September 30, 2010

Shopping- Jeans, jeans and more jeans!

Sweden has had a love affair with jeans and denim since the end of World War II. Most Swedes have at least 4 or 5 pair of jeans in their closet and in 2006 alone they bought 14 million pairs. I have to confess that I have around 10 pairs myself. These days, instead of only importing Levis and Lee jeans to Sweden, we are exporting Swedish brands to the rest of the world. Acne, Nudie Jeans and Cheap Monday are perhaps the most well known brands... followed by WeSC, Pace, Tiger of Sweden and Denim Demon. Several larger Swedish retailers or clothing brands, like H&M and Filippa K, have their own lines of jeans. Click here for more information about the Swedish jeans success story.
You can find a variety of Swedish jean brands sold at different stores like Åhlens, NK, Solo and JC. Otherwise, if you want to visit the retailers directly, here is a list of the major brands and where to find their stores in Stockholm:
  • Acne has a few stores in Stockholm, but of special interest is their main store on Norrmalmstorg 2 and the store in the vicinity of the Rival Hotel at Nytorgsgatan 36 (in the SoFo neighborhood).
  • Nudie Jeans are mainly sold in department stores and jean retailers, though they do have one store... and it is also close to the hotel, in fact right around the corner from Acne, on Skånegatan 75.
  • Cheap Monday can also be found in several department stores and jean retailers... especially Weekday which has a location right around the corner from the hotel at Götgatan 21.
  • WeSC has a couple of stores in Stockholm, a favorite of mine is located in the downtown area on Kungsgatan 66.
Click here for more shopping tips in Stockholm.
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September 27, 2010

Fashion Photography Exhibition


Photo by Herb Ritts

I have blogged earlier about the new photography museum in Stockholm called Fotografiska. They had a great success this summer with the Annie Leibowitz exhibition and now it is time for their new major showing... Fashion! A look at fashion photography from the 1920's until today. I love fashion photography and I think that it is a comprehensive and well thought out exhibition. All the greats through the past century are represented... Man Ray, Horst, Avedon, Penn, Newton, Ritts, Lindbergh, Jansson and Meisel, plus many more. I was smart and visited the museum on a quiet Monday afternoon, avoiding the weekend and evening crowds. The exhibition runs through January 2nd.
Other current exhibitions at the museum include pictures of Stockholm by Dutch photographer Pieter ten Hoopen and the tableau vivant photography of Sandy Skoglund. The museum is located along the water at Stadsgårdskajen... it's just a short walk from Slussen, along the water, past the Birka cruise terminal. It is open everyday between 10am and 9pm. Entrance costs 95 SEK, 70 SEK for students and seniors and free entrance for children under 12. Free entrance also with the Stockholm Card.
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Click here for more tips regarding museums.
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September 24, 2010

Junibacken


And speaking of Pippi... if you are travelling to Stockholm with children who have read the sagas written by Astrid Lindgren then have I got the place for you! Junibacken is an indoor theme park located on the island of Djurgården (just next to the Vasa Museum). The characters and places from Astrid Lindgren's world take center stage and you can meet Pippi Longstocking, visit Bullerby and see Karlsson flying over the roofs. There are several play areas in the form of minature villages with streets and houses all made for young imaginative children to enjoy. There is a fairytale ride that is reminiscent of the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland except that instead of a boat you are in a train and passing by scenes out of Astrid's sagas. There are a couple of children's theater performances where you can meet Pippi and her friends, as well as a nice restaurant/café and gift shop. One special note for the gift shop... they have many favorite Swedish children's books translated into several languages.
It is a great place for younger children, though I was there yesterday with my friend and her 15 month old daughter and perhaps she was a bit too young for the fairytale ride (hard to get them to sit still when they are that young!). Otherwise she had a blast! The theater performances are all in Swedish however the guide for the ride is available in several languages. Junibacken is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday (everyday during the summer months) and the cost for adults is 125 SEK (low season) and 145 SEK (high season) and for children over 2 it is 110/125 SEK. Free entrance with the Stockholm Card.
Junibacken is a nice place to spend an afternoon, but if your children are die-hard fans, then perhaps a trip to Astrid Lindgren's World would be in order? Located in the town of Vimmerby, approximately 3 hours south of Stockholm by train, this park takes Astrid Lindgren's story to a much larger scale!

September 23, 2010

Sweden Trivia


Do you recognize the young lady to the left? Chances are that you do. Pippi Longstocking is one of the most beloved fictional characters in the world. But did you know that she is from Sweden? She is the creation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. The original book (Pippi Långstrump) was first published in 1945 and Time Magazine has named the book as one of the top 100 most influential novels of all time. Pretty good for a little red-haired girl with pigtails! Astrid Lindgren wrote other books besides the Pippi-series... other well-known characters include the Brothers Lionheart, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, Emil of Lönneberga and the Six Bullerby Children. She has sold approximately 145 million books worldwide and is the world's 25th most translated author! The Pippi series alone have been translated into 64 languages so far...
Astrid, one of the most loved Swedes in history, has near saint status in her home country. Her funeral in 2002 was described as coming as close to a state funeral as possible. Around 100,000 Swedes lined the streets of Stockholm to follow her funeral procession and the funeral itself was attended by the Prime Minister, leading Swedish politicians and the royal family.

September 22, 2010

Festival: Beer and Whisky Festival


(EDIT: This is a blog entry for the 2010 festival, to see information for the 2011 festival- click here!).
It is soon time for the 19th annual Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival, which has become the largest and most prestigious beverage festival of its kind in the world! The big news this year is the addition of a sister festival next door for champagne, wine, cognac, tequila & rum... and you can visit both festivals on the same ticket! The festival is split up between two weekends: September 30th to October 2nd and October 7th to 9th. This is the way it works... the entrance fee is 199 SEK and includes entrance to both festivals as well as a tasting glass. You make your way around the festival and buy "tastes" of different beverages. The cost for the tastes are 10 SEK and up depending on the product. Please note that you can only pay with cash. There will be cash machines there but it would be wise to bring cash to avoid any unnecessary lines. You have to be 20 years of age to attend the festival! Besides the tasting there will be competitions, restaurants and entertainment. The times for the festival are Thursdays 3pm to 11pm, Fridays 3pm to midnight and Saturdays 12pm to midnight. The festival is located at The Factory in Nacka Strand... just outside of Stockholm. The easiest way to get there from the hotel, besides taxi, is bus #71 or #443 from Slussen (10 minute walk from hotel and about a 15 minute bus ride).
Click here for a list of beer & whisky offered and here for a list of wine and other beverage products. The lists are in Swedish, but the names are international enough to understand!

Calendar: Fall Market & Bleak Roe Festival

September 25th and 26th- The wonderful, outdoor cultural museum Skansen is having their yearly Fall Market this weekend. Take a trip back in time and experience a traditional Swedish fall market as they were 100 years ago. At the market you can buy everything from traditional textiles, woodwork and toys to honey, jams, vegetables and candy. There will be plenty entertainment in the form of song, dance, games and performers. The market takes place on both Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm. While you are there, take the opportunity to wander around the zoo and see the Scandinavian animals. Entrance costs 100 SEK (40 SEK for children and 80 SEK for seniors). Free entrance with the Stockholm Card. To get there: Bus 47 or a street car/tram from Normalmstorg or else the Djurgård ferry from Slussen or Nybroviken.

September 23rd to 29th- I have written earlier about all of the amazing fresh Swedish produce that can be found in menus this fall. One of these is bleak roe (löjrom in Swedish)... a tasty Swedish caviar from northern Sweden. A true Swedish delicacy! The restaurant Riche is having their annual Bleak Roe Festival (Löjromsfestivalen) this week... which means a menu filled with creative uses of the roe, besides the traditional toast with creme fraiche, onion and chives. The fishing season starts September 20th... so the roe will be at its freshest this week! Riche is located in the downtown area and is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. The closest subway is Östermalmstorg (red line).

September 20, 2010

Restaurant- 1900


This past week I've had my cousin from the US here for a first-time visit. After the requisite trips to the Vasa Museum, Skansen and seeing the changing of the guard at the palace, I decided to take him to a restaurant that specializes in Swedish flavours... Restaurant 1900. This relatively new restaurant is run by up and coming celebrity chef Niklas Ekstedt. The restaurant aims at using flavours Swedes remember from their childhood by using Swedish produce, both familiar and forgotten. It is located in the downtown area, just a stone's throw from the popular Stureplan area, where Regeringsgatan crosses Kungsgatan by bridge. Its location at the bridge's end gives the restaurant a nice view over the busy street of Kungsgatan. The restaurant itself has a light and airy feeling aided by the white interior.

We started with an appetizer of "matjes" herring, after which I had the crispy side of pork with butter-fried chanterelles and my cousin tried the more traditional smoked sausage (Isterband). For dessert I had the currant tarte & sorbet with carmel sauce and he had the chocolate cake topped with Swedish apples and vanilla ice cream. Delicious! And definitely flavours of Sweden...

It is located inbetween two subway stations... Hötorget (green line) and Östermalmstorg (red line). 1900 is closed on Sundays.
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Click here for more restaurant reviews/recommendations.
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September 17, 2010

Shopping - Gudrun Sjödén

The newspaper Dagens Nyheter recently announced the top three Swedish clothing exporters for the past year. Once again, Gudrun Sjödén was in first place with sales of about 335 million SEK in 2009! Sjödén, who opened her first store in Stockholm in 1976, designs women's wear and accessories as well as home textiles. She is also famous for her enviromental efforts... using eco-friendly textiles, reducing the amount of paper & plastic is shipping and so forth.
A large portion of Gudrun Sjöden's business these days is through post-order, though she does have three shops in Stockholm. Two of them are quite close to the hotel... one store is around the corner on Götgatan 44 and the other is in the Old Town on Stora Nygatan 33. Her flagship store (that opened in 1976) can be found in the downtown area on Regeringsgatan 30. Drop in and have a look at what makes her the #1 clothes exporter from Sweden!
In case you were wondering #2 on the list was street-fashion Wesc and #3 was fast growing Nudie Jeans.
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Click here for other shopping tips!
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September 16, 2010

Tip #16 - Fresh Produce on the Menu



Autumn is my favorite season in Sweden for many reasons. I love the crispness in the air and the changing colors of the leaves, but the main reason is the abundance of fresh produce that show up in the supermarkets and restaurant menus. As a visitor, this is the perfect opportunity for you you to sample tastes that are truly Swedish... and when they are most fresh! When perusing menus in restaurants this season, keep your eyes open for the following:

  • Berries- A lot of berries come into season in the forests of Sweden in late summer and early autumn. Besides the familiar raspberries and blueberries (hallon and blåbär in Swedish), give lingon, currants (vinbär) and cloud berries (hjortron) a try! Swedes eat lingon berries, similar to cranberries, with almost anything. Cloud berries have a distinct tart taste and are often added to desserts as a counterpoint to the sweetness.

  • Mushrooms- Two particular favorites from the Swedish forests are chanterelles (kantareller in Swedish) and porcini/cep (Karl Johan svamp). They show up on menus in many forms... sauces, fillings and even cooked in cream on toast. Yummy!

  • Bleak Roe- this Swedish orange-colored caviar (löjrom) can be found on menus year-round, but is at its freshest in the autumn. Though often used in sauces and as a topping/garnish, it is best eaten the traditional way... with toast, creme fraiche, chives and diced red onions.

  • Moose/Elk- it is the hunting season for the king of the forest(älg), while not a personal favorite of mine, it is still worth a taste! You will find them on the menu mainly in the form of stews, but some creative restaurants use the meat to make moose burgers.

The pictures were taken at the outdoor/indoor market at Hötorget, an experience in itself!

Click here for other practical tips!

September 14, 2010

Shopping- Vintage Clothes Fair

Are you an afficionado of vintage clothes? Do you love to visit local flea markets while travelling? Then this event may be perfect for you... on September 25th and 26th, for the sixth time, the Vintage Clothes Fair is being held in Stockholm. Vintage clothes dealers from around Sweden will gather to sell their best finds. Clothes, shoes, accessories, etc; This has proved to be a popular event... last year there was a line to get in, so get there early (the first 100 persons each day get a goodie bag, so that is an added incentive). The fair is open from noon to 7pm both days and the entrance cost is 50 SEK. It is located at Hornstull Strand, the nearest subway is Hornstull (red line) just two stops from the hotel (otherwise a 20 minute walk).
Click here for other shopping tips!
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September 13, 2010

Restaurants- Bistro Süd & The Rival's Bistro


Last night I went with the hotel's reception staff to try Bistro Süd's fall menu. The small, cozy restaurant, located just two blocks from the Rival Hotel, is a favorite of the staff and hotel guests. The restaurant itself reminds you of a typical nice French bistro and the menu reflects this... a mix of French cuisine with some Swedish favorites. I had the duck liver terrine to start with, followed by the minute steak filled with seasonal mushrooms and then cloud berries done three ways for dessert. Very good! The lamb one of my colleagues ordered looked great as well as the chanterelle mushroom toast she had as a starter. It is not that large of a restaurant so it is good to book a table... you don't need to do that too far in advance, just contact us at the reception after checking in.

I would be remiss talking about restaurants in the area without mentioning our own restaurant... Rival's Bistro, located on the first floor of the hotel. Not to be biased, but it's a great restaurant- popular with visitors and locals alike. Head Chef Robin Gesang-Gottow has composed a great menu, a mix of Swedish classics and international favorites, using seasonal produce. The Rival's Bistro recently received a great review in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper(4 out of 6)! The restaurant can get quite busy on the weekends, especially if there is a show in our theater, so booking a table is recommended. You can do that by either contacting them directly at bistro@rival.se or me at concierge@rival.se The restaurant is open everyday of the year for hotel guests... so no need to go hungry on Christmas Eve or any other holiday!

Click here to see other restaurants I've written about!
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Terracotta Warriors, part 2


I have already mentioned this exhibition, but I felt that I should come back with a report after actually viewing the Terracotta Warriors from the Qin Dynasty. They are on display at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, located on the island of Skeppsholmen. I was very impressed with the whole exhibition... it is not housed in the museum proper, but in subterranean halls (Bergsrummet) under the museum. In the first hall you have ten of the warriors as well as other artifacts from the Qin Dynasty. In the other hall you have smaller "tomb warriors" and a bunch of artifacts, all from the Han Dynasty. There is an abundance of information, both about the artifacts and the history of China, placed along the walls of the halls and they are both in Swedish and English.
The price of admission (150 SEK, free for 18 & under) is a little more expensive than most museum visits, but I definitely think that it is worth it... considering the cost of bringing the artifacts from China (this isn't a wandering exhibition) and the fact that the admission costs gets you into the museum proper as well. Tickets can be purchased at the door. You can't miss it, right as you cross the bridge to Skeppsholmen you'll see it on your left. Because of the large interest, they are selling time specific tickets (11:00 to 12:00, 12:00 to 13:00, etc;). I would suggest avoiding weekends and go on a weekday when Swedes are at work to avoid the crowds.
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Click here for other museum tips & recommendations!
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September 12, 2010

Restaurant- Ho's

Last night I enjoyed a great dinner at Ho's... a Chinese restaurant located at Hornstull (address: Hornsgatan 151). Stockholm has, unfortunately, quite a few Chinese restaurants of low quality. But family-owned Ho's is definitely not in this category! I think, perhaps, the difference is that you can taste a little heart & soul in the food. The restaurant itself is quite small and unassuming, and (because of word-of-mouth) it is generally packed with Stockholmers 7 nights a week. The website is in Swedish but their menu is in English, both on the website and at the restaurant. I had the deep fried pork ribs (Cantonese style) with the spicy Beijing sauce... yummy! Good vegetarian selection. I've heard good things about their dumplings, but they need to be preordered (if you book a table in advance) so, since we went on the spur of the moment, I'll have to try them next time. The closest subway station is Hornstull, just two stops away from the Rival Hotel. Otherwise a 20 minute walk if you feel like building up an appetite. (EDIT: Ho's just won an award for being the best Chinese restaurant in Europe at the Asian Curry Awards in London- Nov, 2012)
Your intrepid blogger forgot his camera at home... so no pictures this time. Sorry!

September 8, 2010

Swedish Elections


If you are visiting Sweden anytime in the first three weeks of September you may be wondering what the heck is going on in the country. Polling stations are popping up everywhere and the city is plastered with posters and billboards... on walls, buses, in subways, hanging from lamp posts, etc; Well, Swedes are heading to the polls soon to vote in the national elections! Presently, Sweden is being ruled by a coalition government led by the Moderate Party. They are trying their hardest to stay in power while the Social Democrats and their allies are trying to shift the balance. It looks like it will be a close vote... and it all takes place on September 19th. There are no real heavy social issues dividing parties in Swedish politics, instead the debates tend to focus on taxes, the economy, adjustments to the healthcare and (occasionally) the status of our membership in the European Union.
For more information regarding the politics of Sweden... click here.

September 7, 2010

Calendar: Art Exhibitions This Fall

As the summer season comes to a close, new exhibitions for the fall will be unveiled in Stockholm's various art museums and galleries. Here is a list of a few of the major new art exhibitions coming to Stockholm. I will update this list as more information comes in...
  • Thrice Upon a Time at Magasin 3 art gallery, located in the Frihamnen harbour area. Three parallel exhibitions featuring 66 artists (both Swedish & international) and 202 works of art from the Magasin 3 collection. Paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, etc, Runs from September 11th through December 12th.
  • Fashion! at Fotografiska Museum, located on Stadskajen near Slussen. An exhibition of fashion photography through history. From Man Ray to Richard Avedon to Steven Meisel... all of the greats will be represented! Runs from September 24th through January 2nd.
  • Scene Shifts at Bonniers art gallery, located in the Vasastan neighborhood. A combination of art and theater... a special collaboration between 14 Swedish artists and actors from the Royal Dramatic Theater. Runs from September 29th through January 9th.
  • Staging Power at the National Museum, located on Blasieholmen. A collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, this major exhibition focuses on the great military rulers of the early 19th century (Napoleon, Alexander, etc;). Runs from September 30th through January 2011.
  • The Moderna Exhibition at Moderna Museet (Modern Art Museum), located on Skeppsholmen. Work from close to 50 Swedish artists, active in the Swedish contemporary art scene, will be displayed taking a closer look at modern Swedish society. Runs from October 2nd through January 9th.
  • White Lies at The Museum of Mediterranean and Near East Antiquities, which is located in the downtown area. The white marble busts and statues were originally in color and at this exhibition, using new technology, you can see how the ancient works of sculptural art once appeared. Runs from October 9th through January 30th.
  • Masterpieces by Zorn at Prince Eugene's Waldermarsudde, which located on the island of Djursgården. This exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of Swedish artist Anders Zorn's birth by showing over 80 of the artists masterpieces. Runs from October 23rd through January 23rd.
Thank you to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter for the list!

And don't forget, as I reported earlier, the world famous terracotta warriors from China are on display now at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. The exhibition runs through January 16th. Don't miss this oppurtunity!

Tip #15 - Seeing a Movie in Stockholm

Want to take a break from sightseeing and take in a movie? Maybe you want to have a dinner & movie date with your loved one in a foreign city? It is quite easy for visitors from abroad to do just this in Stockholm. Sweden does not dub movies... which means that movies are all shown in their original languages, with Swedish subtitles. The only movies that are dubbed are children's movies, though even these are also shown in certain theaters/times in the original language with subtitles. So a family movie night is possible!
The only stumbling block is finding out which movies are playing when, as the schedules appear in Swedish newspapers and in websites with no English version. But this is easily overcome... either talk to me or the reception staff and we'll help you translate- or drop by the movie theater to see the schedule and buy tickets. There are two major multiplexes in downtown Stockholm. One at Hötorget (Filmstaden Sergel) and the other is just a 10 minute walk from the Rival Hotel at Medborgarplatsen (Filmstaden Söder). There are also individual movie theaters spread throughout the city.

September 5, 2010

New Address for the Stockholm Tourist Center

And... I'm back! My batteries are recharged after two weeks in Croatia (a country I can definitely recommend for your next trip) and ready for a fun autumn in Stockholm.

I'll start with a little reminder. As I advised earlier, the Stockholm Visititors Center has now moved. As of September 2nd, their new location is on Vasagatan 14 directly across the street from the Central Train Station. The Visitors Board is promoting their new offices as the most modern tourist center in all of Scandinavia.

Edit: This evening I was invited by the Stockholm Visitors Board to the grand opening of the new offices. The locale is really nice... very spacious. And the gadgets are very high-tech! They have computers to use as well as giant touch screens and a wall of tv screens showing inspirational images of Stockholm. A very interactive way to discover the city and what it has to offer. I'm a little on the fence still if the location is better. The old offices were a little more centrally located, though with the new offices being just across the street from the central train/subway station perhaps it will be a better location.