On spotting Black Friday deals for short flights, I rang my boyfriend, Ben, immediately!
To my excitement he suggested he book us on our first trip away together, but with the destination unknown to me. With months of secrets and whispers of planning, it was only a week before we set off, that the location was revealed to me- Gothenburg, Sweden. This random choice of place thrilled me, especially as we soon learned, when we got there, that it’s not a popular city for tourists. The authenticity of the locals and the feeling that we were one of them was part of the reason it felt so special.
After the stress of arriving to our hotel and discovering that we hadn’t yet payed for the room, I had realised that I’d left my phone in the taxi! Ben sprinted after the car like a character from an action film, as I stood, doubting that he would catch up. To my surprise he succeeded, but my phone wasn’t there. As we found our room, Ben got a call from my number, informing us that I’d left my phone at the airport, which I then collected after our five-day trip. This chaos of un-organisation led us to spend the morning planning an itinerary, in which we succeeded. Here it is:
Day 1 – The city of Gothenburg
A 15-20-minute walk from our hotel was the main city, where we explored and got to grips with the general area. Although we didn’t choose to visit; Gothenburg is museum central, from ‘Volvo’ to the ‘Titanic’ exhibition. It also has many lovely landscapes, rivers, and monuments.
Lunch- ‘Espresso House’
This cute cafe seemed to be very popular in Sweden as everywhere we went had one! It’s no surprise as the food was great and the hot chocolates were to die for!
Trams- The best way to get around
This seemed to be the main use of transport, with trams available every five minutes and stops conveniently located everywhere! Plus, they were super simple to navigate. However, the best thing about these trams were that we didn’t pay for a ride once! Sweden, being a technological country, meant that you could only pay via your phone, with an app that was only easily available to the locals. Therefore, Ben and I took full advantage of this by hopping on and off to discover new and wonderful parts of the city, riding freely on the tracks towards adventure.
Stenpiren Resecentrum- Boat tour
The days main activity involved an hour’s boat tour travelling through a beautiful river and exploring the lovely views for just 60SEK (£6)! Due to these boats being a popular commute, you can also take a FREE five-minute ride, however you won’t be able to see as much! On your way round, you can stop off to explore other areas, or you can sit and relax on the top of the boat with the bitter breeze blowing through your hair, admiring the landscapes from a far.
Dinner- A hungry nightmare
As Ben and I were busy enjoying the city, we lost track of time, and so our search for dinner started at around 22:00. On searching for a restaurant, we soon discovered that food stops being served at this time, in every place we went to, including pubs! Lights were on and people were inside, but even in restaurants you could only order drinks after the set time. We asked everyone where we could get anything to eat, and it was only 45 minutes later that we were directed to a small sandwich shop sitting in the middle of a roundabout! What was even more bizarre is that on our search, we learnt that the only places open late were sweet shops!
TIPS- Don’t go to dinner late and make use of the trams, buses and boats!
DAY 2- Heading to ‘Heden’
Heden became mine and Ben’s favourite place in Gothenburg, we discovered it with the help of a hilarious local man, who kindly took us to Heden’s outdoor ice rink, acting as a tour guide along the way.
The Heden Arena-Ice skating
This was incredible. Skating on the smooth ice, surrounded by the open air and wonderful scenery. Plus, entry and skates were free and we could stay for however long we wished! There was also a massive mound of snow sitting at the side, which we had so much fun playing in. We skated until the sun set, ending our day in Heden with the most delicious food ever!
Our go-to restaurant for most nights was circus themed, serving tapas, which you order from your phone and collect at the bar, creating a very fun atmosphere. The staff were great entertainers and friendly too. It’s a must go!
DAY 3- Snowboarding
Kitted up with thermals, coats and salopettes; we were on our way to Alebacken’s outdoor snow slope, an hour’s journey getting lost and confused, trying to figure out foreign signs, trains and buses.
On arrival, the lovely staff supplied us with our snowboards and boots. We started on the mini slope to gain our confidence, then took to the biggest steepest run we had ever seen. Well… Ben did, I got half way up when fear pulled me by the legs, sliding me all the way down on my bottom! Ben and I continued to practise for hours, ending the day zooming down on our sledges, all the way back to Heden, for another night at Pinchos.
After dinner, we went to a traditional sweet shop to pick out some midnight snacks. We also explored more of Heden, we visited the ‘Gotaplatsen’ statue and watched a comedic Swedish show in the square centre.
DAY 4- Skidome
An early start to our morning included a short tram ride to Krutvagen’s Nordic Wellness Skidome. This was a very interesting and new experience for us, as we had never seen skiing quite like this. Although it’s pricey if you don’t have your own equipment, this is something you must see!
Cross country skiing
With little trainer shoes clipped in to the skis by the tips of our toes and long poles tied to our hands, we shuffled along the flat snow, wondering how on Earth people could do this?! Professionals would almost be running around the course, while Ben and I tripped, fell and made fools of ourselves.
Eventually, we got to grips with it and enjoyed speeding down the small slopes, racing and trying jumps. However, we decided that playing in the snow was much better suited to us, so we ended our session making snow-angels, having snowball fights and watching everyone else pass by elegantly.
Back to Heden
After skiing, we returned back to the outdoor ice rink and skated for most of the evening, until it was time to once again eat at Pinchos!
We then headed back to our hotel to enjoy our last night in Sweden.
DAY 5- “It’s Snowing!”
Woken up with breakfast in bed and my lovely boyfriend screaming “It’s snowing!” was the perfect start to what was going to be the coldest, soggiest yet best day!
Ben and I made camp outside Ullevi’s football stadium, creating four mounds of snow, which acted as our ‘bases’, our plastic sledge was the bat and the ball was… of course, made of snow! You might be wondering how we played Rounders with only two people and an ever-disappearing snow ball, but we made it work! As the batter disintegrated the ball, the bowler rushed to make more snow balls to throw at the runner, if you got hit before getting to a post you were out, and so this was the hilarious activity which filled up our morning. Plus, we sledged down the concrete slopes of the stadium and laughed all our way into lunchtime.
As a quick break from the snow, we ate at 7-Eleven’s pick and mix salad bar and enjoyed a hot chocolate while watching more snow fall from the crisp, blue sky.
The last of our adventure
After filling up our bellies, we wondered round Gothenburg for the last time, appreciating its snow-covered beauty, while doing so I was constantly on the lookout for Ben’s snowball attacks!
Mine and Ben’s first foreign adventure together was rounded off with yet another hot chocolate, dry warm clothes and a picturesque bus ride to the airport, the latter being an unhappy sight as we had to leave behind the snow, the sledging, the ice skating, and the freedom, but the memories, the fun and our love for Sweden will forever remain.