June 29, 2016

Pedestrian Street Swedenborgsgatan

Last year Stockholm City decided to test turning the street Swedenborgsgatan into a pedestrian street during the summer months. This was done to bring a little life to sleepy streets and help businesses in the area. The test turned out to be a success! As the street is just around the corner from the Rival Hotel, we were happy with the change. Because it went so well, the city has decided to expand the project with two other streets also becoming pedestrian during the summer: Rörstrandsgatan in the Vasastan area and Skånegatan in the SoFo area. Car traffic is allowed on the streets between 6am and 11am, otherwise it is just pedestrians and bicycles.
I have also noticed that the businesses along Swedenborgsgatan have really taken advantage of the extra space this year with most of the cafés and restaurants expanding their outdoor seating into the streets. Fun! Really makes the neighbourhood more vibrant. Some restaurants along the street include Bistro Süd, Da Luigi and Morfar Ginko. You also have several cafés of which Johan & Nyström is of special note. There is also the specialty food store 8T8, the pub Half Way Inn and the gay bar Side Track. We hope that this really becomes an annual thing!

June 27, 2016

Revisiting Rosendals Wärdshus

I took advantage of the great weather this Midsummer's Day and took a long walk around Djurgården island (also a National City Park) with a friend, stopping at one of my favorit summer spots for lunch: Rosendals Wärdshus.
I have already written an article about Rosendal, but I thought I would post a reminder as I was there, it was great weather and I took some new pictures. Read the other article for more detailed information. In short, they are open every day (weather permitting) between 11am and 4pm. In July & August they will be open for dinner as well, closing at 8pm. Its location on Djurgården, close by major attractions such as the Vasa Museum, Skansen and ABBA Museum, means that it is a great place to grab a bite or drink in between (or after) museum visits! Indoor and outdoor seating as well as picnic opportunities.
Rosendals Wärdshus, which just celebrated its' 100th birthday, is located on the island of Djurgården, just behind Skansen park, in a beautiful bucolic setting. The easiest way to get there from the Rival Hotel is to take the Djurgård ferry from Gamla Stan. Upon arrival at Djurgården, you can either walk around Skansen to the restaurant (15-20 minute walk in the park) or take the Djurgård tram to Bellmansro station which cuts your walk in half. You can take this street car all the way from the downtown area if you are starting from there.

June 24, 2016

Greta Garbo Exhibition at Fotografiska

Over the decades, Sweden has exported a lot of great talent to Hollywood... Ingrid Bergman, Ingmar Bergman, Lena Olin, Lasse Hallström, Stellan & Alexander Skarsgård, Alicia Vikander among others. But the original (and arguably most famous) Swedish cinematic export will always be Greta Garbo! She was actually born and raised not too far from the Rival Hotel on Blekingegatan. Besides Garbo's striking beauty and successful film career (both in silent films and then "talkies"), she is also famous for the fact that she retired in 1941, at the height of her career, removing herself from the public spotlight ("I want to be alone!").
A popular opening party...
I have been asked by visitors several times over the years why Stockholm doesn't have a Garbo museum. A valid question. Well, this summer we will at least have a Garbo exhibit here in Stockholm and last week I was invited to the premiere of the exhibition "The Image of Garbo" (at Fotografiska - the Swedish Museum of Photography).
If you have at all been reading this blog regularly then you know that I love the art of photography and am a fan of the museum which has had some great exhibitions throughout the years (Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle, Herb Ritts, Henri Cartier-Bresson, etc.). The Garbo exhibit is located on the ground floor in a space usually used for conferences and events and not exhibitions. This means that "The Image of Garbo" is an expansion of what is already being shown at the museum, meaning more exhibits and photographs to see at Fotografiska this summer.
I really enjoyed "The Image of Garbo", which probably contains the world's largest collection of unique images and memorabilia featuring Greta Garbo. Everything in the exhibit comes from the private collection of Lars Nordin, a Swedish advertising executive, who has been an active collector for 20 years. While I recognized several of the images, especially the stills from her most famous movies (Queen Christina, Camille, Ninotchka and Anna Karenina), many images were new for me.
The exhibit also contains other interesting memorabilia, some objects owned by Garbo as well as her autograph written with a goose quill. This last piece is apparently quite a rarity as Garbo never signed autographs and didn't like to even write her name.
The exhibition runs all summer (until August 21st) and is one of many great summer exhibitions at Fotografiska. Other ones include Bryan Adams and Nick Brandt. The museum has very generous opening hours which makes it easy to add to your itinerary, especially if you only have a short time in Stockholm. The museum is open from 9am to 11pm Sundays through Wednesdays and between 9am and 1am on Thursdays through Saturdays. The only days they are closed are Midsummer's Eve and Christmas Eve.
Fotografiska is located on the waterfront of Södermalm. The easiest way to get there from the Rival Hotel is to walk (15-20 minutes). The hop-on/off boats also make a stop there during the summer months. They also have a great restaurant, though in the summer months this closes and instead they have an outdoor grill restaurant called Växtgrillen.

June 22, 2016

Restaurants Closing During the Summer Months (2016)

This post may come as bad news, at least for "foodies" visiting Stockholm in July and early August. Many top tier restaurants (Michelin star, gourmet) close for a few weeks during the summer. This is mainly due to the generous Swedish vacation rules leading many top restaurants to feel that they can't offer excellent food & service with summer replacement staff. Another reason, perhaps, is that many Stockholmers leave the city during this period and there aren't enough visiting "foodies" to fill these types of restaurants to make it profitable. No businessmen in town either... wining & dining clients. At any rate, the good news is that there are a few which will be open all summer and several other top restaurants have some other options during these weeks... and you always have a plethora of other great restaurants in the city to choose from! Most of these restaurants are also closed during the big Midsummer holiday weekend (June 24th-26th).

Michelin star and Bib Gourmand restaurants:
  • Mathias Dahlgren- closed between July 15th and August 9th (both the Dining Room and the Food Bar).
  • Frantzén- closes on July 9th. Reopening at a new & better location in 2017!
  • Oaxen Krog- open all summer as normal.
  • Oaxen Slip- open all summer... every day for lunch & dinner.
  • Gastrologik- open all summer, though their more casual Speceriet will be closed until the beginning of August for renovations. 
  • Ekstedt- closed between July 17th and August 5th.
  • Esperanto- the dining room is closed between June 24th and August 5th. Instead, between June 28th and August 4th, they open up their lounge with what they call their Spanish Summer Salon where guests sit at a communal table. They have other restaurants in the house with different summer schedules... Råkultur is open all summer and Shibumi is only closed between June 24th and July 4th. Imouto however will be closed between July 17th and August 10th. 
  • Operakällaren- closed between July 17th and August 10th. Their more casual Bakfickan will be open all summer.
  • Volt- closed between July 17th and August 14th.
  • Rolfs Kök- closed between July 3rd and August 7th.
  • Den Gyldene Freden- closed for renovations between June 18th and August 19th. 
  • Lilla Ego- closed between July 10th and August 15th.
  • Nook- closed between July 2nd and August 8th. 
  • Proviant Östermalm- closed between July 9th and July 28th. 
  • Ulla Winbladh- open all summer.
Other top rated restaurants:
  • Svartengrens- closed between July 4th and July 31st. 
  • AG- closed between July 3rd and August 7th. 
  • Lux Day to Day- closed between July 16th and August 16th.
  • Farang- closed between July 10th and August 10th.
  • Djuret- closed between July 4th and August 10th. Instead they open up an outdoor pork barbecue restaurant called Svinet
  • Pubologi- closed between July 4th and August 2nd. 
  • Omakase Köttslöjd- closed between July 4th and August 2nd. 
  • Le Rouge- closed between June 24th and August 15th. 
  • SMAK- closed between July 10th and August 11th. 
  • Miss Voon- open all summer.
  • Publico- closed between July 3rd and August 8th. 
  • Teatergrillen- closed between July 2nd and August 7th.
  • Spritmuseum- their high-end dinner service closes during the summer months. Instead they have a more casual restaurant (includes garden seating) as well as a great "beer pier" on the water open. 
  • Fotografiska- their indoor fine dining restaurant is closed between June 24th and August 17th. During this time they open an outdoor barbecue in front of the museum (from June 27th to August 14th). Their café is open as usual.
  • Wedholms Fisk- open all summer. 
What this all means is that you need to plan a little ahead if you wish to dine at a top tier Stockholm restaurant during your summer visit and be aware that your favorite (or the one you read about) might not be open. However there are still many great restaurants open during these weeks as well as some restaurants that are open only during the summer months that are definitely worth a visit... so you won't go hungry! If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly for help in booking any tables ahead of your visit. Our restaurant Bistro Rival is open all summer.

June 19, 2016

Midsummer Weekend 2016

Midsummer at Skansen,
photo by: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se
I am back at work after my pre summer vacation and just in time for the Midsummer weekend here in Sweden. This year it falls on June 24th through 26th with Midsummer's Eve on Friday and Midsummer's Day on Saturday. This is arguably the biggest holiday in Sweden... on par with Christmas as a holiday celebrated with family and friends. It is a very old holiday, celebrating the summer solstice, with roots going back to Sweden's pagan past. Here is a handy video that explains the holiday! Unfortunately, most tourists are taken by surprise every year as parts of the city can resemble a ghost town with most Stockholmers heading to the countryside to celebrate. But don't worry... as long as you are aware of the holiday, there are still lots to see and do. Most places geared for tourists tend to be open or at least partially open. Here are some tips on what is open/closed and what to expect:

Museums-

  • Skansen- open every day, all weekend.
  • Vasa Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Fotografiska (photography)- closed on Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • ABBA the Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Royal Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Drottningholm Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Moderna (modern art)- closed Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nobel (Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes)- closed Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nordiska (nordic culture)- closed Friday, open Saturday & Sunday.
  • Historiska (history)- closed Friday & Saturday, open Sunday.
  • Medeltidsmuseet (medieval)- closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • Spritmuseum (drinkable spirits)- closes at 4pm on Friday, closed Saturday, open Sunday.

If you are travelling with children (or are young at heart) both the amusement park Gröna Lund and Junibacken, the home of Pippi Longstocking and her friends, 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. Most hotel restaurants are open to the general public (like the Rival Bistro) all weekend. There are also some other restaurants that are open during Midsummer... your best luck will be with hotel restaurants, places in Gamla Stan as well as restaurants like Hard Rock Café. 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! 

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 (Sturegallerian is closed on Sunday as well). The two largest department stores, NK and Åhlens City, will close early on Friday (NK at 2pm and Åhlens at 4pm) 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. Check their calendar for a program of what is going on 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!
Summer Night
photo by: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se