Urban Deli in Stockholm

I have mixed feelings about Urban Deli. Since our AirBnb apartment was nearby, we came here a few times and found it to be hit-or-miss. Urban Deli is a bright and airy restaurant-cum-grocery store in the hipster Södermalm neighborhood. One of my favorite things to do in a new country is explore local grocery stores and UD didn't disappoint in that arena. On our first night in Stockholm, we were too tired to eat in a restaurant and Urban Deli's expansive grocery section was the perfect solution. They offer top quality products and an array of items from all over the world. I became obsessed with Pastoret yogurt (produced in Spain) and made several nightly trips to refill my supply. Flavors are divine and include lime or rooibos & apricot. I also went to town on Swedish lingonberry ice cream and other dairy treats.  Can I just say that milk tastes even better when it's called mjölk? Strange but true.
 My goodies back at the apartment

The restaurant side of Urban Deli was a bit of a letdown. Our first two times eating there were enjoyable. (One guy working there was so kind with our questions about directions that he tore a map of Stockholm out of a magazine, ran back to the kitchen and came back having taped it together and drawn directions)  Our last visit, the people serving us were unprofessional across the board. I'm not exaggerating when I say it took us 25 minutes to get a menu, and other items requested were never brought to the table.

I can highly recommend the grocery store for unique finds. Visit the restaurant or bar at your own risk.


Solo Travel in Lisbon: Hostel Independente Review

Last summer, I embarked upon my first "solo-trip", after travel plans with a friend fell through.  It ended up being a great experience and I have plans to do it again.  I decided to stay in hostels in the cities where I had no connections, and selected Hostel Independente for my visit to Lisbon. Overall, it wasn't the experience I'd hoped for (but my stay at Hostel Malti in Malta more than made up for it), so I wanted to share what I observed there in Lisbon.

Location-this hostel is located in the lively Bairro Alto district and is literally across the street from a gorgeous park looking out over the city. 
Price- like most hostels, it was reasonably priced and this one included breakfast
Cleanliness- for being a hostel, the rooms were quite immaculate

Environment- it wasn't very welcoming, and most people staying there weren't solo travelers. I think this was partly due to the size- it was quite a big hostel and didn't have a big community feel. Most travelers tended to "do their own thing" during the day and just use the hostel as a base for sleep.  I eagerly signed up for a "dine with the staff" meal on my first night and ended up being the only traveler attending (despite a full hostel!), where I ate mediocre food as the staff spoke Portuguese amongst themselves.  The hostel even has a restaurant open to non-hotel guests for dinner, so it was easy to get lost in the crowd. This ended up making it feel more like a hotel than a hostel.
Bathrooms- the toilet stalls were about 4.5 feet tall and many of the doors didn't lock. 
Rooms- this complaint is minor, but the lockers were very difficult to open and close (and insert the padlock every time) so arriving back to the room at night when others were sleeping posed a problem.
Bar- there were positives and negatives to this bar. The drinks were pretty good and the bartenders were friendly. The seating design was terrible.  There were tall bar stools to sit on but no room for your legs underneath the counter. Additionally, the counter was much higher than chest-height which made it really awkward and uncomfortable to sit and stay awhile. (Hence, I only ran into a few people there.)

Overall, I probably wouldn't stay here again, especially as a solo traveler.  For me, the point of staying in a hostel (more than just saving money) is to feel part of a traveling community and I just didn't get that vibe here.  Luckily, my trip wasn't finished, and my final stop on my solo trip included an amazing hostel experience (which I'll be writing about in the future).


The Greenhouse at Rosendals Trädgård in Stockholm

I'd heard about Rosendals Trädgård while looking up places to visit in Stockholm and added it to my list.  It was just the place to visit after checking out the awesome children's museum, also located on the island of Djurgården. It's a leisurely walk to the back of the island and is worth a visit for the beautiful grounds, though the food was a bit disappointing. We arrived in the afternoon and the buffet was pretty picked-over, so we ended up having tea rather than our intended lunch. You can't go wrong with a kanebullar and the prospect of drinking lingonberry juice was just too good to pass up. (Verdict: tastes just like cranberry.) The interior of the greenhouse was the perfect place to enjoy our snack as the fall sunlight seeped through the huge windows.

Afterwards, we enjoyed walking around and checking out the fall leaves and we were rewarded with a deer sighting as we walked through the island's woods. The magnificent nature all around Stockholm reminded me of my own hometown.