Stockholm: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Fotografiska

aerial view stockholm

My Sodermalm meanderings brought me to Katarinahissen, one of the best lookout points in Stockholm. Here’s a view of Slussen and Gmala Stan.

A funny thing happened on my way to Fotografiska in Stockholm. The funny thing is that I never made it to the famous photography museum, but I was OK with that — unusual for a Type A traveler such as myself. Not that I always make it to every attraction I want to see (far from it!) but I’m usually full of regret when it happens.

katarina kirka

The bright yellow color of Katarina Kyrka was a nice dose of cheer against Stockholm’s grey sky.

But my failed attempt gave me a nice, meandering tour of northeastern Sodermalm, and it was the perfect first day of sightseeing for someone in a jet-lagged haze (after a sleepless redeye flight) accompanied by an energetic toddler.

My husband, toddler and I had checked into our apartment in central Sodermalm (full review coming soon!) and had lunch at Bagel Street Cafe, immediately breaking one of my longstanding rules: no bagels outside NYC. Again, chalk it up to extreme jetlag. The bagel was lackluster but the gravlax, Swedish smoked salmon, was fantastic. I also had my first of many cinnamon buns — more on that coming soon too.

katarina kyrka graveyard

The old graveyard at Katarina Kyrka

Then it was decided that my husband would nap and I would explore Stockholm with our toddler. I looked on the map, and the only major museum that appeared to be located on the island of Sodermalm was Fotografiska, which my husband wasn’t dying to see. I put it into Google maps and it seemed doable with a stroller.

So I took off in the opposite direction that I was supposed to, backtracked, went in the correct direction for a few blocks and took a wrong turn again. I saw some cute shops selling chic home decor along the way. Scandinavia is renown for design but I didn’t feel ready to buy anything since we had just arrived. Plus the exchange rate of the Swedish Krona to the US Dollar was — and remains — miserable.

courtyard sodermalm

The courtyard in from of Sodra Teatern, one of Stockholm’s most important theaters.

I was on the right track again, when I intentionally strayed. I was intrigued by the large yellow church, Katarina Kyrka. The old graveyard was the perfect place for my toddler to get some exercise, as it was incredibly lush and green. Of course, I didn’t let him touch any of the stones.

sodermalm viewpoint

Now this had us intrigued… What could Katarinahissen possibly be?

Our next twist and turn took us to Sodra Teatern, where we admired the pretty courtyard that lay in front of one of Stockholm’s oldest theater. And I did some more toddler chasing, this time around the flowers.

A few more blocks and we happened upon our favorite discovery: Katarinahissen. We had no idea what it was, but the gate was open so we walked down the long path. More running for the toddler, and more chasing for me. There were beautiful views (see the top photo) of Slussen, the part of the Sodermalm that meets Gamla Stan, and also of Gamla Stan, the old town, itself. At the end of the long path there was a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace. It was 3pm and no one was there, but it looked like a wonderful place for a drink sans toddler.

stockholm sodermalm slussen

View of Katarinahissen from above. We were in the part on the right, as we didn’t go through the restaurant part.

Well, it was onward to Fotografiska, which appeared to be down the hill. After about 10 minutes of carefully walking down slippery cobblestones (it had started drizzling) we were now in the area that we had seen from the Katarinahissen walkway. It was actually then that we learned that we had been looking at Slussen, which is where we now were, right in front of the Stockholm City Museum. Ah, so there was another museum in Sodermalm. I was ready to go in there until I saw a sign saying no strollers and then realized that my son had just fallen asleep. I was equally frustrated and jealous, as I wanted to be asleep at this point far more than I wanted to be in any museum. I also realized that Katarinahissen was an elevator, one that could have saved us a lot of time except that it was out of order.

slussen sodermalm boats

So close to Fotografiska, yet so far…

In the face of all of these realizations, I knew I needed to trudge onward to Fotografiska, which seemed to be along the Slussen shoreline. But it seemed so busy and I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I think I was delirious at this point. All I wanted to do was take a taxi back to the apartment, but I didn’t want to wake my son up and so I knew I had to walk.

Amazingly, I found a much more direct path — thank you Gotgatan street! Getting back to the apartment was an uphill climb, but it only took about 20 minutes. And that was with a stop at a grocery store (I kind of get a kick out of foreign grocery stores) to buy my son a small container of lactose-free milk. Later I would learn that I actually bought him lactose-free heavy cream….

Don’t worry, our second day of sightseeing was much more productive!


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