Getting Lost And Found In Stockholm

Hailing from Palma de Mallorca, Alberto Polo Iañez originally studied sound design in Barcelona before discovering his passion for photography. Since then, Iañez has woven a career from exploration in sound and image creation, allowing plenty of time to explore the globe.

Along the way, he documents his travels with his ‘Diaries’ series. His latest journey took him to Sweden, where he explored the rugged terrain and pale light of a fading winter. In his own words, Iañez recounts his northern travel experience:

“When I start to devise a trip what I think about the most is about escaping, letting the daily routine aside and finding silent moments to be able to think. One of the reasons I love the Nordic countries is because the possibility of being in silence exists, and Stockholm is a good place for that. You don’t need to walk too far from the city to have that silent feeling. Just few kilometers away, you can experience the feeling of being alone in an island. Even the most busy areas of Stockholm are calm. I used public transport for eight days and I never got the stressful and oppressive feelings that I experienced in other countries’ urban buses or underground.

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My first steps in Stockholm were around Telefonplan, the area where I was staying. It reminded me a little of Berlin’s streets, but with more nature around. Some buildings vaguely reminded me of Stalinist architecture (that was just my impression). Let’s focus on my next destination, Djurgården.

“For those who like piers, I must say Stockholm is the right place. What is truly amazing is that every one of them holds a special charm…”The boat ride from Södermalm to the island is pleasant itself and from the distance you get a glimpse of the magical feeling of the spot (an old amusement park welcomes us as we arrive). My intention was to visit the greenhouses in the center of the island, where it is possible to have coffee or a nice meal, but I was unlucky as they were closed. After this minor disappointment, I made an inspiring discovery: the small forest nearby. Considerably tall trees, snow, beautiful yellows and greys…

As I said earlier, I was in silence and I did not go far to get here. I have the feeling I walked thousands of kilometers. I have come back to winter, leaving the spring back in Spain. Leaving the forest behind, I followed a path that marked out the separation between Djurgarden with the neighboring island. I walked by frozen little ponds scattered around until I arrived to the great frozen lake and the pier full of funny ducks slipping on the patches of ice. For those who like piers, I must say Stockholm is the right place. What is truly amazing is that every one of them holds a special charm…

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“It was a cold, gray snowy day. Those circumstances made my legs go for huge walks without complaining.”The morning after, I decided to visit the Bergianska Trädgården greenhouses, close to the Stockholm University campus. This placed seemed very different than what I had seen in pictures. It was a cold, gray snowy day. Those circumstances made my legs go for huge walks without complaining. I must say it was the day I took the most photos, thanks to the grey palette of the surrounding frozen lakes as well as the green shades inside the hothouses. Inside them, you can enjoy a warm cup of coffee surrounded by plants and flowers, completely disconnected from the outside world. If I ever go back to Stockholm, this will definitely be a place to come back and relax.

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“A long walk that reaffirmed nature’s presence in the city of Stockholm.”Day three in this Swedish town. I was still getting used to having this amount of light in the first hours of the morning. I needed to wake up as early as I could, as the days are quite dark. I decided to stay in my area, and headed to Vintervikens Trädgård. After an hour of walking, taking photographs, navigating small forests in the middle of the neighborhood and trying not to get lost using Google Maps, I arrived at my destination. Once there, I became curious about the ice patches formed on the tree trunks and rocks. I spent the rest of the day walking by the massive lake and spotting tiny islands in the distance. A long walk that reaffirmed nature’s presence in the city of Stockholm.

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“What I found made me believe in the magic of photography even more.”Thursday: The day began with the sun welcoming what would turn into the day I almost destroyed my feet. When you work at an office, it’s easy to think how few things can be done in a single day. But this is not always like that. I woke up at 6 am thinking that was 8, and started my little adventure towards Skogskyrkogården cemetery. I must say that I had lost interest in cemeteries a while ago. I saw some pictures of God’s thrones from this one that caught my attention. What I found made me believe in the magic of photography even more, as the place didn’t look at all like what I expected.

Not very interested, I walked amongst crosses and trees that seemed to touch the sky. I passed over dome mist and snow to take some more interesting photographs… Leaving Skogskyrkogården behind, I headed downtown to catch a bus that would take me to Hellasgården. This sort of camping ground, lake, spot or whatever you want to call it, must cause many people to freeze. The lake was half frozen ant there were people swimming in it, naked. Nordic people love nature! Just before this, I walked around the forests nearby that hid a golfing club called Jörkhagens Golfklubb. I got lost again, getting even further from the city.

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I would be even further away the day after, as we headed to Uppsala, a city near Stockholm. We played tourists there. The day was grey and few souls were walking around the city centre. Even so, the place had a certain charm. For some moments, I thought to be in one of the former Communist neighborhoods of Berlin again. After walking for a while, we listen to some local advice and walked to the suburbs. Our destination was Gamla Uppsala. As we were approaching it on the bus, we glimpsed several little yellow humps crossed by curvy paths that took different directions. We played around for a while, pretending we were explorers or discoverers, and made the most of this yellow magical place. We later found out that Gamla was a place of ancient pagan worship.

My trip was running out of days, and I tried to make the most of them, getting to know the center of Stockholm a little better. Commercial streets and postcard shops make me loose the interest and head straight to the last location I plan to visit. One hour away from Gamla Stan, is the huge Hagaparken park. You can get lost in it for three hours or more. It surrounds a great part of Brunnsviken.

My first touchdown in Stockholm and its surroundings has been a success. Mine is just one of the thousands or infinite points of view that may exist about this city, but I hope you don’t take it too seriously, and that it may guide your future visits there. Cities are not just the urban centre, carrying bags around and listening to the language you are used to. Sometimes you need to learn to get lost, or, even better, do it by accident, as I did in some moments of my trip to Stockholm.”

"Sometimes you need to learn to get lost, or, even better, do it by accident, as I did in some moments of my trip to Stockholm."

All images © Alberto Polo Iañez

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