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An Afternoon At Vasastaden: Absolutely Sublime!

For those who enjoy luxuriating in the aesthetics that feed all your senses, Sankt Eriksplan is a delight not to be missed. A popular square of expensive residential in Vasastaden named after King Erik IX, the patron saint of Stockholm, the Plaza’s main street Rörstrandsgatan is cramped with many shops and restaurants, with the Philadelphia Church renowned for its frequent concerts.

Yet if you have only one afternoon to spare this summer, make it eternally sublime with these Your Living City suggested gems:

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Begin your day indulging in a unified gastronomic experience at Portal at Sankt Eriksplan 1. Run by Klas Lindberg, the other half of the duo who served up the Nobel Banquet at Stockholm City Hall in 2014 – after attaining Swedish Chef of the Year and a Gold Medal in the Culinary Olympics, as a member of Swedish National Culinary Team in 2012. The restaurant serves up uncomplicated seasonal food with clear tastes and quality ingredients sometimes sourced from Lindberg’s own garden; all wonderfully elevated effortlessly by great drink pairings sourced from across the world.

The new modern take on the traditional local bistro serves classic comfort food with Nordic and French twists; with its grilled seafood, tender meats and homegrown vegetables superbly executed technically to bring out extremely well balanced flavors; all without setting your wallet back considerably.

The elegance with which its uncomplicated dishes are beautifully presented reflects the restaurant’s essence – light resplendently floods through an extensive expanse of wall to ceiling windows into an interior of marble, brass and Rosdala Glassworks’ lighting infused with the subtly greyish tones of modern Scandinavia. Yet the interior remains friendly and casual, personifying its willingness to listen to your dietary preferences.

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After the leisurely lunch at Portal, stroll along to Bonniers Konsthall at Torsgatan 19 to just as serenely soak in edgy quality revolving exhibitions of Swedish and international contemporary art. Currently running till 20 August is its ANOTHER SIDE OF THE SHIFT and GRANT RECIPIENTS 2016: MARIA BONNIER DAHLIN FOUNDATION (MBDF).

After an hour or so at this hip and cool ultra modern gallery, visually feasting on this duet focus on Swedish artists who have exhibited historically from the 1940s to 80s and by up-and-coming Jasmin Daryani and Hilde Retzlaff given the most recent MBDF grants, you will gleefully glean cherished nuggets of insight into the issues that have motivated the artistic breakthroughs embraced by this Nordic nation’s highly prized art makers.

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Crossing the road on which the Kontsthall sits brings you into the magical woodlands covering the extensive Vasaparken lying between the squares Odenplan and Sankt Eriksplan. Named after the Royal Vasa Dynasty, the ever so serene park offers shady respite from the heat of the summer sun as you wander through its endless walkways charmingly fringed by lush greenery.

In nooks cleverly hidden by the vast shrubbery are wooden park benches. Sit and soak in the tranquility even more prized by your subconscious realization that the natural alcoves are effectively shielding you from the hustle and bustle of central Stockholm. A tranquility that can sometimes be heightened by the soothing summer sounds of stringed instruments played by entertainers hired to amuse the city’s retired in the heart of this parkland.

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Nestled in Vasaparken is the Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum on Eastmansvägen 10. Named after Sven-Harry Karlsson, a highly successful Swedish builder, recipient of the 2004 Murmasters’ Honorary Medal and the 2007 Housing Foundation Ekkronan’s Great Housing Award, and an avid art collector since the mid 1960s, the museum was built by Karlsson to give his extensive private acquisition of masterpieces by Scadinavian artists, like Carl Fredrik Hill, Helen Schjerfbeck, Ernst Josephson, August Strindberg and Ylva Ogland, the public viewing and enjoyment they indisputably deserve.

Opened in March 2011, the spectacularly contemporary building with a gleaming brass facade displays some of these works at any one time through a series of rotating exhibitions. The focus till 13 August is on Anders Zorn’s watercolours, etchings and paintings collected privately and by the Zorn Museum. Renowned as a Painters’ Painter, Zorn’s powerful and sensual, serious and voluptuous, quotidian and exclusive art continues to deliver a peaceful settling of your soul already heightened by your earlier hiatus amongst Vasaparken’s floral and fleeting glimpses of colourful birds and butterflies in breezy flight.

Yet the enchantment Karlsson weaves continues beyond the art gallery the Kontsmuseum houses. On its roof is an exact interior replica of his former home – the 18th century manor Ekholmsnäs Farm in Kyrkviken on Lidingö, amazingly replete with furniture by Gio Ponti and Georg Haupt, and carpets by Märta Måås-Fjetterström to complement the Hills, Josephsons, Strindbergs, Schjerfbecks and Oglands hanging on the internal walls as a framework for the museum’s permanent exhibition.

The unique opportunity to view this crowning glory is further exceeded by wandering along the roof terrace surrounding all sides of the replica – one quintessentially punctuated by the changing parade of gigantic abstract sculptures Karlsson selects from his growing collection to stand like sentinels at the terrace’s edge; over which you get a fantastic outlook of Vasastaden peeking over the leafy canopy covering Vasaparken.

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To cap your afternoon, sip on some fabulous high quality cocktails at Erlands on Gästrikegatan 1; listening to soothing background jazz once popularly played from the 1940s in an ambience to suit, and friendly wait staff quaintly dressing and talking ever so truly to those very decades.

The small vintage antique store style café and cocktail bar’s 1950s-and-60s outfitted bartender happily customizes his cocktails to suit your preferences – just let him in on the flavours you like. You will never be disappointed by his specially tailored-for-you concoctions. Even the cocktail adverse will be wholeheartedly converted.

 

Photo credits: Bonniers Konsthall, www.visitstockholm.com, www.steriksplanstandhaslsa.se, stadstradgardsbloggen.blogspot.com, Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum

About Wai Lin Coultas

Wai Lin Coultas
Wai Lin is a Singaporean married to an Australian. Besides being mad about putting her own twists and fusions into recipes from diverse continents, she spends her time writing and subbing for an Aussie newspaper as well as covering the contemporary arts scene in Singapore as a gallery docent and online reviewer. She and her hubby love Stockholm's exciting arts and culture, along with the food and wine it offers.

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