200km south of Stockholm, in Sweden, lies a small town called Söderköping. 7000 people think of the town as their home, and 7000 others think of it as an odd little village they are happy not to live in, but not very happy to pay tax to.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Söderköping1 from Stockholm is to drive south to Norrköping, where you turn left. You know you're there when you find yourself wondering why there is an old lock on the right hand side of the road, but there is no sign of any boats to pass through it.
What to Do There
There is not very much to do in Söderköping. In fact, some would say there isn't anything at all to do. However, this discounts the very famous ice-cream-restaurant Smultronstället and the Ramunderberget
Smultronstället is the place you'll go to if you want to find great tasting and very flashy-looking ice creams, at very expensive prices. The restaurant is neatly placed beside Göta Kanal, and mostly attracts people who are very young, and/or others who wish they still were. The prices start at about 15 SEK2, and the most expensive ice cream costs more than ten times as much. The more expensive ones often come with different kinds of smoke and/or small, strange umbrellas.
You can also walk up to the top of Ramunderberget, a mountain that rises about 60 metres over Söderköping! The only way to get up is to use the stairs, there is no elevator. The only positive thing with this little walk is that it's free. Ramunderberget is dull, small, and on the whole a not very interesting mountain.
The Night Life
'Söderköping by night' is not an expression involved with joy, or even a little bit of fun. At least not from what this Researcher's heard3. It largely involves teenagers standing outside the local Shell petrol station, drinking different kinds of soft drinks mixed with tax-free liquor4. The reason Shell is the victim of this behaviour is because it's the only place in Söderköping that is open and sells soft drinks at night.
At the foot of Ramunderberget, and next to Smultronstället, is Göta Kanal. In the middle of the 19th Century a guy called von Platen built a canal across Sweden, from the west, to the east, to carry goods on. This canal is called Göta Kanal, and is the result of one of Sweden's largest communication screw-ups. Soon after von Platen died, and the canal was finished, the railroad was established across Sweden. Von Platen's canal wasn't needed anymore, and it was too small for shipping goods anyway. Tourists who want to see how slowly they can make their boats go are now the only ones who use it. Göta Kanal is also called 'The Divorce Ditch', probably because there are very few people who can make it through the canal as friends.
How to Get Away from There
When you have been in Söderköping too long, usually a couple of hours, start your car again, and go to Norrköping. It's also possible to go by boat, of course: Göta Kanal takes you to Stegeborg. After that just follow the coast north past Vikbolandet, and then turn left and go strait into Bråviken. Soon you'll be in Norrköping.
The Positive Side
All this doesn't mean that Söderköping is a totally boring place. If you're into churches and 16th Century houses you might find some parts of it very interesting. Some might also appreciate the restaurant Söderköpings Brunn. Söderköpings Brunn means 'The Well Of Söderköping' and this is probably because of a well there. It's a pretty ordinary restaurant.
If you plan to stay a little longer, and haven't finished your education, you can check out the schools. There are some mediocre schools for 13 to 16 year olds, but the local gymnasium5 Nyströmska, is considered by many students as 'a pretty good school', and teachers talk about the 'Nyströmska spirit', which is said to be something special.
If you are a criminal type of person, you'll probably like Söderköping for the lack of police officers. There are none. The nearest police station is in Norrköping about 15km away.
The great number of pizza restaurants may also be considered a plus: there are four.
Where to Stay
If you would like to stay and explore Söderköping, there is a hostel not far from the exciting places described here, but then, the word far isn't used very much within the town limits.
Söderköping is probably not the place to go to if you want to have an exciting time. However, if you thought the positive sides were very positive, you can read more on The Söderköping Official Website.