October 28, 2011

Shopping: Souvenirs!

One of the questions I get asked the most is where do we go to buy souvenirs & postcards? The answer is pretty simple: The Old Town (Gamla Stan) and more specifially... the pedestrian street Västerlånggatan. This street runs the length of the western side of the island, starting in the south at Slussen and then running north to the Parliament (Riksdagen). Most of the shops are pretty cheesy, selling a variety of Stockholm themed trinkets and other souvenirs. But if you are looking for a Pippi Longstocking doll for your daughter, a horned Viking helmet for your son, a t-shirt portraying two moose mating for your funny uncle or a commemorative plate of the crown princess and prince for your grandmother... then this is the place to go! Many of the shops also sell postcards, guide books as well as film & memory cards for cameras. There are some more classy souvenirs to be purchased here, like Swedish glass, crystal and ceramics. Or else you can head over to the other side of the island where you will find the pedestrian street Österlånggatan. This street is quieter than Västerlånggatan and you can find a better grade of souvenir... handicrafts, crystal and art. Both streets are just a 10 minute walk from the Rival Hotel!
Click here for more Stockholm shopping tips!

October 25, 2011

The Strindberg Museum

August Strindberg is one of Sweden's most famous artists throughout history; a playwright, essayist, novelist and painter... he was also one of Sweden's most prolific artists. The apartment in central Stockholm, where he spent the last four years of his life (1908-1912), has been turned into the Strindberg Museum. The apartment's interior has been reconstructed as it looked when Strindberg died. Most of the furniture is the original pieces while other details (wallpaper, textiles, etc;) are copies. The building is also quite interesting... when it was completed in 1907 it was one of the first buildings in Stockholm with telephone lines, electricity, indoor plumbing, an elevator and central heating. Besides the apartment itself, the museum also has exhibitions showing different aspects of Strindbergs life and work as well as a library which holds an extensive collection of books by and about the author/playwright. Of special note- next year (2012) will be the 100th anniversary of Strindberg's death, expect special events both at the museum and in the city!

As I mentioned, the museum is located in central Stockholm and is easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... just take the subway (green line) at nearby Slussen, heading north, and exit at Rådmansgatan (4 stations). The museum has shorter than normal opening hours- 12am to 4pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Entrance is 50 SEK for adults and free for children under 19. Free with the Stockholm Card. A special thanks to my roving reporter Matte B for the tip and pictures!

October 20, 2011

Art Exhibitions This Fall

There are some great art exhibitions showing at different museums and art galleries in Stockholm this Fall and early Winter. A little something for every type of art lover!
  • "Turner, Monet, Twombly" at Moderna (modern art museum)- an exhibition featuring three of the great painters from the last 150 years. Showing until January 15th, 2012. Another current exhibition is their collection of photography featuring the likes of Newton, Penn, Arbus and Mapplethorpe (until February, 2012).
  • "The Peredvizhniki" at the Nationalmuseum (national art museum)- Social realism and folktales... Pioneers in Russian painting (until January 22, 2012). Another current exhibition is "Four Seasons", a look at the changing seasons through the eyes of Swedish painters from the late 1800's (until May, 2012).
  • "On This Earth, a Shadow Falls" at Fotografiska (photography museum)- black and white photography of African wildlife taken by photographer Nick Brandt.
  • "Carl Fredrik Hill" at Waldemarsudde- an exhibition of the work of Carl Fredrik Hill in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of his death (until January 29th, 2012).
  • "Hell" at Liljevalchs- an appropriately titled exhibition looking at "the dark to which art constantly returns". A mix of 19th century and modern art. Showing until January 8th, 2012.
Here are some other good art galleries and exhibition venues worth checking out: Sven-Harry's Gallery, Bonnier's Konsthall, Hallwylska MuseumThielska Gallery and Millesgården. If I stumble upon any other interesting art exhibition this Fall, I'll be sure to post it here!

October 19, 2011

Trivia: Fall Flowers

I reported earlier about the planting of flowers throughout Stockholm for the Spring & Summer months... well, now there are new flowers for Fall. In flower beds and pots throughout the city, they have planted purple and white heather. I'm not sure what the theme for the flowers are this season, but they are pretty! The pictures here are taken in the square Mariatorget just in front of the Rival Hotel. So head out and enjoy the Fall flowers as well as the changing colors of the leaves!

October 14, 2011

Private Walking Tours of the City

Photo: Stockholms Visitors Board
Stockholm is a city made for walking... and if you would like to avoid the big bus and boat tours and get a more personal tour of the city, then a walking tour is a great idea. There are many companies, both large and small, that organize tours and in many cases it is a set tour that is offered. The Old Town (Gamla Stan) is the most popular tour itinerary and the most interesting district from a tourist's point of view with its palaces, churches, cobblestone streets and long history. Other districts have become popular with walking tours, especially the Södermalm district (where the Rival Hotel is located) which also has a lot of great history.

It is often a good idea to book a tour directly with the company as there are many details to iron out (when, where, what as well as payment). I can recommend some good companies that I have used in the past. One such is Stockholm Stories. Their guide Maria, a 4th generation Stockholmer, is very personable and has a wealth of information about the city and its history. Another popular tour company is Story Tours which offer several themed walking tours. A third option is to book one of the 400 authorized guides through the Stockholms Visitors Board. An advantage here is that you have the option of personalizing your itinerary as well as if you wish to have the tour in a language other than Swedish or English. Booking a tour with any of these companies can be made on their websites which I have linked above.

October 12, 2011

Restaurant: AG

Entrance to AG
On an unassuming side street in the Kungsholmen district you will find Restaurant AG- a meat-lover's paradise! There are seafood and vegetarian dishes on the menu but, as you step in and see the glass encased refrigerator filled with meat dry-aging, you quickly realize that meat is the focus of this popular restaurant. The name "ag" (the chemical symbol for silver) is a reference to the fact that the restaurant is located in an old silver workshop. The factory history of the locale is apparent as the restaurant has a real industrial feel to its interior design with lots of white tile, metal and exposed pipes. They dry age their own meat and these glass refrigerators are an interesting part of the decor as well.

Meat... dry aging before your eyes
I was there yesterday evening with a couple of colleagues and enjoyed tapas and wine in their bar... a perfect place to start the evening before heading over to the dining room. Steakhouses have been a big trend in Stockholm's culinary landscape for the past couple of years and AG has the reputation for being one of the best in the city. If words like porterhouse, entrecote and cochinillo make you drool, then this is the place for you! It is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the Rival Hotel... but well worth the trip! You can also take the subway- green line from Slussen to Fridhemsplan.
Dining room with a real industrial feel

October 11, 2011

Flea Markets

Sunday flea market at Hötorget
Rummaging through flea markets in foreign cities has become more and more popular in the past few years... I often get asked where one can find a good flea market in Stockholm. Smaller flea markets pop up around the city from time to time, but the biggest (and permanent as well) flea market in Stockholm can be found out in the suburb of Vårberg. Called Loppmarknaden (literally "the flea market"), they in fact advertise themselves as being the biggest flea market in Scandinavia. They are open 7 days a week and have around 250 stalls/booths selling everything from second hand clothes to antiques to LP's and CD's. It is good to note that entrance is free during the weekdays (a small entrance fee on the weekends) and that the market is indoors. It is easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... just take the subway (red line) towards Norsborg and hop off at the Vårberg station. The trip takes just 20 minutes.
EDIT: This season (2013-14) there will be a flea market held in the garage of the Liljeholmen shopping center one Sunday a month between 11am and 3pm. Located just 3 stops away from the hotel on the subway (red line), it is worth a visit. The Sundays are: Nov. 10th, Dec. 8th, Jan. 19th, Feb. 9th, Mar. 9th, Apr. 13th and May 4th.

Sunday flea market at Hötorget
If you are looking for something a little closer, then there is a flea market at Hötorget, located in the downtown area. Monday through Saturday it is a popular outdoor fruit and flower market, but on Sunday it turns into a flea market. It is a bit small and I wouldn't go out of my way to visit it, but if you are in the area then stop by for a bit of rummaging...

October 8, 2011

Those Creative Swedes!

Photo: Nicho Södling, Stockholm Visitors' Board
The Martin Prosperity Institute recently released its annual Global Creativity Index, a ranking of 82 countries based on creativity (as a way of showing economic competitiveness). And... Sweden ranks as #1. Several factors are used in compiling the GPI: number of patents per capita, openess and tolerance as well as the number of people employed in creative fields.
Even though the population of Sweden is only about 9.5 million, the country is an international powerhouse in the fields of design, fashion, music, literature and the performing arts. Swedes' creativity is quite apparent if you keep your eyes and ears open while wandering the streets of Stockholm.
And you don't have to travel to Sweden to enjoy Swedish creativity. I can guarantee that in the past few days you've either worn Swedish fashion (Acne, H&M, Whyred, Fillipa K), used/admired Swedish design (Ikea, Asplund, Kosta Boda), listened to a Swedish singer/act (ABBA, Swedish House Mafia, Robyn) or Swedish produced music (Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Pink), read something by a Swedish author (Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell, Tomas Tranströmer), seen a movie or TV show with a Swedish actor (Malin Åkerman, Stellan & Alexander Skarsgård) or used technology invented by a Swede (Spotify, Skype)!
It's all part of our plan for world domination...

October 6, 2011

Chocolate Festival 2011

Photo: Peter Segemark @Nordiska museet
As if this coming weekend's Beer and Whisky Festival wasn't enough... there is another sinful festival on the horizon: The Chocolate Festival. This popular festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary and will be held from 14th to 16th of October at the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet). Not to be missed if you are a chocolate lover!
There will be lots of activities and things to see during these three days. In the main hall you will find a chocolate marketplace where suppliers and patisseries will display their wares for tasting and purchase. There will be demonstrations, shows and competitions on the stage including a chocolate sculpture competition and the prestigious "Cake Maker of the Year" (on the 14th).

Entrance is 120 SEK for adults and 60 SEK for children between 6 and 18 years of age. Children under 6 come in for free. The Nordiska Museet is located on the island of Djurgården next to the Vasa Museum... to get there from the Rival Hotel, just take the Djurgård ferry from Slussen (a 10 minute walk from the hotel).

October 5, 2011


Just a friendly reminder to follow us (the Rival Hotel) on Facebook... a great way to see what is happening at the hotel as well as in our bistro, bars, café and theatre. You can also find discounts and recommendations from our staff! Thanks to modern technology, you can even make your room reservation. Click here to come to our Facebook page.
Another great Facebook page to follow before an impending visit to Stockholm is Visit Stockholm's page. Click here to come to their page. Lots of great tips for tourists!

October 1, 2011

Julbord - the Christmas Smörgåsbord

Photo by Henrik Trygg, Stockholm's Visitors' Board
I know, I know... it's the 1st of October and I'm already writing about Christmas. My apologies! But people are booking rooms and planning their December visit to Stockholm, and I think it is a good thing to be aware of a certain Swedish Christmas tradition that takes place throughout the month of December: julbord! Julbord, which literally means Christmas table, is very similar to the famous smörgåsbord. This buffet-style meal has all of the traditional dishes found on the smörgåsbord like different types of pickled herring, smoked salmon, gravad lax, meatballs, sausages, paté and desserts as well as the addition of several more Christmassy dishes like ham, lutefisk and rice pudding.
The reason why this is good to be aware of in advance of a December visit is that many restaurants serve this (and only this) during the month of December (up until Christmas Eve). This can either be good or bad news. Good if you want to try this Swedish holiday tradition and bad if you are planning on having dinner at your favorite restaurant where you choose dishes from the menu. Another good thing to know is that you should definitely pre-book julbord, especially if you want good quality! All types of restaurants serve julbord in December... from budget to high end. Some serve the traditional julbord while others have a more modern variation. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly and I can help you with recommendations and reservations.
If you require further information about Stockholm during the holidays, you can check my blog writings on the subject from last year.