June 26, 2014

Summer Museum Exhibitions- 2014

Nils Dardel at Moderna Museet!
Here is a handy list to help you with planning your visit to Stockholm this summer! There are many great museum exhibitions planned for this summer in Stockholm. Here are some of some of the major exhibitions (can't list them all!):

Some images from the statuary garden at Millesgården.
Some fantastic museums without summer exhibitions but well worth a visit are Skansen and ABBA the Museum. There are, of course, plenty more museums and exhibitions. In fact, Stockholm has over 80 different museums. So if you are staying at the Rival Hotel and none of the above piques your interest... contact me and we'll find something to match your interests!
The history museum... Historiska!

June 18, 2014

ABBA... The Boat Tour!

ABBA Boat Tour www.stromma.se 
This summer, ABBA the Museum and the Strömma sightseeing company have joined forces to present a new sightseeing tour in Stockholm: ABBA the Museum Boat Tour. As I have one of the best jobs in Stockholm, I got to try out the tour this morning.
Photographer- Torbjörn Calvero ©premium rockshot
In regards to route, the tour is very similar to Strömma's popular Royal Canal Tour. In other words, it is an enjoyable 50 minute boat tour around the island of Djurgården which is the world's first National City Park and the home of many of the city's main attractions like the Vasa Museum, Skansen and... ABBA the Museum! The content of the tour, however, is different than the Canal Tour. This tour, guided in Swedish and English, concentrates on the history of ABBA and their close relationship with the island of Djurgården. It is Ingmarie Halling, the curator of ABBA the Museum, herself who guides you on the tour. Well, it is Halling's voice you hear in the earphones and the manuscript was written by her (though we were lucky enough to have her present on this special tour today). Along with the audio guide, you have a pamphlet explaining points of interest and including some great pictures. The boat glides by many of the spots used in the group's music videos, photo shoots as well as scenes from ABBA the Movie. Interspersed with the explanations of what you are seeing are snippets of some of ABBA's best songs... of course! This tour is poerfect for the ABBA fan. If you wish for sightseeing with more information about Stockholm, then their Royal Canal and Under the Bridges tours would be more interesting.
Combine the tour with a visit to the museum!
One other big difference between the Royal Canal and ABBA boat tours is that this tour makes a stop at ABBA the Museum towards the end, where you can disembark if you wish. You have the option of purchasing a combination ticket which includes entrance to the museum. The boat tour costs 195 SEK or 390 SEK for the boat-museum combination ticket (half price for children between 6 and 11 and free for kiddies under 6 years of age). Tickets can be purchased through Strömma, either online or at one of their ticket offices, or at ABBA the Museum. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, talk to me directly for help in booking/purchasing tickets. The tour departs three times daily (11am, 12 noon and 1pm) between June 6th and August 24th from Strömkajen, across the water from the Royal Palace.
Beaitiful houses on Djurgården... 



June 17, 2014

Midsummer Weekend- 2014!

Raising the Midsummer pole at Skansen!
www.skansen.se  
(EDIT: article from 2014, for more current info- click here) The biggest holiday in the Swedish calendar is this coming weekend: Midsummer (June 20th to 22nd)! It rivals Christmas as a holiday to spend with friends and family, filled with age-old traditions. On this weekend, Swedes traditionaly flee the cities and head to their country homes to celebrate in the outdoors. Unfortunately, every year Stockholm is filled with tourists who are unaware of this holiday and are confused why the city slightly resembles a ghost town. While it has become better in recent years (as Swedes become more capitalistic in their mind-set), many restaurants and shops are still closed and even a few museums. But not to worrry, there is still plenty of things to do & see and ways to experience traditional Swedish midsummer. Here is a little guide to the weekend:

Museums-

  • Skansen (zoo, open air cultural museum)- open every day, all weekend.
  • Vasa Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • ABBA the Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Royal Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Drottningholm Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Fotografiska (photography museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Moderna (modern art museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nordiska (nordic culture museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nobel (Alfred Nobel & the Nobel prizes)- Closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Royal Armoury- closed on Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
  • Historiska (history museum)- closed on Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
  • Medieval Museum- closed Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
If you are travelling with children, it is good to know that both the amusement park Gröna Lund and Astrid Lindgren's world Junibacken are open all weekend!

Restaurants-

Here is where you can get into a little trouble. Many restaurants are closed for the whole weekend, while others will be closed at least on Friday. Higher-end, Michelin star restaurants are almost all closed Friday through Monday this weekend. Most hotel restaurants are open to the general public (like the Rival Bistro) all weekend. There are also a few other restaurants that are open all weekend... but, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me as soon as possible for help booking a table, as they will probably fill up and last minute reservations might be tough! The World Cup is in full swing and a good tip for you football/soccer fans is that Hard Rock Café Stockholm is open all weekend and will be showing the matches.

Shopping-

Also a little tough. Many smaller boutiques will be closed for the whole weekend. Even large shopping centers, like Mood and Sturegallerian, will close on both Friday and Saturday. The two largest department stores, NK and Åhlens City, will close early on Friday (10am to 2pm) and stay closed on Saturday. Officially, it is only Saturday which is a bank holiday... but Friday is about as close as you can come "unofficially", so expect many pharmacies, banks and liquor stores to be closed that day as well.

Sightseeing-

Large sightseeing companies like Strömma run as normal with bus, boat and combination tours available all weekend. Smaller, independant sightseeing companies may be closed. Public transportation runs as normal, though on a more limited "holiday" schedule, all weekend.

Experience Midsummer-

After all of this negativity, you may be wondering "but where do we experience the Midsummer celebrations?". Well, the best place to see how Swedes traditionally celebrate this holiday is at Skansen. They have a full program all weekend long! While most Swedes do leave the city, the few that are left will celebrate with picnics and games in the different parks throughout the city. So, when in doubt, just head outdoors to celebrate. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need further information... contact me directly at the hotel!
A Midsummer wreath at Skansen.
www.skansen.se

June 14, 2014

Restaurants Closed During the Summer- 2014

(EDIT: click here for this year's list) So... here is my annual bad news post for the summer. Well, bad news for "foodies" visiting Stockholm in July and August at any rate. Many of the top tier restaurants (Michelin star, gourmet) close for a few weeks during the summer. This is mainly due to the generous Swedish vacation rules and the fact that many top restaurants feel that they can't offer excellent food & service with summer replacement staff. Another reason, perhaps, is that most Stockholmers leave the city during this period and there aren't enough visiting "foodies" to fill these types of restaurants. No businessmen in town either... wining and dining clients. At any rate, the good news is that several of these top tier restaurants have some other options during these weeks... and you always have a plethora of great summer restaurants to choose from!

  • Frantzén- last dinner service on June 28th, opens again on August 15th.
  • Mathias Dahlgren- last dinner service on July 10th, opens again August 6th.
  • Ekstedt- closes in the middle of July and reopens in the middle of August.
  • Esperanto- last dinner service on June 28th, reopens on August 8th.
  • Gastrologik- last dinner service on July 26th, reopens on August 19th.
  • Operakällaren- Last dinner service on July 5th, opens again on August 8th. 
  • F12- closes for business on June 14th... will reopen at a new location (?) after summer.
  • Oaxen Krog- open during the summer, however only on Wednesdays-Saturdays (mid July to mid Aug). The more casual Oaxen Slip is open daily all summer.
  • Jonas- closes for good at this location on June 28th, unsure right now where they reopen... stay tuned!
  • AG- last dinner service on June 28th, reopens on August 4th. 
  • Svartengrens- last dinner service on July 6th, opens again on August 5th.
  • Pontus!- last dinner service on July 5th, reopens on August 18th. During the summer Pocket is open as well as Pontus in the Park.
  • Djuret- last dinner service on June 18th, opens again on August 18th. During this time they will have an outdoor barbecue restaurant called Svinet.
  • Lux Day to Day- last dinner service on July 12th, reopens on August 12th. 
  • Farang- last dinner service on July 5th, reopens on August 7th.
  • Pubologi- last dinner service on June 28th, opens again on August 1st.
  • Proviant- last dinner service on July 4th, reopens on August 6th.
  • Niklas- last dinner service on July 12th, opens again on July 31st.
  • SMAK- last dinner service on July 5th, opens again on August 7th.
  • Grill- summer grill buffet served between June 23rd and July 27th.
  • Le Rouge- last dinner service on June 28th, reopens on August 12th. Their more casual Le Bar is open all summer.
  • Miss Voon- last dinner service on July 5th, opens again on August 7th.
Don't despair though... there are still plenty of great restaurants open in Stockholm during these weeks. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for more information. Our Bistro will be open every evening, all summer! I will be adding to the list as I find more restaurants that also close. Please keep in mind that I gathered this information mostly from their websites (sometimes directly with the restaurant)... some of the dates may change. To be absolutely sure, check the restaurant's website (which I have linked above).

June 11, 2014

English Language Theatre This Summer!

One of the more problematic questions I get is when non-Swedish speaking visitors ask about shows and theatre. With the exception of opera, the vast majority of shows in Stockholm are in Swedish. A second problem arises because nearly all theatres and show venues close during the summer months (when said visitors are in the city asking about theatre). However... this summer the Stockholm English Speaking Theatre (SEST) changes all of that! They will be celebrating William Shakespeare's 450th birthday with with an outdoor production of "Much Ado About Nothing". In English! Shakespeare in the Park, if you will.
Beautiful location for Shakespeare at Rosendals Wärdshus!
One of the Bard's most beloved comedies, the original "Much Ado About Nothing" takes place in the 16th century Sicily. SEST has put a twist on it and their version takes place in Sicily in the 1960's. The era of La Dolce Vita! They will be performing at three outdoor venues this July and August. July 11th & 12th at Parkteatern (Park Theatre) on Djurgården, July 17th, 18th & 19th in Drottningholm Palace's Garden and then 7 performances between July 21st and August 2nd in the beautiful lawn adjacent to Rosendal's Wärdshus on Djurgården. You might remember that I recently visited Rosendal. When our Concierge union (SHPF) had a summer kick-off a couple of weeks ago, SEST gave us a mini performance. Looked fun! Bring your blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets and enjoy Shakespeare in the outdoors. You can also buy food & drink at Rosendals Wärdshus to have your own impromtu picnic. Visit SEST's website for ticket information and dates.


June 5, 2014

June 6th: Sweden's National Holiday

Sweden's National Holiday is celebrated on June 6th each year. Sadly, it is a bit of a wimpy holiday... nothing along the lines of the Fourth of July in the US, Bastille Day in France or "17e Maj" in Norway. Every year there are discussions around the proverbial water cooler and in the media on why we don't celebrate it more. I actually read an interesting article today where a prominent ethnographer explained that this is mainly due to the fact that Sweden has never been occupied, or had to fight for independence (besides the Kalmar Union in the 1400's), so there isn't any concrete reason to celebrate. It doesn't help either that Swedes have a natural aversion to sticking out in a crowd (i.e. flag waving). Landet Lagom! It is what it is... but what it is, at any rate, is a bank holiday. So banks, smaller shops and liquor stores will be closed. Larger stores, museums, most restaurants and sightseeing will be open/running as normal. It is a little special this year because it falls on a Friday which means Swedes have a long weekend and many will be heading out to their summer homes in the archipelago.
Royal Palace in Gamla Stan
It isn't as glum as I make it sound... there are of course happenings and celebrations going on which a visitor can enjoy. Top of the list is a visit to Skansen... the open air museum of Swedish culture and traditions as well as city zoo. Actually this was where the National Holiday was first celebrated in 1893 and this is where the official celebrations are held. In fact, the king and queen will be in attendance in the evening. Besides the royal visit there will be tons of activities for all ages... click here for a full calendar. The royal family will also be celebrating by having free entrance to the Royal Palace (in Gamla Stan) and its adjoining museums during the day (10am to 5pm). Another museum with free entrance on this day is the History Museum (Historiska). Finally, we have Make Music Stockholm. This is a street music festival that will be taking place all day (noon to 8pm) in the streets, parks and squares on the island of Södermalm (where the Rival Hotel is located). Should be festive! Don't forget the restaurant festival Smaka På Stockholm going on all week in Kungsträdgården. Click here for more suggestions on how to spend the day...
Drottningholm Palace
I can't talk write about the royal family and this holiday without mentioning the christening of H.R.H. Princess Leonore (the daughter of Princess Madeleine, the king's youngest child) on Sunday, June 8th at Drottningholm Palace. It will be a relatively subdued affair compared with the recent christening of Princess Estelle, the future queen of Sweden. What is important for visitors to know is that there will be closures and partial closures of the Drottningholm Palace between the 4th and 10th of June due to the christening. Click here for more detailed information.
H.R.H Princess Madeleine, Mr. Christopher O’Neill, H.R.H. Princess Leonore
Photo: royalcourt.se, Sweden

June 3, 2014

Restaurant Festival: Smaka På Stockholm!

Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 4th) is the first day of one of my favorite summer festivals... Smaka På Stockholm (A Taste of Stockholm). This restaurant/food festival is celebrating its 23rd year this year! The festival continues for 5 days until Sunday and is a great way to sample what Stockholm has to offer in the way of culinary delights. Keep in mind that Friday, June 6th, is the National Holiday for Sweden... so Swedes are off  work and the festival should be extra busy.
Photo: Gunilla Sikström, Smaka på Stockholm
The festival is held in the park Kungsträdgården, located in downtown Stockholm. It has proven to be very popular and attracts about 500,000 visitors annually. The festival is open for lunch and dinner all five days... closing at 11:30pm, except on Sunday when they close at 10pm. The festival is changing a bit this year. Stockholm has become quite the culinary mecca in recent years and the festival has decided to reflect this by inviting in some fine dining restaurants like Jonas and Farang (two personal favorites of mine). Otherwise there are about 25 restaurants partaking in the festival representing a wide range of cuisine... taste of Vietnam, Bouqueria, Flippin' Burgers, Indian Garden, Cevicheria Aji & Ajo, Speceriet and Nam Kang to name a few. Something for every taste!
Chef Johan Jureskog. Photo: Peter Backman, Smaka på Stockholm
Something else that is new this year is the addition of Food Trucks to the festival. I recently wrote about the hot trend of food trucks coming to Stockholm. This festival is a nice way of trying them out without having to track them down! Another new addition is the Salutorget (food market) where you can taste and/or purchase different culinary delicacies... everything from luxury ice cream from Hawaii to oysters to freshly baked sourdough bread.
Photo: Peter Backman, Smaka på Stockholm
Food isn't everything. You have to have entertainment as well! And the festival has plenty of this on the schedule. There will be artists performing on the main stage all afternoon and evening every day. Jazz, Rock, Pop, Soul, Gospel and more. And, keeping with the culinary theme of the festival, there will also be chef duels, cook-alongs and culinary theatre. Entrance to the festival is free of charge! To get there from the Rival Hotel, it is either a pleasant 25 minute walk through the old town (Gamla Stan) or else a quick bus/subway trip. The closest subway stop is Kungsträdgården on the blue line. Talk to me directly at the hotel for more specific directions.