Flying into Gothenburg we flew over frozen lakes and green forests, a scenery quite spectacular in its own right. Touching down, we had one of the fastest exits from an airport ever, from landing, to customs, to outside the airport and on to the bus to the city… all up about 15 minutes and we didn’t stop in a queue once. Think this may JUST have beaten our speedy exit from Quito airport a few years back! A new record ;-)
The airport bus was a quick 20minute drive down motorways lined with forests, lakes, charming lake houses and frozen waterfalls suspended down cliffs. And yet it was sunny! It was a crystal clear, sunny winter’s day – we even had to get out our sunglasses. Ten minutes into the city limits we arrived at the central train station and it was a mere 5 minute walk to our hotel, the Scandic Crown.
We spent the following three days exploring Gothenburg on foot , walking all around the city several times over. At first glance the city appears quite big but we managed to explore quite a bit and it feels much smaller as you get ‘the lay of
the land’! Though we didn’t end up using any public transport except the airport bus, there was loads of it on hand – and with trams and electric buses the city’s public transport is quite uniquely silent! The city has a variety of architecture in every street, but is overall a charming and very clean place to visit.
On Saturday we walked from our hotel, through the main street of Avenyn and surrounds where Bunny managed to buy a top and then over to Saluhallen (which was supposed to be full of great market eateries but unfortunately was mostly closed for renovations) and stopped at a restaurant/bar called Tranquilo which was very eclectic and trendy but you could picture it perfectly transplanted on to a sunny beach somewhere. Here the price of pints hit Martin hard – paid equivalent of £5.80 for a pint! Ouch! Drink drunk we moved on and wandered down leafy Nya Allen and found ourselves in what was to be our favourite area of Gothenburg, Haga. Haga is delightful and full of timber buildings, eclectically out of place with the rest of Gothenburg but there is a distinct charm to the area. After this it
was a coffee in a Kiwi and Aussie owned coffee bar, Bar Doppio, on Linnegattan.
Gothenburg is a trendy city; there are two universities so it’s full of young people. Coffee shops and people watching are so ingrained in the culture of the city that wooden benches are built on to the outside of most coffee houses with piles of blankets so that urban voyeurism can continue throughout the cold winter months ;-) There are so many interior design stores that I think we mentally outfitted about 10 imaginary houses while there with all the cool furnishings in the shops! And when we stopped to peruse the offerings in a real estate window (Kristi is addicted to this anywhere we go… “what can we afford here compared to our flat in London or our house in NZ??”) every interior photo, no matter the price of the property, seemed to be very stylishly outfitted.
We had an early-ish dinner that night in a cosy Italian restaurant off Kaserntorgetand then after a pit stop to a local store for Martin to find new beers on offer, we found ourselves in the street to be showered with literally 30 seconds of
snow before sadly, it stopped again! Ho-Hum... we had gotten so excited at the prospect of snow!
The following day was Sunday, another bright sunny winter’s day and a lot of the city, including restaurants, seemed to be closed. We went to Nordstan Shopping Centre, said to be Sweden’s largest shopping centre but it was dwarfed by our local Westfield Mall in Shepherds Bush. We had fun perusing clothes and interior design stores again and stopped into the Tourist Information Centre to see whether there might be a half day tour into the surrounding countryside we could do on the Monday…. Only to find that Gothenburg must be one of the few places in the world which operates zero such tours! It was suggested we could hire a car, but we didn’t really have the time or inclination. We wandered back up to Haga as we really wanted to try a ‘Semla’ – a traditional pastry we’d been spotting in every coffee shop or pattiserie we walked past. We found a really cute little café and sat outside with coffees and Semla, looking like real locals ;-) The Semla, a cardamom spiced bun with almond paste centre and topped
with whipped cream which was quite simply fabulous – no wonder they’re so popular!! We moved over to the Linne area where we stopped in a pub for a drink where Martin decided that at £6.60 for half a pint he’d only have the one ;-) Sweden is expensive; though most things are only a bit more than London if you go to supermarkets rather than 7-Elevens, etc and compare restaurants, some things are just way over priced and beer in a pub seemed to be one of those things. Ironically the beer in liquor shops was ridiculously cheap…. Back to the hotel for a siesta, we then realised that we really had to go find dinner since so many places were closed already or shut very early on a Sunday. Gothenburg is littered with sushi shops which made us very happy, so with a craving for sushi we headed out… only to find deserted streets at only about 9pm on a Sunday night. It was quite eerie how deserted the central city was! Finally Martin spotted the bright lights of a small Japanese restaurant called ‘Yammy’ where we completely over-ordered and over-indulged in some really great fresh Japanese sushi
and noodle dishes – yum!
Monday dawned a bit more grey, after a very long and chilled breakfast at the hotel, the hotel kindly gave us a late checkout as we didn’t fly until later that night. We considered going to a movie but the cinemas didn’t seem to have any daytime showings. We really wanted some traditional Swedish food, so many of the restaurants seeming to be Japanese, Italian, etc. So found another Tourist info centre up near the Saluhallen who directed us to a small café she said ‘was very local with traditional Swedish home cooking’. Sounded perfect! It was a traditional café with all local patrons which we enjoyed – know it’s got to be good! So we both had traditional Swedish lunches including meatballs and lingonberry jam and people watched out the window. The weather had packed in a bit and was a mixture of some snow and rain but we were warm in our cosy Swedish café! Very soon it was time to change back our left over currency (we actually had Krona left over!) and head back to the hotel for our bags and catch the airport bus.
It was a great
trip, Gothenburg has a real charm, and it’s an ideal place for a 3 day weekend as we personally don’t think you need much longer than that, especially if you don’t have a car. Though the city does have a lot of parks and the streets are wide and lined with trees so it must be a whole other place in the summer sunshine! Kept thinking how different it must look! Thanks for the great weekend Sweden….
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