From what I had heard and read, Sweden is a country of innovation. Just take Ikea for example. A furniture business that not only sells their wares disassembled for convenience, production value and price point but excites people to master the skill of carpentry with little more than a pack of screws and a pictorial graph. A society that cultured such a premise was one well worth visiting in my opinion.
Using some frequent flyer miles I had saved up I got a ticket to Gothenburg. Arriving in December after Queensland (Australia) summer temperatures was quite a shock to the system, but my interest in sport spurred me on to face the weather. I love being active and travelling in winter meant I had to take advantage of the chance to ski.
Brudarebacken Ski Slope is Gothenburg’s only downhill ski slope and its length and drop favoured my rudimentary ski skills nicely. Everyone was so friendly that falling onto people in my clumsy state wasn’t so terrible. A nicer way to develop my ski skills was the cross country skiing I did at the OK Landehofs ski resort in Landvetter. The mix of artificial snow and real snow track gave me plenty of time to hone my use of the ski poles as well as learning to balance myself more appropriately on the skis themselves. Sweden has such beautiful countryside that it made for an extraordinary setting for outdoor exercise, compared with the rugged bushland or yellow sandy beaches of Australia that promote water sports above all.
Gothenburg’s Christmas markets were phenomenal. Australia just doesn’t have the same vibe of Christmas compared with what the Northern Hemisphere countries deliver. Liseberg Christmas Markets are the biggest in Scandinavia and they certainly delivered. The stall holders were traditional artisans and local producers who were very passionate about their wares. They were also easy to converse with due to their exceptional English skills (now that I think about it, most people spoke great English). I am not one for shopping but the experience of buying traditional and handmade gifts for my family and friends for Christmas was very enjoyable.
When travelling (and really any other time) I always think you should follow your stomach. One of the best ways to experience a new city, country and culture is to dine on traditional fares. Gothenburg is a wonderful hub of modern eateries, conventional restaurants and hole-in-the-wall delights. Smorgas became one of my favourite lunchtime choices; they were a delicious twist on my standard Aussie Vegemite ‘sanga’. The colourful faces of Prinsesstartas sang out to me from bakery windows and I’m glad I succumbed as the reward was an amazing amalgamation of Victoria sponge cake and custard tart, a truly delightful afternoon treat. I couldn’t possibly visit Gothenburg without procuring the best example of Swedish meatballs I could find. Kock and Vin, a Michelin star restaurant, was a lip-smacking example and I was more than happy to break with convention and lick my plate when I was done. And I’m thankful I’ve read a recommendation for Rokeriet i Stromstad, where I’ve had one of the best meals in my life. Trying foreign cuisine does seem to bring lots of joy to most travelers, and it is certainly the same with me.
Overall Gothenburg has a very open, welcoming and inviting feel to it. The city centre is kept so beautifully and the snow really does create the clichéd but much appreciated winter wonderland experience, especially for someone coming from the Land Down Under known for its heat.
This article was written by Mark Tomich.