We arrived in Göthenburg by train from Malmo and found the tram to our AirBnB, right outside the central station. The trams are quaint retro style rattlers painted cream and light blue, quite charming as they trundle around the city and it reminded us of Melbourne, bringing on a touch of nostalgia. Two stops later we arrived at our accommodation which was at the upper end of the budget allowance, in honour of Cath’s birthday. It had looked great in the AirBnB pictures, however in reality, it was more mundane and three floors up with no lift!
The good news was that we were close to the town centre and naturally we were keen to explore. In our immediate vicinity we found the Partille Cup International youth’s handball titles were on. Wow! What a crowd and a game. Apparently 40 nations were taking part and the number of kids in the streets wearing their team colours were proof. We wandered through the playing fields, admiring the players skills, before continuing along Söndra Vägen and through Kungsparken, which is simply beautiful.
The Kungsparken is situated beside one of Göthenburg’s numerous canals and consists of wide expanses of lawn dotted with huge trees. It is very relaxing and there were many groups and couples, taking advantage of the warm weather. That was another surprising thing about the city. The weather was warm and sunny, t-shirts and shorts were deriguer, we were glad we had changed from our Malmo uniform of jeans and jackets before adventuring.
We meandered towards the city, past the Stora Teatern, where an amazing exhibition of what Ian referred to as unfinished basket weaving; has to be seen to be believed. We crossed over the Kungsportsbron and sauntered through downtown via Östra Larmgartan, where cafes lined the streets, teeming with people enjoying the weather, wine and food.
Having found our bearings in the city we had a quick stop to organise a public transport card at the Pressbyrån, a 7-11 like kiosk that can be found all over the city. The 3 day cards are really great for short term stays and we would no longer need to worry about having change in our pockets for tickets. Have you read the Travel Guide to Sweden?
Of course there was a stopover at yet another supermarket and our new found favourite shop, Systembolaget.
Ian had promised to cook dinner for the
birthday girl Princess and as we were on a pretty tight budget, we had a couple of wines at home before the cooking commenced. Now, Cath has never been a shrinking violet and before long was giving tips to the chef which may have ended with Cath completing the cooking and Ian opening another bottle!
We haven’t watched a lot of T.V. since the beginning of our trip, for many reasons one of which has been a lack of English language programs. It has been refreshing and we have read a lot of books but sometimes a binge watch on the couch is required and this night was it. The AirBnB was well equipped with AppleTV,and so with a little bit of playing around the computer was connected to the TV and we binged on the Handmaids Tale. Heaven!
If you are a return reader of our Travel Tales, you will be getting used to reading about our Hobbit like existence of late mornings and second breakfast, our second day in Gothenburg was no exception. So when we were finally ready to leave the house it was almost lunchtime, which in this part of the world is not an issue, as the days are so long.
We enjoyed a stroll along the main canal, soaking up the Vitamin D, although with not quite as much fervour as some of the locals (we kept our shirts on), before turning back up the hill toward the University. The parkland and gardens are delightful in summer, filled with huge old trees and pretty flower gardens. Gothenburg appears to have quite an arty side, there are many sculptures and pieces of art in the streets and parks.
The “old city” of Gothenburg is the Haga area, which is filled with wooden houses, arty shops, cafes and restaurants. The perfect place to enjoy the Swedish custom, Fika. Cath had, as ever, done some research about 2 of her favourite subjects, food and coffee. And she had found out about Fika, at Cafe Husaren, where they serve the world’s largest cinnamon buns. Now if you have been to Sweden you will know they love a cinnamon bun, but this was crazy, so crazy that we shared one between the two of us and still needed to walk it off. The Cafe Husaren, is not only the maker of huge buns but a gorgeous period building, with friendly staff and good coffee (not an easy find in the North).
The wooden buildings are painted in pretty pastel colours and are such a change from the stone and concrete buildings in the city area. One of the interesting aspects of the buildings is that the timber boards are vertical rather than the horizontal weatherboards of Australia. Must have to do with snow….
Having completed our walk around the Haga area but still needing to ameliorate the effects of that ginormous bun, we crossed over the canal to check out the last remnants of the old city wall, the Carolus Rex and take some panoramic shots of the city from the top, then descended some stairs to see the Feskekörka, or Fish Church, an indoor fish market which has been going since 1874. It proved to be one of those places whose reputation vastly exceeds the reality, so we made a hasty exit and sauntered home via the canal side and through the park once again. The handball competition was still in full flight as we passed and we stopped to observe a couple of games, where we came to the conclusion that Cath’s local netball team could probably use some of the height and ball skills on display. Perhaps we could have a recruiting trip to Sweden?
On our last full day in Göthenburg, we caught the tram out to Saltholmen, the site of possibly the largest marina, or should we say marinas we have seen. It seems as though everyone in Sweden must have a boat moored there!
The tram ride was a pleasant half an hour and gave us the opportunity to see traditional Swedish housing and tiny summer houses, with accompanying tiny gardens surrounding them. Should we be lucky enough to go back to Gothenburg, a day of wandering in the streets along tram line No. 11 will be called for.
We caught the ferry to Brännö, which is one of the largest islands in the Gothenburg Archipelago. The ferry ticket was included in our 3 day pass, making it an easy and cheap way to see the archipelago. It was a pleasant, if short, trip and we wandered around the island admiring the many holiday homes with their quaint painted letterboxes, pretty rose filled gardens and numerous flagpoles. It seems nationalism is alive and well there…. We decided against a swim, unlike the group of school kids who had been following us. That water would be mighty chilly, you would imagine.
It was quite a warm afternoon when not out on a ferry and we were in need of some nourishment, so we stopped at the pub on the corner near our apartment. And again payed a large amount of money for an ok meal and a so-so white wine. Poor Ian really wanted meatballs but they were only on the kids menu, which he felt a little mature for; he was disturbed to see the table of 5 adults next to us being served with the same dish.
We completed our last day in Gothenburg with another home cooked meal and a little bit more binge watching before getting ready for the next stage of the trip.
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