Europe 2015 Diary Entry I – Gothenburg

One year later, I’m finally finding the time to document my memories of our trip. I’m calling them diary entries, because they’re mostly thought dumps to recall as many details as possible – mostly for memory sake. I’m already forgetting little details about our trip, which is sad as it was really a once in a lifetime experience that I want to remember for the rest of my life. So these posts will be long and full of pictures. Consider yourself warned. 🙂

We had some crazy jet lag to deal with in Gothenburg. It’s only a 6 hour time difference from Toronto but the flight over there involved a layover in Amsterdam at 7:45am local time, which was really 1:45am Toronto time. Determined to stay in our new timezone, we wandered around the airport like zombies and eventually shared a sandwich (we had high expectations for the bread here, but alas… we were disappointed).

Our first meal in the Amsterdam airport during our layover.

We had about 2 hours until our next flight, so we went in search for coffee after we ate to help us stay away. Mike and I are self-professed coffee snobs – we’ve been spoiled big time in Toronto with too much choice when it comes to good (albeit sometimes inconsistent) coffee. So, this was the first test of Europe. I never really have the best opinion of European coffee, not because it’s bad, but mostly because it’s different from what I’m used to drinking in Toronto. I think it’s more of a style difference than one being better than the other. Okay, so. We settled on this chocolate cafe because it had seating near the window and we noticed that every coffee came with a piece of chocolate. Hey, we were on vacation. Let the indulgence begin. 🙂 Coffee and chocolate were average, but the sunrise was pretty spectacular. Too bad we were fighting to stay awake at this point so we couldn’t fully enjoy it. I still don’t think it had hit me that our European trip had actually begun!

First coffees in Europe! Not out of this world, but I’m pretty sure we went back here the next time we came to the Amsterdam airport. Plus, free chocolate? Yes, please.

The flight to Gothenburg was short – thankfully! Just over an hour. We really came to appreciate the fact that almost all flights were roughly 1 hour or so in length. That came at the cost of flying in tiny airplanes that didn’t feel sturdy in the air, but at least it was over fast if you factor in the take off and landing. Once again, I barely remember the time we spent in Gothenburg airport. We picked up our luggage (I don’t remember their being any issues), took a few obligatory photos with our messy travel hair, and navigated our way over to what continues to be my favourite airbnb of our entire trip.

The main park in Gothenburg, Slottsskogen. Lots of runners, families, and people walking about.

Our host was running a bit late to meet us, so we wandered around in her neighbourhood and came across Bar Foxx. I did a Global Cup review of that place, and it still stands to be one of my favourite cafes that we went to in Europe! We shared a delicious goulash and amazing (to our “style”) coffee. We would go back there every day that we were in Gothenburg and barely tried anywhere else. When we went to meet our host, I was a little apprehensive. It was the first time I’d ever stayed in an Airbnb and we were renting a private room, rather than an entire apartment. It looked nice in the pictures, but what if it wasn’t the same in person?

We loved eating breakfast and lunch most days at her kitchen table.

Oh man, her space was GORGEOUS. She was a traveller at heart, like us, but in recent years had a son so she couldn’t travel as much as she did in the past. Her place kind of looked like it came out of an Ikea catalogue, but that isn’t a bad thing at all. It was visually stunning.

Not sure why we didn’t spend more time in this room. It was so inviting and cosy.

Our guest room was double the size of our bedroom. She also had a really nicely furnished common area, but the guest room was so cosy, that we barely left it when we were at home.

About half the size of the guest bedroom. The only weird thing was that the bed was actually two twin sized beds squished together. Which meant one of us always woke up in the crack between the two beds. This was a theme in a lot of European AirBnbs and hotels that we went to. I guess it’s their way of having versatile rooms that suit two single people or a couple.

She even had homemade cheesy paleo bread (what!?) topped with cream cheese and then more cheese (they love their cheese in Europe!) and they were so delicious that we ate two. I felt like I could have spent at least a month living there!

Mike and I shared this and then when she saw how much I loved it, she made me another. I wish I had gotten the recipe!

I talked about the running we did in Gothenburg in this post, but essentially, we attempted to pick up our training exactly where we left off in Toronto. Well…..that was a mistake. Like I mentioned at the beginning, we were both extraordinarily jet lagged. Despite our best attempts to go to bed at 11pm or so, we were tossing and turning all night. By 6am, we’d finally be so exhausted that we’d sleep… and end up waking up at noon. It was frustrating for us because we consider ourselves to be morning people so by the time we woke up the morning was gone.

Taking a break from the rain from one of our runs

Mike had arranged to work remotely with his company but luckily, he had thought ahead and taken the first two weeks in Scandinavia as a proper vacation. There is no way either of us could have gotten any work done in these first few days! The insomnia dragged on for a quite a while and the other frustrating thing was that it rained A LOT. So we don’t have too many photos of the city itself, but it did look like it had the potential to shine on a sunny day. It was January, so I suppose rain is better than snow and below freezing temperatures (although Mike would disagree), but the humidity, constant rain and lack of sunshine started to get to me. Despite that, we had that new city, new continent, and new food excitement to hang onto, so it wasn’t too bad.

We were a little delirious in this photo. I just remember giggling uncontrollably and draping ourselves over the chairs, trying to stay awake.

A lot of people, our host included, asked us why we started our trip in Winter. Well, logistically, that was the best time for us. We had saved up a decent amount of money at that point, and my main contract worked in three month increments, the last one I did ending in December. I decided not to renew it as I didn’t think it would be as easy for me to work remotely as it was for Mike. The other thing that I’ve been running away from ever since is the polar vortex. I really didn’t think I’d be able to handle another polar vortex in Toronto. The previous year broke my spirit and they were forecasting it to be the same or worse as the year before.

We went out to a few restaurants while we were there.

  • Lager Huset . A very cosy bar and restaurant. The food was delicious and the beer was great. For how much it cost, we left hungry, but I’m pretty sure we ended up eating muesli with oat milk (that became an obsession of mine) when we got home.
Lager Huset is in the background! We discovered it while running and made plans to go back for a beer… and ended up sampling some of the food as well. It was our favourite by far, but too expensive to have eaten a proper meal there.
Delicious plates of food that I can’t remember the names or descriptions of. Trust me, they were both delicious.
  • Restaurang Sjöbaren On our second day, we went out for dinner at a fancy restaurant. I had some fish broth type soup with garlic toast. It was creamy, filling, and delicious!
A gorgeous plate of delicious food that I can’t recall. I think it was a mix of roasted beets and some kind of soft cheese. I think…
It was raining pretty heavily outside which made dining at this place extra cosy. Loved the real candles on the table – something we saw a lot of in Europe. In Toronto, most of the times, the candles are fake because they don’t trust us.
  • On the third night, we went in search of a pizza place that our host recommended to us. Only, on the way there, we noticed another pizza place that looked interesting to us. Since it was our last night and we couldn’t decide which one we wanted to try more, we ordered one pizza at each and had them split it for us.

First pizza place: Ombra Ristorante Pizzeria

Mike makes me laugh all the time. It makes life fun. That explains my face, but I don’t know how to explain the blue tint in this photo…
Good, but not worth the cost or the extra charge for sharing and daring to drink still water (we thought that was only something that happened when the water came from a bottle!).

Second pizza place: Cyrano

Second pizza at Cyrano

The first restaurant charged us extra for doing this and charged us for water. Sigh. Go figure, we liked the pizza better at the second place (Cyrano) which was much more casual and didn’t charge us extra for – gasp – having to bring out a second plate.

Gothenburg was an amazing start to our trip. Sweden is such a cool country that’s pretty diverse and surprisingly very liveable. We got so lucky to have such an amazing AirBnb host that I’d recommend again in a heartbeat. The food was super fresh and the coffee was some of the best we had in Europe. Every time we went to a city, we would discuss its “livability” for us and we determined that we could definitely see ourselves going back and living there for a period of time (obviously NOT taking into account finances, jobs, etc). It’s a very clean city and almost everybody speaks perfect English. They also had a massive park that would have been perfect to run around.

So that was our Gothenburg stay in a nutshell! Next stop: Oslo, Norway.


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