Matt and I went to the mall on Saturday.
I had no intention of ever visiting the Mål of Scandinavia, but I really really really wanted ice skates after that beautiful afternoon last week, and Matt suggested we should go see the mall. Seemed like an opportunity to do both…
We hopped onto the T-bana and then took a pendeltåg (commuter train) for a short trip to Solna. We exited the train station and followed the signs for the Mall of Scandinavia, Friends Arena and some other English-named destinations. At the top of the bridge to the mall, I noticed that the Migrationsverket (where we’ve spent some quality time for visas and other documentation) is just half a block away. (I’m still pondering any deeper possible meanings to that, without immediate enlightenment.)
It took me a while to figure out that the large shiny black-and-mirrored building across the bridge over the train tracks was the mall. It looked like a fancy office building. But the small crowd of people traversing the bridge with us all headed to the entrance, tucked in under an overhang and marked with a large silver “M” sculpture. Several stopped to take a photo of the entrance (as did I! I cannot deny it– even if I tell you that I took the photo of the people taking photos of the entrance, I was still taking a photo of the entrance).
So, I have to tell you that lately I’ve been to a lot of malls. In California, I’ve been to the nice new outdoor one that looks like a movie set near my mom’s house, and the older outlet mall that is so large that people drive across the parking lots to get to the stores they want to visit.
I’ve been to the Mall of America, when it first opened while I was living in Minnesota more than 20 years ago. I recall being at least slightly impressed by the indoor amusement park, and more amazed by the endless wide corridors that people walk for exercise in the middle of winter. (I’ve heard that mall has its own postal code and schools, but can’t confirm that.)
And I’ve been to the Edmonton Mall, once the biggest mall in the world (now overtaken by malls in the Philippines and the Middle East, as one might imagine — how else do you maintain a ski hill in a desert?). The Edmonton Mall has an indoor ice hockey rink, an IMAX theater, an amusement park, a water park with wave pool and zip lines overhead, and a seal.
There’s a seal that lives in that mall and appears regularly in shows with its trainers as if it were Sea World. I cannot express how disturbed I am by the seal that lives in the mall. But that’s a digression for another time.
The Mall of Scandinavia cannot compete with that kind of largess. Where the Edmonton Mall has a wave pool, its Nordic sister has some cute little fountains that entertain the toddlers with arcs of water that leap over a walkway at one of the entrances.
Where the Mall of America has an amusement park, Scandinavia has O’Leary’s bowling alley (nothing to sneeze at, I presume, and M loves bowling, so I’m not judging, I swear).
Where the MOA has wide open spaces for walking, the MOS packs people in tight with their barnvagens. The lines to the bathroom, nonexistent when we walked in at around 11:30 am, were intolerable by 1 pm, at 15 women deep.
The Mall of Scandinavia is modest and lagom (just so). It has all the same stores we can visit downtown — Clas Ohlson for cheap hardware, Stadium for outdoor gear (we bought our free-heeled skates there on Saturday on sale), and all the other Swedish chain stores, from J. Lindemans men’s clothes to Åhléns department store. It even has two large grocery stores and a Systembolaget. It’s a bit like going downtown to Sergelstorg and Drottninggatan (the pedestrian shopping street), only perhaps a bit shinier.
What the Mall of Scandinavia does have, however, is parking (not so much of that available in Stockholm’s city center). And it has a Tesla storefront (exciting!). And it has some nice-looking restaurants that can hold a lot of people, presumably on their way to an event at Friends Arena a short walk across the small plaza next door.
But what may have been most exciting to me and Matt on Saturday afternoon, post-skate purchase: The Mall of Scandinavia is home to a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Yum. Who knew bad American coffee could be so good? No Starbucks in sight, and racks and racks of real donuts. You have no idea how hard it is to get a real donut (doughnut!) in Sweden.