Being so far away from all our family back home in New Zealand, it can get a little quiet for us after Christmas. We heard from a friend that travel gets super cheap after the mad rush home for the 25th, and after a bit of research we decided we’d take advantage of this and see a little more of winter-time Europe. We booked a whirlwind three country trip, and first up on our itinerary: Gothenburg, Sweden.
We flew out the day after Christmas, and let me just say here – it was indeed a cheap flight. As in, stupidly, ridiculously cheap. Prices for London to Gothenburg on the 26th started at £10, although once we’d picked a suitably leisurely time it ended up costing us £16 each. For a two hour, international flight. It actually cost more to add hold luggage than for a seat. I’m still a little amazed by that.
As we’d opted for a sleep in and afternoon flight, by the time we touched down at the airport it was already dark. First impressions as we stepped outside: cold. Very cold, actually, especially compared to the mild start to winter we’d been enjoying in London. We caught a bus into town, passing the exciting lights of Liseberg park out the window along the way, and checked into our room at Hotel Riverton (a very nice place, to which I’m going to award the prestigious distinction of being the single cleanest hotel I’ve stayed in).
We went back out for dinner (burgers, we were hungry and decided to play it safe for the first night) and a walk around town. I found Gothenburg to be surprisingly new – I don’t know why, but I’d always imagined it to be a cute little town filled with old buildings – and very nice, quite a prosperous-looking place. After a short wander, we left the cold and had a wine while checking out the panoramic views of the city at night from the hotel bar.
(Just to note – we normally use a DSLR camera for travel photos, but for this trip it was pretty much just our phones. The reason: too cold to walk around with our hands out holding a camera)
In the morning we woke up to snow! We’ve hardly seen any since arriving in the UK, despite the numerous warnings before we moved here, so we both found this very exciting. Before we’d even had breakfast, we rugged up and went out for a walk to see a bit of the city under a fresh powdering.
Once the excitement had worn off, we went back to the hotel to defrost, eat, and then head back out to Liseberg, where we planned to spend the afternoon and early evening. Liseberg is an amusement park about 40 minutes walk away from the central city, and at christmas time it is turned into a bit of a winter wonderland. We’d seen the lights on our way into town and they looked beautiful, so we were quite excited on the way there.
Actual impressions, after spending a few hours there: mixed, I guess. Liseberg is definitely a very pretty place, especially once night starts to fall (mid-afternoon while we were there), but there isn’t actually a huge amount to do there. After we’d walked around, had some glug (think mulled wine, but with most of the spices swapped out for sugar), huddling round one of the many fire pits and tried some food, we realised that was actually about it. There was actually one further avenue for amusement I’d never seen before – giant chocolate bar gambling, where customers place money on numbers in the hopes of winning a 2kg version of their favourite candy – but even that didn’t last very long. I wasn’t allowed to play as Bridget didn’t think I’d be able to eat a 2kg Toblerone before our next flight.
After we walked back into town, and wandering around for ages (B tells me that this is what travelling would always be like if she didn’t generally plan things out so well in advance) we finally managed to find somewhere to eat. We’d actually seen Olrepubliken the evening before, and I was glad to find it again because it had looked very cosy. After shedding about 10 layers, we discovered a hugely extensive beer list and a very local-looking menu, which was exactly what I’d been hoping for. I eventually managed to negotiate my way to what was essentially a slightly gourmet version of Swedish meatballs, which were amazing.
We had the better part of the next day before our flight the next day, and we spent it exploring the shops and cafes of central Gothenburg, and after it all – I think I can say I’ve rarely felt less cool. From high-end interior design shops to amazing food to underground coffee bars, the Swedes just seem to be so effortlessly stylish. I loved it all, and would have bought many things had we had time for one of us to have a kidney removed to raise the necessary funds.
Then the sun started to set, and it was time to go back to the hotel, grab our gear and head back to the airport, via Gothenburg’s rather nice central station. Next stop: Berlin!
Until next time, B&A.