Oh Gothenburg! What a delight you were!
So, on Boxing Day 2015, we took a little trip to Sweden’s wonderful second city, Gothenburg. And what a fantastic time we had!
As I’ve probably mentioned before, going away for Christmas has become somewhat of a tradition for my husband and I for the about the past 5 years. It all started with a trip to one of my favourite cities, Paris, at Christmas in 2010 of which after a very large hint, my husband booked it! And since then we’ve been addicted and always gone away!
It just seems like the perfect time to explore. We are lucky enough to get some time off, we live on Europe’s doorstep and lets face it, its wonderful, and we realised that we never know quite what to buy each other! So rather than wasting money on random crap (though I do admit that handbags, shoes and jewellery would never be considered random crap!) we would buy each other a holiday.
So back to Gothenburg!
It is home to approx 550,000 people, its modern with traditional values, super friendly and is worth visiting simply for the cinnamon rolls alone!
Our journey started at 1am on boxing day (I know right!?) and we travelled to Bristol Airport from home. We flew with KLM and got a connecting flight from Amsterdam. It was the first time we have flown with KLM and they were faultless. All flights on time, super friendly crew, our bags connected perfectly, plenty of leg room and we got snacks thrown in with our flights (note cheese sarnies and marble cake were delish!).
This was a holiday of firsts, as we booked the hotel and fights through Expedia whom we’ve also not used before and they were brilliant. It couldn’t have been easier and we booked the whole holiday all at once. We were able to search for our hotel based on price (a bit like when you’re on a clothing website and you search low to high!) Yep, you can pick your holiday like this too!
We jetted out of Bristol airport at 6.15am and we were on our way to Sweden!
Before we knew it, we landed in Gothenburg at 10.30am local time. Although we had been awake at this point for about 28 hours, we were so happy to be in Sweden and to begin our adventure.
I get so so excited about travel (ask my husband, I am like Tigger!) and it felt even more of an adventure because we had to fly to Amsterdam first and then onto Gothenburg.
For our digs, we stayed at the Gothia Towers, which was an AMAZING hotel. It was a couldn’t-have-been-easier 20 minute shuttle bus ride from the airport and was right opposite Liseberg, which is Gothenburg’s theme park.
I know people often say that their hotels were amazing but this really was! It has 3 towers, a 20th floor spa complete with open air heated pool which hangs on the side of the building, state of the art gym, restaurants for all budgets and a super cool bar on the 23rd floor called Heaven 23.
If you are lucky enough to visit this beautiful city, you have to stay at this hotel! I mean, just check out this view from our room! You may have seen this on my IG feed, and most nights we didn’t even bother watching the TV, we just stared at this breathtaking view!
Saturday 26th December – Boxing Day
WOWSERS! We didn’t want to waste any time, so we put our baggage in storage at our hotel and decided on a walk into the city centre and to get to know our surroundings.
It was quite quiet on this day, I guess like anywhere, the city was still very much in it’s Christmas period with people having time off etc, though by the time we got to the city centre we knew why – everyone was in the shops buying up the sales! Clever people!
Being that H&M was founded in Sweden, I have never known it so cheap! I bought up (without hesitation, unlike me!) 2 jumpers @ £4 each – yes £4! And a gorgeous grey snood as seen in my piccies which was also £4! If I had an empty suitcase I would’ve bought up a lot more just to stock up, trust me!
Straight away I notice that Gothenburg is a very vibrant, cosmopolitan and young city. There are also a lot of young families which gives me the impression that its a great place to raise little ones. I can see why. There is a lot to do, it’s very pretty, its really friendly and uber cool. BUT its also not too busy for a city which means it also has a laid back vibe which is really fab.
We stroll around town and stay out as long as we can without feeling like we are going to nod off (though, we did stop off for a coffee and I had a head roll back moment!). We head back to our fantastic hotel and check in. We ended up with the most amazing upgrade which was how we got the view above!
The hotel were very good to us I have to say and this was because the first room they gave us with the wrong one (small, no view, no bath, you know the deal!)
Before we knew it, it was dinner time. Come on guys, yes my body clock was out of sync and yes we had been up for 36 hours but I was never going to miss a meal! 🙂
We ended up at this really cheap (but tasty!) pizza house called Pappa Johns! People told me that Sweden would be mega expensive but to honest, you can find cheap eateries if you want to, you just have to seek them out. I have good ole classic Margarita and Mr C has tuna and olive feast. Stomachs full, we back back to our cosy room and hit the sack about 8pm, we’ve been up for about 48 hours so we are ready for some z’s, in our Queen, yes QUEEN bed!
Sunday 27th December 2015
Magically, and much to my absolute delight, we wake up to snow today!
EEK! I am so freakin bloody excited! If you’ve read my Prague blog, you’ll know that Christmas, Christmas Trees and SNOW are some of my favourite things in life. They bring me absolute joy and so the start to our first full day couldn’t have been more perfect.
The snow was draped perfectly over everything at Liseberg and it just looked like something out of a fairytale. If you want to experience somewhere Christmassy, come here, because you’ll have the most Christmassy time, most of which at Liseberg.
Before I move on to the details of the day, I will just tell you about breakfast (of course!) . Breakfast was being served on the second floor due to renovations in the usual area and it was HUGE! It had 2 sides and each side mirrored the other in order to accommodate all guests.
Meatballs, bacon, egg 2 ways, hot veg, cold meats, pickled herring, salad, cheese, breads, fruit, hot drinks, cold drinks, cakes, pastries, crackers, chutneys, pickles, gluten free section, have I missed anything!? Probably! Now, I’m not normally fussed about bacon (in the english fry up sense!) – however, I cannot get enough if its thin strips and crispy!
I treated myself to a good portion of this everyday!
So with breakfast done, we head out. I am bundled up to the nines because I feel the cold terribly, I am pretty sure I was born in the wrong country and am secretly from the Med, but thats another story…I credit my keep warm gear to a North Face coat, Rab ‘head skin’ which is a weather proof layer that you can wear under beanies, Ayacucho gloves with touchscreen technology so I don’t have to get my little pinkies out in the cold to take pictures and a thermal jumper and leggings underneath my clothes. See…I told you I feel the cold! 4 layers later and I am good to go!
We wanted to explore today and get to know Gothenburg, so we just walked, walked and walked some more. We ended up in the Vasaparken area which include the amazing University and Church.
We also got some amazing photos in the snow, and Mr C and I love our snow action shots! He says I am like an excited pooch running around in the snow!! HAHA! I assume he means cute rather than I look like a dog – RUDE!
We take in all the sights and the prettiness of Gothenburg. There is always somewhere to eat too! And there is a definite greek influence as there are lots of kebab houses and grills.
There are also loads of 7 elevens, which I have to say are really good. They are like spar shops but with added va va voom! You can eat in them as they have tables and chairs so they are great if you want a snack and a warm up, and they have hot food, fruit, plenty of hot and cold drinks and hot dogs on tap! Oh and plenty of cakes and sweet treats!
We stop for an Aloe Vera Mango water (obsessed!), something we can only find in Sweden as I don’t think its exported – or I am yet to find it! And I try a dark chocolate marzipan cake (mmmmm!) and Mr C has a fruity flapjack. Pitstop done, we head out for more walking and exploring.
Everywhere we travel we have always noticed that the spoken English is amazing!
Scandinavia is exceptional and Sweden is no different. I would say about 98% of where we went, everyone spoke English and incredibly well too, it’s so impressive.
Wherever we go, I always make a point of trying to at least learn a few words even it it’s just hello, goodbye, please and thank you. I like to communicate if I can because I feel quite ignorant if I don’t, plus I think its respectful too and it means something to the person you are communicating with. Here are a few Swedish words for you:
Hej – Hello
Adjo – Goodbye
Vanligen – Please
Tack – Thank you
We also notice that not only does nearly everyone speak English, they want to continue the conversation to try out their English even more! It just left us in awe! For example, a couple of times we asked girls or dudes in shops a question, not only would they answer the question but they would go on to tell us about other places in the city, shops, or general chit chat about where we were from etc.
I’d love to be fluent in other language and people who are impress me so much. I think learning another language is next on my to do list!
We head to a place called Condecco which is their version of say a Starbucks. Very trendy, great artwork on the walls and we get the impression it’s somewhere the cool gang goes to meet (well of course, because we are there!).
We try out a local beer called Erikesberg, very nice! Its huge! And gets me rather tipsy! We also try local biscuits called Pepparkaka which are like gingerbread but with cinnamon in them, very tasty and a must try if you are in the area.
For dinner, we head to a local grill near our hotel. We both had chicken wraps with salad and rice – very healthy and tasty too! Though I was craving some chips…haha!
Monday 28th December 2015
An exciting day today – a day for really testing our local knowledge and trying out the public transport! Ha!
We walk to central station which is about 25 minutes from our hotel. It reminds me a lot of Copenhagen central station and looks very vintage. However, its incredibly modern inside! Thats what a love about Scandinavian design – they are so amazing at mixing the two!
Next to the station is another incredible hotel, called Hotel Post (so thinking maybe it’s an old post office! I’m clever like that!) and it has a massive red bow wrapped around it as their Christmas decoration – how impressive is that!
We buy 2 all day tickets for 80 SKR (which is about £6) and this covers us for all trams, buses and even the ferry! Queue Mr C’s genius idea to travelling out to the Islands! We fit so well because we both have a sense of adventure which holds no bounds. We just hop on a bus/train/tram (any of the above) and just explore!
We catch the number 11 tram to Salthomen which is at the end of the line. Here you can catch ferries to the islands. It’s very cool and we are super impressed with how efficient, modern and impressive they are!
The ferries run until about 1am in the morning! It’s crazy to think our local buses stop running at 11pm and yet these ferries run until the early hours servicing all these local people, its fantastic!
Any-ho! We catch our first ferry to Vrango. It’s a lovely island, so peaceful and really beautiful. We walk around the whole island, taking pictures and breathing in the gorgeous sea air.
There are few inhabitants, lovely big houses, a church and a restaurant. It’s so interesting to see another way of life, a simple way. People who commute to the main land and live here must feel very lucky indeed.
On the way back, we stop of at the beautiful island of Donso. This island is much busier but still as pretty. It has lots of houses, a supermarket, lots of boats, a bowling alley and lots more inhabitants. We wanted to stay longer, but we grab a little souvenir (a Christmas bowl with ‘God Jul’ on it which means Merry Christmas’).
We then head back to the mainland, but we enjoyed so much being near the water, it reminds us of home. If you get the chance to head to the Islands, make sure you do! We want to explore them in the Summer too as there was a restaurant on Vrango or you could take a picnic and just relax for the day near the water.
So back on the mainland, we head to the famous Haga street. The only way I can describe how beautiful this street is, is that it looks like a film set, unreal but perfectly real and picturesque.
It’s boutique shops and restaurants are amazingly lined with christmas lights. It’s here we discovered a cafe called ‘Hebbe Lelle’, I read about this place and it’s cinnamon rolls – they did not disappoint! There were literally the size of a dinner plate! And so tasty too!
We stroll around the city some more, taking in the sights and before we know it, it’s dinnertime.
We start walking back to our hotel but take a slight detour and stumble across the most un-assuming little Italian. Its tiny and only seats 3 people at a time! Its called II Gambro and the chef is the most nicest guy! He spends ages telling us all about the menu and translating everything into English for us, and the food…omg the freshest pizza ever!
I have an amazing pizza with fresh bresaola, mozzarella and fresh truffle and Mr C has fresh anchovies and tuna and olives. We also have a side order of mozzarella, balsamic and basil. So tasty, so fresh and the nicest chef to cook it all for us, you have to visit!
Tuesday 29th December 2015
Today was all about food! (Well it is me, what else!?) So to build up a bit of an appetite, we take a stroll and head towards the viking ships and walk along the dockyard.
It’s a very sunny but cold day and it’s really nice to be near the water. There isn’t much activity this time of year but in the summer they have paddle boats along the canal which take in the city sights – another reason to come back in the Summer!
We have our usual pit stop in 7 eleven and grab some drinks and sweet treats and then we stroll around the city, looking in the lovely boutique shops and just generally exploring.
We take a peek in Saluhallen, which is located right in the city centre. It’s an amazing place and has deli’s filled with amazing food from all over the world.
Fresh bread, meats, fish, antipasti, cakes, turkish delight, coffee – anything and everything! I imagine if you live in this lovely city, this would be your go-to place for your weekly treats. Not only that, you can have a pit stop here for breakfast, lunch or dinner and there is a food place which makes traditional Swedish meals.
We are so seduced by the yummy-ness that we decide to come back here for dinner!
Next up, we head to Feskekorva. This place has been on our list from day 1 as I read about it in our Gothenburg travel book. If you follow my Instagram feed regularly, it won’t surprise you that this place is a fish market!
It used to be an old church and has been converted into a daily fresh fish market, they have still stayed true to the style and architecture of the church, however the inside has been transformed and you can grab fresh fish everyday.
The counters are filled with everything from smoked salmon, crab, lobster, anchovies, herring, cod, platters of fish for dinner parties, roulades and whole fish. There is also a cafe upstairs and a restaurant downstairs serving amazing fish platters with the catch of the day.
The platters range from about £75-£150. You can also grab a light bite or main meal and the food looks amazing! If we had more time, we would have stayed for lunch, however we had a date at Saluhallen!
However, we do treat ourselves to some smoked salmon with cream cheese, dill and rye bread snacks – so fresh!
We continue on our walk around the city and do a little shopping before heading back to Saluhallen for our 5pm dinner date!
If you visit Gothenburg, you have to visit this place and have food here! We really wanted to try some traditional Swedish food and this was amazing. I have a salmon burger with dill sauce and new potatoes, my Mr C has herring fillet with loganberry sauce and new potatoes. We also have rye bread and butter on the side – oh and a dessert of apple cake with vanilla custard! So so good! You always know when I am enjoying my food when I have no hesitation about having 3 courses…!
The atmosphere is so vibrant and full of energy, it reminds us of somewhere Michael Palin would visit on one of his round the world trips, trying the local delicacies!
To finish the day perfectly, we head back to our hotel for a drink on the 23rd floor at a bar called Heaven 23. It has amazing views of the city and Liseberg, beautiful at night!
Wednesday 30th December 2015
Another day for exploring!
We head to central station and take a tram to Bergson on the number 11, it takes us into the suburbs and it’s really interesting to see outside of the main city.
We go to the end of the line, have a walk about and then catch the number 7 tram to the other end of the city and again into the suburbs. These areas remind me very much of Prague and there are lots of high rise flats and lots of houses with small shops and cafes in between.
On the way back into the city centre, we stop off at a shopping centre called Frolunda Torg. Its huge! And also a hidden gem in amongst the suburbs of the city. This is another great place to come if you fancy a shopping trip and its crammed full of clothes shops and some lovely home shops too. If we had a bigger suitcase I would’ve filled up on lovely home furnishings! (Along with the H&M haul!)
Ok, and so onto the highlight of the day – LISEBERG!!
We catch the number 8 tram about 2.30pm and we are so excited to be going to this winter wonderland! Even the walk up to the entrance is so Christmassy!
We head inside and the whole park is filled with massive christmas trees, snowmen (and snow ladies!) and pretty lights everywhere. I think this is one of the most Christmassy places we have ever visited.
If you want somewhere that feels totally Christmassy and like you are in Winter Wonderland, you have to visit here! As you walk in, you are met with the most wonderful Christmas Trees (one of my most favourite things ever) and the whole walk way leading you into the park is lined with trees and fake snow (it was unusual that we didn’t have real snow!).
As you get into the main park you have various rides to have fun on, including the Liseberg Wheel shown in my picture above – amazing! There are so many food stalls and also really fun game stalls where you can try and win chocolate! We have a go on one with a number wheel and you bet on a set of numbers. Ours came in and we one a packet of ‘Plop’ chocolates! Funny how words are completely different in another language #theidiotinme
We wander around the park for hours despite the cold and we have mulled wine and stand over the hot coals to warm us up. There are 2 rollercoasters, a crazy ride which spins you around and upside down, teacups, dragon boats, waltzers and loads more! If you have little ones, there is also a kiddie section in the park which has rides for small ones. Oh and how can I forget the ice rink – amazing! You pay a small fee for your boots and you get to glide along the Liseberg ice! If you do this, I think as nighttime is approaching is best, it makes it feel even more Christmassy!
If you are hungry, there are plenty of restaurants and food stalls, oh and sweet treats to keep your hunger at bay. We had so much fun walking around and stayed from day to night to see the whole park lit up in pretty lights.
It really is a truly magical place at Christmas and it feels like you are part of a movie. We reluctantly head back to our hotel as the cold finally gets to us! And devour a humungous burger in the West Coat restaurant at our hotel.
Highly recommended if you want a good nosh and a menu which is tasty and has something for everyone. I had been craving a burger all week – so I caved!
Thursday 31st December 2015 – NEW YEARS EVE!
Aw our last day here in Gothenburg – for this trip anyway! 🙂
I always feel sad on the last day of holiday, I look forward to going home to my sanctuary but I just love travelling (as you know if you follow me on IG). The new places, the new foods, lovely people, amazing sights and the adventure and experience of somewhere new. And above all, seeing the world!
Our first flight isn’t until 5pm and we need to leave at 3pm, so we decide to do what I do best – SHOP! We have some Euros left, so in true tourist style we spend it in the local shops. We head into Gothenburg central and seriously this place is such a good place to come for shopping.
To be honest, I would come back here again purely for a shopping trip, streets upon streets of shops and all my favs; Zara, Mango, H&M to name but a few.
However, I am on a different shopping mission this time, and its for a Michael Kors bag! Well, I thought I would treat myself! Its funny isn’t it, if we say this sentence once we must say it a thousand times! It’s almost like its to justify the debit card bashing!
I have done my research ahead of time to where I can find the MK bags and I head to the department store ‘Ahlens’. They have a fantastic selection and also have a lot of other designers too such as Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Gucci etc, designer heaven!
I spot a 3 compartment black MK cross body bag. The reason for this choice was because I wanted something I knew I would use all the time – more easily justifiable that way isn’t it! I um and ah’d and actually left the shop and walked about to have a ‘think’! I have to say, I even give myself a pat on the back these days, since I have bought my new house I think much more carefully about what I am buying and also I want to buy better – more classics and less just one season wash badly toot! (though I still love the toot!).
I head to H&M where I buy a gorgeous mustard colour jumper – again £4!! It’s unbelievable! And I also head to the department store Nordiska Kompaniet to get my Niece some Dash make up, Auntie Brownie points for that one I reckon!
Just one more…