Stockholm: In the Footsteps of the Dragon Tattoo
By Richard West
Celebrity alert! Waiting to board my never-late SAS flight to Stockholm, I glanced right and noticed a familiar-looking rather handsome plumber. No, it was Michael Nyqvist, currently Sweden’s most famous actor, who has portrayed the testosteronic Everyman journalist Mikael “Kalle” Blomkvist in that country’s three Millennium Trilogy movies adapted from the late Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.” Once aboard, Mr. Blomkvist, clad in his neatly pressed jeans, Oxford blue shirt, and hip black leather jacket, turned left as I turned right. As it should be.
This month, enter “fireplace center” (as theater folk say) Hollywood’s first version of one of the Millennium’s novels. Surely Mr. Blomkvist was gratified to learn that none other than James Bond (Daniel Craig) replaces himself, he with the face of everybody’s first husband, in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” James Bond as a middle-aged, scruffy felonious journalist? Now that’s acting.
Everyone from milk teeth to store-bought teeth has read one of the Millennium’s novels featuring investigative writer 43-year-old Blomkvist and, unquestionably the book’s star, Goth-girl-computer-genius, 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, who work together to combat people so evil they make Beelzebub seem as nice-minded as your first barber. Interestingly, all this horror in Sweden, the world’s first nation to ban capital punishment and torture.
Now that you’ve read the books and seen the movies, it’s time to turn left or right aboard your SAS flight to visit this beautiful Scandinavian capital and its important film-book locations. Start by staying at the Hilton Slussen Hotel (Guldgrand 8), aquavit-spitting distance to the Stockholm City Museum where you’ll begin your 90-minute Millennium Trilogy walking tour. I suggest you try to book Elisabeth Daude, an expert guide in all things Larsson-esque. Here are a few locales that put you in the action:
…Bellmansgatan 1 on Mariaberget Hill, Mikael Blomkvist’s attic apartment in this handsome 1700’s building overlooking Old Town (Gamla stan), islands, and waterways.
…Monteliusvagen, one of the city’s loveliest views overlooking the Riddarfjarden waterway and Kungsholmen Island with its Stockholm District Courthouse (light-brown tower, green roof) where Blomkvist was convicted of slander and Lisbeth Salander is declared legally competent.
…The corner of Gotgatan/Hokens Gata, the site of Blomkvist’s Millennium magazine, just down the street from Lisbeth Salander’s favorite junk-food outlet, the Seven-Eleven at Gotgatan 25 where she satisfies her addiction to Billy’s Deep Pan Pizza. You can too.
…Fiskargatan 9, where Lisbeth (with ill-gotten gains) buys a top floor 3800-square-foot apartment, decorating only three rooms and living hermitically under the name V. Kulla on the door. (Insider joke: Villa Villekulle is the name of Sweden’s beloved literary character Pippi Longstockings’ house). Code to enter is W.A.S.P., the name of Lisbeth’s favorite hacker comrade.
One must eat after all this exercise. I recommend three places: for lunch, the astounding Berns Salonger (Berzelii Park), an enormously beautiful Asian restaurant/hotel/night club/concert venue. You must see it to believe it. For dinner : the charmingly casual-cozy Restaurant Kvarnen (Tjarhovsgatan 4) with its ice-bowls of Swedish snaps (schnapps) with ten different spices before or after the fine smoked/cured salmon; and for your last night Den Gyldene Freden (since 1722) in Old Town where a Nobel committee meets weekly to mull over candidates. Perhaps they also order the Rocklunda pork belly with apple, chestnuts, and truffled celeriac puree before the green apple sorbet with, of course, chocolate variation.
Visit the Stockholm City Museum for more on Millennium Trilogy tours
Richard West spent nine years as a writer and senior editor at Texas Monthly before moving to New York to write for New York and Newsweek. Since then, he’s had a distinguished career as a freelance writer. West was awarded the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 1980 and is a member of Texas Arts & Letters.