June 29, 2013

Pop Art Design at Moderna

Tom Wesselmann
Smoker Banner, 1971
© The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/BUS 2013. Photographer unknown.
This past Thursday I was at the grand opening of Moderna's (the modern art museum) big summer exhibition: Pop Art Design. This is a nice exhibition looking at both art and design from 1950 through the early 1970's featuring a mix of both recognizable pieces from well known artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to lesser known artists like Öyvind Fahlström and Richard Hamilton.
I have been to a few exhibitions on pop art, both here in Sweden and abroad, but what I liked about this one is the introduction of design to the exhibit... from magazine covers to furniture, with some especially great pieces by Charles and Ray Eames. This exhibition explores the relationship between art and design during this time period and how they influenced each other. The exhibition is organised jointly with Vitra Design Museum Weil am Rhein, in association with Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.
The exhibition runs until September 22nd. Moderna is located on the island of Skeppsholmen and is relatively easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... it is either a nice walk through the old town, taking about 35 minutes, or you can take the ferry to Djurgården which makes a stop at Skeppsholmen (10 minute trip). Just make sure you let the staff know when you go onboard that you wish to disembark at Skeppsholmen (during the low season they stop there just upon request).
Admission is 120 SEK for adults and you can also buy a combination ticket (200 SEK) that includes admission to the Architecture and Design Center next door (which, by the way, has a great exhibit on designer Jean Paul Gaultier this summer). While at Moderna, don't miss their great gift shop (a personal favorite!) and café... with views over the harbour.

June 28, 2013

Saling Regatta- ÅF Offshore Race

Photo: Oskar Kihlborg, ksss.se (other photos by me!)
It is that time of the year again... the ÅF Offshore Race is in town! The race is this Saturday (June 29th) but the sailing boats are already here and they have a "racing village" set up with live music performances, food & drink tents as well as information tents through Sunday.
I stopped by yesterday evening with a friend to check out the boats and have a drink, soaking up the sailing atmosphere! The racing village is set up on the island of Skeppsholmen next to the beautiful Af Chapman sailing frigate, just across the water from the royal palace. They have several food & drink tents set up... of special note is the one set up by Operakällaren, called Operabaren på Kajen (The Opera Bar on the Pier) with some great dishes! The village is open every day this weekend until 11pm, except Sunday when they close at 5pm. Full program linked above.
The race itself starts at 11am on Saturday and it is a staggered start. I watched it last year and it was quite fun to see the boats tacking back and forth, getting into position. From Stockholm, the racers head out through the archipelago to the sailing mecca of Sandhamn. From there it is out into the Baltic Sea and around the island of Gotland. Last year we stood near Fotografiska (photography museum) which is just a 15 minute walk from the Rival Hotel, and that was a good place to see the start of the race... otherwise anywhere in the harbour should be good. Especially the south shores of the islands of DjurgårdenSkeppsholmen and Kastellholmen.



June 25, 2013

Outdoor Restaurant at Clas på Hörnet

Entrance to historic building
Yesterday I attended the summer premiere for Clas på Hörnet's outdoor barbecue restaurant. During the summer months they close their indoor restaurant and instead they have an outdoor restaurant with chefs manning the grill (open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5pm). Cloudy or rainy? They do have covered seating as well as heat lamps to keep you comfortable in case the weather gods are against you. If you are coming after the summer... the indoor restaurant is a great place to try local cuisine. They have some of the city's best Swedish meatballs!
Monica Zetterlund park
Located just north of the downtown area, this inn and restaurant is adjacent to the little, quaint Monica Zetterlund park which adds to the ambiance of their outdoor restaurant. The building itself is historic... dating from 1731, when Clas Browall opened his inn here. The name actually means "Clas on the Corner". Many famous Swedes have been guests here, including king Gustav III and poet/composer Carl Michael Bellman.
The outdoor grill...
Swedes love to take advantage of long, warm summer evenings and eat & drink outside whenever possible. I have blogged earlier about restaurants on the water in Stockholm, but really any leafy oasis will do for a Swede! Their grill menu has something for everyone... tunafish, scampi, cheese bruger, halloumi and even top blade steak. They are then paired together with your choice of side orders and sauces. A nice way to spend the evening!
A summer oasis in the city.
While Clas på Hörnet's location might be a little "off" for guests from the Rival Hotel, it is the perfect place to grab dinner or a drink if you are in the neighbourhood admiring architect Gunnar Asplund's public library, attending an event at the Olympic stadium Stadion, buying souvenirs at Stockholm's Hard Rock Café or having spent the day in nearby Haga Park. Otherwise it is only a quick ride by subway (red line to Stadion station) from the hotel.

June 22, 2013

"Under the Bridges" Boat Tour

Boat arriving at Strömkajen with Royal Palace in background.
Last week I was at the premiere for the new sightseeing boat terminal at Strömkajen. So I, of course, took a sightseeing boat tour while I was there! The company Strömma has a few different boat tours, but this time I took the Under the Bridges tour (a personal favourite) which is their most comprehensive tour.
One of 15 bridges...
One hour and 50 minutes long, this tour takes you under 15 bridges and through 2 locks. Stockholm is located at the point where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea and you need to travel through locks to go from one side of the city to another! It is guided (audio guide) in several languages and you get to see both the historic and new parts of Stockholm, as well as both nature and urban. I usually recommend this for visitors to do at the beginning of their visit, to get a feel for the city and a good overview.
...and one of 2 locks!
The tour departs at the top of every hour from Strömkajen and during the peak summer weeks they have departures between 10am and 7pm. You can also catch the tour at Nybroviken at 5 minutes past every hour. The tour costs 220 SEK for adults and 110 SEK for children between the ages of 6 and 11 (free for children under 6).
Gamla Stan (old town) waterfront.
You can buy tickets on their website (linked above), at the two terminals (Strömkajen and Nybroviken), at the Tourist Information Center or, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, talk to me and I can book your tickets. If you only have a short time in Stockholm and feel like (almost) 2 hours is too long to spend on a tour, then try their Royal Canal Tour (50 minutes long) instead!
Waterfront of Södermalm.
You never know what you will see from the boat! Like rock climbers...

June 21, 2013

Happy Midsummer!

This is Midsummer weekend... when the days are the longest (summer solstice) and Swedes make the most of being outdoors. They don't call Sweden the land of the midnight sun for nothing. The pictures below were taken last night at midnight, by yours truly, on Södermälarstrand looking at the City Hall.
Here is wishing everyone a fantastic Midsummer! And, if you are in Stockholm, click here for tips on what is open and closed during the weekend. Otherwise, stop by and talk to me if you are staying at the Rival Hotel. And speaking of the Rival... our Bistro is open for the general public all weekend long (opening at 4pm each day).

June 18, 2013

Strömkajen Open Again for Sightseeing Boats!

One of Strömma's sightseeing boats
Yesterday I was invited by the Strömma sightseeing company for the "new" premiere of the Strömkajen dock, which has been closed for renovations over the past two years. Strömkajen is located just across the water from the Royal Palace, next to Kungsträdgården park... very central.
Strömma's new ticket office at Strömkajen...
Two of Strömma's most popular sightseeing boat tours, Under the Bridges and Royal Canal Tour, depart from Strömkajen as well as Nybroviken. During the past two years the tours have only departed from Nybroviken... but Strömkajen is closer to the Rival Hotel, so we are happy that they have reopened! Strömma has a ticket office there and you can purchase tickets not only for the two boat tours but also for any of their other sightseeing options (bus, boat, combination, etc;).
...and Waxholmsbolaget's ticket office right next to it.
Another popular boat company, Waxholmsbolaget, also has departures from Strömkajen. These boats aren't sightseeing tour boats, instead they are commuter boats that travel out into the archipelago and are used by both tourists as well as archipelago residents. They have quite a network of boats and their online schedule tends to be a bit complicated. You can contact me directly, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, for help... otherwise check out their new terminal at Strömkajen, where you can get information as well as book tickets.

June 15, 2013

Carl Larsson at Konstakademien

Impressive entrance to the museum
I have blogged earlier regarding the National Museum closing for four years for renovations, as of February of this year. In that article, I mentioned the fact that they would be having temporary exhibits at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts (Konstakademien) during the interim period. Well, the first exhibit has just opened for the public! First out is the Swedish artist Carl Larsson, and I stopped by to check out the premiere.
The exhibit, entitled "Friends & Enemies", runs all summer and into the fall... until November 3rd. Carl Larsson is arguably one of Sweden's most famous and beloved artists/painters. His prints and posters decorate many Swedish homes and his artwork often depicts idyllic, bucolic scenes of family life that many Swedes consider to be their version of utopia.
This exhibit, however, isn't only filled with Larsson's artwork. It is more dedicated to his world and the famous people he interacted with day to day. In the exhibit you will find artwork by, and depicting, his friends (like Anders Zorn) and his enemies (most notably August Strindberg and King Gustav V). In fact, it seems like Larsson had quite a few art feuds... strange for an artist whose works convey so much innocence and happiness. If it is just Carl Larsson's art you are interested in, then many of his most famous works of art are hanging in art galleries like Thielska and Waldemarsudde. Stop by this exhibition instead to get a feel of what the prolific art scene was like in Stockholm in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Konstakademien is very centrally located and easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... either a 25 minute walk through Gamla Stan or by subway (nearest stops are Kungsträdgården on the blue line or T-Centralen with all lines).

June 11, 2013

Midsummer Weekend 2013

Photo by Marie Andersson, Skansen
(EDIT: info for 2013... click here for updated info. Basically the same but a few date and link changes) The biggest holiday in the Swedish calendar is just a little over a week away: Midsummer (June 21st to 23rd)! It rivals Christmas as a holiday to spend with friends and family, filled with age-old traditions. On this weekend, Swedes flee the cities and head to their country homes to celebrate in the outdoors. Unfortunately, every year Stockholm is filled with tourists who are unaware of this holiday and are confused why the city resembles a ghost town. While it has become better in recent years (as Swedes become more capitalistic in their mind-set), many restaurants and shops are still closed and even a few museums. But not to worrry, there is still plenty of things to do & see and ways to experience traditional Swedish midsummer. Here is a little guide to the weekend:

Museums-

  • Skansen (zoo, open air cultural museum)- open every day, all weekend.
  • Vasa Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • ABBA the Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Royal Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Drottningholm Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Fotografiska (photography museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Moderna (modern art museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nordiska (nordic culture museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nobel (Alfred Nobel & the Nobel prizes)- Closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Royal Armoury- closed on Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
  • Historiska (history museum)- closed on Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
  • Medieval Museum- closed Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
If you are travelling with children, it is good to know that both the amusement park Gröna Lund and Astrid Lindgren's world Junibacken are open all weekend!

Restaurants-

Here is where you can get into a little trouble. Many restaurants are closed for the whole weekend, while others will be closed at least on Friday. Most hotel restaurants are open to the general public (like the Rival Bistro) all weekend. There are also a few other restaurants that are open all weekend... but, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me as soon as possible for help booking a table, as they will probably fill up and last minute reservations might be tough!

Shopping-

Also a little tough. Many smaller boutiques will be closed for the whole weekend. Even large shopping centers, like Mood and Sturegallerian, will close on both Friday and Saturday. The two largest department stores, NK and Åhlens City, will close early on Friday (10am to 2pm) and stay closed on Saturday. Officially, it is only Saturday which is a bank holiday... but Friday is about as close as you can come "unofficially", so expect many pharmacies, banks and liquor stores to be closed that day as well.

Sightseeing-

Large sightseeing companies like Strömma run as normal with bus, boat and combination tours available all weekend. Smaller, independant sightseeing companies may be closed. Public transportation runs as normal, though on a more limited "holiday" schedule, all weekend.

Experience Midsummer-

After all of this negativity, you may be wondering "but where do we experience the Midsummer celebrations?". Well, the best place to see how Swedes traditionally celebrate this holiday is at Skansen. They have a full program all weekend long! While most Swedes do leave the city, the few that are left will celebrate with picnics and games in the different parks throughout the city. So, when in doubt, just head outdoors to celebrate. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need further information... contact me directly at the hotel!
Photo by Yanan Li, Stockholm Visitors Board

June 7, 2013

Royal Wedding This Weekend!

Tomorrow, Saturday June 8th, H.R.H. Princess Madeleine will marry Chris O'Neill... and royal wedding fever is descending upon Stockholm. There are some good things to know if you are visiting Stockholm this weekend, whether you want to see the couple, join the festivities or just avoid the hooplah!
The Royal Couple. Photo by Brigitte Grenfeldt
Princess Madeleine's older sister, the Crown Princess Victoria, got married three years ago and the celebrations were huge with Stockholm throwing a week-long Love Festival in honour of the wedding. The festivities this time around will not be as grand (as Madeleine is only fourth in line to the Swedish throne), but there will still be enough to see and do to keep royalists happy. The wedding itself will take place in the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace, located in Gamla Stan, at 4pm and televised live on Swedish TV. It is expected to last until 4:45pm upon which there will be a 21 gun salute (cannons firing from the island of Skeppsholmen). The couple will show themselves at the palace's south gate after the ceremony. Another great opportunity to see them will be during the cortège... and it looks like it will be great weather! The royal couple will be taken by horse and carriage from the Royal Palace (start at approximately 5:50pm) on a short tour around the adjacent neighbourhoods. Click here to see the cortège route. Finally, the royal couple will take a boat from Riddarholmen to the Drottningholm Palace, where a dinner (hosted by the king & queen) will be held.
Now, please keep in mind that many streets around the Royal Palace will be closed off Saturday afternoon and evening... best to stick to walking and subways. There may be additional traffic problems on Friday and Sunday as European royalty and foreign dignitaries are shuttled to different parties and events. Keep in mind also that several tourist sites will be closed on Saturday... the Royal Palace (obviously) as well as adjoining museums like Tre Kronor and the Treasury. In fact, the Treasury is closed from June 3rd to 9th. The royal regalia needs to be polished and made ready! The Royal Armoury will be open, though they will close at 4pm. The Drottningholm Palace is closed from June 4th to 11th as it will house visiting royalty... though visitors may still travel out by boat to see the beautiful parks and pavilions. However, be aware that there will be lots of security and limited access! None of the sightseeing busses will be running, neither the Panorama tour or the Hop On Hop Off busses. Hop On Hop Off boats will also not be running. However, the Under the Bridges and Royal Canal boat tours will be running! More information about these tours at Strömma's website. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel... contact me directly for further information! Here is some extra information from the local English language newspaper.

June 6, 2013

Restaurants Closed During the Summer- 2013

(EDIT: these dates are for 2013, for current information... click here!) Every summer, especially during late July and early August, visitors to Stockholm who are interested in haute cuisine are disappointed to find out that the top tier restaurants (Michelin rated and such) close for a few weeks. This is mainly due to the generous Swedish vacation rules and the fact that many top restaurants feel that they can't offer excellent service with summer replacement staff. Another reason, perhaps, is that most Stockholmers leave the city during this period and there aren't enough visiting "foodies" to fill these types of restaurants. At any rate, the good news is that several of these top tier restaurants have some other options during these weeks... and you always have a plethora of great summer restaurants to choose from!

  • Restaurant Frantzén (former Frantzén/Lindeberg)- closed between July 14th and August 16th.
  • Flying Elk- closed between July 14th and August 16th.
  • Mathias Dahlgren- closed between July 12th and August 5th.
  • Ekstedt- closed "second half of July and first half of August".
  • Restaurant Jonas- closed between July 1st and August 9th. Their more casual Food & Wine Bar is closed from July 6th to August 1st. 
  • Esperanto- closed between June 20th and August 9th. Instead they will have a "summer lounge" open with a scaled back menu.
  • Lux Stockholm- closes on July 14th for the summer. Reopens?
  • AG- closed between June 30th and August 4th.
  • F12- closed between July 7th and August 7th. Their popular nightclub F12 Terrassen is open all summer!
  • Smak på Restaurangen- closed between July 7th and August 7th.
  • Le Rouge- closed between July 7th and August 12th. Their more casual Le Bar is open all summer.
  • Grill- buffet only between July2nd and July 20th, after which they close through July 30th.
  • Miss Voon- closed between July 7th and August 6th.
  • Farang- closed between July 7th and July 28th.
  • Operakällaren- closed between July 1st and August 6th. Their more casual Bakfickan is open all summer.
  • Sjögräs- closed between July 14th and August 4th.
  • Pontus!- closed between July 1st and August 11th. Their more casual Pocket is open all summer.
  • Djuret- closed between June 20th and August 17th. During this time they have an outdoor grill restaurant called Svinet.
  • Pubologi- closed between July1st and August 1st.
  • Griffin's Steakhouse- closed between July 15th and July 31st.
  • Niklas- closed between July 8th to August 6th. 
  • Gastrologik- closed between July 21st and August 12th. Their casual, drop-in restaurant Speceriet will be closed the same time.
  • Nostrano- closed between July 7th and July 24th. 
I will be adding to this list as I find more restaurants that close during the summer. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel this summer and are interested in a specific restaurant... just drop me a line. And remember, the Rival Bistro is open 365 evenings a year!
Fjäderholmarnas Krog- a good choice for summer!


June 5, 2013

A Taste of Stockholm & The National Holiday

There are so many things happening this week that I am killing two birds with one stone in this post...
Smaka på Stockholm, photo by Peter Backman
The first festival of the summer starts today and runs through Sunday, June 9th: A Taste of Stockholm (Smaka På Stockholm). This is one of my favorite festivals... especially if the weather cooperates! The festival takes place in the park Kungsträdgården and features 20 different local restaurants, representing a wide variety of cuisines: Swedish, Mexican, Vietmanese, Chinese, South American, Spanish and more. Besides the restaurants, there will be several bar tents to keep you hydrated as well as live music to keep you entertained! The festival is open each day from 11am to 11:30pm except on Sunday when they close at 10pm. This is a great chance have an inexpensive meal, do some people watching and listen to some good music.
Smaka på Stockholm, photo by Peter Backman
Tomorrow, Thursday June 6th, is the national holiday in Sweden (Nationaldagen). This is a bank holiday... which means that banks, liquor stores and smaller boutiques will be closed. This shouldn't be too noticeable for visitors as museums, restaurants (for the most part) and sightseeing tours will run as normal. If you want to celebrate the holiday (or watch Swedes celebrate), head to Skansen which is located on the island of Djurgården. There will be plenty of activities, flag waving and entertainment! Another great choice is to visit the Royal Palace where they are having an "open palace" (as oppsed to open house)... plenty of free activities and events all day long ending with the royal family's departure for Skansen in horse and carriage at 5:55pm. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me for further information about these two events/festivals. Happy Sweden Day!

June 1, 2013

Helmut Newton at Fotografiska

The Stockholm museum of photography, Fotografiska, goes from strength to strength with their exhibitions. Annie Leibovitz, Christer Strömholm, Robert Maplethorpe and David LaChapelle have been some of their popular, past exhibitions. Yesterday was the premiere of their big, summer exhibition... a retrospective of the great fashion and portrait photographer Helmut Newton. I, of course, stopped by and checked it out.
Helmut Newton has always been one of my favorite photographers, so I was happy when the exhibition was announced. His work is very recognizable... either through the style, subject/model or both. The photographs, often in black & white, are almost always erotically charged and provocative. Sometimes through nudity or sometimes with an article of clothing that hints at slightly "kinky" sexual behaviour... women in men's clothing, corsets, leather or stiletto heels (some so high they resemble weapons). Nothing overt, just a nod and often with a sense of humour.
Fashion collaboration with Yves Saint Laurent
His models also tend to be Amazonian in appearance: strong, confident with impossibly long legs. Newton was one of the first fashion photographers that combined sex with fashion, collaborating with designers like Saint Laurent, Lagerfeld and Mugler in the pages of Vogue, Elle and Stern from the late 60's through the 90's. His photography does stir up debate (shouldn't all good art?). Was he a misogynist or did he celebrate powerful women? Was he living out his sexual fantasies through his art or just having a good laugh? Be aware that the exhibition does contain nudity! In fact, there is one whole room dedicated to his nudes.
Portrait of Salvador Dalí
Newton's portraits (also featured in this retrospective) are, as a group, a fantastic window on his era with subjects that younger generations might not recognize today: Salvador Dalí, Claus von Bülow, Yves Saint Laurent, Princess Caroline of Monaco and Andy Warhol among others. This exhibition runs all summer until September 29th. Fotografiska is located on the waterfront and easy to get to from the Rival Hotel... just a 15-20 minute walk, down to Slussen and then along the waterfront. An extra recommendation: be sure to visit their cafe/bar on the top floor for great views of the city and their gift shop on the ground floor.
Classic Newton. Defintely a "leg man".