Edit Blog Post
Published: June 12th 2017
Geo: 57.7072, 11.9668
Our cruise included one port of call outside of Norway, and it was the second largest city in Sweden, located on the western coast of the East Sea. I'd seen multiple spellings for the city while reading ahead of the trip, but was most surprised to learn that the Swedes pronounce the name as "Yur-ta-burry." I had perhaps too much fun repeating this throughout the day in my best imitation of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. As we ate breakfast, we watched our arrival into an industrial area of the city, filled with factories and oil storage tanks. We later learned this was the "Port of Scandinavia" and, not surprisingly, it is the largest seaport in Scandinavia. We could not see the city from our dock, and later learned that cruise ships are too tall to pass under the main bridge into town, forcing us hence to the industrial port. Interestingly enough, we docked directly in front of the headquarters for Volvo Corporation, and the dock was full of new cars and trucks ready to be shipped around the world. Also immediately across from the dock was the Volvo Museum, which I visited at the end of the
day before we left.
We booked a city bus-and-boat tour and really no idea what to expect for the day. To date, Stavanger was the largest town we'd visited, and while large, Goeteborg was by no means huge. MSC books tours in pretty much any language, based on demand, and it turns out the English speakers were insufficient in number to book a full bus, so we were assigned to a half-Italian, half-English tour. We had two guides, who took turns providing narration in each respective language. The Italian guide started to manipulate the time, and it was fun to watch our guide get more assertive as the day went on and only reluctantly hand the microphone over to the Italian guide.
The shipbuilding heritage of the town was evident everywhere we went, including a beautiful Lutheran Church, the inside of which was essentially an upside-down wooden Viking ship. While the day had started out bright and sunny, as the afternoon drew on, clouds rolled in. No rain, but grey and cool.
After a lengthy bus tour we boarded an open boat and took a tour -- this time with three guides (German, English, and Italian) -- through the canals of the city,
and out into the harbor. The city was built by the Swedish king (Jan, Swen, or something like...) with the assistance of the Dutch, and as such it has a very Amsterdam-like feeling to it. Our favorite part of the tour was passing beneath the lowest bridge, which was the final gateway before entering the harbor. It necessitated that everyone, literally, get out of their seats, onto the their knees, and lower their head as we only had a few inches of clearance. I'll attach the video so you can see.
The bus tour then continued, but at its conclusion, rather then go directly back to the ship, we got off a the opera house for lunch and to look around. The cruise line was offering shuttles to and from the ship throughout the day, so we took advantage of already being downtown. It is a beautiful and imminently livable city. We found and enjoyed an excellent lunch --- which included Swedish meatballs, of course -- and Anna commented over and over how much she liked the town and asked "why can't American cities look like this." She loved all the pedestrians, bikes, and outdoor cafes. We, unfortunately, had no answer
to her question, but she informed us that she could easily move to Goeteborg. Asked about the language barrier, she answered: "Seriously dad, EVERYONE speaks English."
Once back at the pier, I visited the Volvo Museum, which was really interesting I must admit. I was able to glob on to a tour being given to a large group of "Chinese VIPs." As we reached the end of the tour, I realized why. Volvo was recently sold to a large Chinese car company, and I guess there is now a steady stream of Chinese officials visiting the factory complex. They said that the majority of Volvos are manufactured right there in Goeteborg, with a large number in Belgium as well. Plans are underway to open factories in China, however, for the Asian market.
Tot: 0.043s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 12; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0081s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb