February 25, 2011

Olof Palme Memorial

This Monday (February 28th) is the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. He was fatally shot while walking home from a movie theater with his wife. His assassination came as quite a shock to Swedes and the world as well. Sweden was viewed as a very safe place, synonymous with peace, prosperity and neutrality, and security was never an issue for Swedish politicians... the couple had no bodyguards with them that evening. Despite several witnesses, including his wife, his murder has never been solved and the assassination has become almost Kennedy-esque in nature. Palme had many enemies: he was a vocal critic of US involvement in Vietnam, Soviet brutality in Prague, apartheid in South Africa and the Franco regime. So it is perhaps not strange that conspiratorial theories abound concerning CIA, KGB and even South African operatives.
If you are a history buff, or would like to pay your respects to this Swedish politician, then there are a couple of memorials in the city you can visit. At the place where he was shot, on the corner of Sveavägen and Tunnelgatan (renamed Olof Palme's Gata in his honor), is a plaque commemorating the event... and people often lay flowers here. Olof Palme's grave is located just two blocks up the street at the church Adolf Fredriks kyrka.
Trivia: In the church there is also a memorial to the French philosopher René Descartes ("cogito ergo sum/I think therefore I am") who was actually buried here for a time before his body was moved to Paris. He had died in Stockholm while visiting the city at the invitation of Queen Christina to be her teacher.

February 19, 2011

Restaurant Oaxen Krog

Oaxen Krog is considered one of the absolute best restaurants in Sweden and has amassed amazing reviews... they have been listed in Restaurant Magazine's prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants list five years in a row and has received about every Swedish and international award out there. Chef Magnus Ek and Agneta Green create a culinary experience where modern ideas meet old traditions in a gorgeous archipelago landscape. It is located a bit south of Stockholm and it is not that easy to get there... but I have sent several guests from the Rival Hotel there over the years and they have all agreed that it is well worth the trouble. Though it is perhaps good to note that these guests have all been "foodies". The best way to get there is by car (approx 1 hour drive), otherwise a taxi is possible (though quite expensive at 1,300 SEK each way) or a combination of commuter train-bus-ferry. For more information and directions.. click here! And now for some news...
Bad News: After 17 years, Oaxen Krog is closing its doors for good this October 1st(2011). So this is the last summer to enjoy Chef Ek's innovative menu out in the Stockholm archipelago. They open for business on April 30th.
Good News: According to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Ek and Green will be opening a new restaurant in Stockholm in the Spring of 2012. It will be located on the island of Djurgården and easy to get to from the Rival Hotel. I can't wait to see what they come up with!
If you are interested in other fine dining experiences in Stockholm... stay tuned to this blog. In March the annual Michelin Guide list will be announced and I will be sure to report on it. In the meantime you can check Visit Stockholm's list of current gourmet restaurants in the city.
(All pictures here provided by the restaurant's webpage)

February 18, 2011

Vodou Exhibition

No, I did not misspell "voodoo"...  this is actually the Haitian spelling which the Etnografiska Museet (Museum of Ethnography) has chosen for their new exhibition on the West-African/Caribbean religion. They did this to make a point that the exhibition focuses on true vodou and not the voodoo that one might assosciate with Hollywood movies. This is an international travelling exhibition that looks at both the light and dark forces within vodou and contains many exciting artifacts from Haiti. "Vodou" will be on display at the museum from February 12th until August 21st.
Photo by: Jonathan Watts, Etnografiska Museet
The museum is located in northern Djurgården right next door to Tekniska Museet (Museum of Technology)- which, as luck would have it, is showing an interesting exhibition called "Nasa, A Human Adventure". So it is perfect to combine the two!
Etnografiska is open 7 days a week, 10am to 5pm weekdays and 11am to 5pm on weekends. Free entrance! Tekniska is open everyday from 10am to 6pm, 160 SEK for adults and 95 SEK for children 7-18yrs. Free entrance with the Stockholm Card. The easiest way to get to these museums from the Rival Hotel is to make your way to the downtown area and then take bus #69 from either Sergels Torg, NK department store or Norrmalmstorg heading east.
For more museum exhibitions this winter/spring, click here!

February 16, 2011

Stockholm Trivia- Statistics from 2010

The statistics for 2010 are starting to come in and, once again, it is looking good for Stockholm! According to Visit Stockholm's blog (a great blog to follow by the way) over 10 million hotel nights were sold in 2010 and over 12 million passengers travelled through the Ports of Stockholm during the past year. An increase in both!
Photo by: SBR- Stockholm Visitors Board
Over the past decade Stockholm (and the Baltic Sea area) has more and more become a popular destination for cruise ships. Stockholm is a fantistic place for cruising... the journey in and out of Stockholm, through the archipelago, is amazing and unique. Are you planning on taking a Baltic Cruise with a stop in Stockholm this summer? Check Visit Stockholm's webpage which gives you great pre-cruise information. If you are looking for a place to stay before or after your cruise, then the Rival Hotel is centrally located and close to the ports of Stadsgårdskajen and Skeppsbron- making us popular with cruise ship passengers. Here's hoping that 2011 will be even better than 2010!

February 14, 2011

Brunch Cruise

This past Friday I was invited by the sightseeing company Strömma (thanks Marika) to try their weekend brunch cruise aboard the s/s Stockholm. There was a raging winter storm outside and public transportation was at a standstill throughout the city... but that didn't matter as the s/s Stockholm was built as an ice breaker from the beginning. So it was a cozy trip through a winter landscape in the Stockholm archipelago! Strömma offers this brunch cruise every Saturday and Sunday with the boat leaving the city at noon. The trip takes you through the inner archipelago and has you back in the city at 3pm. The cost (for brunch & boat trip) is 430 SEK and 215 SEK for children between 6 and 11 years old. The brunch consists of a Swedish buffet (smörgåsbord) with lots of local delicacies like mustard herring, janssons frestelse and biff lindström. The dessert table was fantastic! This is a great way to try some Swedish cuisine and see Stockholm and the landscape from the water (the best view in my opinion).
You can follow along on the boat ride without eating brunch. This is called the Archipelago Tour w/ Guide in their brochure and costs 220 SEK with lighter snacks available for purchase.

February 8, 2011

The Stockholm Furniture Fair

The Stockholm Furniture Fair & Northern Light Fair are going on all this week at the Älvsjö International Fairgrounds... and this Saturday, February 12th, it is open for the general public. Sweden is well known for its furniture & lighting design and this is the perfect oppurtunity to see the new trends, get inspired or do some shopping with over 700 exhibitors taking part.On Saturday the fairgrounds are open from 9am to 5pm and the entrance fee is 130 SEK. It is easy to get there from the Rival Hotel... just take the commuter train (pendeltåg) from the Stockholm South station (10 minute walk from the hotel) to the Älvsjö station and then follow the signs.
Click here for more shopping and design tips.

The Semla is Here!

If you are travelling to Stockholm (or anywhere else in Scandinavia for that matter) anytime between now and Easter, you will notice an odd looking pastry in every bakery and café window. This is called a semla (plural: semlor). Originally the semla was eaten on Shrove Tuesday before Lent, but these days semlor abound in the months between New Years and Easter. Semlor are slightly different in each Scandinavian country, but in Sweden they consist of a hallowed out wheat bun, spiced with cardamom, filled with a mixture of bread crumbs, almond paste and milk topped with whipped cream. Quite the calorie bomb! They are either eaten plain with coffee or tea or served in a bowl of warm milk. Swedes generally love their semlor and local newspapers usually come out every year with a list of which bakery/café has the best semlor in town with a panel discussing what makes the perfect semla. Swedes will travel far for a good semla. If you are interested in trying one of these delectable treats while in Stockholm, then you don't have to travel far... they are sold in the Café Rival- made fresh in our bakery!
A bit of semla trivia: King Adolf Fredrik of Sweden (ruled during the 1700's) died of digestive problems after consuming 14 servings of his favorite dessert: a semla in a bowl of warm milk! A case of too much of a good thing... so, be careful of how many you eat!

February 2, 2011

Restaurant Grill

I'm back after a relaxing 2 week vacation ready for a great 2011 here in Stockholm. It seems like Spring is in the air here in the city, but I'm not going to hold my breath.... Swedes are notorious for jumping the gun when it comes to Spring. Just when you think Winter is over a snowstorm will hit!

My first post after my vacation will be dedicated to Grill, one of the most popular restaurants in Stockholm. I went there with friends to celebrate the start of my vacation... and that is the type of restaurant Grill is: a place Stockholmers go to celebrate special occaisions or just splurge on good food. Grill is part of the restaurant empire of chef Melker Andersson, including other popular restaurants such as F12, Kungsholmen and Le Rouge. The ambiance is lively with a great bar scene and the design is ecclectic. The restaurant is split into 8 different seating areas, each with its own design theme including circus, Italy, hunting lodge and Versailles. The design esthetic gives you a lot to look at besides the people watching. When it comes to the food there is one overriding theme: grilled! The menu is international in scope, with dishes from the four corners of the world and at least one component on each dish is grilled using one of five different grilling methods. A friend and I split the Grill Plate which gives you an assortment of charcoal grilled meats with accompanying sauces. Delicious! I was a bit fascinated by the Tuna Teppanyaki that another friend ordered which came with its own grill at the table... looked great. Grill is located in the downtown area, about a 10 minute taxi ride from the Rival Hotel or about 5 subway stops (closest stop- Rådmansgatan, green line). It is a popular restaurant so booking in advance is necessary.

The pictures here are from the restaurants press pictures. I did take my own pictures, but they came out a bit blurry. I blame it on the great wine!

For more restaurant reccomendations, click here!