Sunday, 23 May 2010
Stockholm A-Z: Café life
Like many cities with diverse seasons, I find that Stockholm can be schizophrenic. In the winter, Stockholmers walk quickly to their destinations, head-down often avoiding social interaction on the street. This is understandable. It is so cold, you just want to get indoors.
In the early stages of summer though, the city changes.
The sunnier, warmer weather comes and restaurants spread out onto the pavements and streets. It seems like even the smallest of cafés has an outside terrace. It might only consist of one table and two chairs, but it is still an outdoor terrace. Outdoor summer cafés open up for the season on quaysides, in parks and squares.
And the people flock to them in droves.
Café season is the start of beautiful people season. All winter, Stockholmers have been hidden under layers of thermal clothing. But now, they cast off their outer garments and slip into their summer outfits, their sunglasses and their shorts and sandals. A more grateful and beautiful nation I am yet to find. You wonder where all these Amazonian women and athetlic men have been hybernating for the winter half of the year. Oh, of course...in the gym.
Café life has a strong tradition in Swedish culture. It is still possible to find traditional coffee houses dotted about the city. A window to the past, they often still have the original decor and atmosphere. Swedes are amongst the top 5 countries when it comes to the consumption of coffee, and this is part of the reason why coffee is so good in most cafés. Even 7 Eleven has decent coffee. This is also why Starbucks considered Stockholm to be a saturated market long before they opened their first store at the airport earlier this year.
But it is the outdoor café that reflects life for the modern Stockholmer. Weather permitting, these are the perfect places to sit and watch the world go by. Infraheaters and blankets help keep any irritating chill at bay. So, grab your outsized sunglasses, head to a square, slip into a chair, order a macchiato and enjoy summer life in Stockholm.