Göteborg Getaway: My Solo Sweden Trip

Yes, this seven-month-pregnant lady waddled her way solo around Gothenburg, Sweden this past weekend!  First of all, if you’ve never taken a solo trip, DO IT!  Sometimes I just like my “me” time, whether that is in the bathtub with a good book or in another country with my travel journal 🙂  I’ve read a lot about women traveling solo, and while I have done it before, I read that Scandinavia is one of the safest places to do it.  {I travelled to Tanzania when I was 23 for three weeks on my own, so I wasn’t especially concerned about safety, other than the fact that I am indeed seven months pregnant…}  Anyway.  I love the thrill of being somewhere alone with my thoughts and my own agenda, so I was excited for my adventure.  I am definitely the planner {I am typically the one booking flights, finding hotels/accommodations, planning must-sees, etc.}, possibly partially due to my control freak nature and OCD tendencies 🙂  For solo trips, I like that I don’t have to wait around for anyone and can literally change my plans at the drop of a hat.

So, what did I do in Sweden?  Well, I was only there for maybe 36 hours so it was kind of a whirlwind.  After work Friday I drove directly to the airport to catch a 6:55 flight.  I used this meet and greet service to meet me at the terminal at Stansted so I could just drop my car and be on my way.  I had gotten a Groupon for it, so it ended up being about the same price or a little bit cheaper than a normal parking spot anyway.  While it was convenient not to have to worry about actually parking and walking or shuttling to the terminal, I don’t necessarily feel like it would’ve been worth it had I paid full price.  One of the things I didn’t like about it was that you have to call 20 minutes before you get to the airport, then right after you clear customs on your return.  I didn’t like the added stress of making that call while I was driving, and my phone doesn’t get great service in the airport, so coming home I wasn’t even able to call until I was outside anyway.

I digress.  I arrived at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport at around 10pm (two hour flight plus an hour time difference), and hopped on the Airport Coach to the city centre, getting off at Nils Ericsson Terminal next to the central station.  From there, I used my Gothenburg City Card to hop on the tram toward my AirBnB apartment.  Unfortunately, I have a horrible phone, so it died on my way there….which made finding the actual apartment difficult.  Luckily, I had printed out the address and other information regarding how to get into the apartment, and luckily most people speak English in Sweden.  I stopped into a restaurant to see if they could help point me in the right direction–they were kind enough to look up directions and even print them out for me!  Finally, I made it to the apartment around midnight!  The apartment was actually much more spacious than it looked in the pictures, so I was pleasantly surprised by that.  The bed was pretty small though, so it definitely was perfect for a solo traveller like myself!  I pretty much fell into bed and didn’t get up until the next morning!

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To preface the rest of my overview, I will say that Gothenburg was definitely not a city that I just fell in love with like many other cities I’ve visited.  While I really enjoyed the various things I did there, I wasn’t smitten with the city overall.  I think part of the problem is that I have this idea in my head that all European cities should be quaint and cute and picturesque, full of beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets.  Gothenburg did have those things in small doses, but in general, the city was much more modern and grungy than I expected.  I think another contributing factor was that I was in the city for such a short period of time that I really didn’t get to ‘get lost’ in it, which is one of my favorite things to do.  There were definitely areas that I would’ve loved to explore more, but time was a pressing factor for this trip.

Since I only had one full day to explore, I had made a list of things I hoped to see and do while in Gothenburg.  To start the day, I wanted to head to one of the archipelagos before the rest of the sights opened in the city.  Again, I used my city pass to hop on one of the trams to take me the 30 minutes to the Saltholmen Ferry Terminal.  I had looked up the time schedule ahead of time, and knew that there should be a ferry leaving for Aperö around 9:05.  Being ever the early bird, I arrived at the terminal well before then, and enjoyed taking some photos and catching up in my travel journal before the ferry departed.  The ferry was really nice (and the fare was included in the city pass as well, woohoo!), and I enjoyed a muffin and a coffee in its upstairs cafe area.  The ride was only about 10 minutes, so by the time I finished my food I was on my way off the boat and onto the beautiful, serene, car-less island.

While on the island, I mostly wandered around, taking lots of photos of the beautiful landscape and taking in the quietness of the place.  I didn’t see a lot of people there, but those I did see were incredibly friendly, all saying “hej!” with a welcoming smile.

I decided to climb to the top of Valen Hill to get a great view of the island, other archipelagos, and even Gothenburg!  I took a rather unconventional route up the hill, unaware that there was a path on the opposite side (probably not the best thing for my pregnant body, but hey, I made it!).  The views were worth it though!

I took the path back down the other side of the hill, which was much easier and flatter!  It took me all along an uninhabited portion of the island, and I ended up by what I thought was the other ferry terminal that would take me back to Gothenburg.  It was pretty much deserted though, so I wasn’t sure that the ferries were operating from that terminal.  I headed back toward the neighborhood area of the island {mind you, the tiny island only has around 450 inhabitants, so it didn’t take long!}.  The next ferry back to the Gothenburg wasn’t set to leave for another hour, so I took advantage of the extra time to rest my achey body and again catch up in my journal.

I arrived back at Saltholmen early afternoon after a light lunch and a quick ride on the ferry.  [This time, the ferry went from Asperö to Brännö, another of the archipelagos, then back toward Gothenburg.  I wish I would’ve had time to explore Brännö as well, it looks fantastic!]  Once I returned, I pretty much headed straight into town, as my main two destinations were both near the city center: Gothenburg Art Museum and Universeum Science Centre.  Both were included in the city pass as well.  I first visited the art museum.  While I am an art teacher, I am pretty particular about the type of art I enjoy viewing at museums.  There were a lot of older Nordic artist exhibits which I wasn’t particularly interested in, but I did love the self-portrait gallery, sculpture display, and the impressionism/modernism exhibits.  I spent about an hour there before heading out toward the Universeum.

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As I mentioned before, my phone sucks, so most of the time I was in Sweden I didn’t have access to anything (maps and clocks included!).  Luckily, the paper maps I had were decent and I was able to pretty easily find my way to the science centre.  Other than the archipelagos, the Universeum was my other “must see” in Gothenburg.  It did not disappoint!  Even for a single adult, it was really cool.  This was one thing I wish B and Benjamin was there for–they both would’ve LOVED it!  The centre has several different levels and includes everything from both fresh and salt water aquariums to a space exhibit to a rainforest {most of which was being renovated, bummer}.  There was a ton to do and see there and would highly recommend it, especially for families with kiddos!

After the Universeum, I didn’t have anything really planned, so I started to sort of make my way back toward the apartment.  I stopped down by one of the canals to see the “fish church” (a fish market).  It was closed, but the building was pretty cool, and there were tons of people out and about enjoying the beautiful weather [it was sunny and upper 40s, which was much warmer than I expected for Sweden!].  As I made my way back to the apartment, I stumbled upon the Haga neighborhood.  This was an area that was mentioned in several of the blogs and websites I scoured before my trip, and I am glad I happened upon it!  The area was super cute, filled with street vendors, adorable shops, and yummy cafes.  I picked up a few souvenirs and devoured a delicious kanelbullar {Swedish cinnamon bun} and headed back to the apartment to rest before dinner.

My plan was to head to Spisa for dinner, a restaurant nearby that my AirBnB host had recommended (also the place that was kind enough to give me directions the night before!).  However, they were hosting a party, so I was sadly not able to eat there.  I ended up next door at Bistro Italiano.  Dining alone has its perks- they didn’t have any tables available, but were able to seat me at the bar for my meal.  I had an absolutely delicious pesto pasta meal and an equally delicious tiramisu dessert 🙂  I cannot say enough about the staff that I interacted with there- they were so friendly, attentive, and wonderful!  I am a bit bummed that I didn’t get to really try any traditional “Swedish cuisine”, but my Italian meal was pretty darn good!

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I returned to the apartment and was oh so thankful to lay down- between the hiking on the island and walking around town, my body was beyond tired!  I woke Sunday with enough time to grab a quick breakfast and coffee before hopping on the bus back to the airport.  On the way to the airport, I got a glimpse of Liseberg, the amusement part in Gothenburg.  I was incredibly surprised to see that it is pretty much situated right in the city, and backs up against the Universeum!  It was closed for the season [not that I could’ve enjoyed much in my pregnant state], but I have heard great things about it!

Goodbye Gothenburg!  I hope to see Sweden again someday….I would really love to do a Scandinavian cruise and see the beautiful fjords and more archipelagos!

Gothenburg Travel Journal

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