The Art of Fika

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A few months ago I packed six sweaters into a duffel bag and boarded a plane to Sweden. The semi-spur of the moment trip left us with an open itinerary: just us, an empty row 20, and the excitement of exploring the winter wonderland that is Stockholm. We arrived seven hours later to a light rain settling over Mercedes Benz taxis – our ride to the bageri-lined streets of Kungsholmen – is this what I’ve been missing out on all this time?

A golden “64” sat snug above the entry of our cozy Stockholm apartment, and by “our” I mean Lovisa’s studio (hi Lovisa!), a friend who graciously offered up her space and showed us the local view of the city. 

Like so many great stories, this one begins – and ends – with coffee, but more accurately, the moments that happen over coffee. There, in the quintessential Scandinavian apartment, with tired eyes and a bubbling excitement, we experienced our first “fika,” nothing new to the Swedes, but to us, a novelty. A resolution to strive for. Surely more days should be spent like this.

A pour of freshly-brewed coffee. The spark of a pillar candle. Pastries arranged on a wooden platter.

The ingredients of fika are simple: a coffee break with baked goods, a friend or two, and conversation. A few slow moments in the midst of a busy day. There we sat, watching the only bits of light retreat behind darkening clouds. A bite of butterkaka – delicious. 

Lovisa explains the art of fika. Taking it slow – something her and her colleagues try to do each afternoon. Together

A sip of coffee. A nibble of lussekatter – wait. I’ll need more of that. 

Many days after the return of our trip, after I had time to catch up on sleep and reflect on our journey through Stockholm and Copenhagen, I found this note on my phone, presumably typed after one of many sleepless nights:

“December 7th-ish, 2017. At least I think it’s the 7th. This is why I love travel. With every turn you embark on a new adventure. A new beauty, really, just waiting to be explored. It’s funny how different eyes embark on different adventures and experiences. Gathering around a hot pot of coffee and fresh pastries is a novel experience to the person who never stops to take it all in. But to those who live it – really live it – this is just another Thursday (or is it Friday?). The smallest of moments are always the most magical to me. Experiencing different cultures, hearing someone's story, the honor of getting a glimpse into how other's live their lives – that's where the magic happens. That's where 'just another day' becomes 'the day I learned that...' So here I write, from beneath the covers of a knitted navy throw, hoping – no, vowing – to have more of these moments, so that on my next adventure – and the one after that – I can truly say, 'you. are. here.'“