Gothenburg to Stockholm and back again

Gothenburg 

Approaching Gothenburg on an early Wednesday morning makes me don’t regret at all that I woke up at 4 am. With my sleepy eyes I can spot as we are descending the peaceful lakes surrounded by rich forests and the randomly placed colorful houses.

Gothenburg airport is small and well organized, within an eyeblink I already have my luggage and I’m heading to the city. It’s getting better and better, or shall I say sweeter? Yes, sweet is the right word, because in the main railway station I discover the place where I can get my treat.

  

I have just 4 hours available this time, so it’s time to get moving… straight to Haga. Haga is the charming neighborhood of the city, about which locals says is the best part. It is peaceful and pretty, although it has many cafes, bars and boutiques. The vibe of the city is pleasant and the stroll is enjoyable not only because I get to see nice churches, cute buildings and well maintained green spaces, but also because I have a great company, Ana, presenting me with lots of passion. 

   
   

Our destination is Slottskogen – finally managed to remember the name – the massive park, which is also home of penguins, fazans, deers and some other animals, all there for the excitement of both kids and adults. 

   
     

To get from Gothenburg to Stocholm there are a few possibilities, I’ve chosen the train. I wanted to enjoy the view and I was totally satisfied with it.  Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing also about the punctuality, in that matter there’s still a lot too improve, having an hour delay was pretty much disturbing. 

Stockholm

Oh, Stockholm … the beautiful city on the water. Many travelers describe it as the loveliest European capital and I can see why. 

It has:

– a small,but cute old town:

  
– viewing points at short walking distance

 
– narrow and wide steets:

   

 

–  flowers and flowers, lots of flowers:

   
  


– statues all over:

   

  

 

Stockholm is a very photogenic city, in any direction you point your camera, for sure you will be able to capture a nice sight. I especially love the waterfront  in every city and in particular in Stockholm. The blue sky reflecting in the water and the laid back atmosphere create the right spot for locals and not only. On a Saturday morning I could observe a lot of people jogging, having a walk, pushing strollers or just wandering around like me, in this gorgeous place. The view is fantastic and the weather just perfect. 

   
     For the curious eyes of the tourists there is located also the city hall and if in the meantime a boat tripping idea occurs, they are departing from right there. 

  
Even though at first Stockholm might seem to be a big city, it’s actually not. In such a short time you can find yourself in a completely different part of the city. You can travel back in time as well if you fancy. For instance, back in the ’80’s. With other words back to Abba. It’s as easy as going to the museum, more precisely to the Abba museum. I’m not such a museum person, but I like to visit one or two from time to time and this one goes to the category of the interesting museums. 

  
It’s entertaining, fun and challenges you to prove your singing or dancing skills. If you take the audio guide you will hear the story of the band from the four famous Swedish characters, who’s music made our parents break the dance floor and it’s still oldie, but goldie. 

For the passionate and frequent museum goers there’s enough to do for at least a couple days in the area. I admired just a few museums and only from outside and let me blame the weather for this : the sun was shining on my face like begging me: don’t go in, I’m here to make your day beautiful. However, there’s a lot to choose from and with another occasion I might check out a few of the following: 

   
   

By then I checked out some others while passing in front of them and they caught my attention either because:

– I didn’t like the too much golden :

  
– or would have liked to step inside but was pressed by time :

  
They might have not been enough time for  museums, but for food and getting to know some Swedish people there was. And it was valuable time. Shall I start with the people or with the food? Both have in common one thing: they might seem strange at first but once you get to know – in the case of the food to taste – them, you will always want to have a piece. Swedish people are genuinely interested in hearing your story, they have the ability of seeing and appreciating that special thing in you which makes you unique. Their kindness and politeness, respect and warm heart has no limits. Their blond hair and blue eyes makes you feel that you are on the land of beautiful people. 

The traditional Swedish food is based on potatoes mainly, but meatballs and lingonberries are essential ingredients to complete many meals. Although it might not sound so special, it is delicious for sure, but my highlight in the matter of food in Stockholm was actually a Lebanese restaurant where I tried for the first time frog legs. Now that will seem disgusting to many of you and you can’t even imagine how wrong your approach is. Frog legs are absolutely delicious, have a slightly similar taste to chicken and became my absolute favorite.

  
Unfortunately it was time to say see you soon, Stockholm and head back to  Gothenburg, this time by plane.

Gothenburg

The view again is breathtaking, though this time through the tiny window of an airplane.

  
Lucky me, again with the weather, I meet Ana overexcited that she takes me to the archipelago. The journey takes 1 hour by boat, obviously. We are given the option of getting off on any of the few islands we are passing, but we choose to go to Vrångä, the biggest, the furtherest and considered to be the most beautiful. The view is marvelous on the way there and once we get to the island another world opens up in front of us. 

   
  
A peaceful and gorgeous island, where you can walk to the beach, climb up on the rocks, wander between the trees, following narrow trials and listening the sound of the ocean and the sea birds. We completely lost the sense of time while exploring, time goes by in a different rhythm there, but we are due to head back to city.  

If in the need of a break from the everyday life, that’s the place to be…

 

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Helsinki 

As you arrive to the Finnish capital you realize that it’s all relaxed,laid-back and calm.There’s no chaotic rush even at the airport. The first tip: don’t rely on the bus drivers. Many of them don’t speak English, the others just don’t bother giving you proper directions. However, on your own you figure out easily how the transportation works, after all even the metro system consists just of a single line, the second one being still in plan.

  
The massive building above is the main railway station, located in the compact center of the city, where every attraction is at a short walk or tram ride distance.

  

Weather can be pretty much diverse: in 3 days I had part of heavy rain, sun, wind, cold and cloudy, but bearable temperatures too. Obviously as the weather changes the whole atmosphere suffers a transformation. The Helsinki Cathedral on a rainy day:

  
 The same location on a sunny day with the occasion of Vappu events: 

  
Vappu starts on 30th of april with a lot of music, drinks and a big crowd at the Havis Amanda statue. Students wearing their colorful overalls and the must have white hats, wash the statue and place a hat on it, while everybody cheers and drinks champagne. 

  
The next day, on 1st of May the celebration continues in Kaivopuisto Park with picnicking and more sparkling wine. 

 With this occasion the Finnish, as know a reserved nation, go a bit crazy and open up much more than usually.  

Besides Vappu, there’s still a lot to see and experience in Helsinki. We are still in the center, where at every corner you spot either a cozy bar or an inviting restaurant. You shouldn’t skip either of them. The offer is large when it comes to food, but it is worth trying some Finnish speciality such as reindeer meat. I felt pity for the reindeer, but still couldn’t resist the temptation… In Zetor, a cosy Finnish restaurant in the center you have plenty specialities to choose from. 

  
For drinks in a nice ambiance go to Kaisla. For beer fans there are more than 100 diferent types to choose from, quite a few Finnish as well obviously.

 We shouldn’t forget that we are close Santa’s place, Lapland and it’s a good occasion to try out some food from right there. 

  
Besides te very typical reindeer specialities, salmon soup is absolutely delicious and after the tötteröletut ( pancake speciality) I guarantee that you’ll lick all your ten fingers.
This trip was full of amazing food and nice bars, one of them located in Torni hotel, where besides the cute bar and it’s good variety of drinks, also the toilet needs visited. I’m not pointing that out without reason, but I suggest taking the effort of going to the restroom even if you don’t need it. I guess you are a bit confused now, I just let the view speak for itself. View from the Torni toilet:

  
Helsinki is awesome, but isn’t it cool that in less than 15 min ferry ride you are on a gorgeous island called Suomenlinna? Such a fantastic, Unesco World Heritage site, with beautiful nature and lot of history. 

   
  

In Helsinki you can see several beautiful and unusual churches as well. Their architecture may be different, but most of them serve to the same religious orientation. Some of them you can spot from far away as being religious institutions, others you wouldn’t guess what they are actually. 
   
  

  

  The fact is that all above represent churches and are an important part of the daily Finnish life. Speaking of which, hockey becomes essential when the championship starts. Just a few hours before my flight back to Zürich I’ve been invited to Sports Academy Bar to cheer for Suomi ( Finland in Finnish). Luckily they were playing against USA, so I didn’t mind, ’cause if it was against Canada I might have been the only person there cheering for the opponents. The spacious sport bar got packed in minutes with loyal fans wearing their hockey T-Shirts and hats and waving around their national flags. It was a pity leaving in the middle of the game and letting behind me this great city, where I feel I still had things to discover… at a next visit.