Ate lunch at Feskekorka (literally, the “fish church”)
Visited Nordstan Mall
Had a bowl of tomato soup at a cafe a block away from my hotel
Saw Jose Gonzalez in concert! (My reason for the whole trip!)
(Keep reading for some tips and observations about Gothenburg, Sweden.)
I first started listening to Jose Gonzalez’s music a few years ago. Bored with all my music, I asked my work husband, Paul, who I should be listening to and he said, “Jose Gonzalez.” I’ve been a fan ever since. His music has come to mean so much to me.
Being able to see an artist I admire perform live is something I appreciate. You can’t watch your favorite writers write, and unless your favorite actor happens to be in a play, you can’t watch them perform live, either. Music is amazing because you can actually watch an artist at work.
Also, Jose Gonzalez sings in English, so I was curious to see if he would address the audience in English or in Swedish. (Answer: in Swedish)
Tips and Observations about Gothenburg, Sweden, Day Two:
Hotel Royal provided the best free breakfast I’ve ever had at a hotel. I ate: homemade bread with nuts and berries, a piece of herring, two pieces of salmon with dill sauce, and yogurt topped with walnuts, cranberries, and seeds. Yum!
There is tons of public transportation available in Gothenburg. The city is also very bike friendly. There are bike lanes and public transit tracks everywhere. I was afraid to wear headphones while I was walking because I had a real fear of getting run over.
This is the first vacation I have ever taken alone. I wasn’t sure how I would like it. I felt lonely at times, but there are bonuses to traveling alone, too. I was able to do whatever I wanted, and change plans on a whim.
But … I forgot to take any pictures of myself in Sweden! In my only selfie, my face is blocked by a giant cinnamon roll (which you can see on my Instagram feed).
I didn’t know Sweden is famous for giant cinnamon rolls until I started planning this trip. The woman at Cafe Husaran suggested a quarter-size portion, but I declined. (Lady, don’t you know I need to Instagram this?)
Admission to the Gothenburg Museum of Art was only 400 Kronor (4 Euro). Once again, I appreciate Europe’s commitment to making art accessible to the general public. (In contrast, general admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is $25.)
I wanted oysters for lunch at Feskekorka, but they were too expensive. I settled on a much more reasonably-priced lunch of cold salmon + pasta salad + can of sparkling water, for the equivalent of 10 Euro.
Another sweeping generalization of Swedish people: They are really tall. I’m 5’9″ and am usually taller than most women. Not so in Sweden … I’d say I was on the shorter side of average there. I was so excited to be in the third row of the Jose Gonzalez concert, but then a monstrously tall woman sat in front of me. I let it irritate me more than I probably should have …
I am glad I brought my heaviest coat for the trip. The first day was mild, beautiful autumn weather. But, the second day was blustery cold and drizzling at times.
I don’t know if Nordstan Mall is always busy, but when I went on Friday afternoon, it was jam-packed, wall-to-wall people. I only stayed for half an hour and then I just couldn’t even.
While “hey” is a greeting English speakers use, it is pretty informal. “Hej” in Sweden seems to be used in more formal situations. It startled me every time someone greeted me with “hej” or “hej hej.” I would respond with hello, which was also my way of warning everyone: I AM AN ENGLISH SPEAKER. I AM ABOUT TO HIT YOU WITH SOME ENGLISH. I’ve commented on this before … it is amazing how many people in Europe speak English. Every person with whom I interacted in Sweden spoke English well.
I think I hit most of the major tourist attractions in Gothenburg in just two days. If I’d had more time, maybe I would have liked to take a boat trip out to sea. But I really do think two days was enough time there.
(Keep reading for tips and observations about my first day in Gothenburg, Sweden.)
Some tips and observations about Gothenburg, Sweden:
For my trip, I created a custom Google map following this tutorial. It really helped me visually lay out the city and plan what I wanted to do based on proximity. This is probably the only time I’ve been on vacation where I didn’t get lost once.
Getting into Gothenburg from Landvetter airport was super easy. I bought a round-trip ticket at a kiosk at the airport ($23 USD), walked outside, got on the bus, and it took off. The bus driver was the nicest bus driver I’ve ever met. (I’m used to Chicago bus drivers, who are a bit … salty.) My hotel, which was centrally located, was near the third stop (Kungsportsplaten).
Since I was only spending two nights in Gothenburg, I splurged on a nice hotel, Hotel Royal (which I highly recommend).
Other than gettting to/from the airport, I did not use public transportation. I traveled everywhere on foot.
I had read about a food truck that served Swedish meatballs near my hotel. I went to one that didn’t have meatballs, and was kindly directed to another one nearby.
During the bus ride from the airport, I saw a beautiful old church and cemetery, so I walked back to take pictures. (I realize I post a lot of church and cemetery pictures to this blog … I don’t consider myself particularly interested in either, but maybe I am? They’re easy to take good photos of, I guess.)
Liseberg amusement park is a main attraction in Gothenburg. It is only open during the summer, Halloween, and Christmas. So, I got lucky and was able to visit. I was hoping to see kids in costume (struck out … no one was dressed up). I wanted to visit the haunted house but I was too wimpy to go alone. 😦 Instead, I rode the ferris wheel. 🙂
I try to avoid making sweeping generalizations about groups of people. But, MY GOD, Swedish people are beautiful! (Imagine being surrounded by friendly super models, and you’ll know what my life was like for two days.) The man who waited on me at amusement park ticket office was the most beautiful man I have ever seen. I wanted to be like, “Sir, why do you work here? You are better looking than any movie star I can think of.”
I visited Myrorna, a thrift shop I had read about in an online travel guide. I had visions of finding beautiful Scandinavian items at a fraction of the cost, but Myrorna was like the Salvation Army back at home. I guess no matter where you are in the world, other people’s junk is just … other people’s junk. A woman made a comment to me in Swedish about the merchandise. I pretended I understood her and laughed along with her. 🙂
I later walked by a store called Flying Tiger Copenhagen and ended up buying an impromptu gift for someone. If I were to compare the store to one in the U.S., I’d say it was similar to Five Below.
I was feeling extremely full after my lunch of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and ligonberries. I’d made a reservation at a nice restaurant called Smaka in the hope of getting to eat reindeer (I had elk instead). I wasn’t feeling up to another heavy meal of meat and potatoes, but I am glad I made myself go. I had a really nice time. I re-read parts of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Myrorna was mentioned! Haha!) and enjoyed a nice meal alone. Elk is very mild. It almost has no flavor. My favorite part of the meal was the whipped butter with caviar that was brought out with my bread basket. Holy cow … I ate all of it (the butter, not the bread basket). I had heard that dining out in Sweden is super expensive, but the total cost for my meal (elk entree + a glass of wine + a tip) was about 320 Kronor (32 Euro), which I thought was reasonable. It was the fanciest meal I had during my trip.
Next week is our spring break and I am flying from Tirana, Albania to Rome and then on to Berlin! Which means … I am taking a week off from blogging. My next post will be Monday, April 17, 2017.
I am SO excited for vacation … spending time with friends, eating good food, and exploring two new (for me) countries in Western Europe.
In preparation for our trip to Rome, my brilliant friend Nicole (with whom I started a book club in Boston) suggested we read the same Rome-themed book beforehand, so we can have a mini “book club” discussion while we are on vacation. She suggested The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, since it is 1) short and 2) written by Tennessee Williams. Well, it is SO short I pretty much sneezed and finished the first half, and then sneezed again and finished the second half. I told Nicole that it’s “basically a pamphlet.” The story is about a wealthy widow who gets taken for a ride (quite literally, haha!) by a much younger, handsome, Italian man. As such, Nicole suggested we add the word “sexy” to the description. So, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone is a “sexy pamphlet.”
I finished listening to the podcast “S-Town” over last weekend. This brings my lifelong podcast count up to four. It was well done, though it felt a bit long at parts. The story follows a New York reporter as he pieces together the suicide aftermath of an eccentric Alabama man he had befriended.
I finished reading Girl at War, a fictional story about a young girl’s experience during the Croatian War. Living in Kosovo (which, along with Croatia and six other countries, used to be part of Yugoslavia), the story felt very real. As a foreigner living in the Balkans, I sometimes find myself forgetting just how much war and violence this part of the world has recently experienced. (If you’re interested in reading it, at the time of this writing, Girl at War is only $1.99 on Amazon for Kindle.)
All right, peeps. I am off on an adventure! I’ll catch you on the flip side. (Which is, remember, April 17.) I’ll have lots to post about my vacation, so stay tuned! And if you miss me in the meantime, you can follow along with me on Instagram.
Tomorrow, I am leaving Kosovo to go on my first (mini) vacation to Tirana, Albania! Tirana has been very high on my list of places to visit. When a friend texted me a while back and asked if I wanted to go there on a weekend getaway, I was all in!
Tirana is the capital city of Albania. It’s about a four-hour bus ride from Pristina (the capital of Kosovo). I’ll post about my trip here as soon as I can, but in the meantime, you can follow along with me on Instagram.