Travel Tips Part 5: Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, recommended to you by a Swedish girl you met very briefly outside a hostel in Oslo. You arrive in Gothenburg greeted by an array of pierced, tattooed and pinked haired youth, making you feel immediately comfortable and excited about exploring the bohemian town. You spend the next 30 minutes trying to find the right tram to take, but it’s Sunday so you’re out of luck. Not feeling like you want to walk 40 min with your rucksack, you decide to be a bit naughty and take a cab directly to your hostel. The hostel is pleasant, despite the fact that you are in a mixed dorm surrounded by only males – girls don’t like the mixed dorms apparently. That evening, you will be meeting up with friends of the girl you met in Oslo, so in the meantime you make yourself some plastic tasting noodles and then get talking to some lads in the kitchen. You are soon surrounded by a group of rugby playing Scottish boys, who are all conveniently good-looking. Heaven? Oh yes. The next few hours consist of you turning red with laughter as they tell you strangest stories about their alcoholic friends: who’s ended up in jail, who starts fights, who’s parent killed a Muslim gentleman…(i)

(i)                  It was actually a hilarious story…if not extremely morbid.

At 9pm you walk into the main town to meet up with Christophe: the dude you’re hoping will let you sleep on his couch for the next couple of nights, if you ask nicely. Look around: Gothenburg is beautiful. Much smaller than Stockholm and a lot less of those annoying tourists who you’ve decided that you’re definitely not one of. The town is full of old buildings and beautiful, natural parks, with a 7/11 or a quaint, indie café on every corner. The sun is setting, a slight breeze is picking up, and you only manage to get lost once. You meet up and head into a pub called Cheers, where your first beer is graciously paid for. A few more of Christophe’s friend’s rock up and your night then consists of conversations in heavily accented English, and uncontrollable giggles when they say things completely wrong. After a few more beers you realise you at least behind the boys by 2 beers, note: the Swedish drink like fish. Before you leave your first pub, the boys buy you a shot of a ruby-coloured drink called Fisherman’s – a traditional Swedish drink. Normally, you shy away from doing shots as nothing good has ever came from drinking them, on the other hand…when in Rome (and all that). After the first shot you stumble out of the pub and start walking to the local club. Along the way, the boys teach you some vital Swedish phrases, like, “Please don’t rape me!” and “Stop raping me!” which, they tell you, are very important to know.

When you arrive at the club, you realise that European clubs are much the same as Aussie clubs: crap music, drunk girls and a whole bunch of horny dudes. The only problem is that you’re decked out in Doc Martin’s and a 1960s poncho, a stark contrast to the mini-skirts, long horsey hair and high heels, who strut around giving you the deadliest looks. After the next beer you’re already pissed, so the scary Swedish girls don’t bother you! The club starts to pick up and you find yourself on the dance floor belting out the lyrics to Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believin’ and other 90s hits that you’d forgotten about. After a routine smoke break, you real back into the club with your blood pulsing with nicotine and far too much booze. You go to sit down for a breather, but you’re greeted with yet another beer which you sip quietly for fear of vomiting everywhere. After a few more songs you decide to just throw up anyway, and you feel much better after all! You start walking back to your hostel with a new Swedish friend, and after telling him about 10 times that no, he cannot come back with you, you finally get some rest.

The next day you wake up at around 10 and spend the day doing some much needed yet totally boring errands, like washing. Having no set plans for the day, you wander around town until you find a small bagel shop. You sit down and order a bagel with a gigantic mug of earl-grey tea and feel wonderfully at home. The café is lit by tea-candles and Christmas lights, the seats are overflowing with hand-made cushions, and the walls are decorated with painted comic strips – how very alternative! Your tea is made with a dollop of soy milk, exactly how you like it, and your bagel is probably one of the highlights of your trip so far: not a massive bagel-consumer yourself, you find yourself surprised when you bite down on the fluffy, creamy bagel, perfect in its combination of avocado, cream cheese, tomato and red onion. A handful of crisps accompany the delicious treat, as every bite is savoured on your tongue. (ii)

(ii)                Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Marshall finds the perfect burger in NYC? It was like that.

For the rest of the afternoon, you get your stuff organised and start walking to Christophe’s flat, a 20 minute walk from your hostel. You use the local city map as your iPhone is, of course, not working. The route takes you through what cunningly looks like a pleasant park, but what actually turns out to be gigantic hills that only grow with height and grandeur. Feeling very smug that you completed a hearty trek, you find Christophe’s flat and begin another bout of sleeping on a stranger’s sofa. (iii) Christophe’s flatmate, Christian is looking after his mother’s dogs for the next couple of days, who are gentle creatures that keep coughing on the clouds of weed pummelling throughout the lad’s flat. Just after dinner you go for a walk with Christian with the dogs, absently-mindedly following him through the gloomy, fog-ridden path, faintly lit by street lamps. A silence follows as you remember that he is a complete stranger who just so happens to be over 6ft tall, and you also have no idea where you are. Christian is apparently thinking the same thing, as he notes that the surroundings look “like a horror movie” , when you joke that you hope you don’t end up being cut up into tiny pieces and scattered around the park, he says “I was thinking the same!” A slight pause follows as he stares at you intently then breaks out into a cheeky grin: the tall, handsome Swedish man is not going to rape you.   

(iii)               The next couple of nights were spent staying in getting stoned with the boys, so not much to report except for high-levels of sugar and watching Futurama.

For your last day in Gothenburg, the boys take you on a mini tour around the city which imminently becomes a mini pub crawl. In one such pubs, you have your first ever taste of Sns: a tiny bag of tobacco that sits under your gum and slowly emanates nicotine into your bloodstream. It tastes fucking awful – but it works! Feeling satisfied that you’ve completely fallen head over hills in love with Sweden, you set off to Denmark with two new goals: learn Swedish and come back during the summer.

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