Monday, April 4, 2011

Retracing Stieg in Stockholm

Ever since reading the Millennium Trilogy (the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo three-novel series), I've wanted to visit Stockholm. The books all took place in Sweden and for most of the locations mentioned in the books (apartments, coffee shops, bars), author Stieg Larsson included exact addresses. So when the opportunity to tag along to Stockholm, with my colleague Rohit, presented itself last week, there was no hesitation....I was in!

While Rohit wouldn't outright admit that he is just as into the adventures of Lisbeth Salander and Michael Blomquist as I am, he had a hard time hiding his enthusiasm. Admittedly, hunting down the addresses and remembering all the the scenes was a pretty fun way to spend an afternoon.

First thing we did was take a taxi to a special tourist center to pick up the official Millennium map, which listed all the key spots from the book.

Oh yeah....we're on our way to retracing Lisbeth & Michael's steps.

We headed straight to Sodermalm, one of Stockholm's largest islands, where the vast majority of the  events take place.  Follow me as I recount our self-guided tour:

1. Gotgatan 11 - Michael Blomquist's office

2. The 7-Eleven where Lisbeth Salander often shops after she moves into her big apartment (see #4). The one food she always has stocked in her freezer: Billy's frozen pizza.

3. Kvarnen - Where Lisbeth Salander meets the girls in rock band Evil Fingers on Tuesday Nights. Salander tried getting Michael's attention by kissing Miriam Wu at this bar. Rohit and I stopped in and toasted a beer in the name of Evil Fingers. 

4. Fiskagartan 9 - The address of the 3800 square foot apartment on the top floor that Salander buys under a secret name. She only furnishes a few rooms. You can see the address number 9 above the door on the picture of the right.

It was also at this location where Rohit began pondering the man Stieg Larsson and why he chose this very building as Lisbeth's plush pad.

5.  Mellqvist Coffee Bar - Michael Blomquist's hangout. Apparently this was also Stieg's personal hangout for a period in the 90s. Rohit and I were most excited to have a coffee here. Unfortunately, the place was closed so we hung outside of it for a few minutes, looking rather suspicious to the passerbys.

6.  Lundabron - The street where Lisbeth Salander grew up. Lisbeth inherits the apartment from her mother and lives here until she buys her new place. The quickest way to Michael's apartment is via this bridge.

7. The map then suggested we visit Monteliusvagen, one of Stockholm's most beautiful views. From this vantage point you can see the court house where Michael was convicted in the Wennerstrom case. What the map didn't tell you is that Monteliusvagen is nothing more than a small trail off of a residential street. It felt like we were trespassing, it was getting dark, the ground was nothing but ice, it felt eery and slighty creepy. Actually, it felt like we were in the movie.

8. And our last stop.....Bellmansgatan 1. Michael lived in the attic apartment in this building.

So who exactly is the author Stieg Larsson?  Well according to his fan site (, Stieg was raised by his grandparents in a small town in north Sweden. On his 12th birthday he was given a typewriter and he became obsessed with writing, eventually becoming a journalist. He met his lifelong partner Eva at age 18 at an anti-Vietnam War meeting.  He died of a sudden heart attack in November of 2004 before knowing how famous his books would become.

Interestingly, Stieg died without a will and by Swedish law his estate was passed onto his father and brother. This has caused a lasting dispute between Eva and Stieg's relatives. Eva's laptop has a partly-finished manuscript for the fourth book in the Millennium series, which she and Stieg worked on together. She refuses to publish it until she is given full rights to manage the novels in the series.

So at this point you may think I'm a huge dork. But if you've read the books I think you probably understand. They're highly addictive and the characters and the places come to life so much that it felt like we were really walking in their footsteps. 


  1. hahaha. if we weren't related, I'd probably have to call you a dork. but, i guess it's as good a reason as any to cruise around and explore a foreign city. I'm sure you probably saw a lot more than Lonely Planet ever could have told you. :)

  2. This has inspired me to go back and read the books. I couldn't get into the first one, but your post was pretty cool!


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