Within Walking Distance

When I was a kid, places that were within “walking distance” had a different meaning. There was the convenience store at the end of our street and then the one at the corner of Highland Ave. and Florida Ave., and there was the university campus, even if it was only the outskirts where the freshmen dorms resided. And I was not allowed to go to any of these places. I was, of course, too young to venture out that far and into the dangers of the world.

Eventually I was allowed to ride my bike to the store at Highland and Florida but that was only if I came directly home afterward. Today I live in a completely different world. Over the years I have lived in many different places, all different and unique in their own ways. Some of them were on quiet, residential streets, well most of them were, but some were secretly tucked away in residential pockets with restaurants, grocery stores, and various other shops and businesses on bustling streets within a short walking distance away.

Today I live smack dab in the middle of the hustling and bustling city of Stockholm. I live on the island of Södermalm on Hornsgatan, which is one the the busiest streets in the city. We are surrounded by the sounds, smells, and sights of city life. And we love it. Literally, a two minute walk in three directions and I can find five different grocery stores. Three are conventional while two of them specialize in organic products. Granted, I usually cannot find every ingredient I need in just one store, the variety available in such a short walking distance from our apartment is amazing and convenient in its own way.

In addition, there are several wonderful bakeries, a hardware store, clothing boutiques, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and on one stretch of our street there is an entire length of art galleries and shops that on several occasions each year stay open late into the evening for art gallery walks.

Unfortunately every thing we might need is not in our immediate vicinity but we could easily get by for days, even weeks, in our little neighborhood bubble. When we moved to Stockholm we chose to live without a car and for the most part I have not missed it in the just over five years that we have lived here. There are no oil changes to remember, insurance to pay, or other worries that having a car entails.

It is a wonderfully different way of life. And we love it.

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