Restaurant Fem Små Hus

I had dinner with a Concierge colleague last week at the restaurant Fem Små Hus in the old town (Gamla Stan). I have been to this restaurant many times over the past twenty years and have, of course, written a blog article about it. However, as that article was written almost 7 years ago, it is time for an update!
Fem Små Hus is one of those restaurants that is very easy to recommend to visitors. Not only do they serve great quality, delicious Swedish cuisine (with a French twist) but they also have a beautiful, historic atmosphere. The name Fem Små Hus means "five small houses" and comes from the fact that the restaurant's seven vaulted cellars stretch out under five houses. The restaurant, as I mentioned, is located in Gamla Stan and restaurants have been found at this location since back in the 1600's when there was a restaurant run by a woman named Anna Lindberg (more about her later).
It is actually a relatively large restaurant though you would never know this as it is divided up between 7 vaulted cellar rooms connected by stairs and small hallways, giving diners an intimate feeling. This also makes Fem Små Hus a good restaurant if you are a smaller group as you can dine in your own room, making it a private dining experience. They have a nice bar as well on the street level with a great outdoor terrace during the warmer months.
The cuisine is Swedish with a touch of French and they have some favorite Swedish dishes like assorted herring, Toast Skagen, fillet of reindeer and moose carpaccio. We opted for one of their set three course menus called "Anna Lindberg", named after the entrepreneurial Swedish woman who had a restaurant here around 400 years ago. This menu consists of cured salmon (gravad lax) with a mustard sauce, followed by fillet of veal with a morel sauce and finally a terrine of chocolate with orange curd. It was all very delicious and paired with some great wines.
While Fem Små Hus is a large restaurant, I do recommend booking a table in advance... especially if you wish to dine there on a weekend. You can do this on their website or, if you are staying at the Hotel Rival, contact me directly for help. It is only a 20 minute walk there from the hotel, otherwise you have a couple of busses you can take or else it is a 5 minute taxi ride. The closest subway station is Gamla Stan (red and green lines). Click here for more restaurant reviews and click here for restaurants that serve Swedish cuisine.

Spring Art Exhibitions 2018

Mayo, Coups de Bâtons, 1937 © Mayo Bildupphovsrätt
From "Art et Liberté" at Moderna.
We have had a few sunny days now and the snow is starting to melt. Finally, and just in time for Easter! But keep in mind that Swedish spring is very fickle... rain, sun and snow all on the same day. It might be good to have some indoor activities planned just in case... like maybe visiting an art exhibit or two? Here are the major art exhibitions going on this season in Stockholm. Keep in mind that there are many smaller art galleries and museums not listed here. If you are staying at the Hotel Rival, contact me for information about these and more.

"Train in Heaven" by Peter Dahl at Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum
Photo: Lars Engelhardt, Waldemarsudde
If art isn't your cup of tea, Stockholm has many other museums covering all types of subjects like history, music, sports, military, natural history, technology and much more. Click here to find out more! 

Storage Lockers at the Central Train Station

Taking a little break from restaurants, stores and museums to pass on some more practical information. From time to time, I have been asked if there are storage facilities at the main train station, usually by hotel guests who might have an evening flight and want to spend the day in the downtown area after checking out, shopping before heading to the airport. In some cases, they would rather take their luggage with them and not have to go back to the hotel first before going to the airport. From the Central Train Station you can get to Arlanda airport with taxisArlanda Express, the commuter train or the airport bus.
Main and lower levels
So, the answer to the question is... yes, there are facilities at the train station where you can store luggage. I was invited to an event a few evenings ago and had been shopping in the city. I didn't have time to go home in between and decided that the best thing would be to store my loot in one of the luggage lockers at the station... and I thought that it would make a good "how to" blog article.
Machine where you pay for your locker
The Central Train Station is located in the downtown area, not far from the City Hall (Stadshuset). Not only is it the hub for all train traffic, you also have the main subway station (T-Centralen) underneath as well as the new commuter train station under the subway station. Adjacent to the train station you have the main bus station (Cityterminalen) where you have more long distance busses, including the ones to the different airports servicing Stockholm.
Larger lockers and...
They actually have storage lockers at several different points in the train and bus stations. but I used the ones on the floor under the main level of the train station, close to the subway station entrance. The storage lockers come in two different sizes: small (36cm x 44cm x 60cm) and large (46cm x 60cm x 85cm). According to the website, they do have even larger lockers at the bus station for items like "skis and golf bags". Besides the lockers, they also have luggage check for larger bags and personals ervice. This is located on the lower level, near the lockers I used. The manual luggage check is open each day between 9am and 6:30pm while you can access the lockers as long as the train station is open. Different parts of the station have different opening hours but, for example, the lower level is only closed from around 2am to 4am.
...smaller lockers
For the lockers, you can either choose to store them for max 4 hours (small- 60 SEK, large- 80 SEK) or 24 hours (small- 70 SEK, large- 90 SEK). For the manual bag check the cost is 120 SEK for 24 hours, max 7 days. There are machines at the lockers where you pay with either coins or credit card and they have instructions in several languages. After you pay, you receive a receipt with a code on it. Don't lose the receipt as you need the code to open your locker.
Or check in larger bags maunually.

The One Thing I Wouldn’t Travel Without

Some would say I’m a seasoned traveller. After 10+ years of actively exploring the world, during which I applied for three passports and set foot in 32 countries, I did pick up a few tricks along the way: don’t skimp on skincare, pack more shoes than you think you will need (a girl can never have too many shoes in her suitcase), and never leave the house without travel insurance.

While the majority of travellers are eager to plan out their itinerary, research hotels, and look up weather conditions, a recent TD Insurance survey found that more than one third of Canadians have forgotten to purchase travel insurance at least once before (37%) or say that it is the last thing they think of (36%).

And things get even worse as far as my generation is concerned: millennials would rather travel without travel insurance (55%) than without their smartphones (45%). Guys, your smartphone is not going to be of any help with a $15,000 hospital bill, you know that, right?

The bottom line, here, ladies and gentlemen, is the following: travel insurance is not something that should be overlooked.

Amongst other things I can’t travel without, here are 8 essentials items that are always by my side on my way to the airport.

travel insurance essentials


1. A sturdy suitcase

There’s no point in trying to be organized if all you’re leaving with is a distressed duffle bag, right? As in anything, having the right tools is a guaranteed recipe for success and this is why I’m highly partial to my Heys luggage. Made of a polycarbonate composite, each of the suitcases are ultra-light – the biggest one weighs just 10.8 lbs – and are also expandable. I also like that my fashionable, ombré Heys luggage has a built-in TSA Lock for maximum security, which means anyone that’s not technically supposed to have a peek inside my suitcase won’t. The 360° spinner wheels and the 5-year warranty are also musts, as is the hard shell that ensures my precious possessions won’t be damaged or destroyed in transit.

2. Mirrorless camera

I barely ever leave home without my beloved camera, the Olympus OM-D-EM10. My back could no longer stand the bulk and weight of carrying my reflex camera and lenses around all day. I wanted something light, powerful, simple to use, with changeable lenses and within my price range; in other words, I wanted the unicorn of travel photography. I also carry a 25mm lens and a 9-18 wide-angle lens.

3. Hand cream

Never underestimate the power of moisturizing on the plane. I always keep a tube of Aesop hand cream in my handbag that I apply whenever I feel my skin drying up (also, quite frankly, because I’m addicted to the smell).

4. Wallet and travel insurance

Obviously, I would never leave the house without my wallet, nevermind leave the country! But as I’ve mentioned before, travel insurance is often something travellers overlook, either because they can’t be bothered to subscribe to an annual travel insurance plan.

The unexpected always occurs at the worst of times, though, regardless of how far you go. Over a third of Canadians believe travel insurance offered through their credit card or their employer benefits plan is all they need but sometimes that simply isn’t extensive enough. For example, 43% of Canadians say it’s not important for them to have travel insurance when travelling to another province within Canada; but did you know that government health plans won’t cover certain emergency expenses like bringing loved ones to visit you in hospital, or returning you home if you get sick or injured, and may not cover ambulance rides?

Always validate the terms, benefits and duration of coverage of your actual plan and consider buying supplemental insurance if needed. For instance, through its annual plan, TD Insurance covers you for unlimited trips of 9, 17, 30 or 60 days throughout the year, making it convenient option for frequent travelers.


5. Noise-cancelling headphones

They not only cancel the screams of tired infants but they also dampen the noise of the plane itself. They’re life-savers for red-eye flights and long travel days!

6. Basic make-up kit
7. Perfume

It’s always a good idea to have perfume readily available when you travel, either because someone near you smells awful or simply because you’ve had a long, stressful travel day and you’ve become that person who smells awful. I recommend getting the solid version of your perfume, if available, as it won’t risk breaking in a thousand pieces during the trip.

8. Cashmere scarf

A scarf can be used to cover shoulders when visiting sensible buildings, as a pillow, as a tablecloth or a blanket. Or, you know, as an actual scarf when it’s chilly out.

Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by TD Insurance.

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Surfing Chronicles: Cokes

‘Cokes’ is one of the best surfing camps in North Malé Atoll. This world-renowned surfing spot in the Maldives is named after a Coca-Cola factory on the nearby island of Thulusdhoo.

By speedboat, Thulusdhoo is less than an hour and a half away from the main airport island, Velaanaa International Airport. The island is inhabited, with a population slightly over 800.

Guesthouse businesses boomed on the island thanks to the endless flow of surfers drawn to it by the allure of the Cokes surfing spot. In addition to Cokes, many other surfing breaks are accessible via Thulusdhoo. Two of these popular spots are Chickens and Jailbreaks.

Cokes is a surfing favourite because the reef there is really shallow. This causes some pretty impressive swells.

Surfers should be wary of the reef, especially during low tide.

Injuries inflicted by the sharp corals there will not end up well, so the more experienced you are, the better.

In fact, Cokes is recommended for advanced surfers.

Cokes is best experienced during a straight south swell with northwest winds, especially on mid to high tide. It’s easiest to avoid the strong current in the channel during high tide. The same rings true for Chickens.

The prime period of travel to Thulusdhoo and Cokes is March until October. The swells are at their peak in July and August.

Being a surfing hotspot, you’ll easily find several fellow surfers congregating there. They stay on Thulusdhoo, and head out to a tiny island that shares the lagoon to catch the waves; the island is accessible over a makeshift plank-bridge over shallow aquamarine water.

Thanks to the location of Cokes, the swells are consistent. It’s a highly recommended addition to the bucket-list of any surfing enthusiast.

Throw in the prospect of affordable guesthouses on Thulusdhoo, with its laidback rural life, and you can live a backpackers dream!

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