May 30, 2014

Stockholm Marathon 2014

Activities for runners and spectators outside the Stockholm Central Railway Station.
Photo: Martin Ekequist.
This is a crazy weekend here in Stockholm! Not only do we have a large medical convention taking place at Stockholmsmässan, concerts with Miley Cyrus and Aerosmith, heavy metal music festival and a football match between Sweden and Belgium, it is also the weekend when the annual Stockholm Marathon is held. This year the marathon falls on Saturday, May 31st and it is bigger than ever with over 21,900 runners from 93 countries partaking in the race. The race starts at noon and both the start and finish lines are at Stadion, the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Stadium. The finish line "closes" at 6:10pm and the marathon is comprised of two laps around and through the city. More information!
The start is just outside the Stockholm Olympic Stadium.
Photo: Martin Ekequist. 
If you are running, there are 16 refreshment stands spaced out along the course. If you are planning on being a spectator, then there are plenty of great spots throughout the city to watch the runners. Click here for course map. Actually, it will be hard to avoid seeing the runners on this day if you are visiting Stockholm. Keep in mind that you should avoid driving or taking a bus or taxi during the day as many streets will be closed off. Stick to walking, ferries and/or subways! If you are going to the airport during the day... plan accordingly and give yourself some extra time. Another thing to think about, as a visitor, is that there will be additional security throughout the city and airports.
Runners at “Nybroplan” just in front of the Royal Dramatic Theatre
Photo: Martin Ekequist.
One good thing to know is that, if you are running in the race, you have free access to all subways, commuter trains and busses throughout the day. Just show your running bib or registration card. Getting from the Rival Hotel to the start/finish line at Stadion is very easy... take the subway (red line in the direction of Mörby Centrum) 5 stations to the Stadion station. Good luck runners!

May 28, 2014

Nils Dardel Exhibition at Moderna

I had the pleasure of being invited yesterday to the press showing of Moderna Museet's (modern art museum) main summer exhibition: Nils Dardel and the Modern Age (May 29th to September 14th).
"Death of a Dandy"
Nils Dardel is one of Sweden's most beloved artists and this is the largest exhibition of his work in Sweden since the 1980's. Dardel has been described at times as a modernist and/or a post-impressionist... but it is really hard to put Dardel in to a specific art classification as he dabbled in many styles of painting/drawing.
This is very evident in the exhibition, which contains around 100 pieces of artwork. Strolling through the exhibition, it feels almost like the work of several different artists are on display. At times the work seems to represent national romanticism, impressionism, surrealism, cubism or post-impressionism. Sometimes even as a mix between two styles. The curator, John Peter Nilsson, describes Dardel as a man of contrasts.
Self Portrait
Dardel also took inspiration from his journeys... especially France, Japan, the US and Mexico. This wide range of influences also creates contrasts in his works of art. The artist's personal life is almost legendary in Sweden. Many Swedes today think of Dardel as a well-heeeled dandy, moving in high society circles. But he was also a family man and both sides of his life are seen in this exhibition.
Definitely an exhibition worth visiting this summer. There will be other smaller exhibitions going on as well as their permanent collection. Next door to the museum is the Center for Architecture and Design and it is possible to purchase combination tickets for both the museum and the center.
Another self portrait
Moderna is located on the island of Skeppsholmen and is relatively simple to get to from the Rival Hotel... either by taking the Djurgårds Ferry (telling them that you wish to disembark at Skeppsholmen) or else there is a bridge connecting the island to the mainland at Blasieholmen. Moderna has a great gift shop and café, both of which I think are well worth a visit when at the museum! Closed on Mondays. Keep checking back to my blog... next week I will list the summer exhibitions at different museums and art galleries in Stockholm.
"The Angler"



May 24, 2014

Getting From Arlanda Airport to Stockholm (and the Rival Hotel)

Signs for commuter train at Arlanda.
There is a myriad of ways to get from Arlanda, the main international airport, to Stockholm city... taxi, bus, commuter train and express train. I have written about them all and thought that I would collect them all in one article for easy access. When deciding which form of transportation to take, it is important to consider which factors are important to you, like convenience, cost and time. It also depends on where in the city you are traveling to and how many persons in your party. I will break down the pros and cons for the different options for guests coming to the Rival Hotel. Click on the option header to link to the individual blog article for more information.



  • Plus- Most convenient as it is door to door service. Helpful when traveling with lots of luggage. Possibility of booking a taxi transfer where the driver meets you with a sign.
  • Minus- More expensive, especially if you are 1-2 people. While they do have fixed rates from the airport, there is some confusion when it comes to cost as taxis aren't regulated in Sweden so the cost can vary between companies. 
  • Travel time- Approximately 40 minutes.
  • Cost- Approximately between 500-600 SEK for a car that seats up to 4 persons (depending on taxi company).
  • Website- (we recommend Taxi Stockholm 545 SEK)- www.taxistockholm.se/en/
Taxi queues in front of Arrival Hall.

  • Plus- Inexpensive. Frequent departures. 
  • Minus- Not convenient: requires switching to subway or taxi for Rival Hotel guests (end destination at downtown City Terminal, Fridhemsplan and/or Hornstull) at extra cost/time.
  • Travel time- Approximately 45 minutes (plus additional travel time to hotel).
  • Cost- One-way adult 119 SEK, 105 SEK online (plus cost of taxi/subway to hotel from bus station).
  • Website- www.flygbussarna.se/en/arlanda


  • Plus- Inexpensive! Convenient as it also stops at Södra Station, 4 blocks from Rival Hotel
  • Minus- Infrequent departures (once every 30 minutes).
  • Travel time- Approximately 45 minutes.
  • Cost- 125 SEK for adult, one-way. Only 75 SEK if you have a period SL travel card or the Stockholm Card as it is part of the public transportation network.
  • Website- www.sl.se/en/ 

  • Plus- Frequent departures. Quickest travel time to Central Train Station (in downtown area).
  • Minus- More expensive, especially when traveling on certain days. Not convenient: stops only at Central Train Station, so it requires switching to subway or taxi to get to Rival Hotel and other points in the city (extra time and cost).
  • Travel time- 20 minutes (plus additional travel time to hotel from train station).
  • Cost- One-way adult 260 SEK, though they have special 2-for-1 campaigns on weekends/holiday periods. Plus cost of taxi/subway to hotel.
  • Website- www.arlandaexpress.com/ 
So, as you can see, quite a few options! You have to decide what is more important: convenience, time & cost. For a Rival Hotel guest, I would say that the best choices are either the commuter train or a taxi. 




May 22, 2014

Summer Fun at Rosendals Wärdshus

Outdoor seating options and...
We have had some beautiful, summery weather this past week... which means that I, like many other Stockholmers, headed to the idyllic island (and National City Park) of Djurgården to enjoy the outdoors! Djurgården is to Stockholm what Hyde Park is to London and Central Park is to New York City. Besides being the home to many of the city's top attractions (Vasa Museum, ABBA the Museum, Skansen, Gröna Lund and more) it also contains acres and acres of parks, gardens, forests and waterways.
...indoor as well.
Djurgården is also the location of several cafés and restaurants... from coffee & cakes, lunch, dinner to fine dining. This particular day I went to visit one of my favorite places: Rosendals Wärdshus. Rosendal, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, is located just behind Skansen, on a hill overlooking the "royal" canal. They have both indoor and outdoor seating... either on their terrace or on one of their many tables in the park. Otherwise they have sunchairs to borrow if you just want to order a caffe latte or a glass of rosé wine and enjoy some sunshine!
Swedish summer evening!
A great place to have lunch al fresco... the menu contains many Swedish favorites like meatballs, cured salmon, shrimp salad and baked potato with skagen mix. They also have more international dishes as well as sandwiches, cakes and pastries. Currently they are open for dinner on the weekends only, but as we get into summer they will be open every evening. Rosendals Wärdshus is a popular place for larger groups to book (wedding receptions, birthdays, kick-offs) as they have several options where the group can sit seperately from other diners.
Rosé wine al fresco...
Rosendal will also be hosting the Stockholm English Speaking Theatre several times this summer when they will be performing a modern take on Much Ado About Nothing (set in 1960's Italy)... Shakespeare in the Park, Swedish style, if you will! I will write more about this later, or else you can keep an eye on their website for the upcoming dates.
Enjoy the gardens and fountains.
The easiest way to get to Rosendal from the Rival Hotel is to take the convenient Djurgårds ferry from nearby Slussen (9 minute ferry ride). When you arrive on the island, you have to make your way around Skansen park... a beautiful 15-20 minute walk either way. If you are in town, you can take the street car (tram) to the last stop, called Bellmansro. From there it is just a 10 minute walk following the signs for Rosendals Wärdshus.
Follow the signs to Rosendals Wärdshus.
Don't confuse Rosendals Wärdshus with nearby Rosendals Trädgård or the palace Rosendals Slott. Both are great places to visit during the summer months as well. The Trädgård also has lunch/picnic options and, with its rose gardens, is quite popular which means their lunch café can get a bit crowded at times. All these places are well worth a visit during the summer in Stockholm and, as they are located right near each other, you can easily combine all three in one visit!


May 17, 2014

Food Trucks and Street Food in Stockholm

Jeffrey's Food Truck, parked on Mariatorget, serving...
Sweden... the land of rules, regulations and red tape. While this does create a peaceful, organized and smooth-running society, it can sometimes cripple creativity and spontaneity. Case in point is the oh-so-trendy street food culture that has been sweeping the globe the past few years. The Swedish government has been slow to grant permission for food trucks in Stockholm ("food served from a vehicle on the street? That is... madness!"). Well, last year the government finally eased restrictions and food trucks have started rolling on the streets of Stockholm to the joy of locals and visitors alike.
...Italian food!
The trucks represent a wide variety of food cultures, even some with fusion cuisine... South American, Middle Eastern, Turklish, Indian, Swedish, French/Vietmanese, American, Mexican and more. For a visitor, this is a great chance to dip your toes into street culture and try some great food you might not otherwise try. Especially if you have a busy sightseeing day and spot a truck... a perfect impromtu picnic!
SOOK Street Food... Middle-Eastern cuisine.
There are several websites (in Swedish) that help you track your favorite food truck, like stockholmfoodtrucks, hittatrucken and foodtrucks. Otherwise they can often be found in certain squares, parks and intersections at lunch and dinner times. Several times a week, one is usually parked by the Rival Hotel in the square Mariatorget. If you can't read Swedish and are staying at the hotel... come talk to us and we can help track down your favorite truck!
Great pulled pork from Curbside.
If you want to be guaranteed to find some food trucks, then I would recommend a visit to the Hornstull Market on Sundays this summer (between 11am and 5pm). This popular May-September flea market is located on the waterfront in the trendy Hornstull district... just a 20 minute walk, or 2 subway stations, from the Rival Hotel. Several food trucks will be parked there for the market. So, head on down to rummage through the stands, buy some street food and have a picnic in Tantolunden park. A great way to spend a sunny summer Sunday!
Poster advertising the Hornstull Market with Food Trucks.

May 15, 2014

J.Lindeberg Boutique on Södermalm

Swedish fashion labels have become very popular internationally... and I often get asked by visitors where certain boutiques are located in the city. Stockholm has become synonymous with effortless chic (recently voted by travelers as "Style Capital of the World") thanks in large part to these well known Swedish fashion labels. So we were very happy at the Rival Hotel when we heard that J.Lindeberg (one of the most popular brands) had opened a menswear boutique right around the corner from the hotel!
J. Lindeberg was founded in Stockholm in 1996 and has grown into a global brand with almost 90 stores around the world in cities like New York, Munich, Miami, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Los Angeles as well as being found in over 900 boutiques and high-end department stores. Their collections include menswear and womenswear and feature fashion, tailoring, denim, golf & skiwear. I have always really liked J.Lindeberg... especially for the way they combine fashion with sportswear. I am also a big fan of their jeans!
The boutique near the hotel is located on St Paulsgatan 3, just a 5-10 minute walk away. It is also conveniently located just 10 meters away from the semi-pedestrian street Götgatsbacken, where you will find a plethora of other shops... including many other Swedish designers (everything from H&M to Filippa K).
This particular J.Lindeberg boutique only carries menswear. If you are interested in womenswear, then I would recommend a visit to their flagship store on Biblioteksgatan 6 in the downtown area. If you are looking for a deal, then I can recommend a visit to their outlet store at Stockholm Quality Outlets in Barkarby where you can find last season's fashion for up to 70% off the regular price. (all pictures in this article are by me!)

May 13, 2014

Stockholm Airport Busses- Flygbussarna

Bus departing from terminal 4 at Arlanda.
I have already blogged about several ways to get from Arlanda airport to Stockholm and the Rival Hotel... taxi, commuter train and express train. There is another way to travel between Arlanda and the city and that is by bus! There are quite a few things to consider when choosing which mode of transport you want to use, like budget, time constraints, size of your party, convenience, amount of luggage, etc; Busses are a bit slower, though cheaper, than most of the other options... great for travelers with a budget and not in a rush.
Stops for the new line going to Liljeholmen. Photo from flygbussarna.se
The bus company is called Flygbussarna. Not only do they service Arlanda (the main international airport), but they also service the smaller airports in Stockholm... Bromma, Skavsta and Västerås. For Arlanda, they have busses going to City Terminal in downtown Stockholm (the main bus station, adjacent to the Central Train Station), to Stockholmsmässan (international congress center) as well as a new line that goes to Fridhemsplan on Kungsholmen and Hornstull on Södermalm, with the final destination in Liljeholmen (southern suburb). The trip between Arlanda and the City Terminal takes approximately 45 minutes and a ticket costs 119 SEK for adults, 99 SEK for youths and senior citizens. Tickets do cost less if you purchase them online ahead of time (105 SEK for adults and 89 SEK for youths and senior citizens). Tickets can be pre-purchased on their website! Otherwise you can buy the tickets at the airport, City Terminal or on board the bus (credit card only). You will find bus stops at Arlanda in front of terminals 2, 4 and 5 and the busses depart quite often... every 10-15 minutes (every 20 minutes to Liljeholmen).
Bus departing from the City Terminal. 
While they are inexpensive, comfortable, environmentally friendly and convenient when it comes to departure frequency, keep in mind that you will have to then make your way to the Rival Hotel from the City Terminal or Hornstull (by taxi or subway). This raises the price and lessens the convenience factor... which is why I often recommend the commuter trains and taxis for our guests as both get you directly to the hotel (or at least within 4 blocks).

May 7, 2014

Liquor Stores in Sweden- Systembolaget

This is a repeat of one of my earliest (and most popular!) blog articles...
Source: systembolaget.se
Purchasing alcoholic beverages at a store in Sweden isn't a simple matter as in many other countries. Here in Sweden we have a state-run chain of liquor stores called Systembolaget. These are the only retail stores allowed to sell alcohol (more than 3.5% volume)! There are no privately owned liquor stores... nor do grocery stores sell wine or hard alcohol. This does not include Duty Free shops at airports and such. There are quite a few Systembolagets spread throughout the country (25 in downtown Stockholm alone- not including suburbs) so chances are you will not have to go far to find the nearest location... especially when visiting a larger town or city. One great aspect of Systembolaget is that they have a wide selection of products as well as very knowledgable staff who are only too happy to help you choose the perfect wine or beer for the occasion.
Interior of the Drottninggatan store. Photo by Magnus Skoglöf.
Problems, however, arise often due to their opening hours... especially for unaware visitors. The stores generally close somewhere around 6 or 7pm on weekdays, depending on store and day. On Saturdays they close even earlier... around 2 or 3pm depending on the store. All Systembolaget are closed, without exceptions, on Sundays and holidays! So you need to keep this in mind if you plan on purchasing wine or hard alcohol while visiting Stockholm. For example, don't wait until the last minute to pick up a bottle of wine if you are invited to a friend's house for dinner. Keep also in mind that while the drinking age in bars & restaurants in Sweden is 18, you have to be 20 years old to purchase alcohol at Systembolaget. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, then the closest Systembolaget is on Rosendalsgatan 7... just a 5-7 minute walk from the hotel. If you find Sweden's relationship to alcohol fascinating then I can heartily recommend a visit to the interesting Museum of Spirits!

May 6, 2014

GastroNord, Vinordic and Bocuse d'Or!

Today (Tuesday, May 6th) is the first day of the large, annual food & beverage trade fair here in Stockholm called GastroNord & Vinordic, concentrating mainly on the hotel, restaurant and catering industries in Scandinavia. A fun place to visit if you are in Stockholm and interested in food & wine. Of special note this year is that the trade fair will be the location of the Bocuse d'Or Europe competition.
Photo by  Gustav Kaiser, Stockholmsmässan
Often referred to as the culinary Olympics, the Bocuse d'Or is a prestigious competition that pits the top chefs from individual countries against each other. The competition this week is the European semi-finals to see who will go on to the world finals next year in Lyon, France.
Entrance to Stockholmsmässan.
While GastroNord & Vinordic are open between the 6th and 9th of May, the Bocuse d'Or competition takes place on May 7th & 8th. Chefs from 20 countries will be competing and they have split the competitors up between the two days. You have the option of buying tickets for just one day (120 SEK) or for both days (180 SEK). After the viewing grandstand fills up, visitors will be directed into the adjoining Victoria Hall where the competition will be shown on giant screen so that everyone can follow the competition. In other words, come early to get a good seat! Click here for more info, tickets and schedule. Sweden will be represented by Chef Tommy Myllymäki (with Albin Edberg), who will be competing on Thursday... it should be a lot of visitors cheering that day!
Chef Tommy Myllymäki. Photo by Charlie Drevstam
Everything will be taking place at the International Fairgrounds at Stockholmsmässan in Älvsjö. Read my blog article about the fairgrounds, including the easiest way to get there from the Rival Hotel, by clicking here. Good luck Tommy & Albin! (EDIT: Tommy Myllymäki and his team WON! Congratulations!)
Team Sweden! Tommy Myllymäki and Albin Edberg. Photo from Gastronomi Sverige.