Saturday, 30 November 2013

Quick Stockholm Memories Cinnamon rolls to celebrate the weekend!

I learned from the Swedes: Love sweet snacks withyour drink at the local cafe. The cinnamon rolls won me over. A bit smaller than the ones I had in Stockholm, but this quick and easy cinnamon roll recipe will make a great quick snack.

  • 1 can of cresent rolls (for my first try I used the small tin).
  • a good amount of softened butter (I used about 50 gramms)
  • 3-4 table spoons of brown sugar
  • half a table spoon of cinnamon (or maybe a bit more)
  • two teaspoons of nutmeg
  • For topping powdered sugar
You could add raisins to the filling too if you'd like.

Grease a muffintin with buttter.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Roll out the pastry. Cut in two if you're short on space (like me). Pinch together the seams, your not going to use them anyway.
Spread a good layer of butter on the pastry. Cover with the mix of dry ingredients. Be generous.
starting from the short side, Roll up the pastry. Make sure its nice and tight. Cut slices from yor roll. And place them ik the muffin tin. Make sure to dip the first and last slice of your roll in some left sugar mix. Or you can sprinkle over some later.

Put in the oven (175 C) for about 10 to 15 minutes. Check the directions on the pastry package.

Let cool for a moment and in the mean time, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Before serving to yourself (and others, for greater fun), cover with some powdered sugar. It looks even better:

Before a little snow fall...


Then, the best part of all: dig in and enjoy.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Stockholm Stories - Part II A walking tour of Gamla Stan

After the big museum-round from the day before, I had planned on walking Gamla Stan, the old town, a good lunch and shopping some Swedish design gifts. 

I started my day with a walk on Skeppsholmen, the island were my hostel was located. And from there I walked over to Kastelholmen, an even smaller island where I got to enjoy views like this. Capturing the Vasamuseet and the Nordic Museum I went to the day before. After a nice picnic breakfast, the city was waiting for me. I had a great time exploring the alleys on Gamla Stan and visiting the Dansamuseet in the morning.  Followed by a wonderful and delicious lunch at Rosendals Trädgård and a walk on the island of Djurgården. It's great to feel like your at the country side, when you're actually just ten minutes or so from the city center.

Shopping wasn't much of a succes when I got sick later in the afternoon, so I went back to the hostel early. That was a bit of a bummer, since I did have a little list of shops I wanted to visit to buy family gifts for the upcomming holidays. Well, let's say that there should always be a  reason to come back to a place... Thankfully the next day I felt good again and I went on one last walk through the old town, before going back home.

I arrived home six hour later than planned, when the weather got all to foggy for our plane to land in Eindhoven. Alternativly we landed at airport Weeze in Germany before taking a bus that took a long detour back to The Netherlands.
The two walks I did on Gamla Stan I combined for you in a short 2km walking tour.

Walking tour of Gamla StanI created this tour based on my two morning walks through the streets and alleys of the old town.
Download the map for your Stockholm trip!
Today Stockholm is spread over 14 islands, but it all started in the 13th century on this island (and the conjected islands of Riddarholmen and Helgeandsholmen.

Enter the island of Helgeandsholmen past the Riksdagshuset, via the Riksbron bridge (1).
Behind the huge facade of the Kungliga Slottet on your left, lie small and cobble stoned streets and covered allies lined with historic houses.

This photo was taken from Kungsträdgården.
Now, you can walk straight on following the main road Västerlånggatan and take the first left, or you could take a little detour like I did, to catch the guards in front of the Kungliga Slottet (2) crossing the square and take a turn to the right.
Right next to the palace stands Storkyrkan from 1279 (3). The somewhat pale looking outside, hides a beautiful red brick and plastered interior in Gothic style.
The chruch offers a welcome place to be quiet for a moment while soaking up the ceiling decorations and catching the details on the wood sculpture of the legendary St. George and the Dragon.

Practical information:

Address: Trångsund 1
Transport: Busses: 2, 43, 55, 76, (stop at Slottsbacken), Underground: Gamla Stan station on the Green and Red lines.
Opening hours: Jan-May, Sep-Dec Monday-Sunday 9-16, June mon-fri 9-17, Jul-aug mon-fri 9-18 Jun-Aug weekend opening hours 9-16.
Admission: 40 SEK, Children and under 18, and attending a service free.
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website.

Walk further down Trångsund and you'll find yourself on Stortorget (4). It is surrounded on three sides by brightly coloured homes from the 17th and 18th century and the Nobelmuseet (dedicated to the winners of the Nobel price) on the North side. There are 82 white stones on the facade of the red house in rememberance of the 82 man who were beheaded during the Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520.

Cross the square and walk on to Köpmangatan and turn right on to Själagårdstagt. Here you'll find yourself on the atmosperic Brända Tomten (5).

Keep following Själagårdstagt and cross Svartmangatan were you continue on Tyska Stallplan. A few steps to your left, you'll find Stockholms narrowest alley, Mårten Trotzigs gränd (6).Take the steps and you are back on Västerlånggatan. If you feel like you need to escape the tourist crowds, take right turn onto Kindstugatan and directly turn left on to the more quiet Prästgatan which lies paralel to the main street.
On storkyrkobrinken turn left and keep following this street to cross Riddarholmsbron.

The beautiful Riddarhomskyrkan (7) was closed when I caught it early on my third morning. This is the church were Sweden's kings and queens are burried.

Go up hill to Schering Rosenhanes Gränd when you come down the stairs have a beautiful waterfront view on Stadshuset (8).

From here I crossed the water and walked back to T-Centralen to catch my bus to the airport.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Stockholm stories and budget tips

So, as promised stories from Stockholm (finishing off with some budget tips for this expensive city).
Two short Winter days and a sunny short morning was way too short to discover all that this Scandinavian city has to offer. So, the city is already on my return-to-list. Most of my Stockholm time I spent in museums and wondering through the medieval streets soaking up history and city buzz at the same time.

Stockholm welcomed me when the sun had set a while, with rusing traffic and glistering lights on the waters. I stayed at the HI hostel AF Chapman on Skeppsholmen which gave me the best views of the city every morning and evening. It was a short twenty minute walk from the Central Station. although you can also take bus 65 or half the walking distance by taking the subway (T-bana) to Kungstragarden. It's hard to miss, the historic ship originally built in England in 1888. It's hard to miss, but I walked passed the ship and went into the building on the land. Which has some royal roots when it was built in 1785 to store fire wood of the Royal Palace, just across the water before it was rebuilt to become a home quatier of navy craftsman somewhere at the beginning of the 19th century. Now both the ship and this old lodging home welcome visitors from all over the world. The cheapest room is the 10 bed dorm in which I stayed, but I'm sure the rooms at the ship are more stunning since it has clear views on Gamla Stan (Old Town, my favorite part of the city) and hip, trendy and higher up Sodormalm.

My first full day was filled with museums and sight seeing with the 24-hour Stockholm Card for 495 SEK (about 55 Euro). I would say I used my card pretty well. I visited five museums (that would have costed me 550 SEK on entrance alone). My second day I uses wondering through the medieval city heart (and getting sick in the afternoon).

1. Nordiska Museet
Djurgårdsvägen 6-16
Transport: Busses: 44, 69 and 76, Underground: Karlaplan (red line to Ropsten), Tram 7: Nordiska Museet/Vasa museet (tram departs from Sergels Torg), Ferry service from Slussen (and from Nybroplan in Summer)
Opening hours: Mon.-Sun. 10–17 From Sep. to May Wed. 10-20
Admission: 100 SEK, Children and under 19 free.
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website.

The Nordiska Museet Nordic Museum) was a fitting first museum to visit as an introduction to Swedish culture on my first trip to Sweden.
Walking into the huge and high central hall of the museem feels like walking into a cathedral. Well, you could say a cathedral of Swedish culture from the 16th century on. From Swedish folk art and traditions to almost real life table settings, toys and the fascinating history, culture and future views of the Sami, the indigenous tribe. Small and larger exhibitions are spread over three floors around the central hall.
I found that the audiotour I did really made the exhibitions come alive.

2. Vasamuseet
Address: Galärvarvsvägen 14, Djurgården
Transport: Busses: 44 (Nordiska Museet/Vasamuseet) 69, 76 (Djurgårdsbron), Underground: Karlaplan (red line to Ropsten), Tram 7: Nordiska Museet/Vasa museet (tram departs from Sergels Torg), Ferry service from Slussen (and from Nybroplan in Summer)
Opening hours: Sept-May Mon.-Sun. 10–17, Wed. 10-20, June-Aug 8.30-18
Admission: 130 SEK, Students 100 SEK Children and under 18 free.
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website

Barely 1300 meters on her first voyage this majestic ship sank (mainly due to a lack of stability). It never got to see the world, but tourists from all over the world come to visit her in her modern harbor, the museum built around the ship. I would say it is worth all the buzz and recommendations. You feel tiny in front of this ship reconstructed with 98% original material from the salvage in 1961. I started with the film screening about the Vasa, then made my way through the various exhibitions. Most interesting to me were the ones about the people who were on the ship on that unfaithful day. The 'Face to Face' exhibition (found on the 2nd level) in particular. The stories bones can tell us about people's life a few centuries ago, I think is fascinating. None of the found skelletons were ever identified, but they were given names according to the Swedish letter-naming system. This results in stories of just a few sentences that read like you get to know a real person. The few life like reconstructed faces look back at you with surprising warm looks on their faces.

3. Millesgården
Address: Herserudsvägen 32, Lidingö
Transport: Underground: red line to Ropsten and then bus number 201, 202, 204, 205, 206 to Torsviks torg. Follow the signs from there on.
Opening hours: May - Sep. Daily 11 - 17, Oct - Apr. Tues - Sun 11 - 17
Admission: 100 SEK, Students 80 SEK Children and under 19 free.
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website

This museum is a bit off route, but so worth the little trip (it takes about 30 to 40 minutes from the city center). Usually I'm more of a 2D-art lover. But somehow when I saw a picture of a sculputure of Carl Milles on my screen while researching and planning on my trip, I had to go. Something in his works touches me. Even in a drizzy rain and without the fountains turned on, the sculpture garden was wonderful. The house, actually felt like a house. I could imagine people living their lives there, looking out of the window through the garden on to the waterfront view.

4. Stockholm Stadsmuseet
Address: Ryssgården, Slussen
Transport: Underground: all Red and green metro lines stop at Slussen, buses 2, 3, 43, 53, 55, 76 stop at Slussen.
Opening hours: Tues–Sun 11–17, Thursday 11.00–20.00, Monday closed
Admission: 100 SEK, Children and under 19 free. The ticket is also valid for the Museum of Medieval Stockholm. So, you're given a two for one price here!
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website.

This little museum, right next to the Underground station of Slussen, houses the history of Stockholm city from 1000 BC to our 21st century and even the future visions given by today's children's generation. Although it is quite a small museum, it's very informative and gives a good overview on how much this city has grown.

5. Fotografiska 
Address: Stadsgårdshamnen 22, Södermalm
Transport: Underground: all Red and green metro lines stop at Slussen exit at the bus terminal, buses 2, 3, 43, 53, 55, 76 stop at Slussen. Walk past the busterminal, cross the street, take a right and continue walking straight on (past the Birka Cruises terminal), the next building you run into is Fotografiska.
Opening hours: Sun - Wed 9 - 21, Thur - Sat 9 - 22
Admission: 120 SEK, Students 90 SEK, Children under 12 free.
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website.

This was one of the few museums with evening hours when I visited during low season. I couldn't have asked for a better ending of the day when I was at the café with a cuppa tea paired with a cinnamon roll, a view on Stockholm at night and great live music from Szeps O'Hoj.
There were some interesting and brutally honest and confrontating exhibitions at my time of visit. Including works from Peter Hugo and the exhibition Farming out of Poverty.

6. Dansa Museet
Address: Drottninggatan 17, Norrmalm
Transport: Underground: T-Centrale or blue line, Kungsträdgården. Busses: 3,52, 53, 56, 59, 62. 65 and 69. And tram 7 (stop at Kungsträdgården).
Opening hours: Tues–Sun 11-17
Admission: 80 SEK, Students 60 SEK, up to 19 years old free.
Up to date information on admission fees, opening hours and exhibitions on the website

This museum I had planned on going on my fisrt day, but I didn't make it before five. So, I went the next day. Dance is a weak spot of mine, since I've danced for 8 years. I think this was the smallest museum I went to, but it had two exhibition spaces filled from ground to ceiling with history of dance. Not just in sights, but also in sounds by pulling drawers or putting on headphones. It felt like a world trip visiting costume depots and music archives.

Gamla stan
 It was around 1254 that Stockholm started to grow from the old town, gamla stan. Despite the traces of modern life that dot the streets, you can make up a vivid image of what the narrow cobble stoned streets looked like in the medieval times. Eye catcher of the Island Is Kungliga slottet. Built In 1754 in italian style, after an fire destroyed the king's palace in 1697. I had just missed out on the changing of guard though. Right next to the palace is Storkyrkan. This church from 1279 Is a quiet place in a bustling city. 

christmas is comming closer and the city was getting in the mood. Allthough, to catch Stockholm in full blown christmas atmosphere, I should have come a week or two later. 

Gettining the most out of Stockholm practical and money saver tips:
Now, I agree that 5 museums is a lot. But Dansa Museet and the Stadsmuseet for example were quite small.
Museums (and shops and other sights as well) in Stockholm have opening times that differ in Summer/Winter seasons (or even months). Most museums open around 10AM or 11AM and close around 5PM or 6 PM. So, I used time as effectivly as possible.

The Stockholm card at first sight can look expensive and overpriced. The 24-hour card I used was 495SEK (around 55 euro). Usually I avoid tourist cards, because they can be overpriced. But Stockholm is an expensive city. So I did some research and some math. Before I went, I had three museums on my wishlist (Vasa Museet, Millesgården and Dansa Museet). That resulted in an estimated coast of 410 SEK for the day (including public transport). For just a bit more, this card gave me free public transport and the opportunity to visit an extra museum or two.

Keep in mind that if you're a student or under 20 you could save quite a bit on entree fees (ranging from discounts to free entrance) and public transport! So, try to do some math before buying the card.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sneak peek: Stockholm Stories

Exactly a week ago, at about this time ('round 8pm) I arrived at my hostel in Stockholm for a short city break. Saturday I'll be sharing my Stockholm sightseeing experience with you!