September 27, 2018

Autumn Market at Skansen

Skansen is the world's first open-air museum and one of Stockholm's main attractions. It is a museum of Swedish culture and rural life, the city's zoo and park... all wrapped up in one. The park was opened in 1891 and contains buildings (churches, farmhouses, cottages, etc.) that come from all around Sweden and were purchased by Skansen's founder Artur Hazelius and shipped, piece by piece, to the park and reconstructed. So, visiting Skansen is like stepping back in history and seeing what Sweden looked like in the 1800's.
Vendor and customer at Skansen's autumn market.
Photo by Bengt Berglund
This weekend (September 29th & 30th), Skansen will be holding their popular, annual autumn market. It is set up like a traditional farmers' market from the 1800's. These markets were big events in rural Sweden at the time. Besides being able to purchase jams, preserves, sausages, candies, traditional handicrafts and more, they also have activities, dancing, music and games. Very family friendly! Stroll through the park, see all the Scandinavian animals (moose, reindeer, bears, wolves & more) and visit the market.
Musicians at the autumn market
Photo by Christina Westberg/Skansen
The market is open between 11am and 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday. Skansen is located on the island of Djurgården and the easiest way to get there from the Hotel Rival is by the Djurgård Ferry from nearby Gamla Stan (10 minute trip with the ferries departing every 15 minutes). On the island you have several other large attractions like the Vasa Museum and ABBA the Museum as well as acres of parkland beyond Skansen... which is a nice place to visit to enjoy the autumn colors.
Smiths at work, Skansen's autumn market
Photo by Bengt Berglund

September 25, 2018

Robert Doisneau Exhibition at Kulturhuset

Le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville, Paris 1950
Robert Doisneau © Atelier Robert Doisneau
Do you recognize the above image? It is "Le Baiser de l'hôtel de ville" (The Kiss), one of photographer Robert Doisneau's most famous works. It has become a symbol for young love in Paris and has hung on many walls around the world... including in my student dorm room, where I would stare at it and dream of a wider world out there. So I was quite excited that Kulturhuset was going to have an exhibition of his work: "Robert Doisneau: the poet of the Paris suburb".
While it was a very interesting exhibition, I have to admit it wasn't what I was expecting. To start off with, even though Kulturhuset has used The Kiss in their advertisements for the exhibition, it is actually not hanging in the exhibition! The image is on their website, part of their press images for the exhibition and they even sell a poster with the photograph on it. Oh well. But I guess the reason I went to the exhibit was to see his other photographs.
While most of us have a very romanticized view of Paris, as captured in Doisneau's The Kiss, this exhibition looks at more day to day life of the city, especially in the suburbs. While not romantic, the exhibition is very interesting nonetheless. The photographs are all taken in the 1940's, 50's and 60's in, what was then, the suburbs of Paris... like Gentilly, Saint Denis and Ivry-sur-Seine.
These were the years that Paris was occupied by Nazi Germany and the period directly after when Parisians were struggling to build up their economy again. The pictures are quite grim at times, but the characters in them are fascinating and haunting. I suppose I have always had the image of people dancing in the streets at Paris' liberation and hadn't given much thought to the struggle of everyday Parisians afterwards.
So, this might not be the exhibition for you if you want that romanticized image of post war Paris, but if you are interested in great photography and to see what life was like in the Parisian suburbs then this will appeal to you. One good tip... on Mondays they have free admission. This exhibition runs until November 25th. Click here for other autumn exhibitions in Stockholm.
Kulturhuset ("the culture house") is a large complex that contains a theatre (Stadsteatern), a library, several galleries, music venues and more. It is located right on the square Sergels torg in the downtown area. The easiest way to get there from the Hotel Rival is by subway, just three stations away on the red line to T-Central (exit to Sergels torg).

September 19, 2018

Key to STHLM Magazine

Time for a public service announcement here. I am a member of Les Clefs d'Or which is an international union for professional Concierges, with around 4,000 members working luxury hotels in 80 countries around the world. Our Swedish chapter has worked closely, over the past few months, with Savor Media to produce a glossy Stockholm magazine called Key to STHLM.
The magazine is full of great articles looking at what is hot on the design, culture, nightlife, fashion and culinary scenes in Stockholm. You will also find specific tips from two Stockholm Les Clefs d'Or Concierges in each issue as well as interviews with interesting Stockholmers, a culture calendar for the season, an in-depth look at some of Stockholm's best attractions and more.
Key to STHLM will be a bi-annual magazine and you can find them in any of the top Stockholm hotels that have a Les Clefs d'Or Sweden Concierge... like the Hotel Rival (where you will find an issue in every room). Besides perusing their issue in their rooms, hotel guests are welcome to take their magazine home with them as a nice souvenir of their time in Stockholm.
We are busy working on content for the next issue, due out in February, and it looks like it will another great issue! Stay tuned...

September 15, 2018

"Warhol 1968" at Moderna

An exhibition about an exhibition! The other day I attended the press showing of Warhol 1968 at Stockholm's modern art museum Moderna. This exhibition is a look back at the artist Andy Warhol's first solo exhibition outside of the United States, which took place 50 years ago at Moderna. I have always found Andy Warhol to be fascinating, both his art and the man himself, and I have been looking forward to this exhibition.
Andy Warhol was the godfather of the pop art movement and was active on the New York art scene from the 1950's until his death in 1987. By 1968, he had already created many of his iconic pieces of art, like the Marilyn Diptych, Campbell's Soup Cans and Brillo Boxes. The Factory, Warhol's NYC studio, became the center of the New York art scene, producing an amazing amount of art, music and film as well as creating many counterculture figures (Warhol Superstars).
Warhol was a polarizing figure, in life and in death. You either loved him or hated him. This was evident at his exhibition at the Moderna in 1968. The reviews varied wildly... fraud, degenerate or genius? The 1968 exhibition was even seen as a bit scandalous in some circles. Part of the current exhibition looks at these reviews published in Swedish media at the time and they are fun to read. 1968 was a tumultuous year in the world as well with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War and more and this year proves to be an interesting backdrop to Warhol's exhibition in Stockholm. Of special note is the fact that, a few months after Warhol's exhibition in Stockholm, there was an assassination attempt on him as well.
The current exhibition also looks at how the 1968 exhibition came together and what happened upon the arrival of Warhol, director Paul Morrisey and "superstar" Viva in Stockholm. There are, of course, several of Warhol's works of art in the exhibition, including Brillo Boxes, Mao, Flowers, American Indian, Marilyn Diptych as well as Warhol's rendition of the Absolut vodka bottle (the first in Absolut's successful advertising campaign where the bottle was depicted by various artists).
Other interesting items in the exhibition include album covers designed by Warhol, examples of his famous quotes and issues of his popular fashion magazine Interview. Also part of the exhibition are two films... both Warhol's Chelsea Girls and the Oscar nominated documentary Brillo Box (3 cents off). For some extra fun, make sure you check out the museum's gift shop! They have some great items, several which are exhibition themed and many which would make unique Stockholm souvenirs.
Moderna is located on the island of Skeppsholmen. The easiest way to get there from the Hotel Rival is by the Djurgåden ferry that departs every 15 minutes from nearby Gamla Stan... the trip only takes 10 minutes, just let the staff know that you will be disembarking at Skeppsholmen so that they make the extra stop. There is also a bridge leading over to the island from the downtown area. Warhol 1968 runs until February 17th next year.

September 14, 2018

Djurgården Tram Extension Complete!

One of the most popular ways to get from the downtown area of Stockholm out to the island of Djurgården, where many of Stockholm's main attractions are located, has been the tram (street car) Djurgårdslinjen. This tram line, first with vintage trams and later with more modern cars, has run between Norrmalmstorg and Djurgården since 1991. There have been plans on extending this line on each end and, last week, the first stage was finally completed. The line has now been extended west to the Central Train Station.
I say "finally" as the extension has meant a lot of construction and ripped up roads for a few years, especially around the NK department store and Sergels torg square. But it has been worth the trouble. Trams were a popular mode of transportation in many Swedish cities until the middle of the last century; phased out mainly in favor of busses and subways. The final death blow was when Sweden changed from left-hand to right-hand traffic in 1967. But now trams are making a comeback due to them being an environmentally and comfortable way to travel. They are even building new tram systems in some other Swedish cities, like Lund.
This extension is only a few blocks long and you might be wondering why I am writing about this. Well, the extension is actually quite strategic as it connects the line with the Central Train Station, the hub of all subway, train, commuter train and bus traffic in the city. So, for example, a guest at the Hotel Rival can now get to Djurgården by taking the subway to T-Centralen and then transferring to the tram (if they didn't want to take the Djurgård ferry from nearby Gamla Stan, another convenient way to get to the island). When you arrive at T-Centralen (subway station under the train station), just exit in either direction and walk up the stairs to the street Klarabergsgatan where you will find the start/end station in front of the Åhlens department store.
Just a 15 minute trip out to the nature of Djurgården