Truth be told, there may be some merit to the old saying, "Business first, then pleasure", but during the past weeks I have found the opposite to be true.
But let's circle back. Last September I became a full-time freelance writer and mainly work in web content creation, which means my work is neither particularly creative, nor do I get a byline. Usually, you can find my hours of labour on a hotel website, probably the FAQ section or where to rent cars, and most of the people will not even read the content I provide.
I don't mean to complain, I am one of the few I know who can live from writing full-time, I am my own boss and I can arrange my time completely flexibly. When I took up this kind of writing, I told myself it would be to pay the bills - the perfect job that would allow me to focus on my own writing - as ultimately the goal would be to live from MY writing, not the one I do for others.
Let me explain you the problems of this plan I came up with. In theory very good, it has not supported me practically, as I get up every day and write at least 3-4 hours for my clients. Probably the editor has sent back a few things that need redoing. I sit perched at my desk, my shoulders getting increasingly tense as my fingers flit over the keyboard, creating one article after the other.
And this is where the problem kicks in. As you may imagine, the very last thing I want to do after hours of writing for clients is to keep sitting at my laptop and do my own writing, which is why, ironically, I have hardly written as little ever since I've become a full-time writer.
My main problem is self-commitment and discipline. I always deliver on the dot when it comes to my clients, I scold myself the harshest when content for my clients is not topnotch and I can discipline myself to get up every day and start with my articles. However, sadly, I am not as skilled with setting and keeping my own deadlines. I cannot tell you how often I've said, "at the end of this year you'll have self-published two books, sent out hundreds to other publishers and won a Nobel prize" (well, maybe my aims are also a bit too high).
So here I am, twenty-fucking-seven and no big break for my own writing in sight. And the only person I can blame is myself. So, what does this self-pitying blabber have to do with my headline? Well, I thought about how I could make the article deadlines serve my own writing as well and reversed the whole pleasure-business-paradigm. Ever since two weeks, I only allowed myself to get to work - work that has deadlines attached - when I have written at least 1500 words of my own writing, may that be a blog post, story or even translation of one story.
To be quite frank, I haven't managed to do it on all times (the client's do still pay me to keep deadlines, I don't pay myself), but it has already worked wonders, and I have written on my new book (or should I say one of the many) for the past weeks and accomplished huge chunks thanks to this new routine.
Why is this helpful? Well, first of all, it increase the chance that, one wonderful day, I could actually live from my own writing, as if you don't ever write, how should this ever happen? Secondly, I have been chastising myself whenever I got off work, always demanding to do more and more and more. However, feeling tired, I ended up numbing the inner voice to get on with something with Netflix and ended up feeling like a failure. Now, when I've typed up my last article, I can truly sign off, knowing I've already done my own writing for the day.
Another reason why it was wise to do my writing first and the client's second is that I am my most creative and resourceful in the morning. After having been drained from writing hotel profile 170 of this month, I surely feel tapped out and it is harder to delve into my stories. Additionally, the non-creative chains that often frustrate me when writing such content are less tight after I was allowed to explore my own worlds and knock myself out creatively.
Depending on my future month's workload, I definitely want to keep up this scheme and can only invite other freelance writers to do so as well, if you also dream of becoming an independent writer one day, or at least making money out of both. So screw business, and let's do some pleasure!
Amidst the buzz of Stockholm you can find this hostel/hotel that offers chic rooms for a great price, as well as included breakfast and is only a short walk from Stockholm's main walking street Drottninggatan. The hotel features a 24-hour front desk and a casual vibe, perfect for honeymooners or single travellers alike, as well as families. Divided into two houses combined by a courtyard, the hotel features a wide array of rooms and a breakfast room in the basement that is tastefully decorated and also features a bar.
The rooms have high ceilings and very comfy beds, as well as luxurious bathrooms with bathtubs or showers and a large mirror. Free WiFi throughout the hotel is also provided. Some rooms also look into the courtyard and promise a quiet night, but although the hotel is directly at the rim of Stockholm's buzz, it is generally very quiet in its vicinity.
Only a few streets down, there is Sveavägen, a broad arterial road along which lie many bars, pubs and restaurants. A few steps away is also the Stockholm concert house where markets occasionally occur. The department store Haymarket is close-by, too.
Only 30 minutes from vibrant and historic Stockholm lies this cute and cosy cottage, nestled in the locality of Karsta, Valentuna. This AirBnB featured gem is offered by super-hosts Jesper and Katrin, who are fantastic and warm people.
The cottage invites from the outside already with its traditional falun-red facade, surrounded by greenery and a little porch on the front. An outside patio allows you to grill or to view the amazing surroundings in the summer. When entering, a small corridor welcomes you in, with hooks on one side for jackets and such. To the left awaits a small, but clean bathroom with a shower (there is a little hole in the plastic wall, but it is well fixed-up). Even a washing machine is part of the facilities, perfect for longer stays. Even though the bathroom is not a luxury spa, it is definitely sufficient for a wonderful stay.
Leading away from the left of the corridor, a living space opens up and warmth envelopes you instantly. The house is quite old and the walls and floor are not entirely even, but that only adds to the cosy atmosphere of this location. The wonky kitchen emanates an inviting charm, and the old oven is a special perk, perfect to warm up when staying in the cold months. A small round table seats two and is the perfect place to enjoy an intimate breakfast before heading out. To cool your food, a large fridge is available, as well as all equipment needed for cooking, such as plates, cups, cutlery, etc.
Opposite the kitchen is a cushy sofa and a large coffee table where you can relax during the evenings after exploring the many beautiful villages and towns in the surroundings. A TV is also available, but shows only Swedish shows. Board games, candles and some flyers of surrounding sights lie in the shelves for entertainment or to set the mood.
The bedroom has a double bed, though it is very small (probably queen size?), but perfect for honeymooners who want to cuddle up. The pillows and blanket are very cosy and there are two bedside tables and lamps. Two wardrobes provide plenty of space for clothes and the suitcase. An iron and board are also available, if you want to do laundry. A door leads directly from the bedroom to the outdoor patio and the odd deer or badger might even run by if you're lucky enough to spot it.
If you're looking for a genuine and authentic Swedish experience, this tiny cottage is the perfect getaway. Tourist destinations like Vaxholm, Stockholm or Uppsala are only up to one hour away from here, and the area also is a beautiful place to take walks. So why not book it for your next stay in Sweden.
Does the accommodation have a parking spot?
Yes, just in front of the cottage, there is a parking spot for one car. It is not roofed and when driving in a few branches may graze the car, but that's the Swedish land life for you.
How does check-in at this accommodation work?
Self-check in is provided through a lock box on the side of the cottage. The hosts will give you the code, so you can check in any time you want and without any hassle.
Does the accommodation have a dishwasher?
Although the accommodation is well-equipped with an iron, ironing board and washing machine, it does not feature a dishwasher. Plates, glasses and cutlery, however, are provided.
Are towels provided by the accommodation?
Save some space in your suitcase and don't bring your own towels, as this accommodation provides a few fluffy ones on site.
Does the accommodation also have a crib?
Even though the cottage is very small, families can still enjoy quality time with the entire family. A Pack 'N' Play is provided on site for infants. However, bear in mind that the bedroom is limited in space. Capacity for extra beds is not available.
Sightseeing and shopping
Kicking off our time in Stockholm, we took the cheaper Flygbussarna Bus from Stockholm Arlanda Airport to Stockholm centre. The Arlanda Express also goes into the city from the airport in about 20 minutes, but costs considerably more with about €30 per person and ride. If you've got time, take the Flygbussarna that leaves from the terminal in about 12-minute intervals and only costs €10-12 per ride for a 1-hour drive.
We arrived at the main station and dragged our luggage to the Hotel Hötorget, a hostel/hotel close to Drottninggatan, the main shopping street and the centre. You can read a short feature on the hotel here.
After getting ready for the city, we left to explore Stockholm and soon fell in love with Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town. In short, this oldest part of Stockholm looks like an ancient Italian city, almost reminiscent of places like Siena or San Gimignano. Crooked houses line the cobbled streets and little shops nestle among each other, selling Swedish and other goods. This part connects the City, where Drottinggatan is situated, and the hipster district Södermalm.
Tucked away in one of the many cobbled streets I found a fantastic shop called Hilda Hilda that sells hand-crafted Swedish pillows, linen, pencil cases and much more. I fell in love with a soft puppy pillow I simply had to buy, and which now adorns our flat.
My personal favourite was a visit to the Children's Museum, which is not only honouring the best of Swedish children's literature, but is also a heavenly playground for children. Nestled in various rooms, the settings from beloved children's books are accessible for children to play in, before you can go on a ride through lovely set-up miniature scenes from books that are simply mesmerising and also quite scary. The ride ends with a room that hosts a huge Villa Villekulla in which children (and adults like me alike) can live the Pippi dream. Fun interactive sets round off the experience, and the shop allows to buy souvenirs to remember it by.
Another museum that really impressed us was the Vasa Museum, just opposite the children's museum. In the 17th century, the Vasa ship was supposed to be the pride of the the Swedish army, which came to a quick end when it sunk only 25 minutes into its maiden voyage. In the 1960's the shipwreck was unearthed from the grounds and has since been exhibited.
We followed a 20-minute tour to learn more about the ship and then simply explored the rest ourselves. Though it is not permitted to go inside the wreck, you can see the skeletons of those who perished in the sinking, and many more artefacts connected to it, as well as the ship from pretty much any angle and height. We definitely deemed it a must-see during a trip to Stockholm.
Eating out in Sweden is really expensive. We'd heard the rumours beforehand, but it struck us off-guard. A meal in Stockholm under €15 per dish is impossible to find, and alcohol is at €7 per pint of beer. Nevertheless, we decided to indulge in going out and having drinks and stumbled upon some great places.
Our favourite restaurant was the DiWine on Drottninggatan where we had dinner the last evening of our honeymoon. The interior is tastefully decorated and with an Italian ambience. Our pizzas were very delicious and it was the perfect place to ease out of our trip.
The evening before we went to a pub called The King's Table on Sveavägen where we ate scrumptious meatballs and enjoyed a pleasant night, too. However, the ensuing evening we also considered going for a drink there and a weird atmosphere was present in the pub. There was no music anymore and very bright lights, so it could be hit or miss with this one. As it was ruled out for last night's drinks, we moved further down the road and ended having a nightcap in the Crazy Horse. More like an American pub, it had a fun atmosphere, but everyone inside seemed to be around twelve, which was awfully disconcerting because in reality they were surely late teens/early twenties. (#I'mold).
All in all, Stockholm was wonderful, though quite cold, and we went around with the Hop-on, Hop-off bus as well, which was in theory quite nice, but took over an hour to do the round, so we didn't hop on as often as we'd planned.
My absolute favourite, and I am repeating myself, was Gamla Stan the old town, where I could simply walk around all day and peruse the wonderful shops. Should you visit Stockholm in the near future, start at the top of Drottinggatan and walk all the way down to the bridge to cross over to Gamla Stan. It will take about 30 minutes to an hour and give you the perfect insight into this beautiful city.
Back from the honeymoon and easing into married life, I finally snatched a moment to write this blog post (the first of some) on our honeymoon in Sweden.
First of all, it was cold. I know a cold front swept the whole of Europe, but snow was swirling down as we retreated to the little cottage we rented - so it was, in fact, the perfect Sweden experience if you ask me.
The ten days in the cold north flew by, but it was a most wonderful journey with my husband (still weird to think of him as my husband). Our honeymoon didn't start quite pristine, as our flight was cancelled due to strikes of Scandinavian Airlines. Picture us, cosied up in the Hilton airport hotel in our lovely room, considering where to have dinner, when the phone pinged and the message of the flight cancellation came in! In fairness, my lovely husband waited to impart the bad news until after our spa time, as he didn't want me worried (isn't he the sweetie!). But not even a delayed flight could have subdued our honeymoon, so we ensure we were on the night flight and dashed off for a day in Munich where I bought an Abercrombie & Fitch jumper, which turned out to be the only jumper I wore in Sweden, as it was so cold.
Instead of arriving in the afternoon, we arrived in Stockholm at midnight and drove all the way to Karsta, nestled north of Stockholm. We had booked a cottage via AirBnB and it was a little garden house in the backyard of the family's house who were utterly friendly and welcoming. You can read a feature on the cottage and its amenities here.
Staying in the cottage enabled us to experience a true Swedish experience, as we were in no touristy area, only dotted with the loveliest of cottages, among which we also found our dream house, tucked away close to the forest. Jakob and I are in a huge house frenzy at the moment and Sweden was almost an overkill of cute, perfect houses, but this was the creme-de-la-creme. Held in the traditional falun-red, the house had the country style vibe I simply love.
Back to the cottage: Ensconcing us in a romantic mood, we enjoyed our first night together very much and woke up refreshed and ready to explore. We took out the rental car (we rented with Europcars and everything was perfect) and drove to Sigturna, allegedly Sweden's oldest town.
Surrounded by water - like everything in that area - Sigturna turned out to be a sleepy and beautiful village with the cutest row of houses. An ancient castle from the Viking era perched on the rim of the village and we strolled through it, hand in hand, reminiscing about days gone past.
Here we also had our first Swedish meatballs, and I was surprised to find that they tasted exactly as I expected. Compared to the meatballs served in Austrian IKEAS, they are served with sweetened cucumbers, which were simply delicious. Walking up and down the main street, we stumbled upon various small shops selling individual and local goods. We finished off our trip by soaking up the sun at the shore.
On our second date we set off for Mariefred, located south-west from Stockholm. Here we visited the Grindholm Castle which hosts the weirdest taxidermied lion. The castle was beautiful, nestled at the water and a mixture of red and brown brick. Inside, it hosted a great exhibition of the Swedish monarch portraits and some rooms kept in their original furnishing. The village was yet another cute, sleepy place to visit and definitely worth a visit.
One of the fantastic things about staying at the cottage was that we could return each evening, cook dinner and relax together. The next two days we took day trips where I bought Levi's jeans, which are finally a great fit and my permanent companion during this stay (and beyond).
On Friday, we went to Vaxholm, but it was pouring down so grimly, we decided against a boat tour and went to Uppsala instead, where we were welcomed by sun and a lovely old city. Even though Stockholm was really beautiful and fantastic, Uppsala was my favourite. I loved the smaller size, vibrant atmosphere and cool shops spread all over town. We had lunch at Bastard Burgers, a true hipster diner, and even though the burgers were good, I deemed them overpriced for what we got.
In the local bookstore (Akademiboken), I bought the book The Toymakers, which was a great read and you can read the review here. When we enjoyed our tea in the Espresso Bean, we even saw the Friday Climate Change demonstrations from the window.
What would a trip to Sweden be without going to IKEA, right? On Saturday, we drove all the way down to the biggest IKEA in Sweden in Kungens Kurvam which was inasmuch weird as it wasn't the usual maze through the exhibition and hall, but a circular building where you started from the top and wound your way down through the furniture and cafés.
On Sunday we checked out of the Kate in Karsta and moved into a hotel in Stockholm. Read all about our time in Stockholm and what we did in Part 2 here.
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