“DEDICATED TO MY MOST LOYAL READER – Red Hot Shelley Pepper <3”
Accommodation: Elite Plaza Hotel
Currency: Swedish Krona
Here I am, back with another travel diary! Every summer, my best friend Chalupa (who you will know from my Budapest post – https://planeemoji.com/2015/07/06/budapest-we-werent-even-drunk/ ) and I pick a destination and go there for a few days to relax. This year we chose Gothenburg, which is the second largest city in Sweden following Stockholm.
We arrived early at Gothenburg Landvetter airport and got a taxi to our hotel in the city centre (415 SEK). Our first idea was to walk around the city and figure out where the hotspots were. We made our way on to Gotaplatsen, a square which houses the Gothenburg Museum of Art. Entry to the museum was free for under 25’s and the building comprised of 6 levels. We were advised to start at the top and work our way down, which was good because the further down we got, the wackier the art became.
On the top levels there was everything from Picasso to Monet to Van Gogh. You don’t see pieces this famous every day and so we were very excited to be in the presence of such prestigious works. Aside from these paintings, I think my favourite piece in the entire museum was the giant rotating sculpture of a pole dancer in one of the lower galleries.
Gotaplatsen leads on to Kungsportsavenyen, which is a road containing many different restaurants and shops. We had a lunch of Toast Skagen at one of these restaurants, which is a famous and light Scandinavian shrimp dish. Not quite satisfied with such a light bite, we also went to Frozen Planet where you can have ‘weigh and pay’ frozen yoghurt with numerous different toppings and flavours.
The rest of the day was spent walking around and taking in the scenery. When I think of a city my mind automatically goes to London, but Gothenburg could not be further from that type of city. Yes it is multicultural, full of university students and young families – but it is also much calmer and cleaner than any city I’ve been to before. Every avenue seems to be a cat walk; Chalupa and I spent many a moment people watching as though we were model scouts – if attractive people were chocolate bars, we were in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
After a long and tiring day we decided to relax at an Italian restaurant around the corner from our hotel, called Caprese Café. This restaurant combined Italian cooking with Sweden’s famous freshly caught sea food.
Breakfast at the Elite Plaza Hotel cannot be faulted; they had everything from eggs and bacon, to traditional Swedish pastries, croissants, granola, fruits, bread and more.
The most exciting thing about Gothenburg for me was the nearby archipelago. There are northern and southern archipelagos, which are both accessed in different ways.
The southern archipelago’s islands are car free, which means that they have a ferry service running between them. A lot of these islands also have no shops, restaurants or conveniences on them so if you’re planning on visiting these you need to make sure that you have (a) food and drink; and (b) a ferry timetable. Although we didn’t get a chance to visit places such as Vargo and Vinga on this occasion, I would definitely like to return and do this again in the near future!
The northern archipelago holds the island of Hono, which is the one we decided to visit. This island can be accessed by car and is popular for its harbour front shops and restaurants, as well as the beautiful natural scenery.
Here’s the boring practical bit – from Central Station in Gothenburg we got the bus from stop K, going towards Lilla Varholmen. In Gothenburg, you can’t buy tickets on the bus, and so these have to be purchased in advance from the nearby shop. At Lilla Varholmen we caught the yellow ferry (which is free) for the 10 minute journey over to Hono.
Arriving in Hono, we headed for a shop that implied tourist information. Turns out, tourist information was just a map. Dazed and confused, we were unable to find a single bus or taxi or anyone who could give us any information of how to reach the harbour. We decided to start walking and follow a path which could lead us to Hono Klava, following the map and street signs. We walked through industrial areas, residential areas and also accidentally into a rehab facility.
We had almost lost all hope until we were met by our beautiful, Swedish guardian angel Sven. Everything went into slow motion and Luther Vandross ‘Never Too Much’ ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8DZm5M5tFk ) started playing in our heads. His blonde locks were complimented by the fluorescent yellow of his hi-vis jacket, as he removed his motorcycle helmet and said “do you need help?” YES SVEN, WE NEED LOTS OF HELP. #hubbahubba. Fangirling over. After 1.5 hours of walking we eventually managed to find Hono Klava and proceeded to eat 1kg of halloumi each overlooking the harbour. Thanks Sven ❤
Just a little walk down from the restaurants we came across the cliffs, which we climbed to find the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen. Water pools, smooth rocks and sea views – yet we barely even scratched the surface of Hono! We spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the rocks and admiring the scenery by the water. It honestly just reminded us what it felt like to be truly alive.
We caught the 291 bus back from Hono Klava to Gothenburg City (39 SEK), which was probably the bus we could have caught to get there in the first place but OH WELL. No stray, no bae – you know what I mean Sven? 😉
On our third day in Gothenburg we decided to visit the Universeum, which was a short walk from Gotsplatsen. The Universeum is an aquarium/rainforest/zoo/science centre all in one and costs 235 SEK for an adult ticket. The top level is dedicated to water, with fish and frogs and the like, but we weren’t too impressed with this part of the centre as there didn’t seem to be much on show. However, as we worked our way down the different levels became much more entertaining. The rainforest section was my favourite, with monkeys, birds, sloths and butterflies roaming free in front of you. There were also sections dedicated to space travel and the ice age to explore.
After the Universeum we decided to go and have lunch next door at Heaven 23, which is located in Gothia Towers. We ordered what everyone else seemed to be ordering, the King Size Deluxe. This is Heaven 23’s famous open rye bread sandwich, generously piled with egg, shrimp, salad and a dollop of bleak roe caviar. We also indulged in a crème brulée and some passionfruit mocktails, while enjoying the view of the theme park known as Liseberg from our table.
The next stop was Feskekorka. Feskekorka literally translates as ‘Fish Church’ because of the formation of the building. It is a famous fish market which also houses a number of restaurants, the most famous of which is Gabriel’s. Being stuffed from Heaven 23, we looked around and spent the afternoon sunbathing by the canal with the locals.
On our final day in Gothenburg we decided to visit the Gothenburg City Museum, which was a short walk away from our hotel. This museum works from the bottom floor, moving in chronological order from Palaeolithic times, through the Viking period, the medieval period and ending with the formation of modern Gothenburg. They also incorporated modern art pieces from the local university which added an interesting twist to the exhibitions.
One of the weirdest installations was a series of booths behind curtains containing different projects. Some of them were really gross, but my favourite one was the ‘dance machine’ where you could select a person and put on headphones to watch them dance to music. I wasn’t sure whether the idea was to dance along with them while watching, but I chose to do so anyway because my life inspiration is ‘dancing flamenco lady’ emoji.
After this, we walked over to the old neighbourhood of Haga where we visited Haga Church and had lunch at Café Husaren. This café is the home of Hagabullen, a cinnamon bun bigger than your whole head. Despite the size, it is actually possible to eat the whole thing in one sitting! The dough is really light and the slight taste of cardamom makes it a little more refreshing than something like a cinnabon.
We spent the rest of the day before our flight walking around Haga and further out, and grabbing some virgin Margaritas and tacos at the very fresh and authentic ‘Tacos and Tequila’.
A lot of my friends told me that this was a really random choice of destination, and I could only respond by saying that sometimes it’s the most random places that turn out to be the best. Gothenburg is not overrun by tourists and allows you a city break with the space to breathe. In short, you may not have heard of Gothenburg before but once you’ve visited you will never forget your time there.
Thanks for reading,