Roger wants show me the restaurant which is listed with three Michelin stars. The entry is wonderful: a golden wall with a desk where there is a Hostess. Roger introduces me as a food and wine journalist, and so she leaves us the menu printed on parchment. We then enter the lobby and he tells me that Madonna, when she comes to Stockholm, stays in this hotel.
The Grand Hotel was founded by Jean-François Régis Cadier in 1872 and inaugurated on 14 June 1874, the same day as the Grand Hotel in Oslo. All the Scandinavian capitals have a great hotel called ‘Grand Hotel’. In Stockholm it is located near the National Museum and in front of Rea Palace. In addition to Madonna, it has hosted the winners of the Nobel Prize and their families since 1901.
Before we leave Roger takes two umbrellas. Despite the clear weather, it is expected to rain in the afternoon, but he also tells me that it might be a good souvenir! I appreciate his intentions, but it is a souvenir that is rather cumbersome. Returning to celebrities, we go to Berns Asiatiska, a restaurant among the oldest in Stockholm and with good acoustics. They are usually quite important when hosting concerts for celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna. There is also the possibility to hold photographic exhibitions.
While I wait for Roger to speak with the person who is in charge about events, I read curiously, the history. It was founded in 1863, and as the name suggests the restaurant is Asian. Then reading the menu it has sashimi, dim sum and steamed Thai dumplings. But the thing that makes it different from other Asian restaurants is that it was the first Chinese restaurant in Sweden. It was the beginning of Chinese and Asian ethnicity in Sweden. Though the food is exotic, the former ballroom is of a rococo style built in 1863 and beautifully restored with a pleasant terrace overlooking the Park Berzelii.
The next destination is Berns Bukowskis Mart, a store of renowned in the field of antiques. Displayed in the window is a collection of furniture dating back to Ingrid Bergman one can admire. In front of Bukowskis there is a globe in honor of Raoul Wallenberg Isaac, who is the one who helped Jews escape from Nazi concentration camps.
Just this year, August 4th, marks the 100th anniversary of his birth. He is an iconic figure for the Jewish communities, Sweden, and for all humanity. The United States Congress gave Wallenberg honorary American citizenship in 1981, the second person to be so honored, the first being Winston Churchill.
Wallenberg’s rescue missions began in 1943, when Peter Bergson (real name: Hillel Kook) a young activist Jew in New York, led an effort to mobilize public opinion and pressure the Roosevelt administration to end the Holocaust and to take measures to save Jews from the Nazi genocide. Ads ran in newspapers and were supplemented with demonstrations. With these, Bergson was able to rally support from political leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as many public figures.
Wallenberg studied architecture at the University of Michigan in 1930, only to discover that when he returned to work in architecture in Sweden, the degree he earned did not qualify. So, between 1935 and 1936, he was a banker in Haifa, where he met the Jews who had fled Hitler’s Germany. Their stories had a lasting impact on him.
He later took a position with an import-export company owned by Koloman Lauer, a Hungarian Jew. In this way, he could travel between France and Germany. These experiences and his well-developed language skills gave him insights into German bureaucracy that informed his next mission in Hungary. According to a mission called the War Refugee Board, Sweden was trying to save the Jews in Hungary, which Wallenberg participated in with great courage and daring. By January 1945, he had saved tens of thousands of Jews. It was also the point when the Hungarian Nazis noticed what he was doing. He did not hide but continued to live in Sweden until he was arrested by Russian forces on January 17, 1945. This monument is just one of the many works and statues dedicated to him.
As Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” I continue to follow the yellow (in this case) red brick road, which leads directly to the Synagogue. From here one can see the Royal Theatre of Dramatic Arts on the opposite side of the square. When I first came to Stockholm, I was full of concern, but now it appears more interesting thanks to the golden statues that serve as guardians and the children who are between the stairs enjoying a little sun.
Kungliga Dramatiske Teatern is in front of the sidewalk with flags of bright colors, pea green, orange, blue and hot pink! The Swedes commonly call it Dramaten, and the Swedish National Theatre. It is the birthplace of the Swedish theater since 1908. Founded in 1788 by King Gustav III, in the art-nouveau style, his ambition was to “establish a national stage, where the works of Swedish playwrights were asked to express their language, taste and traditional costumes.”
Famous actors have performed here, and of course, Ingmar Bergman. In fact Ingmar Bergman debuted at Dramaten in 1951 with “Light in the Shack.” To honor the international actress, the Bergmanfestivalen, or the International Theatre Festival was dedicated to her in 2009.
The theater serves a couple of purposes, one to privilege the Swedish citizens; the other through festivals is an opportunity to learn about different cultures to satisfy the curiosity dell’etnico with new ideas and technology.
As I approached the theater my attention has been directed to a staircase where there is a dragon. , the building is the Hallwylska Museet. Past the stairs I see a garden with orange trees and architectural style with arabesque arches reminiscent of Spain rather than Sweden. The building was the house built for Count Hallwyl (hence the name) to his wife, Wilhelmina. It was created to house the headquarters of the count and the art collection of the Countess. While the exterior of the building and the court’s historic arabesque style is prominent, several Thracian architectural elements inspired by medieval and renaissance periods, similarly found in Venice are present.
Inside, however, was thoroughly modern. The Countess’s collections of works of art during his travels around the world are displayed here to establish the museum. The resulting significance of the collection prompted the building to be donated to the
Swedish state in 1920, ten years before his death. The Hallwyl Collection includes about 50,000 objects.
Roger continued to show me the hotels and the places where I could have an exhibition. After that, being passionate about fashion, Roger takes me to a shop where they sell little hats for women.