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The Royal Palace of Drottningholm (Note: Royals mentioned in the article are not in the canoe)
If you live in Sweden, chances are you’ve wondered a thing or two about its royal family. Who are they exactly? What do they do? Why is their last name French? Ask no more, the royal we of YLC present the Who’s Who of Swedish Royalty!
Let’s start off with the basics. Swedish Royals are a bunch of Bernadottes. Not to be rude, it’s just true.
Swedish monarchs have come from the house of Bernadotte since 1818. If the name sounds French, that’s because it is. King Karl XIV Johan was in fact French-born Jean Bernadotte, and he and his French wife Désirée Clary (briefly the fianceé of old Boney himself, we’ll have you know, before he jilted her for Josephine) were elected to the then-combined Swedish and Norwegian throne when several other options didn’t pan out.
Simply explained, it goes like this: the previous dynasty, died out with Karl XIII, who had no heir. The Swedish parliament then elected the prince of Denmark as heir to the Swedish throne, but he passed away the same year. As much of Europe was controlled by Napoleon Bonaparte at that time, the Riksdag then decided to elect a king of whom Napoeon would approve: so French marshall Bernadotte it was. And today the family is as Swedish as could be, whatever that means! So let’s go meet ‘em!
King Carl XVI Gustaf Folke Hubertus
Or just King Carl XVI Gustaf for short. He’s the man on the stamps. The one with the thin glasses and the skinny neck, and perfectly horizontal “smile” – you’ll almost never see his teeth. This king, like many Swedish kings before him, is named Carl. He was born on April 30, 1946, and became King of Sweden at age 27, in 1973. And it would seem he doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon. Always very popular, in recent years his popularity has been somewhat shaken by scandals when his alleged early life was “revealed” in a tell-all book. However, the Royal Court has stayed firmly in denial of the claims made in the book and most of the brou-ha-ha seems to have blown over.
Queen Silvia Renate Sommerlath
…but you can call her Silvia, after all everyone else does. Silvia is the collected, graceful German girl who met King Carl at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. She may not have been competing, but she still won quite the prize: the hand of the Swedish king four years later. Apparently, when they met something went “click”, according to the smitten King.
Silvia is the ultimate “Dancing Queen” as the hugely popular ABBA song was first performed live at a gala celebrating her imminent wedding in 1976. Despite her popularity, Silvia too has been in stormy waters recently, due to allegations about her father during WWII, but the queen went to serious trouble trying to clear her father’s name. Some Swedes do complain that she still speaks with a slight German accent after all these years, but no one can deny her poise and style, even at 70 years old!
Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée
We wish we could have as many lovely princessy names as Victoria. What a shame she only uses one of them. Princess Vicky (she doesn’t actually go by that, be warned) was born in 1977, but wasn’t Crown Princess at the time. Not so long ago the crown could only go to male heirs, so despite being the oldest, Victoria was not in line. However, since 1980, Sweden has had fully cognatic succession, meaning that the first-born child of the monarch is heir to the throne, regardless of gender. Victoria is hugely popular, and has more than made up for any scandals – real or imagined – the previous generation may have been dragged into.
Prince Olaf Daniel Westling
While we’re making Cinderella references, we might want to mention Victoria’s husband – personal trainer-to-prince Daniel. They “got to know each other”, as the Royal Family’s official website states, in 2001, and announced their engagement in 2009. The wedding took place a year later with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance.
Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary
We now arrive at, undeniably, the cutest royal of them all! Princess Estelle is the first child of Victoria and Daniel, and just celebrated her second birthday. Not only is she adorable, but she’s already downright diplomatic, attending tennis matches and cultural events and featuring on innumerable family postcards displayed for all of Sweden. She’s got a goofy smile just like grandpa – but whereas his is in hiding, little Estelle flashes hers daily and warms our hearts!
Prince Carl Philip Edmund Bertil
Back to the king’s own kids, we have the only royal son of Sweden: Carl Philip. Born in 1979, he was the crown prince of Sweden for seven months, before the system was changed. A bit of a controversial lad, he is dating a model, he likes to ski and race Porsches, and indeed won the Porsche GT3 Endurance Scandinavia motor race in 2010. (What do you mean you haven’t heard of it?) He is also a military captain and did an internship with National Geographic. His passion is design and although that aspect of his career fell on rough times after accusations of plagiarism last year, he recently entered the fashion business when he and colleague Oscar Kylberg released a line of outerwear for brand A-One. With those wavy locks and valiant names and posh Porsches – he is rather damn princely, wouldn’t you say?
By the way, he’s 284th in line to the English throne.
Princess Madeleine Thérèse Amelie Josephine
The king and queen’s youngest child, Madeleine was born in 1982. She resides in New York and was for a time known as the pretty, partying princess, but the girl’s got brains. She has studied art, law, and psychology, and has worked with UNICEF and the World Childhood Foundation, focusing on helping sexually exploited children. After a disastrous relationship with Swedish lawyer Jonas Bergström, ending in a broken engagement, Princess Madeleine finally found true love and married New York banker Christopher O’Neill in 2013, and in February 2014 presented Sweden with a new little princess. Which hopefully is enough to make the Swedish people forget she ended her engagement announcement with the little giggle “tihi” (“teehee”), which sparked a heated debate about Swedish female submissiveness and the state of feminism in the country.
Princess Leonore Lilian Maria
Leonore is the latest addition to the Swedish Royal Family, and while her father does not get the title of prince, Leonore is a little princess. But as she is not even a month old, we don’t have a whole lot to say about her. Yet.
So there you have it, go forth feeling more up to date on the Swedish Royals. And there is more to find out. For example, who was the Prince who renounced his title for love? Who were the little Princesses at Haga? And which Princess was seen in Vogue, was first married to an actor and later nursed wounded soldiers during WWII?
Featured Image: Royalcourt.se. All other images: Wikipedia
March in Sweden is a mouth-watering affair this year! Starting strong with Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) at the beginning of the month and ending with Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) – YLC has the lowdown on these yummy Swedish Spring traditions.
Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) Tuesday 4th of March
Like anyone faced with a prospect of fasting for forty days, Swedes binge 41 days before Lent. In the UK we do pancakes; here, they’re more sophisticated, indulging in Semlor, cardamom-spiced buns with its top cut off and its insides scooped out and replaced with almond paste and whipped cream.
The original version was just a sweet roll in hot milk and indeed some Swedes do still have them served that way, known as hetvägg (loosely, hot wall). The annual première of semla-eating has crept all the way to early January and since Swedes stopped observing traditional fasting, every (tues)day until Easter could be considered a fettisdag. To be honest, every day is a fat day for YLC when there’s semlor around!
Don’t miss our guide to the best Semlor in town or if you are feeling creative, why not try making them yourself?
Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) Tuesday, 25th March
The origins of this annual indulgence started out loftily enough. March 25th was always respected as a national holiday in Sweden, since it marked ‘Annunciation Day’ in the Christian calendar. It is said that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would conceive and become mother of Jesus Christ on this day, known as Vårfrudagen, Our Lady’s Day. This was pronounced in some dialects as ‘Vafferdagen‘ and vaffer was an old Swedish word for waffle. The corruption of the word morphed into official Våffeldagen we now know and enjoy.
Confused? Never mind, just head down to your local café and enjoy the taste of spring, which this day historically marks. Or why not make some waffles for your family – why not try this traditional Scandinavian recipe.
Featured Image: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
Waffle Image: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se
Fettisdagen, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras; whatever you call it, the Tuesday before the start of Lent is traditionally the time for penance and confession. It’s also the time to stuff your face before fasting commences.
Tomorrow Swedish believers and non-believers alike partake in the ritual munching on semlor, buns filled with cream, cardamom and mandelmassa (almond paste). I decided to join them and help the Your Living City readers narrow down where best to invest their calories. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.*
Address: Patentgatan 7, 11267 Stockholm (on Lilla Essingen, bus 49 to stop Luxparken)
Dessert och Choklad is an experience, serving everything sweet from cakes to pralines. Since they have windows looking on to the kitchen, you can actually watch your semla being freshly prepared… and when it’s handed to you it’s still warm. The only downside of the bakery is that there’s nowhere to sit. I had to enjoy my semla on the bus stop in the snow.
Bun: Just the right amount of cardamom and surprisingly moist.
Cream: Heavenly. Rich, thick and fresh fresh fresh. I reckon they store a cow in their kitchen.
Almond paste: An unsparing amount of chunky yumminess.
Overall: The balance is perfect between bun, cream and mandelmassa. None of the components overpower one another. These semlor are obviously homemade with care and top-quality ingredients. This is what earns them my first place prize.
Address: Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm (nearest T-bana: Hötorget)
Vetekatten is a firm favourite amongst Swedes and foreigners alike. Its eclectic décor and old-world charm only add to the decadence of its freshly baked treats. Vetekatten is always a pretty safe bet if you’re in the mood for cake and its semlor have won numerous foodie’s hearts (and stomachs).
Bun: Moist, fresh and sweet. This is, in my opinion, the best part of the semlor from Vetekatten.
Cream: The bun isn’t drowning in cream, which seems to be the point de friction of many bakeries. It’s also nice and dense, adding richness and texture.
Almond paste: Finely ground and pretty damn perfect.
Overall: Vetekatten gets the balance just right and I can see why their semlor are so popular. My one complaint is that they do, however, seem a tad mass-produced…
Address: Karlavägen 77, 114 49 Stockholm (Nearest T-bana: Karlaplan)
Tössebageriet is another popular choice for semlor in Stockholm. It is unpretentious and the quality is tops; in fact they recently won ‘Best konditor’ for 2012 . It also has the charming nummerlapp system just in case you forgot you were in Sweden.
Bun: Slightly bland as not much cardamom is used, but still nice and not too dry.
Cream: Light and fluffy. The amount of it is proportional to the size and amount of the bun and the paste.
Almond paste: Tössebageriet did something sneaky and added cardamom to their filling, which along with the finely ground almonds, makes this paste the one to rule them all.
Overall: The lack of cardamom in the bun is made up for in the paste, so the overall ratio is maintained.
Address: Götgatan 92, 118 62 Stockholm (Nearest T-bana: Skanstull)
There are several different semlor at Gunnarssons, ranging in size from “large” to “satisfies a family of ravenous gorillas”. I wimped out and went for the “classic”.
Bun: Not too bland and not too much cardamom. Also surprisingly moist. Overall the bun balance is just right.
Cream: Too much of it. I could have painted my entire (40 square meter) apartment with it and still had some left over.
Almond paste: A generous amount of almondy goodness. Sweet, but not too sweet with sizeable chunks of almonds.
Overall: The bun/cream/filling ratio was a bit out of whack. I think the excess cream detracted from the other two components and made them seem blander than they actually were.
Address: Hantverkargatan 28, 11221 Stockholm (Nearest T-bana: Rådhuset)
Sockerbagaren feels very personal and intimate, which is great when you are frequenting it alone, with a friend or a significant other. Not so great when you have a great big stroller and the tiny bakery is filled to capacity with a three o’clock fika crowd demanding their semlor.
Bun: A bit too much like burger bun, so there is an excess of breadiness. It also doesn’t contain enough cardamum, so it tastes a bit bland.
Cream: Sockarbagaren makes the fatal flaw of over-doing it on the cream, which ultimately upsets the precious ecosystem of the bun:cream:filling ratio.
Almond paste: Lovely and bitty, but too little of it. This only further contributes to the upset of the oh-so-precious and volatile ratio.
Overall: I thought this place would surprise me. I wanted it to be the runty underdog who triumphed over the alpha Katten. But I was wrong and it didn’t.
So there you have it. Go forth and indulge while indulgence is (quite literally) the order of the day. Although try not to be like King Adolf Fredrik of Sweden. He died, after a feast including 14 helpings of semlor in hot milk; we can’t prove it was the semlor, but it’s a tale of caution.
*Disclaimer: I am not and do not pretend to be a semla expert. I’ll leave that up to the extremely dedicated Semmelmannen
Featured Image: Camilla Degerman/imagebank.sweden.se. Individual images: Kirsten Smart
YLC’s Judi Lembke has the lowdown on Sunday’s main event; Sweden’s biggest, baddest ski race, where thousands of participants take to their skis to follow in the footsteps of an ancient king.
Ah, yes, Vasaloppet, where thousands upon thousands of Swedes, along with people from all over the world, jump on their skis to race nearly 100 km from Dalarna to Mora, all in an odd mixture of competition, history and enormous amounts of mucus. It’s also the biggest, baddest and oldest cross-country ski race in the world, with the 2014 seeing upwards of 80 thousand people signed up for one of the Vasa Week events, including nearly 20 thousand for Sunday’s big race.
Over the years I’ve heard bits and bobs about the history of Vasaloppet and that bastion of truth, Wikipedia, backs up most of what I’ve heard so here’s a very fast and dirty tutorial, designed to arm you for the Monday morning quarterbacking you may well face.
Vasaloppet is held in honour of the young nobleman Gustav Ericsson Vasa, who in 1520 hopped on a pair of skis to escape the pursuing troops of Christian II, King of Sweden, Denmark and Norway (then known as the Kalmar Union). Along with much of the rest of the Nobility, Young Vasa was in opposition to the king, whose somewhat over-the-top bloodlust led to him not only killing large portions of the aristocracy (including Vasa’s parents) but also to being saddled with the unfortunate moniker Christian the Tyrant.
Fearing for his life, Vasa escaped the Stockholm Bloodbath (also known as the Stockholm Massacre) and headed to Mora, where he tried to interest the townfolk in supporting his calls for a rebellion. No one in Mora was much interested and with the King’s troops hot on his trail Vasa hightailed it towards Norway, in search of refuge.
While Vasa thought his fiery words of rebellion had fallen on deaf ears back in Mora it seems at least two men were suitably moved to catch up with Vasa in Sälen, where they now wanted him to lead the rebellion. Actually, it was hearing that Denmark was planning on raising taxes that changed the two men’s minds but let’s not quibble about the details; the important thing here is that the spark was lit, the rebellion was on and to make a long story short on 6 June 1523 Gustav Vasa was crowned King of Sweden, having defeated Christian the Tyrant and dissolved the Kalmar Unoin.
So now you’re asking how any of this has to do with an enormous amount of people skiing long distances across the middle of the country? It makes sense that Sweden celebrates its national day on 6 June, the anniversary of Vasa’s crowning, but the skiing? What about the skiing?
Well, here’s the deal: the race represents Vasa’s flight (along with Mora’s two most famous tax-dodgers) from the tyrant king and his henchmen, and live the Vasa motto, ‘In the footsteps of our forefathers for the victories of tomorrow’. It’s also a great excuse to slap some slippery bits of wood on to your feet and take part in what Sports Illustrated once called ‘one of the most bizarre, most foolish, most excruciating, most exalted human events of our time’.
Vasaloppet is televised live on SVT, where you can sit for literally hours watching as the crème de la crème of the international cross country world zoom towards the finish line. And then you can watch the other 19 thousand plus participants huff and puff for many more hours in what some see as an amazing display of sportsmanship and fortitude – and others see as an exercise in blazing stupidity. The jury’s still out on that one, to be honest.
90 kilometers, folks. NINETY KILOMETERS! That is a lot of time in the snowy backlands of middle Sweden, with the end result being that you’ll cross the finish line too tired to smile or even lift your arms in victory.
You’ll also most likely end up with frozen bogie icicles hanging down your face (don’t think I’m kidding about this) in full view of not only the thousands upon thousands of spectators, but of millions more watching from the comfort of their sofas. There’s a snapshot for the family photo album!
Now, that comfort of your sofa thing. SVT starts broadcasting the race at 8 am, which is tad early for a Sunday morning if you ask me. My suggestion is to flip on the TV, settle onto the sofa comfortably and if anyone suggests that maybe you could help with the vacuuming or ironing or maybe even do a bit of gardening work, lift a brow, nod towards the telly, and in low, reverential tones whisper, ‘Major Swedish tradition, darling. I’m trying to assimilate.’ Then get back to your shuteye, making sure to set your alarm in time to see who wins, which should be in under four hours.
Some interesting facts about Vasaloppet you might not be aware of:
- Vasaloppet Week consists of seven races over 10 days.
- Since 1922 more than 1 million skiers have crossed the finish line.
- Nils ‘Mora Nisse’ Karlsson has won Vasaloppet nine times.
- Bengt Erksson from Sälen has participated in more races than anyone: 59 to date, without a break.
- More than 98 thousand litres of blueberry soup, sports drinks, gruel and coffee is consumed at 7 food stations.
- The record for Vasaloppet was set in 2012 by Jörgen Brink, with a time of 3 hours, 38 minutes, 41 seconds.
See, you DO learn something new every day!
Judi Lembke is an international editor and writer who, when not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV. Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.
Featured Image: Rich Hoeg/Flickr (file)
In Sweden they say that ‘there is no bad weather – just bad clothes’ so get off the couch, get your greatcoat on – and pick up your skates on your way out! There are several great parks in the Stockholm area with ice skating rinks (some also rent out skates) and we’ve gathered a list of them for you to check out!
It’s the most popular ice-skating rink in the city. Kungsträdgården’s open air ice-skating rink offers skate rentals as well as a great atmosphere with several stands selling hot drinks and goodies. It’s a magical way to spend a cold, dusky evening in Stockholm. It’s relatively cheap, at least by Swedish standards, and includes skate hire. What’s more, you don’t have to be a pro to feel at ease there. It’s a perfect place to test your skills alongside beginners, the more experienced, the young and the old.
Open from November 7th.
Monday – Friday 10:00-21:00
Saturday – Sunday 11:00-21:00
Cost: (they prefer credit/debit cards)
Adults 60kr/hour (over 19 years old)
Children 30kr/ hour
Price includes skates (sizes 25-48) and helmet
Note: Renting hours end 1 hour before closing.
Map and more info
Pack a thermos and show off your skating skills in one of the ice rinks in the heart of the city. Vasa Park has a great artificially frozen rink that is 60 x 43 m, but you’ll have to bring your own skates.
This large and popular ice-skating rink is maintained several times a week and open between 8 am – 9 pm weekdays, and 10 am – 9 pm on weekends. It is closed between 6:30-8am, 12-1pm and 5-6pm for resurfacing. This is a mechanically-frozen ice rink so the quality is not as dependent on weather conditions, as natural ice rinks. It should open at the end of November, weather permitting.
Address: Vasaparken, Stockholm (Norrmalm)
Telephone: 08-508 090 00
Outdoor and indoor rinks. Bring your own skates
Address: Ringvägen 16, 117 26 Stockholm (at Zinkensdamms Idrottsplats)
Telephone: 07-392 190 56
All skaters and other visitors to Östermalms rink are welcome to use the changing rooms and toilets. Unfortunately no storage is available. The rink opens December 1st.
Rentals and sharpening skates:
Monday and Friday 17:00 to 20:00
Tuesday to Thursday 19:00 to 21:00
Saturday and Sunday 11:00 to 16:00
Info on rental and grinding ring 0704-67 06 77
Address: Fiskartorpsvägen 2, 114 33 Stockholm
Telephone: 07-392 190 07
The ice is set in the center of Medborgarplatsen with an illuminated rink. It’s perfect for children and beginners and across the street is a playground.
Telephone: 08-508 265 52
Stora Mossen Ice Hall
A great place for indoor/outdoor skating. Bring your own skates and helmet.
Address: Västerled 36, Mosskroken, Stora Mossen (Stora Mossens IP “A-hallen”)
Telephone: 08-253 527
The Hellasgården recreation area offers lovely outdoor ice skating along with a variety of other winter sport activities to participate in. It takes 20 minutes to get to Hellasgården from downtown Stockholm.
Take bus 401 from Slussen to the Hellasgården stop in Älta. You can also take subway line 17 to Skarpnäck and get off at Hammarbyhöjden, Björkhöjden, or Bagarmossen. Follow the signs from the station to Hellasgården.
Telefon: 08-716 39 61
Skating on Stockholm’s Waterways
Skating on natural ice is an exhilarating experience. Long-distance skating on natural ice requires a certain amount of knowledge and safety equipment.
A safe alternative for those who want to skate on the ice around Stockholm is to go with an experienced guide. If you’re feeling more adventurous, book a long-distance guided skate outing on the natural ice of Stockholm’s waterways. Iceguide provides 5- to 9-hour guided skating tours, complete with safety equipment and instruction. They offer tours starting Dec. 27 – Dec. 31, but tours after January 1st are only on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Iceguide organizes excursions, loans out skates, safety equipment and clothing in their tour package. Courses are also available. Note that this activity is dependent on ice thickness and weather.
Website URL: www.iceguide.se
Know of any other places to ice skate in Stockholm? Or would you want to come skating with YLC some time? Let us know in the comment section below!
Research: Carmel Heiland
Featured Image: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se
Anyone who knows ANYTHING about Swedish cakes knows that there is one cake in particular that Swedes are passionate about. That’s right, people, I am talking Prinsesstårta or Princess Cake. It’s a kind of “one cake to rule them all” situation, really.
The recipe is believed to originate from the 1930s and was originally called Green Cake (well, duh!). It first appeared in the 1930s “Prinsessornas Kokbok” cookbook, which was published by Jenny Åkerström, a teacher of the three daughters of H.R.H. Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland. However, the girls were so fond of it that it became known as Princess Cake - and it has been known and loved by the Swedish people under that moniker ever since. The original cake is green ( have I mentioned this before?) but it also appears in yellow (Prince Cake or Carl Gustav Cake ) and pink (Opera Cake), in which case it also has a layer of raspberry jam.
Traditionalists, myself included, bake Princess Cake without jam and with green marzipan, or Opera Cake with jam and pink marzipan – but nowadays you may find green cake with jam, or pink without – you get the idea. I have also been known to pre-order this cake from a bakery in white (which I secretly think is the prettiest one) but don’t tell anyone!
I make this cake mainly from a recipe I have found on my fave Swedish baker Leila Lindholm‘s blog, although I have adapted it slightly (as one does). Her cake has jam, for example, and mine doesn’t. But I have added the bits I would do for Opera Cake as well, and leave it up to you. Many (better bakers than me) would make their own marzipan and others might use pre-made jam for their opera cake – again, do what suits you best!
What you need:
1 ½ dl caster sugar
1 ½ dl all purpose flour
Butter and breadcrumbs for the cake tin
5 dl milk
1 vanilla pod
1 ½ dl caster sugar
7 egg yolks
1 ½ dl corn starch
50 g soft butter
1 pre-rolled green (or pink) marzipan Princess Cake disc
8 dl Cream (Vispgrädde)
For Opera Cake:
2 ½ dl fresh (or frozen) raspberries
½ dl caster sugar
What you do:
Start with the cake by pre-heating oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Whisk eggs and sugar white and then fold in the flour. Butter a cake tin (24 cm in diameter) and cover with breadcrumbs. Pour the batter in the tin and bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool.
Move on to the vanilla cream. Scrape out the innards of the vanilla pod and add (together with the pod itself) to the milk in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then take off the heat and remove the pod. Whisk yolks, sugar and starch fluffy, then add the hot milk while stirring gently. Put the mix back into the saucepan and heat until thick while stirring vigorously. When thick enough, take off the heat and add butter. Stir mixture until butter has melted. Place in fridge to cool.
If you are making Opera Cake – prepare raspberries by mixing fresh berries (or thawed berries) with sugar. Put aside.
When cake and vanilla custard has cooled completely it is time to assemble the tårta.
Whip cream stiff ( and I mean really stiff, stop just before it turns into butter) and put to the side. Cut the cake into three even pieces. On the bottom piece, spread half of the vanilla custard (or for Opera Cake – the raspberry mixture). Add the next piece and spread liberally with the rest of the vanilla custard. Put the last piece on and add the cream. Don’t be afraid to really go for it and shape the cream as a dome. Carefully place the marzipan disc over the cake. Smooth it down the sides and cut off any excess at the bottom.
Dust with icing sugar (through a sieve works best) Place the rose jauntily on the side or smack bang in the middle – it’s a personality thing.
Featured image: Jakob Fridholm/imagebank.sweden.se
When you think of Swedish film, chances are you think of Lisbeth Salander, young vampires and chess games with death. Well, believe it or not, Swedes can be romantic and cheesy too. Check our fab five list of Swedish romantic comedies.
En gång i Phuket (Once Upon a Time in Phuket)
Swedes love going to Thailand. And what happens in Thailand…becomes a hit rom-com. A hard-working single man has a mid-life crisis of sorts and decides to go to Phuket and write a novel. There he meets the beautiful, spotnaneous Anja, who tries to teach him how to really live. Of course, things aren’t that simple – and they must overcome a comedy of errors to reach their happy ending. This one should be a classic!
Små Citroner Gula (Love and Lemons)
Girl likes to make food. Girl tries to open restaurant. Girl deceives sweet food-critic neighbour. Girl falls in love with sweet food-critic neighbour, who finds out about deceit. You get the idea. Love and Lemons is one of those cliche romantic comedies we all love so much. It’s essentially the Swedish version of Simply Irresistable, only without magic lobsters.
Linas kvällsbok (Bitter Sweetheart)
Lina is 15, virgin, and boring. Something has got to change, she decides. Bittersweet Sweetheart is a typical, awkward but heart-warming coming-of-age flick about a girl’s search for life and love. Funny, fresh, and fun.
Love Deluxe is sort of Sweden’s answer to Sex and the City – a dysfunctional love story for the career woman. Selma, a chicklit author who gets dumped in a taxi at the same time as critiques shred her latest book, decides to get her life together – and of course meets two very different, very strange men, and proceeds to date them both. Eye candy and humor abound!
This one is particularly fun for Stockholmers, who will recognize the places – and the stereotypes. Shallow Stureplan hottie Sebastian slips on ice, hits his head, and goes blind. Södermalm-based happy-go-lucky Mia starts working with him as his personal assistant, showing him a new side of life. Of course, things got complicated when Sebastian regains his sight…and his ways. But no worries, this is a rom-com, so there’s a happy ending!
Solveig is an American cactus who plucked up her ancient Scandinavian roots and transplanted them back to snowy Stockholm soil. When not writing for YLC she can be found cantering about town in search of culture, chai and cheer.
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Every newcomer to the city must make their peace with the darkness and cold of the winter months. YLC’s Rob Scott on the anonymity AND kinship of winter Stockholm.
Like every newcomer to this town I’ve spent a period of time ‘in the dark’. Adjusting to the quirks and kinks of the place. I think I’ll always be there to some extent, blundering my way around. And at this time of year a lot of the time is spent blundering around in the dark. Literally.
Every city has its own rhythm sometimes imperceptible to an outsider. The rhythm of a city, too, feeds different and sometimes imperceptible sensibilities, including those of its outsiders. Like ships in the night, Stockholm and me, we met by chance and have had sporadic yet enchanting contact ever since.
It is dark here. And part of the secret of living here is making your own accommodation with it. There is omnipotence to the darkness, whose thrall I have been in since my first midnight snack at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
A lot of things happen. Out of sight. Imperceptibly. People walk past but you don’t see them.
In winter, streets are filled with ghosts in boots, hoods and overcoats. You make your way around here like the sun pushes through clouds which hang like a thick, double-lined velvet drape over the city. Slowly, arduously. Imperceptibly.
Everything seems to vanish into pitch black pits of darkness. Trains into tunnels, boats out into the Baltic, even elevators seem to sink down and reappear from bottomless mine shafts. Lights hang in every window, signaling life. But there is rarely any life to be seen behind them. So they end up looking for all the world like tiny holes in the night sky, not houses at all, serving only to light up the darkness as if to remind you of its supremacy.
The cocooning silence that ensues leaves the impression of a world unseen, of a city having secret conversations. It’s easy to think the city doesn’t love you. That the perennial night manifests itself in masks worn by its inmates, keeping you ensconced in the dark and affirming the myth of the ‘quiet Swede’, and other strains of Swedishness. Dark thoughts can follow. Which is not altogether surprising when everything around us is dying. What didn’t die in autumn is killed off by the frost. Or the dark. Lately, though, I have felt a surge of reconciliation with the dark.
These same lights in the windows sometimes leave the feeling of being watched. Of checking on me. Seeing me. Oddly, it creates a closeness, even community, that defies logic. But it’s there.
And there are other glimpses of life. Of kinship. A look of recognition from real sets of eyes peering out from under dark thick robes of swishing fabric. A quick exchange of hellos, or a knowing grimace amidst a wintry gale, or a nod of simple connection. Life almost imperceptible. But visible. I know I’m here. The truth is that life is swirling all around us. And not like the rattle of dead leaves in a frosty gale. This city has all the life, madness and stories of any other. Like sudden bursts of light under a cloak of darkness. And, in a way, more life-giving.
And then, sometimes, the sun forces its way through the clouds.
Rob Scott is a writer, teacher and poet who can’t remember anything that happened in his life before the birth of his daughter seven years ago.
Giant horses, striking colours and the Prime Minister in a dress! Friday saw the unveiling of the Spring Salon at Liljevalchs Art Gallery. YLC braved the cold to attend!
It was a cold and crisp winter morning in Stockholm when the press gathered at the Liljevalchs gallery to sneak a first peek at this year’s exhibition. Spring felt far away, yet it was the Spring Salon we were there to see.
“Many said that last year’s exhibition was the best so far – I would say that this one is even better,” said Mårten Castenfors, the director of the gallery, as he greeted the gathered press.
The Liljevalchs art venue belongs to the City of Stockholm and was opened back in 1916 as the first independent, public museum for contemporay art in Sweden. The building is the work of renowned Swedish architect Carl Bergsten and is situated amidst the captivating natural surroundings of the Djurgården Island in Stockholm.
The Spring Salon, which has become a fixture on the Stockholm art scene since the first exhibition in 1921, is visited by young and old and for many Stockholmers it is the first and sometimes only art exhibition visited on a regular basis.
“It is important to us that this is a place where you can experience just how fun art can be, said Castenfors.
And fun it certainly is! This is the kind of exhibition where you can bring your children, as well as your parents or your friends – no one will be disappointed as it appeals to all ages. There are sculptures and paintings, installations and film clips.
It would be hard to forget the lingering image of the Swedish prime minister dressed as a 18-century lady in Synergi 1 by Hanna Lundgren Herder, or stay unmoved by the striking images Equatorial and Simple by Samir Soudah. However, YLC was particularly smitten with artist Bo Ljung’s two paintings Rörelse mot Söder and Återsken. A special mention will also have to go to artist Thomas Carlsson and his work Burkfåglar (Can-birds), beautifully crafted birds made out of re-folded soft drink cans in striking colours.
This year’s jury, which consisted of art historian Göran Ståhle, Greta Burman of the Moderna muséet in Malmö, Lisa Lundström from the Bildmuseum in Umeå and Mårten Castenfors of Liljevalchs, said they were very pleased to have received so many different types of pieces this year. 2,192 artists entered their work and out of these 288 were chosen to be displayed in this year’s exhibition. There were 78 women and 74 men chosen – but the age span is wide, as the youngest artist will soon turn 19 and the oldest is 92.
Wandering around the beautiful space that is the Liljewalchs art gallery is always a pleasure and this year’s exhibition is well worth a visit.
Some pieces are striking and others more understated but somehow they all stay with you when you leave. Some you wish you could actually take home with you. And of course – if you move quickly – you can. All the pieces displayed in the exhibition are for sale and it is up to the artists how much they will cost. This year, the least expensive piece, a DVD, was priced at 1 SEK and the most expensive at 280,000 SEK. Something for everyone, in other words.
This time YLC left empty handed but with a wealth of impressions and having spent a lovely morning looking at sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing but always interesting, works of art.
Återsken, Bo Ljung
Where: Djurgårdsvägen 60, Djurgården
When: Monday closed, Tuesday 11.00–20.00, Wednesday 11.00–17.00, Thursday 11.00–20.00, Friday-Sunday 11.00–17.00. The exhibition runs from January 24th to March 23rd.
Damage: Adults 80 SEK, Seniors and Students 60 SEK, under-18s free. The ticket is valid all day!
Click here for more information about the gallery, the artists and the works of art.
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During our Christmas giveaways we asked our readers to give us their recommendations on their most favourite fika - here are a few of our favourites. Enjoy!
If you’ve recovered from all that Christmas baking and feel ready to get back into the kitchen we’ve included links to all the fika recipes, so why not take a chance and see if you can compare with the treats from your local konditori. Click on the links for the recipes!
Perhaps the classic Swedish fika choice, sticky and full of delicious cinnamon, usually topped with sprinkles of pearl sugar. Great from the shops but even better if you make your own – the house will be filled with delightful scents!
This concoction of pastry and cream is usually associated with Lent, Shrove Tuesday in particular. It’s a cardamom-spiced bun that is split and then filled with a milk-and-almond paste, then gobs of whipped cream.
A blend of butter, eggs, sugar and shredded coconut these little bite-sized treats are sometimes topped with melted chocolate – which I highly recommend. They’re very sweet so lashings of tea go well with this one.
Not for the faint of heart, this is the sort of cake where you don’t ask questions. Sugar, chocolate, butter, more chocolate, cream … it’s decadent and delicious. And the ‘daim’ is exactly what you think it is: bits of that crunchy toffee sweet lifting this cake a bit above the rest.
These are my personal favourites and the first fika biscuit I ever tasted upon arriving in Sweden. These were also my second, third, fourth,fifth … well, you get the picture. The slightly chewy base topped with creamy filling all covered with a hard chocolate shell – what’s not to love? Eat them at your peril, though, as they’re highly addictive.
Judi Lembke is an experienced journalist who, when she’s not shackled to her computer, enjoys reading, cooking and sometimes watching embarrassingly bad reality TV. Judi also works with communications and thinks coming up with clever ideas is about as much fun as one can have without taking off one’s clothes.
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