So many superlatives for a nation's second city!

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June 18th 2014
Published: April 17th 2018
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So, today's chapter happens to focus on Western Sweden, and more specifically the city of Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, and home to a fair few vital reference points. The city's superlatives which the title refers too happen to be the fact that this is the location of Scandinavia's largest shopping mall (Nordstan), largest amusement park (Liseberg), and Sweden's largest student population. You are probably getting the message already that this is a city with a fair degree of youthful zest, and the wealth of attractions crammed herein warrant a purchase of a 'Gothenburg city card', which is a passport to a plethora of museums and tourist-oriented activities, not to mention a means of getting around endlessly by public transport within the ticket's valid time frame. On the public transport theme, trams here are king, and you'd be wise to familiarize yourself with the city's extensive tram network before negotiating your node-to-node itinerary in Gothenburg. Heading river-wards from the central train station, you'll come across an area known as Lilla Bommen, and in the immediate vicinity thereof, are a few key reference points in terms of local attractions, namely the 'Maritimen' collection of ships and vessels, and a building known to locals as the 'lipstick building', constructed in 1989, and a red-and-white coloured tower which offers substantial city views from the 22nd floor. The aforementioned amusement complex that is Liseberg is a collection of attractions clustered together, one of which must surely rank as Europe's newest rollercoaster, Helix, which is a 2-minute gutpunching experience not for the fainthearted. Around the corner from Liseberg are two city museums of note, though it is worth pointing out that the 'Museum of World Cultures' would benefit greatly from fitting its title more internationally, as well as packing in a greater collection of exhibits into its sizeable premises. Next door is the Universeum museum, and, by way of contrast, the way in which this represents animal, plant life and space exploration is impressive in its execution, and a worthy addition to the ranks of Europe's premiermost museum experiences. Gothenburg is home of the Volvo car, and what finer way to portray this identity than to have a museum dedicated to the history of that automobile and all of the innovations which the company has been responsible for. A short distance further down the same stretch of coast is an off-shore island containing a tourist attraction known as the New Alvsborg fortress, and the guided tour which accompanies the island visit adds splashes of colour and depth to the proceedings. The city's main thoroughfare is known to the locals as 'Avenyn', and is as much of a smaller-scale comparison of the Champs-Elysees in Paris as the way in which Gothenburg itself has somehow been referred to as 'Little London'. Nonetheless, the street is not without its charms, and along one of the side streets, the Moon Thai restaurant has wacky Thai decor so striking and colourful that the flavour of the dishes served up only adds to the enjoyable nature of the experience. A long weekend in Gothenburg is the absolute minimum time frame which you should sample the city's attractions in, and I'm pretty certain that exploration further afield in the region would yield experiences which collectively add weight to the statement that in Gothenburg, we're clearly dealing with a place which justifies its place among the ranks of the continent's most pleasantly liveable cities.

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