Day 2: Aalborg - Goteborg - Stockholm

Gothenburg Travel Blog

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Approaching Göteborg

I'd never been to Sweden before. A long time ago I met someone from Göteborg and had always intended to visit the place some day, but simply never got around to doing so. So now I was finally here, and I must say, it didn't disappoint. Even though we only visited the city for a couple of hours, I soaked up enough of the atmosphere to decide I'd have to come back some day to pay a proper visit to this city. Of course, the sunny weather did help somewhat. I mean, most of the buildings in the centre are grey and I can imagine it looking somewhat different on a drab winter day.

After a frantic search for a parking spot (we learned the Swedish are pretty much anti-cars, but more on that later) we strolled around the centre of town for a while, before ending up at a nice sidewalk café for lunch.

Göteborg city centre
While sitting in the lovely afternoon sun Tim and I discussed that so far Sweden had been living up to its stereotypes quite well: there was a Volvo or Saab parked on at least every street corner, billboards advertising Ikea everywhere, and I mean really, really everywhere, and yes, the female population was predominantly blond and good looking. Not that we were complaining of course (though they could have eased up on the Ikea advertisement).
So with all cliches confirmed we decided to follow suit and eat what all Swedes eat: meat balls! And yes, indeed, we had picked a random restaurant, but it did feature a big sign in the window advertising home made köttbullar (which you actually pronounce "shitbullar", I kid thee not).

After a truly tasty lunch it was time to go again.

lunch
We freed Tweety out of its confinement so that the beast could roar again. Well... roar it did... of agony! I don't know how else to put this, but... driving in Sweden is no fun... at all!
It is no secret that Sweden is home to two of the most boring car brands in the world, but never had I imagined they would adapt their roads to the car design. With a speed limit of 90 kilometres an hour and speed cameras all over the place there simply is no fun to be had. And because Sweden has a lot of trees, most of which seem to be growing right next to the road, there is nothing to be seen from the roads either. So you are forced to drive at cruising speed, with nothing to look at while cruising.

Another minor irritation was the fact that Tim's SatNav and Sweden's road signs had a disagreement about where the capital city of the country was located.

Göteborg city centre
And with disagreement I mean that the two were pointing in completely different directions. I was inclined to put my trust into the road signs. After all, SatNav is an invention of recent years, whereas road signs have been there for ages!
Well, the Tom Tom lady of the GPS-guided SatNav was not amused and kept shouting at me to leave the road and head towards the direction she was pointing. Turns out she was right as well... by following the signs to Stockholm, instead of taking the most direct route as indicated by modern technology it took us nearly an hour longer to reach the city!
Note to all future drivers going to Sweden: do *not* trust the signs. Take a map or a SatNav if you want to get somewhere quick .

And it was not that we were in a hurry or anything, but we did want to reach Stockholm before dinner time. And when we had planned our day in the morning we were counting on the 4.5 hours drive the SatNav had indicated, not the 5.5 hours it took to drive there following the 'main highway' to Stockholm.
Looking at the map it seems the route the SatNav provided was also a more interesting one, passing through several national parks. Perhaps they want to save the forests by diverting the traffic around them or something, but that doesn't make any sense either. I mean, in my simple notion of equations more mileage equals more CO2 output, no matter in which part of the country you put the traffic.

To liven up the dull drive a bit we started counting cars.

yup, beautiful roads. Now try enjoying this for 5 hours straight...
I have an album by Roger Waters which contains a section in the lyrics "let's see how many Volvos we pass on the way" - Never thought I'd actually be doing that some day. Sad but true, but that was about the most exciting part of our drive. In case you're wondering, we gave up at 78...

What did strike me as somewhat odd was the lack of old cars on the road. It is no secret that Sweden has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and this was very evident from the traffic: in 5.5 hours driving on a Swedish highway we only saw one car which was over 10 years old, for the rest all cars we saw were less than that.

Around 6 o'clock we arrived in Stockholm and to my shame I'll admit that I doubted the SatNav for a second time. We had programmed the address of the hotel we had booked and when the damn thing led us to some obscure industrial park I was really doubting this was the correct place.

Hotel Vastberga
Remembering our trip to Legoland the day before I kept obeying though, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that it led us right to the hotel 'Vastberga'.

After check in and a change of clothes we quickly took the subway into the city. The hotel was very conveniently located near a subway station, and 15 minutes later we were in the city centre. The hotel receptionist had recommended a restaurant to us which he claimed was the best restaurant in Sweden.
Well, whether it is the best, I don't know, but restaurant '1900' certainly gains points for delicious food and a nice ambience!

After that we went further into the city to see what Stockholm nightlife was like. The area of Stureplan contains the bulk of the big nightclubs, so this is where we went even though in the end we never made it to a nightclub at all. In Holland they recently enforced a smoking ban, which causes many people to stand very disoriented in front of bars all night. In Sweden that ban has been in effect for several years now, and it is very nice to see how nighlife has developed into an outdoor activity. Virtually every bar or nightclub has an outside smoking area, with big parasols, heaters, blankets and whatnot. We ended up at a place opposite the Scandic hotel which doesn't even have an indoor area. It is basically a party tent erected in a small park, with a bar and music. And good fun!
And yes, I know Stureplan is home to the hippest nightclubs of Sweden, but really, you don't need much more than some good music, cold beer and nice people around you. It was a blast.

Petra2111 says:
You had some lovely weather! In aug 1991 when we were there, only the first day it was sunny but after that... Raining,raining,raining!!! But we had a great time anyway!!
Posted on: Feb 07, 2009
pms70 says:
I would have thought köttbullar (or the first few letters at least) would have been pronounced as a very rude Dutch word to be honest!
Sounds like you had a great time, I might have to give Sweden a go one day...
Posted on: Oct 25, 2008
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Approaching Göteborg
Approaching Göteborg
Göteborg city centre
Göteborg city centre
lunch
lunch
Göteborg city centre
Göteborg city centre
yup, beautiful roads. Now try enjo…
yup, beautiful roads. Now try enj…
Hotel Vastberga
Hotel Vastberga
Gothenburg
photo by: Biedjee