The past year has seen many people across the world grapple with a very specific type of loss; the sadness of a trip not taken, the mourning of exploring new cultures, the yearning for experiences beyond the anomie of the supermarket. As that strong desire for, and impulse to, wander the world fell prey to the pandemic in a turbulent 2020, we seemed at one point to be surging toward an anticipatory dystopia. Who were we without travel? What do we have to look forward to when there is no international holiday booked for summer?
Over the course of the past 12 months, we’ve been commissioning artists, painters and illustrators from different cities all over the world to paint a picture of what they see out their windows – either real or imaginary. Most artists have been confined to these cities during the global lockdowns, and all have a close connection to the place they have illustrated. Each artist has a “GRAZIA At Home City Guide” perched on their window sill, insider guides to the cities you need to visit and recollections of moments past in these nooks of the world; how they drank in the palaces, how they wandered through the parks and how they ate and ate and ate. There’s recommendations too – local dishes, phrases and lessons – so you can start imagining your own itinerary from the comfort of your own home. Today, we’re headed to Malmö in Sweden.
Along the Southern tip of Sweden, Malmö sits flat; pretty, safe, trendy, affordable and cycle-friendly. A city that rewards exploration, pastel-coloured buildings intercept every viewpoint and bars and great food really dictate the “hangout vibe”.
After a job opportunity came up in Malmö, Australian designer and illustrator Megan McKean moved to the Swedish city and into a temporary apartment overlooking a courtyard.
“During lockdown, I’ve been working from the kitchen table. I love watching the different windows of other people’s homes over the course of the day — the lights flickering, the candles going on as the night sets in,” McKean says. “I love imagining the different worlds that are taking place on the five floors around me.”
For the uninitiated, Fika is a daily tradition. McKean will begin her day with a walk through one of the city’s many parks (“honestly, they’re like Narnia with their lamp posts and leafy trails,” she says) before visiting a coffee house for Fika, a ritual of simply sitting down for a coffee and cake break.
“The pastries and cakes in Sweden are hard to beat, from the classic kannebulle to the super cute, bright green Princesstårta,” McKean says. “Everything is so delicious and adorable – how can you top that? Most coffee houses will have multiple options for the filter coffees, as well, so I exist in a permanent state of caffeination.”
Slottsträdgården is the only organic garden in Malmo and as one of the most visited gardens in the city, it’s popular both among tourists and locals. With eight themed lush gardens – make sure to visit the rose garden and the Japanese garden – Fika is best enjoyed in this very spot.
We mention Slottsträdgården because while in Stockholm, most of the things that make that city vibrant are trends, in Malmö, people are generally a little more down to earth. And this little garden setting is a spot to breathe and relax and just be. When you’re done, it’s walking distance to home.
“I adore so much about the city; beautiful canals and medieval buildings, a castle and a windmill all within walking distance,” McKean says. “It’s the Goldilock’s version of new cities for me; not too big, not too small — it’s just right!”
Follow Megan McKean @meganmckean
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