September 27, 2013

Visit Djurgården!

Entrance to the visitors' center
I braved the drizzly weather today to visit the visitors' center for Djurgården called Visit Djurgården. Djurgården is both the name of an island as well as a National City Park (which includes the island). In fact, it is the world's first National City Park. For the sake of comparison, you could say that it is Stockholm's version of Hyde or Central Park. In the past this was a royal game park and these days it is still owned by the Crown. It is a great park to take a nature walk.
Some beauty found on the island.
Besides acres and acres of beautiful parks, woodlands and fields... Djurgården also has the highest concentration of tourist sites (museums, art galleries, amusement parks, etc;) in Stockholm. So if you are planning a visit to Stockholm, chances are pretty high that you will spend a considerable amount of your visit on this island! Here you will find museums such as the Vasa, Nordic, ABBA, Biology, Technology, Spirits and Maritime History. There are also several great art galleries/museums including Liljevalchs, Waldermarsudde and Thielska. If that wasn't enough, then you have Skansen park & zoo, Aquaria as well as the amusement parks Gröna Lund and Junibacken. You don't have to go hungry while here... quite a few restaurants like Villa Godthem, Ulla Winbladh and Oaxen Krog. Several cafés are spread throughout the park... a personal favorite during the summer is the rose gardens at Rosendals Trädgård.
Sjöcafé, adjacent to center, with boats and bikes for rent!
So you can see why I am so happy that they have built a visitor center just for the island/park. A great idea! There is so much to see and do that you sometimes need some expert advice... besides me! The visitors center is located just on the island side of Djurgårdsbron (the bridge connecting the island with the mainland). The center is open daily, year-round, and is manned by experts on Djurgården and its sites. There are also free maps of the park as well as brochures of the different museums and art galleries to help you decide what to visit. The center is connected to the newly renovated café Sjöcafé, so you can stay for ahwile and have a coffee or glass of wine. The café also rents paddle boats, kayaks and bicycles.
Take a street car to Djurgården, or...
Getting to Djurgården is quite easy... either by bus, street car or ferry (especially good for Rival Hotel guests!). Or why not walk along the waterfront promenade of Strandvägen? If you want to plan ahead of your visit, their website (linked at the top of this article) is filled with great information and an interactive map!
...a ferry (with Gröna Lund in background).

September 25, 2013

Autumn Markets, Vintage Clothes and Beer & Whisky!

If you are coming to Stockholm this coming weekend (September 27th to 29th) then you chose a great time to visit Stockholm with lots going on in the city!
Photo by Anna Yu, Skansen
A personal favorite is the Autumn Fair at Skansen, which is located on the island of Djurgården. This is an annual event taking place during the last weekend of September... a traditional autumn market with a historical feel. The market takes place on both Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Not only can you purchase this season's honey, marmalades, breads, cheeses and vegetables, you can also meet the farmers and other historical characters associated with farmer markets. Besides edible treats, you will find textiles, woodwork and other handicraft for sale. There will be traditional market games as well as live music. You can also try the oh-so-Swedish split pea soup. I mention this as I often get asked where one can try this traditional dish. So the answer is Skansen this weekend! After the market, make sure you don't miss having a walk around Skansen... both to see the village as well as the zoo with Scandinavian animals like moose, seals, reindeer, bears and more!
Another annual event this weekend is the Vintage Clothes Fair (Vintagemässan) taking place on both Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm. The best vintage clothes stores from all over Sweden are represented at the fair, which takes place at Drottninggatan 81. Entrance to the fair costs 60 SEK. While their website, which I linked to above, is in Swedish, there are some great pictures (for inspiration) of clothes and accessories which will be on sale at the fair.
Finally... if marmalade and vintage dresses don't do it for you, then you can always stop by the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival! This a popular annual event attracting visitors in tens of thousands every year. As if beer & whisky wasn't enough... for the third year in a row there will be a sister festival going on next door called Taste Experience which concentrates on wine, champagne, rum, tequila and calvados! The entrance fee (250 SEK) gets you into both festivals. The festivals take place on Friday through Sunday. But if you can't make it this weekend, then you have another chance on October 3rd through 5th! Click here for specific opening hours, ticket prices as well as directions. At the festivals you will find tastings, classes, exhibitors, competitions, restaurants and bars. Please note that you need to be at least 20 years of age to enter the festival grounds. The festival takes place at Nackamässan in Nacka Strand. The easiest way to get there from the Rival Hotel is by taking bus 443 from Slussen (10 minute ride). Stop by and talk to me if you are staying at the hotel and I can give you more detailed directions.

September 20, 2013

Good-bye Summer, Hello Autumn!

I thought I would do something a little different today...
I was cleaning out my camera, deleting pictures from the past few months, and I noticed that I had quite a few pictures of the Stockholm City Hall (Stadshuset) in my camera roll. I have written about Stadshuset before, but now I thought I would post a collection of pictures of the city landmark as inspiration. The pictures are taken at different times of the day/night, over the past few months and from different locations in the city. If you are coming to Stockholm soon, I can almost guarantee that you will leave the city with at least one picture of this popular symbol of Stockholm in your camera roll. Here's to a great autumn at the Rival Hotel!
Midnight sun (June) from Södermalm.
Taken from Långholmen island.
Swedish colors!
Last boat from Drottningholm coming to dock.
Lit up at night!
Fireworks celebrating the Rival's 10th anniversary.
From the Western Bridge (Västerbron).
This picture was actually taken last summer! :)

September 18, 2013

Pieter Hugo at Fotografiska

Last week I stopped by Fotografiska, the photography museum, to say good-bye to the Helmut Newton exhibition (last day is September 29th) and took the opportunity to see one of the museum's new exhibitions: Pieter Hugo: This Must Be The Place.
Pieter Hugo is a relatively young photographer from Cape Town, South Africa. His work reflects his upbringing in the age of apartheid... with many of the photographs depicting people who have been marginalized in some way. Not only in South Africa, but throughout the continent. Victims of genocide, poverty, the AIDS epidemic and environmental disasters. The photographs do not glorify at all, instead they often look at the subjects in their day to day life.
While the subject matter is heavy, the pictures are beautiful, haunting and very thought provoking. In fact, I felt that I learned quite a lot during my visit to the exhibit. Do you know what happens to a computer when you throw it away? See the exhibit and find out. This exhibition will be going on through December 1st. Too heavy for you? Then you always have the museum's main autumn exhibition coming soon: fashion photographer Paolo Roversi (starting October 4th). Fotografiska is located on the waterfront at Stadsgårdkajen... just a 15-20 minute walk from the Rival Hotel.

September 13, 2013

Royal Celebrations, Half Marathons and More This Weekend!

DN Stockholm Half Marathon, photo by Bengt Aronsson
Another busy weekend in Stockholm! To start off with... The annual DN Stockholm Half Marathon will be held on Saturday, September 14th. Over 17,000 runners from all over the world will be running a course set in the streets of the city. The race starts at 3:30pm at Gustav Adolfs Torg and will take runners on 21.1 kilometers through the western parts of Stockholm, including Södermalm where the Rival Hotel is located. In fact, the course runs along the street St Paulsgatan which is adjacent to the hotel. Nice with a little life in the neighbourhood... but this can mean some traffic troubles: no parking and hard for taxis to get to the door. Stick with walking, ferries and subways and you will be fine! This advice goes for the rest of the city as many streets will be closed off. The finish line is the same as the starting point... Gustav Adolfs Torg.
Race course from 
If that wasn't enough... King Carl XVI Gustaf is celebrating 40 years on the Swedish throne this year and this weekend (September 13th to 15th) is the official jubilee celebrations. On Friday an exhibition on the king's 40 years on the throne will open in the Hall of State in the Royal Palace, located in Gamla Stan. The exhibition will run until February 2nd next year, so plenty of opportunities to visit the exhibit if you are coming to Stockholm later this year. Two official events will be held on Saturday evening. First a celebratory dinner, hosted by the government, will be held at the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet), located on the island of Djurgården, followed by a concert in the Concert Hall (Konserthuset) in the downtown area. What this means for visitors is that the traffic snarls caused by the half marathon in the afternoon will be followed by some minor ones in the evening. But it is not all doom and gloom for visitors... on Sunday the king and City of Stockholm invites the general public to the Royal Palace to celebrate with dance. The festivities start at 3pm and run until 11pm. Music and dancing from around the world (big band, salsa, tango, jazz, folk and more) is the theme with many performances. No entrance fee! There will be a toast for the king at 3pm from the balcony at LejonsbackenClick here for a schedule (there is a Google translate option). Otherwise, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, come talk to me or the Reception for further information.
And finally... a political demonstration and march planned on Saturday, starting at 1:30pm. They will gather in the park Humlegården and then march to Observatorielunden. Counter demonstrations are planned as well, so it would be best to avoid that area of the city (Norrmalm) during Saturday afternoon.

September 11, 2013

Sightseeing Tours in September

Sightseeing boat coming in to dock at Strömkajen
The summer season is officially over... cooler days and less tourists in the city. This means that many sightseeing tours have either ended for the year or else they have reduced the number of tours each day. The popular sightseeing boat tours, Under the Bridges and Royal Canal Tour, still operate throughout September. However, it is important to note that they no longer start from Nybroplan! Both tours start only from Strömkajen. This means that the ticket office at Nybroplan is closed as well. Naturally, the ticket office at Strömkajen is open. Tickets can also be pre-purchased online or, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, through me. The Hop-On Hop-Off boats have stopped running for the year... though the Hop-On busses are still running (until Oct 3rd). And speaking of busses, the Panorama Bus Tour runs year round! Opportunities to visit the archipelago have been reduced as well with a few choices left. For example, the last day for the convenient Cinderella boats is September 15th. Talk to me directly if you are interested in other options for getting out to the archipelago during the low season...
Good-bye Hop-on Hop-off boats... see you next year!

September 6, 2013

African Masterpieces Exhibit at Skeppsholmen Caverns

I made an announcement earlier about the upcoming exhibition "African Masterpieces". But I recently attended a press showing of the exhibit, so I thought that I would write a new entry with my thoughts of the exhibition along with some pictures.
First of all, I am a fan of the venue... the Caverns (Bergrummet) on the island of Skeppsholmen. These man-made caverns once housed the Swedish naval command during WWII and are the perfect venue for these large world culture exhibitions as they add a sense of mystery and magic you don't get in a normal museum venue. This is the third such exhibition held here, following the Terracotta Warriors of X'ian and Inca Gold.
"African Masterpieces" is made up of stone, metal and terracotta sculptures (100+ pieces on display) by the people of Ife, located in modern-day Nigeria. These sculptures date back between the 12th and 16th centuries and give a wonderful view on the culture of the people of Ife... their religion, daily life and worldview. The sculptures are beautiful and the craftsmanship is amazing. Our guide pointed out that many people incorrectly assume that historic works of art in Africa consist of only wooden objects. I also found the exhibit fascinating as we are generally taught so little about African history and culture, as opposed to, say, European and Asian history. Plenty of information is provided in the exhibit (in Swedish & English), otherwise 45 minute long guided tours are available.
The exhibition opens tomorrow (September 7th) and runs until February 23rd, 2014. The Caverns are open every day during this period from 10am to 8pm. Entrance costs 150 SEK for adults and free for youth/children under the age of 19. Tickets can be purchased either online in advance or at the entrance. I would recommend pre-purchasing the tickets if you are planning on seeing the exhibit during peak hours (evenings & weekends), otherwise you should be fine purchasing tickets at the door. It is relatively easy to get to the Caverns from the Rival Hotel... either a beautiful 25 minute walk through Gamla Stan (old town) or else you can take the Djurgårds Ferry (just make sure you let them know on the ferry that you want to get off at Skeppsholmen).

September 4, 2013

Festival: Taste of Stockholm

One last summer festival to go before we can look forward to autumn! This festival, Taste of Stockholm, is actually part of a series of gastronomical, fine-dining festivals (Taste Festivals) taking place in major cities around the world. It is now Stockholm's turn this 6th through 8th of September. Unfortunately, the only English version of their website is through a Google translate button (found under the heading "Socialize with us"), which doesn't make for the best translation. But I will try and give you an overview. Otherwise, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, come by and talk to me for more in-depth information.
Gourmet pizza from Gastrologik!
The festival takes place on the island of Riddarholmen, which is just adjacent to Gamla Stan (old town), and is split up into different sessions. Lunch & dinner on Friday and Saturday and an extended lunch session on Sunday. Tickets are purchased per session and the festival grounds close between the sessions, allowing the restaurants to prepare for the next session. For example the Friday lunch session is from 11am to 4pm and then the festival reopens at 5:30pm for the dinner session which lasts until 10pm. There are three types of tickets... regular entrance, premium and VIP. Tickets can be purchased in advance online (at a slightly cheaper price) or at the entrance to the festival. Talk to me or the hotel reception if you are staying at the Rival Hotel and wish to go!
Top Chef Jonas Lundgren, 2009 Bocuse D'or silver medalist
There are plenty of events, happenings and things to do at the festival... check their program to decide which session to attend. Certain events, like dining in pop-up restaurants require prebooking and cost extra. Otherwise there are several restaurant tents, a marketplace, bookstore, "taste theatre", classes and more! This is a festival for those who are interested in fine-dining, gastronomical experiences... foodies and Michelin star gourmet cuisine galore. Many famous, star chefs from Sweden will be there, including Björn Frantzén from Restaurant Frantzén, Jonas Lundgren from Restaurant Jonas, Kim Öhman from Farang, Magnus Ek from Oaxen Krog, Niklas Ekstedt from Ekstedts, Danyel Couet from F12 and Gustav Trädgårdh from Sjömagasinet. As you see, many of the top rated restaurants in Sweden are represented!
Pictures provided by Taste of Stockholm.

September 3, 2013

The Rival Hotel Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary!

Just a little note to mention that the Rival Hotel (where I work) celebrated its 10 year anniversay this past Sunday (September 1st). 10 years of wonderful guests! I'm looking forward to the next 10. We had a wonderful private celebration which ended in a firework display over the water in front of the City Hall. I thought I would post a few of the firework pictures...
Happy birthday to the Rival!