Gamla Stan, Stockholm's charming Old Town, is a world unto itself, with ancient buildings, cobblestone squares and quaint, narrow streets and alleys so carefully preserved you almost expect to see a gallant knight round a corner.
The Old Town is apart from the rest of Stockholm, on one of the city's 14 islands. Cars are banned in much of Gamla Stan and the pedestrian-only streets, lined with fashionable little storefronts and cozy restaurants, are ideal for strolling.
Vasterlanggatan, Gamla Stan's main shopping street, cuts across Old Town. Begin at either end and work your way along the street's length. There are interesting shops every step of the way.
Sia (No. 14), a flower boutique, has beautiful silk posies ($2 to $7); some are woven into garlands for door or table top ($10 and up) or arranged in unusual vases ($15 and up). The shop's baby gift section sells stuffed toys and angel mobiles ($14).
Gamla Stan Koksbrod (No. 19) sells ultramodern kitchen gadgets and tableware. Ceramic elephant toothpick holders ($2) make campy gifts.
Linders Konstsmiden (No. 27) has all sorts of Swedish handcrafts, including wooden coat hangers ($10), salad bowls ($60 and up) and plates ($20), and wrought-iron candle holders ($20 and up) and candelabra.
Kiti (No. 29) displays Swedish designer Christina Winberg's stunning leather fashions. Suede shirts have suede leaf appliques in contrasting colors ($95); suede jackets ($240) and suit dresses ($240 to $322) have similar decorative motifs. Some have bright contrasting colors, others are layered suede with uneven edges. More traditional suede and leather slacks are in black, brown, tan and gray ($240).
Street Theatre (No. 32) is a funky, trendy fashion show with vintage and new clothes at reasonable prices. Quality-conscious shoppers from around the world buy owner Claes Bondelid's splendid leather jackets ($290 to $323), multipocketed motorcycle and cinch-waisted pilot jackets and other classical styles. They're made of elk and goatskin that lasts forever. Some are sheepskin-lined for warmth.
Only 2,000 jackets are made by hand each year. They aren't sold in the United States, but you've seen them on Bruce Springsteen and other Bondelid fans. Bondelid's effective leather balm is $5.
Don & Donna (No. 40) sell their own label footwear. Attractive flats ($57 and up) and intriguing boots bedecked with feathers and brilliants (about $85) are good buys. They have matching handbags.
Nina Wahlgren (No. 42) designs comfortable mix-and-match cotton and wool knit clothes in solid colors, bold stripes and polka dots. Dresses sell for about $79, skirt and top outfits are about $50.
Kerstin Adolphson (No. 44) sells embroidered clothes for adults and children, traditional leather hunting bags and woolen sweaters from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland (about $60 to $70).
Barbro Bjornberg (No. 45) has adult and children's wooden clogs hand-painted with flower and wildlife motifs ($25 and up), embroidered dresses ($100 and up) and handmade dolls in Swedish costumes ($15).
Konsthandverk Karin Mansdotter (No. 47) is both a batik and ceramics studio with coats ($200 and up), dresses ($185) and skirts ($140) made from artist Gulli Bjorkefall's hand-decorated fabrics and handmade miniature ceramic houses by Elsa Bruliner ($8 to $50).
Space (No. 51) has clever household gadgets, including telephones shaped like a Coke bottle ($52), bananas ($49) and lips ($100) and battery-operated mini-fans ($5).
Thereses Handarbetsaffar (No. 52) sells great needlepoint canvasses ($30 and up), some with Swedish sayings, and supplies; the owner is as charming as the Old Town itself.
Browsing Amid Print
Robert Settels (No. 54) designs and sells elk-skin sandals ($50) and oxfords ($160) in standard and wild colors. Hand-painted models ($180) may be special-ordered.
Aspingtons (No. 54) has a collection of old books, prints, magazines (a 1948 Esquire costs $20) and comic books, including a 1951 Donald Duck in Swedish ($40) and a 1949 Blondie ($20). Beautiful 18th-Century maps cost $320 and up. Browsing here is a pleasure.
Georg Sorman (No. 57) sells Icelandic hand-knit heavy woolen sweaters with woolen embroidery ($480), handsome coats with wooden buttons unusually placed on one side ($314) and other Scandinavian knitwear, including colorful ski caps ($20 and up).
Steps (No. 64) has its own line of affordable, boldly patterned cotton knit mix-and-match separates. Dresses and skirt/shirt outfits cost $49 and up. Individual items range between $24 and $64.
Skansen (No. 71) is Barbro Lindstrom's Swedish traditional clothing shop, featuring cotton-lined leather tunics ($476) and roomy tunic-style dresses made of pastel-striped fabric ($130). The shop also has miniature glass animals.
Gudrun Walla (No. 73) sells children's fashions for newborns to 6-year-olds. Hand-decorated baby bibs cost $10, larger T-shirts are $13.