View of Stora Hamnkanalen (Big Harbour Canal)
Time to move on to Gothenburg (in Swedish: Göteborg, which is pronounced yeh-tah-bore-ee!) Some Swedes have no idea what “Gothenburg” is, apparently. Seems a bit odd, considering loads of other cities and countries around the world have names that differ to their respective English names but those people seem to get by (e.g. China, Japan, Florence).
My train to Gothenburg was at 8:10am, and once again, I was that early riser. Damn, the people in my room are real lazy or something. 4 people including myself were leaving today.
At Stockholm Central station, I noticed a Bröd & Salt store (a fancy bakery I'd noticed the previous day) and purchased a kanelbullar. This one was beautifully made (and had a nice price tag along with it!) as you can see:
It was not cheap (SEK 29 = AUD 4.64) but I suppose it was beautifully made. It tasted decent but you know what? The 7 Eleven one was just as good. There, I said it!
The train arrived on time and I was seated by the window. I had no neighbour for the whole trip. There was actual WORKING WiFi (speed wasn't bad) and power sockets. The trip was to take 3 hours to travel 400km, however the train was delayed by 50 minutes because of some issue. NOT happy Jan. But at least there was working WiFi.
Finally I got to Gothenburg at 12pm, walked straight into Västtrafik's kiosk (the company that runs the transport network) and bought some single tickets. They were expensive (SEK29 = AUD4.50), but not as expensive as Stockholm's.
To get to my accomodation, I was to take a tram for about 15mins. The trams looked so cute and retro with their two toned colours.
I was able to check in at my accomodation despite the early hour. It was an aging hostel but there wasn't much choice in Gothenburg; it was 1 of only 2 hostels. And it looked like I had a roomie…
Feskekôrka (Fish church)
First thing was first, I had to go to church. Ha, never thought I'd say that. On the top of my list was feskekôrka (literally, fish church), where they worship the sea. Gothenburg is known for its fresh seafood due to its proximity to the sea. They say you cannot get the same quality seafood in Stockholm, but I did not try any to test this theory.
Feskekôrka really did look like a church, which I found amusing. I opened the door to get inside (damn, it was really windy) and was initially a bit disappointed. It wasn't very big inside, and half the stalls were not operating. Perhaps it was because it was a Monday. I walked straight down and noted there was a cafe/restaurant, one fishmonger stall on my right, nothing on the left, nothing on the right, nothing on the left and finally, one last operating stall on the right. I forgot to take a photo of the interior, whoops.
I was eyeing some of the premade meals at the last stall and it didn't take long for the man working there to start talking to me. I asked him what everything was (because his sign was in Swedish) and he happily obliged. He showed me all the tubs of fish salad he had, the cured fish, the smoked fish. It all looked great. I was already set on the biggest item he had but I was curious to see what kind of herring he had to offer, so I asked him. He showed me some tubs and I was looking a little lost so he recommended a yellow looking gooey mixture to me. I said I only wanted half a small box as I was all by my lonesome and couldn't have too much food. He was also happy to oblige.
So what did I actually have?
Salmon plate - Salmon, 3 ways. From right to left: Gravlax (cured Salmon), smoked salmon and ??? Whoops, I'm not really sure what is was, but it tasted smoky too. The fish was awesome. I LOVED the gravlax, it had great flavour to it. I can't believe it's not really cooked. So delicious. The other 2 tasted similar to me but I am a lover of all (edible) things smoked. So they were also pretty great too. But the gravlax, hands down, the best.
I was so full I couldn't finish the potato salad but it was very nice. There was a tub of sauce as well, not sure what it's for really, it's not necessary with the fish at all, in my opinion, but it was quite tasty too. It was a bit tangy and fishy and had dill in it.
Senapssill (mustard herring) - This too was also amazing. I am not really a fan of straight up mustard and luckily it was toned down with mayo, cream and some herbs (dill and chives?). It was delicious. Sweet but tangy and bold and creamy at the same time. Flavour explosion really. Absolutely delicious. And my little half box of Senapssill had about 3 fillets of herring in it too, so it was decent.
I was so full afterwards. I spent SEK 128 = AUD 20.48, so it wasn't the cheapest lunch but no regrets. 9/10 #ipinions.
I noticed there was a super market right next to Feskekôrka, so I popped inside. It was starting to sprinkle a bit and I didn't have an umbrella :( Inside, I again found groceries to generally be expensive. I also found cans of Surströmming (wasn't cheap, about AUD 50?), Senapssill in the deli section and lots and lots of things in tubes (spreads and dips). Surströmming is fermented herring and it is known to be the stinkiest food on earth, causing people to vomit upon approaching. I was vaguely interested but I didn't know any Swedes so I couldn't have the proper experience (with special flatbread, red onion, potatoes and butter). I didn't want to buy a can and eat it by myself.
My next stop was the historic district of Haga, which was quite close to Feskekôrka. Haga is one of the oldest districts in Gothenburg and is known for its well preserved 19th century architecture. Today, it is a tourist friendly part of town, with a pedestrian only main street and lots of shops and cafes. I had come here for a quick wander and I read about Cafe Husaren, which is known for their kanelbullar.
There were lots of cute shops and the vibe here was quaint but I didn't spend any money here unfortunately. Everything was just too expensive for me. I finally reached Cafe Husaren and had a look at their window:
The kanelbullar were huge. You probably can't tell from the image above, but each one was bigger than my face. You definitely had to share one between 3 or 4 people. I was still super full from lunch and I had already had a kanelbullar, so I couldn't justify such a huge one. Again, I left empty handed :(
A walk around the city
I continued walking east onto a main street called Vasagatan, which was a tree lined street with trams running down it. Gothenburg university was also located here and I did spot lots of young people out and about. There were also lots of nice buildings on this street:
Eventually, I reached Kungsportsavenyen (Kingsgate Avenue, or simply known as Avenyn (The Avenue)), which is the main avenue in Gothenburg. On one end of Avenyn (the end I was closest to), was small square (Götaplatsen), which was flanked by the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg Concert Hall and Gothenburg City Theatre. I was planning to visit the former tomorrow.
Avenyn was basically like any other city's main street, it was very wide and was full of shops. I did some window shopping and continued north. There wasn't a whole lot that stood out, but I did have a browse at a bottle shop, or Systembolaget. These stores are all government run, so it's a monopoly. They unfortunately have limited opening hours and are not open on Sundays! The Systembolaget I visited seemed quite small to me and had a small selection on offer. I am so used to seeing huge alcohol stores, like Dan Murphy's in Australia.
I continued north and ended up at the Gothenburg Maritime Museum, located at the port. No, I did not go inside. Notable things I passed along the way included the Grand Theater, crossing the Stora Hamnkanalen, wandering through a large shopping centre (Nordstan), and having a browse at a Chinese supermarket (which I was surprised to see!)
The Maritime Museum was shaped like a warship and looked rather sleek. I turned back and headed for Kronhuset, which is one of the oldest buildings in Gothenburg (mid 17th C). It was a warehouse back in the day and it wasn't very interesting to be honest. You could go inside, but it was empty when I went. Honestly, I only came here as the brochure I got at my accommodation suggested it as part of a walk. No big deal. I headed for Stora Hamnkanalen and had a wander.
I continued south into Inom Vallgraven, an inner district of Gothenburg, comprised of an island. It is basically the main commercial district of Gothenburg. There were a few pedestrian streets and many retail shops here and I continued wandering and window shopping.
For dinner, I wanted more Swedish fare so I did a Google search and found Restaurang Kungstorget. Whoever designed the interiors had questionable taste to be honest. They were trying too hard to look ‘nice’ and ‘pretty’. There were lots of plush sofas and lots of mis matching furniture. Lots of large statement pieces like lamps, lots of flowers. It was all a bit odd.
That said my waiter was very friendly. He gave me suggestions when I asked for them and smooth talked me into having the Västkusttallrik (West Coast plate, SEK 229 = AUD 36.64), which consisted of “creamy shrimp mix” (skagenröra; skagen = shrimp + röra = salad), seafood soup (skaldjurssoppa) with garlic croutons, cured salmon with mustard sauce (gravad lax med hovmästarsås), Västerbotten cheese and rye bread.
It was delicious. It doesn't look like a lot, but I was very full afterwards. The gravad lax was again, very good. The prawn salad was quite fresh but incredibly heavy. The soup was a tad oily and more brothy than soup, really fishy and sharp but still quite rich. The highlight was the cubes of Västerbotten cheese. I loved it. It was a hard cheese but had huge, deep flavour. There's some sweetness, sort of like caramel but there's a tonne of savouriness to it as well. No after taste. I later found out it was a Swedish cheese and basically only one farm produces it in the whole of Sweden, making it highly coveted. It's matured for 12-14 months. It's so good. I also found out that there's a thing called Västerbotten pie… :O
Overall, it was a good meal but SO RICH!!! I need some Asian subtlety in my life again. The three things on the platter would probably all be amazing on their own but put together, it's a bit of a flavour headache. There's SO much going on. I had to constantly drink water to clean my palate. Also, it was pretty exxy, I really need to cut down on this type of spending! 7/10 #ipinions
I went back to my accommodation via tram. I had to put the bed sheets on by myself, I didn't pay money for this! And yes, I did have a roomie. Just one, and she was lady in her 70s. I was kind of surprised to see her. We talked for quite a bit, she told me a lot about herself. She told me about her past exes and how she never got married. She became a Catholic at 40 but was atheist before. She came down to Gothenburg every now and then to go to church and socialise but she didn't usually stay at a hostel. This particular time was special because her bishop got made cardinal in Rome or something. She was from the country side where her house was quite ‘primitive’ (no good mobile phone reception and electricity didn't run 24/7). Her English was really good and I think she understood pretty much everything I said even though she said she hardly ever speaks English. She did use some strange words though.