“It’s like the Hobbit leaving The Shire” – that’s how one friend described my first stop and they were exactly right! I’m very close to my relatives in Ireland. I’m also close to their local stout. It was the perfect combination to start a short trip around Europe saying goodbye to family and friends. One of my favourite places is Strandhill in Co Sligo.
We’ve walked this beach on St Stephen’s Day and watched the hunt. It’s usually rounded off with a glass of the black stuff at the local pub, with the hounds running around our feet. This time, the beach was practically empty, but even that didn’t entice a curious seal closer to the shoreline – perhaps it was warmer in the sea.
Sweden is my current resting place and I’ve discovered something alarming about planning world trips months in advance – you forget the detail. I told my friends I was staying on ‘a boat’ in Stockholm. I don’t remember it being a yacht once owned by the Woolworth Millionairess Barbara Hutton.
One of her seven husbands was Cary Grant and the vessel, now known as http://www.malardrottningen.se was a birthday present from her father. As her expensive heels once graced the gangplank, my worn walking boots stomped down it and I headed towards the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan. I stopped at the Christmas Market at Stortorget and carried on down to the Royal Palace
and Parliament building – the architecture around Norrbro/Strömgatan/Skeppsholmsbron is stunning. If Ms Hutton was still with us, she may well have employed the services of the fine food merchants at this fantastic hall
Being of more modest means, I settled for a coffee and a cinnamon roll. I then entered the brilliantly weird world of Cindy Sherman at the http://www.modernamuseet.se which got me in the mood for the boho streets of Södermalm. After sampling a herringburger at Nystekt Strömming, I ended up at Mellqvist Kaffebar. The coffee was delicious and the music was cool – I know that, because I didn’t recognise it. Someone told me it’s where Stieg Larsson used to hang out. I think that’s pretty cool?