September 24, 2016

Enjoying the Fall Colors on Djurgården

On one of my parents' last days visiting this past week, I took them on walk around the island of Djurgården... one of our favorite activities. I have blogged about something similar earlier, but I thought I would add a twist. Besides the beautiful walk, one passes quite a few attractions that visitors might think are hard to reach... but really aren't. So in this article I will list the attractions one can visit on this route.
There are many ways to get to Djurgården from central Stockholm (like ferry or street car), but what I like to do is take the bus out to the very end of the island (Blockhusudden) and then walk back to the city along the south shore. Another variation is to start on the city side and then make a circular route ending back in the city. But for the first route you need to take bus #69 from Nybroplan all the way out to the last stop. There is a bus #69K as well, but this will only take you about half way (Kaknästornet).
The bus ride takes 25 minutes but along the route you have a whole slew of interesting attractions in case you want to make a cultural pit-stop. Immediately after leaving the Östermalm area and embassy row, you have a collection of museums right next to each other: Sjöhistoriska (naval history), Etnografiska (world culture), Riksidrotts (sports) and Tekniska (technology) and Polis (police). It is good to note that these museums are very child-friendly and the first three listed have free admission.
Kaknästornet.
The next interesting stop along the bus route is Kaknästornet, one of the tallest structures in Sweden. Definitely worth a stop to take the elevator up to the top and enjoy the views. At the top you will find both a café and a restaurant. Earlier blog article. After this the bus route continues over the bridge, passing the restaurant Djurgårdsbrunn, before heading out to the last stop. At the end of the route you also have one of my favorite museums for Scandinavian art: Thielska Galleriet.
We saw three deer on our walk.
From here you can choose several different walking paths back... though, as I mentioned, I like walking along the water. There are many beautiful mansions along the way as well as parkland and wildlife. The walk, at a leisurely pace without major stops, takes about 1½ hours. Towards the end of the walk you come to a high concentration of attractions and you will definitely visit this area during any trip to Stockholm. Attractions include Waldemarsudde, Skansen, Gröna Lund, ABBA the Museum, Nordiska Museet, Vasa Museum plus many more.
The first leaves are starting to change colors.
Besides all of these points of interest, you also have the beautiful nature of Djurgården to enjoy... forest, waterways, open park and wetlands. For more information about Djurgården and its attractions, check out the Visit Djurgården website. Otherwise, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for more information regarding Djurgården, attractions, directions or even other nature walks.
The Nordiska museum.
Garden at Waldemarsudde.
End of the walk... at Strandvägen.

September 17, 2016

Autumn Art Exhibitions

After writing about autumn sightseeing options, I guess I should also write about all the different art museum exhibitions this coming season! Stockholm has a large amount of museums (80+) covering all types of subjects like art, science, history, sports, theatre and culture. This list will cover exhibitions at art museums... click here if you want a list with description over the top history museums in Stockholm.
Nick Cave, London 1996. Copyright Anton Corbijn. Fotografiska.

September 13, 2016

Autumn Sightseeing Options

Stockholm harbour.
Summer is over and that means the high season has also come to an end. I took some visiting family on a Royal Canal Boat tour the other day and thought a blog article about what sightseeing options with the Strömma company are available this time of year would be in order.
Boarding the Royal Canal Tour.
While many sightseeing tours are only available during the high season, you still have many options, though often with fewer departures:

Boat

On board the Royal Canal Tour, guided in 11 languages.
Bus
Combination
These are the main tours available from Strömma, the main sightseeing company operating in Stockholm. Check their website for other options, departure times and upcoming winter tours. There are, of course, several smaller sightseeing companies as well as private sightseeing tours available. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me directly to find out more about these options.
Views from boat tour...
You never know what you will see.


September 8, 2016

Josef Frank Exhibition at Millesgården

Ok, this report is coming when there are only a few weeks left of the exhibition. Sorry! But I did mention it at the beginning of the summer in my list of summer art exhibitions. At any rate, I am glad that I finally made it out as I really wanted to see Josef Frank: Patterns - Furniture - Painting. The exhibition is running through October 2nd. Even if you visit Stockholm after that, a visit to Millesgården and their beautiful & iconic statuary garden is always recommended!
Josef Frank was an Austrian born architect/artist/designer who emigrated to Sweden in the 1930's to escape the growing anti Jewish sentiment in his country. In Sweden he is most well known for his textiles, design, wallpaper and furniture... especially his successful collaboration with the famous design store Svenskt Tenn (a must visit in itself for anyone with design interests coming to Stockholm) where you can still see and purchase his textiles and furniture. Location of Svenskt Tenn.
The exhibition was great... especially for an admirer of Frank's designs as I am. It was nice to see all of his textiles displayed so beautifully. It was also interesting to see his paintings which I had never seen before. The museum did a good job of charting his career and life.
As I mentioned, Millesgården is well worth a visit whatever is being exhibited in their museum. Millesgården was the home and workplace of world famous Swedish sculptor Carl Milles and his wife Olga (and artist in her own right). Many of his sculptures and statues can be seen around Stockholm as well as in many parts of the world, including the USA. At Millesgården you can visit Milles' home, studio as well as the beautiful garden filled with his statues.
Millesgården is located just outside of central Stockholm on the island of Lidingö. To get there from the Rival Hotel, take the subway (red line) to Ropsten. From there you switch to a tram (Lidingöbanan) and take it one station to Torsvik. From Torsvik it is a ten minute walk to Millesgården. Just follow the signs... but beware it is an uphill walk. There are other options with a bus from Ropsten that takes you closer to the museum. Click here for more information.

September 1, 2016

Restaurant Gro

A recent gastronomic trend in Sweden has been restaurants focusing on organically grown and locally produced fruits and vegetables with meat and fish used as compliments to the vegetable dishes... giving diners the option of opting out meat dishes completely. Good news for vegetarians/vegans! Two examples of restaurants that follow this trend, and do it well, are Fotografiska and Spritmuseum.
Kitchen within the restaurant.
Another example is Restaurant Gro, which I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. The restaurant is located in the Vasastan neighbourhood, just on the northern bridgehead of the Saint Erik's bridge. It is a small, unassuming restaurant with only about 20 seats and would be quite easy to miss when walking by. I heard that it used to once be the location of a butcher shop. The interior is simple and charming, with an urban feel.
Zucchini, peas and mint.
The "kitchen" is in the restaurant, along the back wall, and is basically a counter where the two chefs stand. This makes it all much more impressive when you see what is created in this little space. The set up means that it isn't uncommon if one of the chefs comes out with your dishes and stays to explain what he has just given you. The chefs both have work experience at high end restaurants in Stockholm and this shows in their ambition.
Tomato, eggplant and sheep's cheese.
The menu is made up of two four course set menus... "vegivor" (100% vegetarian) and "omnivor" (with meat & fish). The price for the set menu, at 500 SEK, is very agreeable. You also have the choice of ordering a wine-pairing menu. We chose the vegetarian "vegivor" menu (when in Rome...) with the wine-pairing. There was a theme to the wine-pairings with all of the wines coming from the Loire valley.
Tuscan kale, beans and miso.
On the evening we were there, the vegivor menu consisted of 1) zucchini, green peas and mint 2) tomato, eggplant and sheep's cheese 3)Tuscan kale, beans and miso 4) blueberries, almonds and frozen sour cream. It was all very delicious and my favorites were the tomato dish and the dessert. I have to admit to being a big carnivore, but I do find it interesting to eat a vegetarian dinner when it is done creatively and with passion.
Blueberries, almonds and frozen sour cream.
As it is a small restaurant, booking a table in advance is highly recommended. To get to Gro from the Rival Hotel, take the northbound subway (green line) from nearby Slussen and disembark at the St Eriksplan station. Exit to St Eriksplan itself and then it is just a five minute walk down St Eriksgatan to the restaurant. Clich here to see other restaurant recommendations and reviews.
Hole-in-the-wall... don't miss it!
View from nearby St Erik's bridge.





August 23, 2016

Uppsala Cathedral

As promised! Last week I wrote about our day trip to Uppsala but I saved information about the cathedral for a separate blog article (otherwise the Uppsala article would have been too darn long!).
Uppsala Cathedral is the largest and tallest church in the Nordic countries and shouldn't be missed when visiting Uppsala (in my opinion). Construction began in the late 1200's but building went slowly due to plague, war and the cold climate and the cathedral wasn't complete until the 1400's. Built in the French Gothic Style, the cathedral has changed somewhat through the years due to several fires which have damaged it.
Uppsala Cathedral was especially important for Swedish history during the Middle Ages and was where the coronations of the Swedish kings and queens took place up until the 1700's (when they were moved to Storkyrkan Cathedral in Stockholm). It is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala... the primate of all of Sweden since 1164 (both during the Catholic and Lutheran periods).
Gustav Vasa and wives...
There are many points of interest within the cathedral. For example you have several Swedish kings and queens buried here, including Gustav Vasa (often called the "father of the nation") and his son Johan III. Other notable people buried here include Emmanuel Swedenborg and Carl Linnáeus. The relics of St Bridget (founder of the Bridgettine Order of nuns and one of the six patron saints of Europe) and St Erik (legendary king and patron saint of Stockholm) are found in the Finsta Chapel within the cathedral.
Johan III at rest.
In the Treasury Museum, also located within the cathedral, you have an interesting collection of fabrics and gold & silver objects. Here you will also find Queen Margareta's gold dress (only surviving evening gown from the Middle Ages) and the only complete men's outfit from the Renaissance Era.
Check my earlier article on how to get to Uppsala from Stockholm and the Rival Hotel. The cathedral is located across the Fyris river from the train station and the walk takes about 20 minutes or so. If you get lost, just look for the 118+ meter tall towers which can be seen from many parts in the city.
118 meter high towers seen from afar.
Love is in the...
...details.

August 17, 2016

Day Trip to Uppsala

Whenever visitors to Stockholm take day trips outside of the city, a huge majority take boat trips out to the archipelago (maybe Vaxholm), Drottningholm or places like Sigtuna. But there are also places you can take day trips to by car or train, like Haga Park or Saltsjöbaden. Another popular place to spend a day is the city of Uppsala... which is just what I did the other day. Good to note: this is a day trip that can be done year-round.
Uppsala is located about 70 kilometers north of Stockholm, not too far from Arlanda international airport. As it is so close to Stockholm, many people commute between the two cities daily which means that travel is relatively uncomplicated. Uppsala is the fourth largest city in Sweden and, these days, is most famous as being the home of the prestigious Uppsala University and the seat of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden.
Carl Linnaeus (hometown hero)
Uppsala has played a pivotal roll in the history of Sweden as far back as the Viking Age, when it was both a political and religious center. Already in the 1100's, Uppsala became the seat of the Swedish Archdiocese (when Sweden was still Catholic). The university was founded in 1477, cementing the city's roll as a place of higher learning, and is today the oldest and largest university in northern Europe. Many important events in Swedish history have taken place in Uppsala... like the death of St Erik (according to legend), the Sture Murders and the abdication of Queen Christina. It was also the home and workplace of famous Swedish scientists like Anders Celsius and Carl von Linné (Carl Linnaeus).
View of the botanical gardens from the castle.
There is a lot to see and do in Uppsala (you could easily spend a couple of days there) so it is a good idea to know ahead of time what you want to see and do. I took my visiting parents there and we hit the main attractions... the cathedral, castle as well as the Linneaus museum. We left Stockholm at around 10am and were back at about 4:30pm to give you an idea of how much time is needed. I will write a separate blog article later in the week for the cathedral and concentrate more on an overview, a look at the other sites we visited as well as travel in this article.
The river (stream?) Fyris cuts through the city and is nice to stroll along. To get from the train station to most of the sights (like the cathedral and castle), you have to cross the river. All of this is very walkable. The castle is up on a small hill and dominates the city's skyline. It isn't really a working castle anymore, but it is the location of an art museum,an easy walk uphill and gives you great views. The botanical gardens are also located just on the other side of the castle.
Bridge over the River Fyris.
Back across the river, on our way back to the train station, we visited the Linneaus museum and garden. Carl Linneaus (known as Carl von Linné after he was ennobled) was a zoologist and botanist in the 1700's. It was Linnaeus who came up with the formal naming of species with scientific classification (for example "homo sapiens") that we use today. The museum is located in the scientist's home and looks just like it did back in the 1700's and the gardens contain hundreds of plant species and was meticulously taken care of by Linnaeus.
Uppsala Castle.
All of these places (train station-cathedral-castle-museum) are within easy walking distance. One attraction that isn't and one that I would like to visit is Gamla (old) Uppsala. This is the old pagan part of the city (Viking Age) and is located on the northern outskirts of the city. Here you will find the royal mounds (three large barrows dating from the 4th century AD and legendary burial place of the gods Odin, Thor and Freya). You can also see the ruins of the first Uppsala cathedral and visit a museum dedicated to Gamla Uppsala. There are guided tours in English during the summer months.While it is located outside of Uppsala, it still is only a 15 minute bus ride from the train station.
Inside the Linnaeus museum.
To get from Stockholm to Uppsala, you have a choice of two types of train. You can either take a regular train which is run by SJ. This is the national train system and they have several departures every hour between Stockholm and Uppsala. The trip takes around 40 minutes and it is quite inexpensive (I think we paid about 100 SEK per ticket each way) and you can purchase them online or at the train station... either at one of machines or at the ticket office.
The Linnaeus gardens.
The other option is to take the Stockholm commuter train (pendeltåg) run by SL.  These run twice an hour and the trip takes around 50 minutes. A onetime ticket costs around 80-90 SEK depending on the type of ticket you buy. You can also use the Stockholm public transportation card, paying just a small extra fee as you journey cross county when going between the two cities. We do sell these cards to hotel guests at the Rival Hotel. If you are staying at the hotel and have any questions or want further information... contact me directly!
The train heading back to Stockholm from Uppsala station.
The cathedral seen from the castle (more on that in my next article)