Months ago, while talking to Katherine about my upcoming visit, I casually mentioned how cool it would be to climb the stairs at Kaknästornet, the tallest structure in Stockholm. I could be an international stair climber! Kaknästornet is a TV satellite tower that stands 509 feet tall, with a restaurant and bar at the top, and Katherine wanted to climb the stairs, too!
Even though it’s open to the public, the stairs are not, and I mentioned it to Katherine as a joke, knowing full well access would be impossible. To my surprise, Katherine and her husband Peter actually know a guy that knows guys at Kaknästornet, and they offered to make a call! Perhaps this wouldn’t be impossible after all!
Calls and emails were sent. At least one or two people visited this very blog, checked me out, and put in a good word. There was talk of perhaps roping in the press somehow. It was all very exciting. My request went up the ladder, and a few days before the scheduled day…
…it was denied, for liability reasons. Oh well. It wasn’t the first time I was denied access to a stairwell, and I assure you it won’t be the last. Never hurts to ask, right?
So Katherine and I devised a Plan B.
Kaknästornet is the tallest structure in Stockholm, but the tallest building is Scandic Victoria Tower, a 34-story hotel in the Kista neighborhood (pronounced “shee-sta”).
I’ve had better luck getting into hotel stairwells, which are often unlocked. I had a great workout in Las Vegas last year, climbing the Paris Hotel stairs, and I know folks that have literally gone up and down the Las Vegas Strip, climbing one hotel stairwell after another.
Katherine and I decided to just go for it. We didn’t ask for permission, we just showed up and tried to get into the stairwell. And…
…we failed. You can’t get anywhere in that building without a room key, and that includes the elevators. Plus, we were there at 9:30am on a Monday morning, and the lobby was deserted, so we couldn’t just follow other guests into an elevator because there were no other guests. So Katherine and I wandered the lobby, in our workout gear, looking at maps, trying to find unlocked stairwells, until we started getting funny looks from the staff. Then, we left.
Katherine and I improvised a Plan C.
We went for a run. We ran around Kista, and lo and behold, what did we find? Stairs! They weren’t record-setting stairs by any means, but stairs are stairs. We found three short stairways within a couple hundred yards of each other. Staircase #1:
16 stairs, within patting distance of Victoria Tower:
Staircase #2, also 16 stairs:
Staircase #3, which had a whopping 18 stairs:
We ran up and town #1 five times, then ran to #2. After running up and down #2 five times, we ran to #3, and went up and down that five times, too. We did this loop non-stop until we accumulated the equivalent of 41 floors, then ran back to the car. All in all, our improvised workout took 40 minutes, and felt great.
Afterward, I took a whore bath in the parking lot (change of clothes, deodorant, cologne). Katherine changed in the backseat while I changed outside the car, in full view of a 6-lane freeway. Then we headed to Södermalm, an area of Stockholm I hadn’t really seen yet. Our plan was to walk around and make our way to lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the water. The walking part went great – we covered a couple miles and found… lots of stairs.
First were these guys…
…followed by these guys (and you’re only seeing about 10% of them)…
…and finally these guys, which were built to get you to the top of a bluff:
We eventually made it to the restaurant, which was closed all month for renovations. The sign made me laugh:
Right nearby, though, was Fotografiska, a photography museum, so Katherine and I had lunch in their restaurant, overlooking the water. I love a salad with a view!
After wandering the entirety of the museum, Katherine and I resumed walking, back to the car. Our adventure was over. And despite the thwarted attempts to climb to the top of Stockholm, it was still a great excursion. Katherine is one of my favorite people, and we got a selfie that’s probably my most favorite from the trip.
I’ve known Katherine for nearly 20 years, and I can’t express how much I treasure having this friendship. It is stronger and deeper than the Kaknästornet is tall.
Keep it up, David!