'Dragon Tattoo' travel: How to see Stockholm like Stieg Larsson

'Dragon Tattoo' travel: How to see Stockholm like Stieg Larsson

A pair of American artists create a visual travel guide to Stockholm inspired by the Millennium trilogy

Christopher Makos (L) and Paul Solberg (R), aka The Hilton Brothers.Two artist-photographers have traced the footsteps of Stieg Larsson's crime-beating heroes to create a travel book with a Millennium series hook.

The travelogue "Tattoos Hornets Fire," produced in conjunction with VisitSweden, isn't a traditional, broad-view travel guide.

Instead, it shows readers where to eat like Larsson and live like Lisbeth Salander, the fictional protagonist of the writer's "Dragon Tattoo" novels.

Known artistically as the Hilton Brothers, Americans Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg present a grungy and dreamy Sweden centered on the Swedish novelist Larsson’s three novels: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest."

“Our travel book is not a Fodor’s guide and it is beyond Lonely Planet,” says Makos.

“We don’t want to do a usual travel book. We want to do it like our usual artwork. So we came up with this idea of a hybrid travelogue inspired by Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series.”

The book combines the visual aspects of the trilogy -- the protagonists' houses, the police headquarters, tattoo parlors -- with the things the artists encountered during their time in Sweden -- the national pastry, the Princess Cake, an open-air museum and Swedes.

More on CNN: Insider Guide: Best of Stockholm

Mikael Blomkvist's apartment

Mikael Blomkvist's apartmentMikael Blomkvist's apartment, made famous by the Swedish thriller novels.

Mikael Blomkvist, the protagonist of the Millennium series, lived in an 1888 building on 9 Fiskargatan.

The photographers captured the apartment in black and white.

Mikael Blomkvist's apartment, 9 Fiskargatan

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified this apartment as that of Lisbeth Salander. The error was due to miscommunication between CNN and the photographers. Thanks to our eagle-eyed readers for alerting us to the mistake.

Stieg Larsson's favorite café

Mellquvist CafeLarsson's favorite sandwich -- too dry for the artists.

Stieg Larsson's love of grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee was reflected in his characters’ staple meal.

The photographers were introduced to Larsson’s favorite coffee shop, Mellqvist Kaffebar.

So how was the food?

“To be honest, Stieg Larsson did not eat well,” says Makos. “The cheese sandwich was too dry but the coffee is good.”

Mellqvist coffee bar, 78 Hornsgatan


View from Mikael Blomkvist's apartment

Looking toward Old Town and Slussen (central Stockholm).

The photographers captured the view from the attic apartment where Stieg Larsson housed Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist in his novels.

1 Bellmansgatan, Stockholm

The location that may have inspired 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'

Dried flowers made popular by the novels and movies. A collection of dried flowers at the Stockholm City Museum resembles the ones illustrated in Larsson's first book.

Dried flowers comprise an important clue to the mystery central to "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."

The museum offers a Stieg Larsson Millennium tour every Saturday, which visits various locations associated with the books and films.

Ryssgården, Slussen, Stockholm; open Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; +46 (0)8 508 31 600; www.stadsmuseum.stockholm.se


Skansen, open-air museum

SkansenIn addition to visiting movie locations, Makos and Solberg explored Sweden as normal tourists.

“Skansen is like New York's Central Park, but everything is from the 1700s, original houses and people dressed in style back a century,” says Makos.

Though nothing to do with the novels, here the artists met a hardware-store owner who had his whole shop relocated to Skansen.

Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, 115 21 Stockholm; +46 8442 8000; main entrance opens 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; www.skansen.se

Parlans, Swing-era confectionery

ParlansExcellent toffee, adorable swing-era shopkeepers.

“We bumped into a beautiful toffee shop in Stockholm. The women were in beautiful 1940s clothing and the shop was playing swing music,” says Solberg.

“There is even a monthly swing dance club like what people did in the 1940s. Everything is so over the top and the toffee is buttery and delicious.”

Nytorgsgatan 38, 116 40 Stockholm; open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m.; www.parlanskonfektyr.se


Philosophical tattoo parlor

Tattoo parlorThere are more than 750 tattoo parlors in Stockholm.

The photographers begin their guide with a spread of a man getting tattooed in this tattoo parlor.

“The Swedes have such an interesting take on this idea of tattooing and body modification,” says Solberg.

“It is very different from the American tattoo parlors which often have an underground, subculture feeling. But in Stockholm, the body modification parlor and tattoo parlor are academic and philosophical.”

Östermalm, the elegant neighborhood

Östermalm, a district with fine stores and structures.

Getting further away from the main locations in the series, the photographers came to Östermalm, a picturesque part of the city.

The artists write in the book: "Stately Strandvägen Street runs along the Baltic Sea, aligned with Linden trees and stunning late-nineteenth-century facades and lavish doorways."

Landmarks in the district include the 17th-century Crown Bakery, which now houses the Stockholm Music Museum, the Royal Dramatic Theater and numerous restaurants and bars.


"Tattoos Hornets Fire: The Millennium Sweden" by Christopher Makos & Paul Solberg is available at bookstores now. Copyright © 2012, published by Glitterati Incorporated. www.Glitteratiincorporated.com

Hiufu Wong is CNN Travel's staff writer.

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