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This Swedish City Will Take You Back In Time

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    Photographed by Zanita Whittington.

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    Zanita Whittington is a bona fide traveler. The model and photographer has snapped her way across the globe, from her native Australia to the northern reaches of Canada. So, when one little spot keeps popping up on her itinerary, it’s got to be worth a visit. And, this tiny island in the middle of Stockholm absolutely is.

    Gamla stan (which translates to "the Old Town") remains untouched from its medieval heyday and continues to charm today with baroque buildings, cobblestone streets, and an Old World vibe. It's a photographer's paradise, and Whittington was in heaven when she escaped there for a weekend — a staycation of sorts since she now calls Stockholm home on the rare occasion she's actually there.

    We followed her along the antique sidewalks, and she showed us everything from hidden teahouses and Instagram-worthy side streets to casually cool Jimmy Choos that can withstand cross-city walks. Ahead, get to know the centuries-old enclave and the model-photographer as you peep her best snaps from the weekend. She makes a preeetty convincing case for moving it to the top of your must-visit list.



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  2. Photographed by Zanita Whittington.

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    What drew you to Gamla stan for this vacation?
    “It’s probably the most beautiful place in Stockholm, for sure — it's like a little slice of Swedish history come to life. Cobblestone streets and old buildings…Being from Australia, that really appeals to me. We don’t have anything old in Australia. These beautiful northern cities, they feel exotic and special to me.”

    For someone who’s been leading a pretty nomadic life, you’ve become a regular in Stockholm. What’s a typical day like for you there?
    “If it’s a nice day, I try to get outside. When the sun is out, it’s really amazing to be in the park, because you can feel the energy on the streets of Stockholm. Summer is so special here because the winter is so dark and long. If I’m traveling alone, I’ll try to meet local bloggers and have coffee with them, maybe do a shoot. We want to make content, so we’ll go out to breakfast wearing one thing and change and then find somewhere new to shoot.”

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    On this trip, you were only in Gamla stan for the weekend — how do you make the most of a short stay?
    “Don’t spend too much time in your room! You may be tired when you get off the plane, but if you get outside and do things, you can capitalize on the time you have. It’s also important to be very organized when you leave for the day, so you can just grab your things and go to the airport without stressing about running back to your room. If you pack up in the morning, you can go off a bit more.”

    What's one thing you always do when you're in town?
    “If it’s in season, I always get a pastry called a "semla" — a bun with cream and mascarpone. One of best places to refuel with some 'fika' (that's swedish for coffee and cake) in Gamla stan is Tea House Chaikhana. The area is usually jammed with tourists and the teahouse is a little away from the main street — so a good place to escape from the crowds. The scones and brioche with jam and cream are really fresh and delicious. I love the vintage furniture and flowers for a kitschy feel. "

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    Where did the urge to travel so much come from?
    "I think it’s something that’s quite Australian; everyone I know travels a lot. But, people who are very into fashion are into things that are changing and constantly evolving, and I think that’s just something that’s part of my personality. I’m not afraid of change, and I’m not afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. I think that’s something you need to have.”

    What has surprised you most about Sweden?
    “I’m still learning a lot about the Swedish culture. The Swedes, they are very friendly but they’re very tough to crack. I feel like you have to work a little bit harder with the Swedes to get in with them. They don’t make eye contact with people, don’t hug people they've just met, and don’t like to boast about anything. But, give them one drink and they’ll open up.”

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    The Swedes are also a super-stylish group. What makes your style stand out in Stockholm?
    “My hair — it has a very vintage look about it. I’ve had this cut for about two years, and it’s gotten quite long, but cutting it made me more feminine. I was a big tomboy and always dressed quite masculine, but now my style is vintage and colorful. I wear a lot of prints and skirts and dresses. It’s quite quirky, like this outfit feels very ‘50s, with the classic Jimmy Choo heels that I can actually walk in.”

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    As a jet-setter, you must have some great packing tips.
    “I definitely roll. I’m extremely disorganized and tend to pack the morning of a flight, so I usually just roll everything up so I can jam it all in there as easily as possible. When I pack, I look at my suitcase to see if the colors all blend well. Then, I add a jacket that blends with everything. It’s got to be instinctual.”

    What travel essentials do you keep in your carry-on?
    “I have a little kit with individual eye droppers (I get sore eyes), moisturizer, cream cleanser, an eye mask, a little toothbrush, and toothpaste — basically all the things you can use mid-flight to freshen up."