A fairly contemporary exhibition, but somewhat underwhelmed by the range of exhibits on show compared to other design museums I've visited.

We did a couple of free walking tours whilst there, encouraged by a good experience of one I'd done in Porto last year. The first was a 3-hour Grand Tour of Copenhagen and the second was a 90-minute tour of Christianshaven. Both were thoroughly enjoyable, and I absorbed such a lot of quirky but interesting details of the city and its people.

My visit to Copenhagen didn't go by without sampling a few of the local delicacies, including some of the finest pastries I've tried at Holm's Bakery.

Calum holding a partially eaten pastry

Return to Stockholm

We returned to Stockholm on the slightly quicker and more modern tilting train. We only just managed to catch the train by minutes before it left on the final departure of the day north. That was all thanks to poor platform signage at Copenhagen station.

Exploring Stockholm

We spent a few days exploring Stockholm, beginning with a visit to the Vasa Museum which I thoroughly recommend in spite of it being very crowded throughout. Museumed-out, this was followed by exploring the old town of Stockholm (Gamla Stan) on foot including, you guessed it, some Fika Time to pause for more pastries!

rear view of Vasa ship inside an enclosed building
Gamla Stan red and orange coloured buildings

Metro station caves

A visit to Stockholm also wasn't complete without a visit to the magnificent collection of underground metro stations with painted bedrock. Sadly, since the pandemic there are no official tours organised to see all the stations, however it's quite easy to travel independently to each station and take photos within the 1-hour time limit of a single journey ticket.

Left to right, Station tunnel with a rainbow painted on to blue painted bedrock, a station with green/red striped floor and white/green painted bedrock, escalators of underground station with brown painted bedrock, Calum in a station with white/blue painted bedrock with a floral pattern

Stockholm's tastiest finds

From a Londoner's perspective, eating out in Stockholm wasn't quite as pricey as I'd been expecting. That being said, the price of alcohol was a little more than even London's eye wateringly high prices. My favourite dining experiences in Stockholm were enjoying a fresh seafood lunch at Östermalm Market Hall and a divine dinner of Swedish meatballs at Restaurant Prinsen. Also on the list of great Swedish cuisine was the café at Stockholm Botanical Garden, finished off with a tranquil walk along Brunnsviken lake.

Left to right, salmon sandwich with salad dressing, meatballs in gravy sauce with mashed potato and lingonberries, smørrebrød with mushroom topping and rhubarb crumble desert above

Exploring the archipelago

Finally, on the Nordic adventure, we boarded a local foot passenger ferry for a relaxing day trip to Vaxholm. The weather was mostly warm but overcast that day, although the scenery was still very pleasant and somewhat reminiscent of the coastal landscape on my visit to Vancouver Island over a decade ago.

Left to right, Storskäl passenger ferry, blue painted wooden house, jetty with wooden row boat

Looking forward to my next Nordic adventure, hopefully next year!