November is not my favourite month. Where I live in Finland, it is usually rainy, cold and DARK. And it is just getting darker, the whole month. Good thing is that I really like Christmas, and in November it feels appropriate to start decorating, listening to carols and lighting candles at night. I just came back from a short visit to my happy place and old hometown; Stockholm, Sweden. The weather was almost as rainy, cold and cloudy as it is in Helsinki. But there is one place that can take the most out of any rainy, November night. And that is the Old Town, Gamla Stan, of Stockholm – one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe.
The busy main streets are filled with small shops, beautiful windows, wandering tourists and busy feeling. But walk just one or two blocks away, and you can have the Gamla Stan for yourself. I love those small alleyways. When I was living in Stockholm, walking and wandering around Gamla Stan was something I used to do on Sundays. But I like walking, so often I walked through it whenever I was going to Södermalm from the city centre (or the other way), instead of taking the metro.
I have to admit that a walk in Gamla Stan is also a walk down memory lane for me. There are the cafés I used to hang out with my friends for fika and studied for exams; the Irish pub we went for a relaxed night out; the streets where I fell in love and felt completely head over heels. I loved living in Stockholm; the city and how it made me feel. It was my happy place. After moving away, I still went back there when I had my heart broken or felt lost with my life. Stockholm was like a good old friend – the kind that you can go a long time without any interaction but when you meet, you continue from where it was left. It still is. But I have found many other happy places and it’s no longer just a city where I go to think back how great everything used to be. I go back there because I want to, not because I need to.
I think I will always love Stockholm, it has a special place in my heart. Although I want to discover and explore new places more and more, it’s comforting to go back there every now and then. It also reminds me that most of all, it’s about how you choose to see a place. I remember the butterflies in my stomach when I arrived in the city with my suitcase, marvelling the beautiful buildings and stylish busy people walking down the streets. It felt like a dream come true to be able to live in that stunning city. And it was, in many ways, although daily life hits you hard everywhere – eventually. 😉
Do you have a happy place? Have you ever visited Stockholm’s Gamla Stan? 🙂