Monday, 27 July 2015

Explore: Gothenburg | The Small Desk

Gothenburg Archipelago

View of Gothenburg, taken from next to Skansen Kronan

First off, I have to admit to something rather embarrassing... I thought we were going to Gotham... turns out that's not a real place, and they didn't base Batman in Gothenburg! What a clanger!

Gothenburg was the last city on our interrail journey around Sweden. I was very excited, as I've never been before and I've heard a lot of people raving about it. When we arrived at Gothenburg central station we were met by a sea of gypsies, and people pushing their spare change cups towards us. This was not what I had expected. I later looked it up and it turns out apparently Gothenburg is the first city in Sweden to offer free health care to those in the gypsy community without Swedish citizenship.

It is a city full of surprises, including innovative restaurants, shops that are setting the trends, accompanied by one of the most archaic museums I've ever been to, and a park that still plays host to a tank of seals. Let me introduce you to Gothenburg...


1. EAT
Lou Lou is my number one place to eat in Gothenburg, because the service is amazing. Despite it being a steak house they are incredibly accommodating towards pescatarians like me. We couldn't read the menu, as it was in Swedish, so our waiter stood and translated every meal on the menu for us. When I said I didn't eat meat and then requested the salmon, he kindly pointed out that it was wrapped in bacon, but that they could do it without. Then when I requested a cocktail and they had run out of one of the ingredients, they had one specially made for me and asked what my favourite fruit was. They really made us feel incredibly welcome and very special! 

2. SHOP
Magasinsgatan is the same street/area that you can find Lou Lou's on. It is an area overflowing with niche designer boutiques, and some of them are even affordable! Some of my favourite shops around here were Grandpa, Pop Boutique, and Norrgavel. I couldn't believe they had a Pop Boutique in Gothenburg!

3. STAY
We stayed at the Clarion Hotel Post in the centre of Gothenburg. I booked it because it was a minute walk from the central station, and it literally is! It is also very conveniently right next to the tram station that takes you to the archipelago. It is a relatively expensive hotel, but if you book in advance you can get a good price. The pillows in the hotel are legendary, as are the breakfasts. Then there is the amazing restaurant, which is ridiculously expensive, but if it is raining and you're feeling flush, then it is a godsend! The staff are really accommodating and it was really quiet, tidy and clean. 



4. OUTDOOR
Slottsskogen park is one of the jewels in the crown of Gothenburg. It is 140 hectares of woodland, swathes of green grass, lakes and even animals! There is a penguin pool and a seal tank. I've never seen a public park with animals in like this; I wasn't really sure what to make of it, it felt a bit Victorian.

You can also walk up to one of the highest points in the park and see the moose. We saw the cage, but no moose, so I don't know how easy they are to spot, or if they are always there. The best bit about walking to the highest point, is the view. You can get a glimpse of the Alvsborg bridge through the trees; Gothenburg's own suspension bridge, which connects the north and south of the city. Maps are freely available in the park, and you can tell there isn't much trouble here by the size of the police station. Yes, that house above is a police station! Probably the prettiest police station I've ever seen!


5. BEYOND
The archipelago was probably my favourite part of our visit to Gothenburg. You can take the number 11 tram (or number 9 during summer) all the way to the ferry terminal. It takes 35 minutes on the tram from the central train station to the ferry terminal and your tram ticket is valid on the ferry.

Once you are on the ferry you can decide which of the islands to get off at. Some of the islands are more deserted than others. I can't remember the exact name of the island that we got off at but it had a cafe and a public loo! I think it was one of the bigger ones, as we weren't prepared with a picnic or anything. You can stay on these islands too, something I might consider doing one day. You can wander around the islands, or just use the ferry as a cruise.

6. WEIRD
I love my museums and art galleries. If we are in a city, the chances of me not going into a museum or art gallery are nil. In Gothenburg the most legendary museum is the Natural History Museum, and I can now tell you why! If you like taxidermy, then this is the museum for you! Everything, and I mean everything, is explained through taxidermy. They even still tell stories through very old school dioramas, noting that it is better than the internet! The photo above is of a real taxidermied elephant. Again, very Victorian! It is worth going to see the museum as a piece of history in itself.

AVOID
The only place I would strongly recommend you avoid in Gothenburg is the Nordstan shopping centre. There are districts of Gothenburg that you are told to avoid due to high crime rates, but I'll let you look those up for yourselves, they are not really part of the tourist route anyhow. Nordstan shopping centre was recommended to us on a rainy day by the hotel staff. But this is the problem, on a rainy day, everyone goes there, including beggars, and you cannot move for being asked for money. It is also full of chain shops that you can easily find at home anyhow.

Have you been to Gothenburg, or would you like to go? Let me know in the comments!




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