Monday, October 24, 2011

2 Days, a Dozen Disappointments

Saturday morning, Jo and I hit the road with one of our teammates (she’s a middle), Emma, and her husband. Our destination? Göteborg, written in English as “Gothenburg”, the 2nd largest city in Sweden. Daniel had suggested a cheap hostel that we could stay at for the night called Göteborgs Vandrarham.
Welcome to Gothenburg Hostel

Thus bringing forth disappointment number one: the hostel, where some assembly would be required. After paying 300 kroner ($45) each for the room, with an additional 60 kroner ($10) for bedding, we opened door number 20 to find our beds standing on end with the mattress-pads folded up on the desk. There were no pillows or blankets anywhere. Wonderful. From here, we began wandering throughout the city. We passed Liseberg amusement park – the largest amusement park in Scandinavia, where we faced disappointment number two: it was closed for the season, opening for the Christmas premier mid-November. We were only a month early. 
Liseberg Amusement Park - Closed until November 18

We kept walking to find the Gothia Towers; part conference hall, part hotel, with a restaurant on the top floor. We had been advised by friends to eat the shrimp sandwich from their restaurant; however, the food was a bit out of our price range. Disappointment number three. We found the main boulevard, Kungsportavenyn, also called Avenyn or in English “The Avenue”. This road begins at the Gothenburg Museum of Art, where the Poseidon statue stands. Unfortunately for us, the Poseidon statue is currently under renovation and would not be revealed from its white covering until November. Cue disappointment number four
Poseidon Statue in front of Goteborg Art Museum, under renovation

We decided it was time to find some food for lunch before we would begin our mid-season shopping. Subway provided us with our cheapest full meal in Sweden: 6” sub of the day (spicy Italian) with chips and a drink for 52 kroner. SUCCESS! Despite our overzealous shopping attitudes, we were fairly unsuccessful in this endeavor. “Look, another H&M!” Disappointment number five, as this was just the rear entrance of the H&M we were just inside. Continuing down the road, I spied a giant Ferris wheel and, thinking it was near something cool, we wandered towards it. The weather was not optimal Ferris-wheel weather, as it had been cold, wet, rainy all day and was now foggy. Despite my long sleeve shirt, sweater, scarf, gloves, and down jacket liner/outer raincoat winter jacket, I was still feeling chilled – disappointment number six. At least there isn’t snow on the ground yet (knock on wood). 

Foggy day in Goteborg
As the day progressed, we began getting a bit more and more stiff from the cold, our bodies aching from the uneven cobblestone sidewalks. I should probably state here that there are NO potholes anywhere on the streets in this country. I actually think it’s a law that the local area has to repair them immediately, to prevent accidents or something like that. Its very impressive how quickly they get roadwork done here; something that America should maybe take in advisement. We agreed that a massage would be a great way to spend time and money here, so if we happened to come across a spa, it was our destiny and we were allowed by fate to go inside. Alas, across the street from the Ferris wheel was, much to our surprise, a spa! We practically ran inside, only to find disappointment number seven – they closed 7 minutes earlier. Seriously? This was beginning to get ridiculous. 
Rainy day in Goteborg
Emma has recommended a few points-of-interest for us to try to find during our two days here, so we changed our mindset and focused on searching for the Feskekôrka Fish Market Hall. Known as the “fish church”, it houses an indoor fish market. Disappointing fact number eight: we never found it, despite wandering the city for hours both Saturday and Sunday. It’s possible that we walked past it, but there is no way to be sure. The mid-season sales also proved to be disappointment number nine; all I wanted to get from this weekend was a sweater with elbow pads – they’re very chic here in Sweden. Unfortunately they were not right, and we all know, if you don’t love it in the store, you’ll like it even less at home. Our “centrally located hostel”, as it advertises online, was a 45-minute walk from our current location…in the city Centrum. Do I even have to say that this was disappointment number ten? Finally back at the hostel, we rested for about an hour before setting out to search for shrimp sandwiches. We investigated the Gothia Towers, taking a scenic elevator ride to “Heaven” (the restaurant located on the top floor), finding their food priced a bit too high, and decided to continue on.

View of Liseberg from "Heaven" in Gothia Towers

We finally stopped to eat at Jameson’s Pub. The food was delicious, and hit the spot. Disappointment number eleven came when the waiter brought the bill; for a shrimp sandwich, a plate of fries (which we split), and a pint of Guinness, we paid 224 kroner ($35) each. Did I mention we ate at the bar? 

135 kroner ($20) Shrimp Sandwich at Jameson's Pub
The pinnacle of our first day in Göteborg was planned to start at 9:30 that evening. We were going to see Crazy, Stupid, Love starring Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone. It was fantastic!! Except for the point that it made us miss our families and friends at home…disappointment number twelve.

Nalle Puhs (Winnie the Pooh) and friends at the movie theater
I believe that I should comment that this trip wasn’t a complete and epic fail. Jo and I had a great time wandering the streets of such a large city (still nothing compared to the States). We were able to have bagels for the first time Sunday morning for breakfast; for lunch, we ate stuffed crust pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. We got a bunch of pictures and some pretty funny stories. We completed our second month here in Sweden mostly unscathed. I wonder what’s going to happen next…

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