Saturday, October 07, 2006

Day 9 - Drifting Through Copenhagen

October 7th, 2006 by Teresa

Seems a though I caught a Scandinavian sniffle in the past week. It is bound to happen – too many time zones, lots of flights, cold weather, and strange beds. So today was an easy day. I did not wake up at the crack of dawn and rush out to meet the day.

I got up and strolled through Copenhagen, took a leisurely boat tour, and explored the shopping areas. That is where I met a bunch of crazy guys who are creating a 1000 Kisses from Copenhagen canvas. It is great! They are looking for 1000 different women who are willing to kiss a canvas for charity. It is really cool and I would love to do something like this in San Francisco, but I don’t think I can pull it off. Us Americans are very afraid of germs.

Watch the video of the guys doing this fun project!

The sun set, and I enjoyed a relaxing, yet chilly dinner at Skipper Kroen (Nyhan 27 1051 Kobenhavn K). It was okay, more about the location than the food. After dinner I walked home and now it’s 10:00 pm and I am getting ready to take a hot bath.

Tomorrow I plan on exploring Chistianashavn, the hippy enclave from the 70’s. Then I am meeting a Tango Diva member for lunch! I am really excited to finally meet someone who I have been e-mail with for the past year! I fly to Berlin at 5:00 pm Saturday night. I love Berlin – it is one of my favorite destinations in the world!!

Day 8 - Denmark Dash

October 6th, 2006 by Teresa

I woke up, rolled over and thought of Sting. Then, I had a quick sauna (because I could!) and went downstairs to take a tour of the rest of The Grand Hotel. WOW! Okay, I got to visit the Nobel Room – the room that all the Nobel Peace Winners have slept in since 1901. And, then I stood and waved from the balcony where all the Nobel Peace Prize winners have waved. What an amazing experience – I LOVE OSLO!

After waving, my friend Andrew picked me up and took me to lunch by the Nobel Peace Centre. We strolled by the fjord and visited the Nobel Peace Centre. It is so wonderful being in a buiding that is dedicated to education and peace. They had a great postcard that said “give peas a chance” and it was a postcard with a bunch of peas, I am sending it to Patti because she has been telling the same stupid pea joke for the past 20 years, she will appreciate the card.

Oslo is a great city to visit – public transportation is easy and everyone is so darn nice! I would rather spend time in a smaller town with lost of great people than visit a tourist Mecca filled with rude people. So, Oslo is my new favorite destination.

I arrived in Copenhagen at 5:00 pm and took the train into the city – which was quite easy, but the ticket guy was pretty rude. Something that I have not experienced on this trip yet. I am staying at the Admiral Hotel, which is in the Royal area of Copenhagen and nestled between the Queen’s residence and the canal where the new opera house resides. The hotel was built in 1787 as the royal granary. It really is a beautiful building – not like the Grand, more like a butch beautiful, you know? The rooms are the smallest so far on my trip, but that is okay - my view is incredible!

I enjoyed dinner at SALT, the famous restaurant in the hotel. There, I met a lovely gentleman who runs a large banking company in Europe and we spent the evening talking business, travel, and money. We strolled down to a lovely little pub on Nyhavan where we listened to two guys from New York sing Jim Croce and James Taylor songs. The day was great, but I am getting tired.

Day 7 - A Magical Oslo Experience

October 6th, 2006 by Teresa

Siri, the amazing hotel manager at The Grand Hotel has set me up with a day of pampering. This day is much needed after all the flights and time changes I have gone through. First stop is Beauty Lounge. With Linda Johansen. She does do private sessions on the Ladie’s floor at the Grand Hotel, but today I am going to her salon and getting the Super Star treatment.

Linda is gorgeous - both inside and out. I walk into the Beauty Salon and she greets me with a big, warm smile and we start chatting immediately – like old friends who have not seen each other in years.

Check out my video interview with Linda and her philosophy about life. I am about to get a facial that is done by two therapists. One will be working on my face, while the other will be beautifying my feet – which need all the attention they can get, since I have not had a pedicure since I went to the Dominican Republic!

Two hours later, I float out of the salon, with glowing skin and happy feet. The fabulous therapist who worked on my face said that her goal is that everyone leaves the Beauty Lounge glowing. Well, mission accomplished!

My next stop was Dragonfly, a walk-in day Asian day spa. I could not find a cab, so Linda’s boyfriend kindly drove me to my next appointment. (I love Norwegians!) Walking into Dragonfly is like walking into an Asian spa in the heart of China. Granite steps guide you across still water lit by floating candles. Soft music plays, and everyone is dressed in comfy robes.

The story behind Dragonfly is great. The two partners love getting massages, and when they were in China, they would go to Dragonfly to get massages. They loved Dragonfly so much that they brought the franchise to Norway!

My first treatment is a full body massage. I doze in and out and before I know it, it is over. I then am moved to the cozy seats around the water, two therapists come to my rescue. One rubs my shoulders and head and the other massages my feet. If I die right now, it is okay – I am already in heaven. If you come to Oslo, for work or play, you need to stop by before you do anything else! They have a whole menu of massages, including a jetlag massage! And you can just walk in! No appointment needed.

My body feels great, and it is an easy walk back to my hotel where I check into the Millennial Suite. AKA the rock star suite!! The suite is a private penthouse apartment that is home for all the famous people who come to Oslo. I am sleeping in the same bed as Sting and Oprah! It has its own sauna, Jacuzzi bathtub, two bathrooms, a dining table for 10, fireplace, bar, walk in closet, balcony, living room, and Bose stereo system.

The room goes for over $3,000 US a night and is well worth it if you were on tour and wanted a safe, quiet mansion away from your mansion. What a treat! Watch my video of the room. Oh, I got so excited when I saw the room; I confused a few of my facts. This in not the room where the Nobel Peace Prize winners stay, that is a different room. My bad!

The night was jammed packed with more fun! Siri invited me to a private launch party for an up and coming Norwegian singer, Kristin Asbjørnsen. We went to BLÅ, a cool club in the trendy art area of Oslo, where Kristin sang old American slave songs. Her band included Jostein Ansnes (guitars, lap steel, vocals), Jarle Bernhoft (basses, guitars, vocals) and Knut Aalefjær (perc). Her voice is angelic, and I found myself swaying to her songs, while I was filled with gratefulness for such an extraordinary life. It really was a magical experience. After the concert, a few of us went out to another bar, on the way I went to 7-11 and got a hotdog. I know, I was starving. Back in the hotel, I took a sauna, hot tub bath and fell asleep and dreamt that I was a rock star.

Take a tour of my sweet suite!

Diplomat Hotel Details

October 4th, 2006 by Teresa

Here are more details about my home away from home, the Diplomat Hotel in Stockholm:

Smart, witty and sophisticated Hotel Diplomat is located at the hub of Stockholm’s shopping and cultural district and offers modern care in an international atmosphere.

Family owned Hotel Diplomat has 129 individually decorated rooms in one of Stockholm’s classic Art Deco buildings. Family Malmström’s personal care and touch has transformed the building into a flag ship hotel offering the spoiled guest, used to the highest standards, everything he would wish for.

“Today’s hotel guest expects more than just a bed to sleep in. Staying in a hotel should be both inspirational and encourage wellbeing”, says Anna Cappelen, forth generation of the Malmström family. “To meet these requirements we have hired one of Sweden’s top Architects,” continues Anna Cappelen, Partner and Vice President of Hotel Diplomat.

Internationally renewed architect Per Öberg lies behind the recently completed renovation. A design that brilliantly combines the classical features of the Art Deco building, with influences of today’s modern life-style. “After the renovation Hotel Diplomat is definitely Four-star PLUS, says Per Öberg. Currently Per Öberg is involved in the complete renovation of the Sloane Square Hotel in central London. Other merits include Hotel Adlon in Berlin, Park Hotel Quellenhof, Aachen in Germany, exclusive Sturebadet Spa in Stockholm and restaurant Aqua in Saltsjöbaden.

Framing sweeping views of Stockholm and Nybroviken Hotel Diplomat’s 129 rooms still feature the original ceiling stucco. The large Art Deco windows allow daylight to light up therooms and the Per Öberg designed furniture encourage well-being. Most rooms have beds from Dux and textiles inspired by the 50ies from Ljungbergs. Hi tech is apparent and each room is equipped with flat screens and internet connection. The bathrooms have all luxury amenities including marble flooring and body products from FACE STOCKHOLM. Frequent guests find the bathrobe with their name embroidered and business traveling women receive special Ladies kit with exclusive spa products.

T/BAR is the widely popular meeting place for the young as well as the older Stockholm crowd. The modern interior with marble flooring and large panorama windows facing fashionable Strandvägen makes T/BAR the place to be, and be seen. The restaurant is open all day. Guests get to dine on a large breakfast buffet. Lunching guests enjoy well-balanced healthy meals as well as the hotel’s classic Club Sandwich and Caesar’s salad. In the afternoon Diplomat Hotel’s own blend, among a large tea selection is served for Afternoon tea. Late afternoon the business crowd meets for after-work and champagne flutes swing high. A la Carte dining in the evenings offers gourmet adventures and can be rounded off with a latte or a carpirinia. Summer time T/BAR opens its outdoor restaurant serving seasonal dishes. This summer the new Riviera Lounge on Strandvägen brings you the atmosphere ofLa Côte d*Azur.

The Mezzanine floor hosts the Cocktail Bar and the Lounge. The Cocktail Bar is a real hideaway for those in the know. Bar Man Clas Ryrstam who has been mixing drinks to the hotel’s guest for over 30 years serves a large selection of cocktails. Frequent guests appreciate the somewhat calmer and less noisy atmosphere the Cocktail bar offers.

Quality of life is vital to Hotel Diplomat. Twice a week there is yoga in the Lounge. Guest can also borrow a bike, or an Ipod to bring along on the excursion or for company in the nearby jogging tracks. Even the minibar is filled with wellbeing, offering smoothies, Aloha Vera shots, health bars and oven baked crisps. SPA treatments at neighbour Strandvägsklinken is easily booked through hotel reception.

For almost 90 years the Malmström name has been connected to the building on Strandvägen 7c. In 1918, the family bought the beautiful Art Deco building constructed in 1907.Originally each of the six floors consisted of two large apartments. During the 30ies depression forced many tenants to move, and several foreign Embassies were attracted to the Art Deco building on Strandvägen. The Rumanian, Iranian and Canadian were tenants during many years. The apartments not hosting Embassies were reconstructed and turned into hotel rooms. During the 40ies, 50ies and 60ies well known Strandvägspensionatet was run on the first floor. 1966 present owner Sune Malmström got the idea to turn the whole building into a modern and unique first class hotel. Sune Malmström also renamed the hotel to Hotel Diplomat.

Hotel Diplomat is part of the Diplomat Hotels Group. Hotel Diplomat Åregården, Diplomat Ski Lodge, Bakfickan and nightclub Country Club, all well established names in Sweden’s well-know ski resort Åre, also belong to the Diplomat Hotels Group.

Watch an interview with Hotel Diplomat’s Anna Cappelen, third generation owner of the hotel.

Hotel Diplomat
Strandvägen 7c
Box 14059 Tel + 46 8 459 68 00
SE- 104 40 Stockholm Fax +46 8 459 68 20
Hotel Diplomat Åregården & Diplomat SkiLodge
Box 6 Tel + 46 647 178 00
SE-830 13 Åre Fax + 46 647 179 60

Day 6 - Jetting to Oslo, Norway

October 3rd, 2006 by Teresa

*This was written as I went about my day*

Day 6 – Jetting to Oslo

11:00 am: Today is my last day in Stockholm and I head to Oslo via Copenhagen at 1:00 pm. I spent the morning exploring Gamla Stan (Old City). It is a cozy little area tucked up next to the royal palace. It is a tiny neighborhood that looks like it popped out of the pages of a fairy tale. All the buildings are pristinely kept, painted in darling shades of yellow and orange. The narrow walkways are all lined in cobblestone and colorful flowers decorate many of the window that look down on the quiet walkways.

The streets are lined with antique shops, cafes, and trendy clothing boutiques. It is a must when you come to Stockholm. Mind you, it is not where any of the locals go – much like Fisherman’s Warf or Universal Studios. It’s just a historic part of town that is filled with a splendid past and rich colors.

It’s 5:00 pm now and I have been in transit for 6 hours and it sucks. A direct flight to Oslo is a mere 1 and a bit, but I was invited to Oslo at the last minute – after I booked my flight to Copenhagen. If I was smart, I would have cancelled that ticket and flow directly to Oslo from Copenhagen. The time I have wasted today is worth more than my $75 ticket from Stockholm to Copenhagen. Oh well, live and learn.

Another thing I just learned is that I should not have wasted my time once I could have checked in. I waited and waited for Norwegian Air to start checking people is, I decide to get a horrible airport lunch, then all of a sudden the Norwegian check is has a line out the back! Damnit!

They have a Priority Pass VIP section after security. I am a member and I could have been hanging out here for $20 eating all the sandwiches, and drinking all the beer I could consume in my 3-hour layover.

I am committed to doing my due diligence before I visit a destination, but I really don’t ever think about researching an airport before I go – they all seem so much alike. But, I am very wrong about this, and will make sure to find out about where I land from now on. Had I known what I know now I would have:

1. Found a direct flight to Oslo from Stockholm, if I did that, I would have just cancelled my flight from Stockholm to Copenhagen and just called it a wash.
2. If I could not do that, then I would have been the first in line at the check in, I would not have eaten a tasteless lunch of chicken pasta salad and a beer that cost me $20, nor would I have spent $20 more dollars on Internet access for 3 hours.
3. I would have gone from the check in directly to the Priority Pass lounge, paid my $20 and ate and drank all that I wanted to behind the safety of the VIP lounge.

It’s now 10:00 pm and I am safely tucked into my AWESOME hotel room at the Grand Hotel in Oslo. My room is the Inger Ellen Nicolaisen "The Creator’s room"

Inger Ellen Nicolaisen is a famous business entrepreneur. She is the founder of NIKITA chain. Ms Inger Ellen Nicolaisen has been awarded businesswoman of the year in 2002 among many other prestigious awards. How cool is that!? I had a lovely quiet dinner alone in the Henry Ibsen café.

This hotel is quite impressive! Not only do they have amazing original art through the wide hallways, they have been hosting the Nobel Peace Prize dinner since December 10th, 1901! Oh, if these walls could talk.

Okay darlings, I am off to sleep in my thousand count cotton sheets after my hot bath in L’Occitane bubble bath. Ah, heaven.

Watch my impromptu video footage of my room.

Day 5 - Jet Lagged

October 3rd, 2006 by Teresa

Anyone who tells me that jet lag can be avoided or is all in the mind can kiss my sleepy ass. I am beat! While it’s 3:30 pm here in Scandinavia, it is 6:30 am in California. “Hello! No one told my body that my mind was in charge for the next 2 ½ weeks.” So, today I succumbed to slumber.

My day started when my body decided to wake up, which was 10:00 am. I was too tired to go downstairs for breakfast, so I raided the mini bar. The rest of my day was spent in my room, checking e-mails, managing work commitments, writing, and taking baths. I took three baths by the time I fell asleep in a cloud of pillows and comforters at 9:00 pm.

When I was done with work stuff, I rented a movie. I chose “Last Holiday” with Queen Latifa. Even though the movie is kinda stupid, it has a very powerful message. The message is, “Go live girls! Don’t wait for the right moment, or when you have enough money, or the perfect boyfriend, or when your friends can go. Just jet – go live before someone might tell you that are going to die in 3 weeks.”

After the movie, I went downstairs for a yummy bowl of crawfish soup, I watched as women on their horses rode by and men on their bike peddled home. It was just what I needed, warm soup and a relaxing day to recuperate from all the excitement for the last few days. Back in my room, I took my third and final bath for the day. I wrapped myself in one of Hotel Diplomat’s cozy robes and I went to bed.

I leave for Oslo in the morning.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Day 4 - Holy Torpedo!

October 2nd, 2006 by Teresa

Tango Diva Sweden Navy Torpedo boatWhen I planned European adventure, I set my intention to experience serendipitous magic. You know, meeting the right people at the right time, getting invited to special events, and being introduced to fabulous locals. So far, that is what this trip has been about, every corner I turn, I meet someone spectacular!

So, over champagne a few nights ago, Liza and I were invited to take a day trip in the King’s navy torpedo boat. Let me see – a boat filled with Swedish sailor and friends of the King, lunch on a private island in the Swedish archipelago, and a drive through the Swedish countryside? Oh yeah! I am going!!

For one day of the year, all the different Royal Clubs of Sweden are invited to attend various events throughout the country. The torpedo boat ride was for guests of the King who were members of the Air force, Navy, or a diplomat. Yup! A boat filled with Consulate Generals and Ambassadors! (I love my life!).

I’ll shut up and let you watch the videos of my amazing day! That is the best thing about traveling solo, others want to take care of you and show you a great time. One more person is a lot easier to handle than a whole group of travelers.

Here is a video of the boat in action.

Here is a video of the private island we arrived on and where we enjoyed our impressive lunch.

Day 3 – A Diva’s Day in Stockholm

October 2nd, 2006 by Teresa

Nina Cockoo Stockholm Tango DIvaI was tired of seeing video with my bad hair, I can’t look at my big forehead again! So I took action and booked a “day of beauty - Stockholm style.” First, I went to VITA and got my hair cut. At last, my big forehead is hidden under my hair. Next I went and bought a pair of rubber-soled boot from a shop near by and then I headed to Filippa K to buy a pair of killer jeans that I was eying for the past two days.

After all that shopping and styling, I needed a massage. Hotel Diplomat arranged my massage at the best day spa in Stockholm – Strand Vagen Femton. It happens to be a half block down from my hotel on Strandvagen (Avenue). As a connoisseur of massages, I am pretty picky, and honestly, I have never been a fan of Swedish massages. So, I did not have high expectations of my treatment. The person who imported Swedish massages to the US obviously never got a massage by Susanne Blohme. She is amazing! And my Swedish massage was one of the best massages I have had in my life (and I’ve had plenty!). She would find a tight spot and work on it until it would relax, before I knew it, my 55 minutes were over and I floated back to my hotel room.

For dinner, I wanted to eat at a favorite spot for locals. I can easily find the hot spots for tourist, but it’s the local gems that make my travels so fabulous. Liza knew the place for dinner. The restaurant is owned by Nina Von Krusenstierna, a true Stockholm Diva. She founded Café Opera and has been a player of the Stockholm social scene for the past 20 years. If you want to know someone with connections, Nina is your go-to Diva! She shares a story about a little girl who was asked what she wanted to be when she grows up, the little girl answered, “I want to be Nina! She walks into her restaurant, tells people what to do, has a glass of champagne, and then leaves!”

Her restaurant Cuckoo is located around a mile from my hotel on Artllerigatan 56 (08-62- 35 62). You can get there via taxi pretty easily. It is in the heart of a gorgeous residential neighborhood. All the guests are beautiful and the food is wonderful. Of course, everything is in Swedish, so you might want to check out what others are eating before you order. I had yummy fish soup and a cheese platter. I was back in my hotel room by 1:00 am.

Day 2 “How Long Are You?”

September 30th, 2006 by Teresa

Teresa and Liza Tango Diva StockholmI rolled out of bed at 1:00 pm today. Not too sure if I should blame the jetlag or those crazy apple martinis slash champagne cocktails. I’m sticking with jetlag. The day was spent going through 200 e-mails and rehydrating. It was Liza’s birthday and she invited me to a private birthday party at her best friend’s home. What a fabulous invitation! A meal in a Swedish home! And not any ol’ Swede. Her best friend is also a countess, actually related to the man who shot Gustav III at the Masked Ball (remember I just went to see that opera two weeks ago!).

The dinner party included Liza, her best friend and countess/hostess, a gorgeous Ugandan friend from Oslo, and a darling male family friend who has seven children by a few different women. What an impressive line up!

Everyone was so kind and they all tried really hard to speak basic English during the evening. I must admit, some spoke better English than others. While they did their best to keep the conversation on international topics and culture, things quickly went down hill when the wrong English word was used accidentally.

Let me set the scene….

We are all chatting lightly about our families, and the older gentleman looks over to the big, beautiful black man and says, “So, how long are you?” Now, everyone else is trying to figure out what he means… “How TALL are you? How OLD are you?” or maybe “How long have you been here?” Whatever he meant, I started laughing, while trying to explain what was so funny. Once explain, everyone started laughing and we just could not stop. For the rest of the night, we would look over to the big, beautiful black Ugandan and ask, “So, how LONG are you?”

After dinner, Liza and I explored Stockholm. First she took me to P.A. & Co. at Riddargatan, 114 35 Stockholm. It’s a chic bar that is always packed with Stockholm’s finest. If you want to see a bar full of Swedish models, theis is the place to go! We closed the bar down and then headed over to the Opera Café, which is a nightclub connected to the opera. But the only drama that’s going on in there is love gone wrong or too many Absolut vodka shots.

Once again, home at some ridiculous hour and ready to tackle my next day of fun!

Check out the hotel that I am staying at, it is pretty darn nice!
Hotel Diplomat.