A relatively last minute addition to my itinerary was visiting Gothenburg. It was, once again, a ‘stars aligning’ kind of thing where Tiger Lou, another of my favourite bands, happened to be playing and my accommodation was flexible enough to let me head to the west coast and back in time for my plane home. So on Friday morning I left Stockholm early and took the train to the other side of Sweden and had one of the longest and most enjoyable days of my whole trip.
Though it wasn’t super early it was dark and cold and quiet when I got up on my last morning in Stockholm. Because the power plugs didn’t work in my room I brought my phone into the lounge area to charge. There was no-one around but the South African in me still refused to leave my stuff unattended, so I killed time playing solitaire on the communal computers and exploring the shared spaces.
It was totally empty apart from me, and I really enjoyed the slightly surreal feeling of being alone on the dated boat. I enjoyed my stay there and everything was neat etc. it was all just quite musty and trapped in the past.
The metro took me quickly to the central station, which was still busy on the commuter train side but luckily for my anxiety was a lot quieter on the cross-country platforms.
The landscapes from the train were pretty bleak the whole way as the leaden sky didn’t ease up. The train made a few stops at small towns along the way but mostly just bolted on to Gothenburg.
Never being this kind of train before I had no idea what to do with my luggage. I seemed to be the only person there with any kind of luggage too. I hastily stuffed my fatbag into the empty seat next to me because it was too big for the overheads. The conductor seemed satisfied with this as there was no-one booked next to me.
As we neared Gothenburg the clouds finally lifted and I saw blue skies for the first time in days.
Stepping off the train I felt the change instantly. The central station was super chilled and airy and didn’t have that oppressive crush of Stockholm. Subsequently I’ve heard South Africans tell me they found Stockholm felt more like Joburg and Gothenburg more like Cape Town – I definitely see how that comparison works. Everything felt more laid back in Gothenburg and I really enjoyed that atmosphere.
Again I struggled a bit with the trams. My biggest problem turned out to be the other side of the road thing – I’d instinctively wait on the left and then end up going the wrong way. I never got the hang of it but I always found my way eventually.
My host was lovely and after I settled in we went for an epic walk in the nearby nature reserve and botanical gardens. Owing to some issues with her landlord about her using Airbnb I’m not going to disclose any info about her (which is a pity, because she was great and her place was wonderfully located).
The great advantages of going somewhere with a local: she knew the sneaky back trails and the best paths. We spent about 4 hours in the forest and I could’ve easily spent 3 days there. It was so beautiful.
The thing I loved the most was how each area changed so much from the last – one minute we were in a deep pine forest, then a grove of birches then an open plain. The plains had a great view over the other side of the city and the scrub reminded me a bit of the north. The purple heather reminded me of ericas from home.
After a while we came to a gate and entered the Botaniska trädgård. We came in at the Japanese section, which was hands down my favourite. My host said the autumn colours had literally happened over night and that it was all still green the 2 days ago she’d last visited.
We came to more manicured gardens and greenhouses and left out another discreet side gate. My host took the bus straight home and I took a short detour back hoping for a view of the sunset. I missed it but I did see an epic moonrise from my room (which had an amazing view).
I made dinner using the last of my groceries and leaving my uncooked pasta (I bought a kilo…because it was cheap) to my host afterwards, then headed off to the concert. The Haga church was lit up beautifully, as was the ‘fish church’, the Feskekôrka market building.