stockholm-restaurant

My Top 5 Restaurants in Stockholm, Sweden

I have been meaning to write this up for some time now but now I have come to it.  I wanted to write up what I consider are the best 5 restaurants in Stockholm that do not cost an arm and a leg to eat at.  These are not listed in any particular order.  These are my own personal opinions so feel free to disagree and add your own recommendations below.

Raw Sushi & Grill

Address: Rorstrandgatan 9, Stockholm 113 40
Phone: +46 8 30 96 80
Website: http://www.raw.se/

This is a little sushi bar in Stockholm delivering some artful and flavorful dishes.  Sake and Japanese beer rap it off. If you are looking for more authentic Japanese food and atmosphere to boot you will enjoy this.

Linguini

Address: Frejgatan 48, Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 31 49 15
Website: None Sadly

This restaurant has mixed reviews, but I have quite enjoyed every time I have been there.  It is small and romantic and really delivers a different experience than you would expect of other Stockholm eateries.  Good service, pleasant atmosphere and amazing pasta dishes.

Pelikan

Address:  Blekingegatan 40, Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 55 60 90 92 (bookings)
Website: http://www.pelikan.se/

Swedish cuisine and a good reflection of what it is all about.  This is a busy restaurant so make use of the number above for bookings.  If you are early they will invite you to the bar where the experience can start.  Expect a good Swedish eatery and to be pleasantly surprised.

Hermitage

Address:  Stora Nygatan 11, Stockholm, Sweden
Phone:  +46 8 41 19 500
Website:  None Sadly

I have chosen this one because it is where I go whenever I want a good vegetarian.  It will easily prove that vegetarian food can be amazingly tasty.  This is a vibrant but relaxed and cozy place with a pleasant atmosphere right in the center of Gamla Stan (Old Town).  A very globally eclectic set of vegetarian dishes so don’t come expecting something defined by Swedish food culture.

Le Baobab

Address:  Folkungatan 128, Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 644 94 94
Website: http://www.lebaobab.se/

An West African eatery bringing the traditionally warm welcome of Africa.  Great portions to food with flavors that make you want to come back and strong service standards that round off a pleasant experience.  With the owner on site most days they restaurant maintains high standards and polished processes.  Kids welcome.

a dude driving

Drivers Licenses in Sweden – Resources

As is the spirit with Xpats, I have recently been digging up English language resources to prepare for the Swedish driving test and I thought to share it with everyone.  Information can be put into two categories;  information on the process of getting the license and papers needed, and then there is a collection of information that is related to preparing to for the test itself.  Once you pass your tests and all is completed you will receive your license via mail in 5 working days.

The process:

  1.  In order to be able to get started you need to need to receive a körkortstillstånd which will last for 5 years.  This is a document which allows you to be a student of driving.  This does not mean that you can just jump into a car and practice driving, but rather that the government has allowed you to enroll in the courses needed to progress.  To order to apply for a körkortstillstånd for a standard vehicle follow this link (Swedish)  to apply online.  If you wear eyeglasses or are hard of hearing you will be required to have a doctor test you and return the information to the authorities.
  2. If you want to practice driving you can either do with another private person who fulfills the requirements or you can enroll in a school where they will help you prepare for the test.
    1. If you want a private instructor, you and your instructor my pay to attend a course together.  Before you can take the course the mentor must apply to be your mentor.  This can be done online here.   Contact a driving school for more details once you have this paper in your possession and find out about when you can take the course.
    2. Private schools should be able to start immediately upon seeing your körkortstillstånd.
  3. Before you are eligible to sit either the theoretical or practical driving test, you will need to have completed both parts of what is called “Risk Education”.   You can take these in either order and more information on them both can be found here.  Below is a quick summary.
    1. Part one is teaches you about the risks of risky driving behavior.  This includes everything from driving at excessive speeds to covering the effects of drugs and alcohol on driving.  This usually costs about 400 SEK for a 2-3 hour course and is held all driving schools.  If you are interested in finding a school in English you should probably contact some of the bigger schools in the city center.  Small tip: If you have decent basic Swedish that will be enough to complete the course.
    2. Part two is by far the more fun part and focuses on how to drive on roads in special weather conditions – this is also known as the “ice-driving test” for good reason.  It is also 3 hours long and costs just over 1000 SEK in most places.
  4. Once you have completed all the practice you need and have completed the risk training you are eligible to take the theoretical test and driving test.  Note that as of 2009, you must successfully complete both tests within a 2 month period or you will need to take them both again.
    1. In order to be able to sign up for the test online you will first need to order a personal pin code from https://fp.vv.se/Aspirantcode/ which they will then mail to you.
    2. Once you have this code go to http://www.trafikverket.se/Privat/Korkortsprov/Boka-prov-for-korkort/ and use that code information to log in and book your tests.  You will be able to book your test in a number of languages including English.

Practice Resources:

There are a few resources online if you want some quick answers but they are in Swedish.  Google translate is your friend.  If you know of more, please send them over.

Additional Resources:

 

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Before I moved to Sweden from California via the Czech Republic, I was told that the Northern European countries are very similar to American countries and are thus easy to integrate into. I guess the logic there is that America is primarily influenced by Europe. But as I found out, integrating was a lot harder than I thought. Sweden is very, well, Swedish! Something my girlfriend, who is from Sweden, tried to tell me. I looked for months for a job without luck and when I did find one it really sucked. My savings ran out and I was living on credit cards. I ultimately ended up starting a website to write about people like myself and pass along what advice I had gathered and have even encouraged friends to do the same.

How I used It:

To become an webmaster, of course, I needed a website to grow into multiple websites down the road. And, of course, if one needs a website, one needs a hosting package. After checking GoDaddy, HostGator, and a slew of other hosts, I found MyHosting.com – a no-frills, purist package that was offering me exactly what I needed for a price I was happy with paying. It was very easy to sign up and to create and transfer a domain name.

My package, a personal website and email package, came equipped with added security, a free goMobi mobile website builder, monitoring, a large backup database, and more. The live support was great in helping me get my ducks in a row. The builder was a breeze to operate. I basically just played drag-and-drop until I had a professional-looking website. Overall, the integration was seamless.  I had everything I needed to build a site and get going.

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Things cost different depending on what you purchase. My package was around $7/month for a three-year deal, but with the promotional code I was able to get it down to under $4/month! That’s going from around $250 to $140! And that’s with extra features I chose apart from the house package. Huge savings.

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Kai Eng

“The Prayer” – Kai Eng – Stockholm 2012

Kai Eng“The Prayer” is a performance piece with existentialist questions at its heart. Why are we here and why should we continue existing? How can we be cheerful, when we have discovered the terrible secret that life is meaningless? The quest to find the answers results in a performance piece that is dark, desperate, and funny. Choreography and performance by Kai Eng, music and photos by Martin Eklund.

Venue:

Balettakademien, Birger Jarlsgatan 70, Stockholm

Date/time:

Sat 31 March, 19:00
Sun 1 April, 16:00

Tickets:

140 kr
Students and pensioners 80 kr

To reserve tickets: http://www.folkuniversitetet.se/Skolor/Balettakademien-dansskolor/Balettakademien-Stockholm/Scen-Studio-Fyra/Kai-Eng-the-prayer/.  [Update:  This link has since expired but to see what else is happening and what you can purchase tickets for, go to http://www.folkuniversitetet.se/Skolor/Balettakademien-dansskolor/Balettakademien-Stockholm/Scen-Studio-Fyra/]

The Prayer

cold-winter-day-sweden

Winters Away – Escaping the Cold

Cold Winter day in Sweden

It is that time of year again when everyone takes a good cold look at where we live, and start planning that time away somewhere warm. A couple of my friends have given me some ideas that I would like to share for those looking for an excuse or a destination. I will start with the excuse first.

Cape Town, South Africa:

Quality EnglishCape Town is a wonderful place for a vacation but also a great place to study. Cape Town is home to great English language schools like Quality English Interlink in Cape Town which provide for a great break from the Swedish winter, but also give a great opportunity for studying English and secure a better foundation in the language for employment or a university education abroad.

Argentina:

PinamarArgentina is a great get-away if you want to have a bit of the city and a bit of the beach. Buenos Aires is an amazing city filled with small restaurants, allies to explore and culture and recent history to add to the flavor. If you want to plan in some time at the beach, board one of the luxury coaches with fully reclining seats and head to the small resort town of Pinamar. This town is home to a beautiful pine forest that has grown into the white sand dunes that are just back from the beach. The sand roads lined with luxury villa rentals make a wonderful break from the snow back at home.

It is worth saying again, that the food and the coffee of this country are worth the trip regardless of what else you do there. It is very easy to get to with an easy 12 hour flight from Madrid and a palate for adventure.

Sydney Australia:

Dawes Point Park SydneyNothing beats welcome the New Year coming from the Sydney Harbor with fireworks filling your view as you lie back on a beach towel in Dawes Point Park beneath the bridge. The warm climate, the even warmer people make for a stress free vacation.

The locals, with the visitors flocking after them, head to Bondi Beach for what they call a Sun burnt Christmas.  The sound of waves and the smell of surf really adds memory to your Christmas day.

Dinners along the harbor overlooking Opera House or a casual Christmas cruise full of turkey and Christmas pudding would be a distraction to what your family and friends have to endure in the Northern hemisphere.

Stockholm Kids Gröna Lund

Weekends in Stockholm

Stockholm Kids Gröna LundAnother fall weekend is nearly upon us and I wanted to write a post with suggestions of fun thing to do on the weekend in Stockholm.

Brunch:

Brunch is a classic in North America and I don’t feel that many people take advantage of brunch spots in the Stockholm area.  If you are looking for reviews of brunch restaurants in Stockholm, a group of expats have recently started a blog that reviews different brunch locations – find it at brunchstockholm.se.  I have recently asked the guys behind the site to start adding information about the family friendliness of the place.

Swimming:

There are some great swimming pools in the Stockholm area and a number of them have adventure sections for families.  If you live in Northern Stockholm, then my favorite is the community pool in Bro.  It is usually fairly quite, it has 2 slides, a big shallow children’s pool furnished with palm trees and water spouts and is great for kids of all ages – including babies.  Simple meals for kids and refreshments are available outside of the pool area.  Entrance for 2 adults and 2 kids is about 100 SEK. Another pool that is perhaps more modern and other components that are missing from the pool in Bro is located in Upplands Väsby.   It is more expensive as the pool is private, but is a good alternative for those who do not want to take that far of a drive out of town.  Note: If you know of other pools, please contact meso I can add them to this post.

Kunliga Djurgården:

There is a lot to do down on Djurgården with kids of all ages and most are easy to walk between.  Everything from the amusement parks of Junibacken and Gröna Lund to the museums of Skansen (open air) and Moderna museet(the modern museum) can entertain a family in full.  If I were being perfectly honest, it seems that Stockholm lacks a little in these kinds of things to do with kids in Stockholm; it always seems that when we have guests come and visit, we generally hit the same spots for lack of other options.

Looking forward to the Summertime – The Sunny Outdoors:

Probably one of the most popular Swedish activities is being outside when the weather permits, and one of the best places to enjoy this weather is at one of the open air restaurants.  Visit Stockholm has a good list as does ArrivalGuides for Göteborg [Gothenborg] If you have other things that could contribute to this list, please leave them in the comments below, or write me using the contact form so I can update this post.

leadership

Motivational Leadership – My Take

leadershipI have been thinking a lot about motivation and how leaders can motivate employees.  It is inherent that if you are a good leader, then you will be a good motivator.  Maybe I should be writing about leadership and the lack there of it in the workplace where we have managers leading teams.  This is perhaps about as good as an idea as hiring a blind bus driver to take your kids to school.

I guess what is most important to note is that in putting managers in charge we are doing damage – making leaders from managers who believe they are engaged but in fact are the only ones excluded from the conversation questioning their methods.

Don’t worry, the team will not revolt because they feel like they are herded in the wrong direction, but instead look for ways, albeit quietly, to leave the team either mentally or physically.  The news flash here is that the team with not revolt because they are not really your team.  I see it everywhere, and perhaps by writing about it, it gives me a chance to understand it better and help others identify solutions.

It is actually quite sad to believe that a person working so hard is actually causing damage to the team.  These managers do work very hard.  It is what has gotten them to the position they are in and oftentimes that is irrefutable.  An issue arises when it comes to that little extra that makes a manager a leader, that something, that feeling of how to engage with people they fail – like baking bread with dead yeast.  You can try and try, but it fails because of something you cannot fully control.

What makes a leader?

Leaders are a special breed of people – more an honest friend than anything else.  An honest friend is one who I can trust the opinion of; someone who is going to tell me how they feel, give me equal ownership of the friendship, and someone that by choice I want to befriend.

This issue of trust is paramount.  How can we be friends with someone we are unable not trust?  If we do not know the person, their functional logic, the drivers, then there is no way we are able to believe them and follow their leadership.  To be a leader means to generate true friendships from those we lead, to bridge the gap between out-of-work life and work-life.

A leader must be overt and should not lurk in the shadows; a smile once and while is not a personality, and is no way a replacement for one.  A slap on the back at the wrong time is a slap in the face.  Individual outgoing actions without an outgoing attitude breed distrust.

I hear feedback all the time from friends that work all over the world – people complaining about their bosses.  Once a while you will hear about a boss that is loved and they are only loved because they are seen as a person who cares.  This is the take home point everyone.  You have to be seen as someone who cares.

How do we fix this?

If you are an employee, I would not even try.  You would only end up hurting yourself.

If you are a manager, you need to think more about how you are perceived.  As you worked your way up the organization you were perceived as the hard-working and that is what put you where you are today.  Now that you are the leader of a team, you need to change the way the people you lead see you.  You need to become an honest friend and start genuinely investing yourself in your employees.  You have to become overt, share who you really are so that employees can start to see you and understand what drives you.  If you show your motivators, it will encourage the team to show theirs and drive them.  Motivation is an internal driving force and not an external one, just as trust is something that is internal and can never be imposed on someone.

Update: N.B.  This post is not about any one individual or organization and should not be interpreted as an assessment on an individual’s management style.  It is all a combination of theory an personal feeling.

tele2 Sweden

Dear Tele2

tele2 SwedenDear Tele2,

I write this open letter to explain why it is that I have chosen to end my subscription at Tele2. It is also to educate those who are about to sign up with Tele2 so they know what to expect from point of sale to customer service.

I would have sent this email via an email service if only I was given an email address when I asked your customer service agent for it. I was instead told that even if I did successfully research the name of the person responsible for the customer service department, they would not read my email. I was offered a physical email address to send a penned letter too, but I have chosen this option instead.

A few weeks ago:

A few weeks ago I dropped off my phone for service at your Täby, Stockholm store. It was going to be sent to Anovo, a company that does your repairs for you. Once I dropped it off, I asked for a phone to loan from Tele2 as this was one of the sales gimmicks the Tele2 representative gave me when I purchased the phone. I remember being told that I should just bring the phone back to us if it was to break during the warranty period and Tele2 will give you a phone to loan. Of course there was no such option when I dropped by phone off.

Then it became very interesting. I was asked for my mobile phone number by the Tele2 representative so they could send me an SMS when my phone was available for pickup. I explained that I will not have a phone under this period as no replacement could be provided by Tele2 [I am only upset about this part because your salesman clearly lied just to sell a phone]. I asked if email could be used, and the answer was strongly no. The irony was the person was using the computer right in front of them to log all this information.

Once all this paperwork was done, I was given a tracking number whereby I could track the progress online on Anovo’s website – I did this avidly as having my phone available to me was very important and thus important to get back. I think this company really understands that it is an inconvenience to be away from your phone, and so makes it easy to do follow up.

A few days ago:

Once I could see that the service had been completed, I contacted Tele2 customer service to continue my follow up on the status of the shipment and to see if I could come and pick up the phone. Remember that email could not be used, and that the SMS being sent would never be received because I had no phone. I was calling to ask for a phone number to get in touch with the store so I could see if the phone had come in. I was actually told that there was no way to get in touch with the Täby Tel2 store. Of course this was not true – otherwise how could the store be in touch with the company.

It was at this point that I was told to write a letter, not email, to make a complaint. Since sending snail mail into a black hole is far less fun than posting an open letter on the Internet, I hope others get to read this and reconsider doing business with Tele2.

My take:

Remember that you are in the business of serving customers a phone service, and not just chasing another phone subscription. Rude customer service agents with quick and smart answers are not the best doormen of an organization. Poor self-serving processes breed open letters on the Internet.

Boston Marriage Flyer

BOSTON MARRIAGE by David Mamet @ SEST

Boston Marriage FlyerI was contacted by SEST (The Stockholm English Speaking Theatre) and shown a they will be performing, and I wanted to share with my fellow Stockholm expats out there. Please share if you are going, and what you thought should you see it. SEST also has a Facebook fan page which I encourage you to Like ;-) UPDATE:  I was just advised that a new website was set up for SEST and can be found at http://www.sestcompany.com/

The Play:

SEST invites you to an evening of love, betrayal and chintz in David Mamet’s witty comedy Boston Marriage.

Set in the Boston area at the beginning of the 20th century, the play explores the relationship between Anna and Claire, two old friends and sometimes lovers and their Scottish maid Catherine who is fresh off the boat. Anna has just become the mistress to a wealthy old man and Claire returns to her house after a period of a§1bsence to reveal shocking news of her own…

Dripping with double entendres and word play we present you with a most tragic comedy, delivered through quick, witty Victorian-era dialogue.

Welcome!

The Details:

Dates: 20-23/5 2011 7pm and 26-29/5 2011 7pm
Tickets: tickster.com or email sest.company@gmail.com
Actors Kristina Leon, Helena Lewin and Ingela Lundh
Director Samuele Caldognetto
The play is performed in English

About SEST:

SEST was founded in 2010 by Samuele Caldognetto, Italian director, actor and dramatist educated in Milan, Kristina Leon, actor trained in London at the Central School of Speech and Drama and Ingela Lundh, actor also trained in London at East 15 Acting School.Our first production was ‘4.48 Psychosis’ by Sarah Kane, which was performed to critical acclaim at TeaterVerket in September 2010.

The company’s aim and desire is to produce a variety of distinguished and thought-provoking plays and to provide Stockholm with theatre of the highest standard in the English language. In so doing we also wish to contribute to international communication across cultures through the art of the theatre, one that is accessible to everyone. Our aim is to reach out to a wide audience of Swedes, native English Speakers and other nationalities where English is the second language.

Updated on 05-06-2011:  Updated to add the new website details for SEST.

Black Friday

Poker’s Black Friday

Black FridayBlack Friday came a little over a week ago.

Under the Bush Jr. administration gambling with the use of a credit card was outlawed,  but a number of online poker and casino companies continued a newly illegal practice of allowing Americans to use their credit cards to gamble.  Here is the new related to black Friday

Last week a number of poker rooms had their domain names seized, and the FBI issued arrest warrants for the CEOs of the companies and for a number of influential people who work within them.  No one knows what is going to happen in this industry.

Flashback:

I used to live in the United States and being a poor lad I headed home after working long hours at a job.  After walking the dog I usually sat down and played a free hand of poker at PokerStars, or played real money blackjack.  I always stayed with the card games, because it was those I could really control and enjoyed the passive crowd of people online rather than having them in my living room.  I was happy in that mode.  One hand on a cold bud, and the other on a warm money hungry mouse.

I have never gotten into online gambling in Sweden.  I play the lotto and wait for the “ingen vinst” at the cashier every time I turn in my ticket to see if I have won.  It is either that or trading in scratched lotto tickets.

I guess I feel for those who in the US are having their betting companies get pulled out from under them. I would have been upset if someone took that chance from me.  I would be annoyed if the chance for me to waste my money on a lottery card was removed by my government or if I wanted to play poker or casino in Sweden.  To the people who this has affected, I understand your pain and I watch with eager eyes to see if this is the end of a campaign against your version of an online game.

The English Speaking Swedish Community – For all expats in Sweden