Today we have an interview with Vasco Castro, Spotter for our Stockholm cityblog
Please introduce yourself!
I’m a 29 years old Portuguese that has moved to Stockholm almost 7 years ago. In my previous life I did a PhD in Physical Chemistry, which actually sounds smarter than it is. In fact that was the reason why I came to Sweden. Nowadays I am working in a management consulting company and (but) I am also a voluntary translator for the United Nations. From what you already understood I love experiencing new things, which doesn’t only apply to where I live, what I work with, but also to what I do in my everyday life.
I enjoy meeting new people. I actually love meeting new people. Others see me as a very social person that is always surrounded by people, but the truth is that I spend lots of time on my own. It can either be reading a book in a random park in Stockholm, listening to music, trying new cooking techniques and ingredients, or just drinking a glass of red wine at home. I also love wandering around town alone quite often, but I guess this would be on the border line as have a certain tendency to meet people along the way.
Why Stockholm? Along with “where are you from?” that’s the question that I have heard the most during the last 7 years, and I have so many answers for it. The interesting people, the Nordic organization, the Scandinavian architecture, the water that surrounds town, the constant novelty, the great weather (believe it or not, but I hate rain more than cold weather and in Stockholm it hardly rains…actually as I write, it rains), the countless parks, the party places, the daring restaurants, the cozy cafés, the… Keeping it short: the city and everything that comes with it!
You know you are going to end up in a tourist trap at some point. That’s fine. It’s just part of the experience of visiting a new city. Just save some time to try the spots that we write about. They are worth it. But I wouldn’t actually say that any of them is the must-do-thing! My favorite would be to go to Södermalm, jump off the main streets and wander for at least 30 minutes until you make sure you are completely lost (don’t worry, everyone speaks English in this town and you’ll be back on track in no time). Then, just observe what Stockholm is about and be part of it.
Which prejudices about Stockholm are true? Which ones are not?
I need to take the biggest of them all: the prejudices about Swedes. You think that they are cold, distant, predictable and boring. Well, they think that too. On the other hand I strongly disagree. I’m a Portuguese; I should probably know what a warm and interesting person is. Next time you are talking with your warm Southern European, try to count how many questions you are getting and compare that with the Swede. I’ll not even go to where is the easiest place to get to talk with new people, and who travels to the most to exotic and adventurous places.
There is one prejudice that other Swedes leaving outside Stockholm have that is actually true: people are more superficial here than in all Sweden. This is the capital and as in all the capitals that’s what usually happens. But there are positive aspects that come along with that superficiality: Scandinavian design and fashion that actually stir trends worldwide!
What do you know about Stockholm what no tourist will know?
You can visit all the places in Stockholm for a week, be everywhere and you might not understand what’s happening in this town. Why are the Swedes so drunk during weekends, why so many parks, why do cafés have the style they have, why do Swedes get half naked when sun comes even if it’s only 15C? This implies knowing the Swedish culture and understanding social interactions.
I remember that when I moved to Stockholm I didn’t really understand many things, but I was always open to everything. Nowadays I understand, I am part of the culture and I see the patterns of social interactions. I’d say that if you want to understand this town, be open and observant to everything that happens around you. Maybe you’ll not understand things fully in a weekend, but your experience will be a lot better. And if you do understand, maybe you are just not a tourist anymore.
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Stockholm at this moment? Why? What can you do there?
Look to the spots that all of the Stockholm spotters picked! It clearly screams Södermalm and SOFO in particular. This is an area with lots of cool bars, cafés, stores and restaurants. Obviously with that comes the cool people, and among them the most famous Swedish artists.
But let’s not try to be hip for a moment. Any place in this town is a great place to live. Even in the extreme posh areas you will find a wide range of activities that will fit anyone’s tastes. In the worst case scenario, if you can’t find what you want in the place you live, just take the subway and you’ll be there in a matter of minutes.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city? Which spots (that you wrote about!) would you visit?
Alarm is off because I don’t have to work and I can sleep those extra hours I skipped because of a report I had to finish. Look outside my window and it’s sunny outside. It’s also just warm enough for not caring for a jacket. I get out of my apartment, grab something to eat at Fine Food, and then I take the free boat to Södermalm aiming to either Nytorget or Vita Berg.
At this point I’m probably with some friend. We just talk, have some food, take the newspaper and a book out and relax. Afterwards we grab some other friend and aim for an ice cream or a café around Nytorget.
When it’s time for dinner I would go for Matkultur every night…if it would be cheaper! And because is summer time and the sun is probably still up, it’s now time for having a beer or two at F12 or Debaser Slussen.
Check out the other interviews with our Spotters