Of the 9 European countries I visited, I’d have to rank Göteborg, Sweden in the bottom two, right above Helsinki, Finland. It’s not that I believe that these cities/countries suck, but in my personal experience, they were my least favorite. I’m confident that had I gotten more time there, my opinion would probably be different.
We were supposed to go to Stockholm, the capital, but that was thwarted by some Swedish royal getting married there that day. Apparently, the cruise line thought the traffic and congestion in Stockholm– the largest city in Sweden– would be too much, so they diverted the ship to Göteborg (English version: Gothenburg), which is the second-largest city.
After farting around in some souvenir shops, we decided to take a boat tour since Göteborg– like Chicago– has a large canal that runs through it. The Göta Canal was constructed in the 19th century and runs about 382 miles all the way across Sweden, through two large lakes, and out into the Baltic Sea. We took the Paddan Tour in the part of the canal located in Göteborg with a company called Strömma. It costs 180 krona per person ($20.57 USD) and is a 50-minute tour of Göteborg from the water, as well as a brief trip through a small section of the canal. We saw the famed Lilla Bommen, aka ‘The Lipstick Building‘, which is Skanska’s (worldwide construction/development company) Swedish headquarters. We saw and were told about many bridges, but the main star is Osthyveln, aka ‘The Cheese Slicer‘, because it is so low that everyone in the boat must get on the floor and huddle down, otherwise you WILL get whacked and very, very hurt. Those who have physical disabilities or cannot get on the floor easily probably could not take this boat tour. We also saw the ‘East Indiaman Götheborg‘, which is a replica of a 1738 Swedish sailing ship, which would have been used by the East India Company back in its hey-day.
After the boat ride, we walked down Kungsportsavenyn, or ‘The Avenue‘, which is the main street in Göteborg. Man… Swedish people are… a trip. We ran into a flash mob of about 50 young girls and one, single dude, performing a choreographed dance of Justin Biebers ‘Baby’ (this was 2011, after all), while one chick wearing an American flag jacket held the boombox. I appreciated their support, but it was just a bit strange because 1) in America, we rarely-to-never see anything like a dancing flash mob, and 2) I doubt many Americans would go around rocking a Swedish flag jacket for the fun of it (unless, of course, they’re Swedish). I gotta give them props though; their dance moves were on point.
That’s not the only reason I think the Swedes are a trip– no– it’s because we also ran into two men who were “celebrating a bachelor’s party”. I put it in quotes because I’ve never seen a bachelor’s party celebrated in such a fashion. There were only two of them, and the prospective groom was wearing boxers, fishnet stockings, a gimp mask, blonde wig, had a cup in his waistband and a beer duct-taped to his hand, all while being walked on a leash tied to his ankle by his normally-dressed buddy. He had something written on his shirt, but since I don’t speak Swedish, I have no clue what it was. It was a little hard to understand them because of the language barrier, but I’m 99% sure the “handler” claimed it was the gimp’s bachelor party. Who knows, maybe they were just two weirdos out for a good time. However, they were super nice and let us take pictures with them. Oh, and if you wanted to whip him (with a whip they supplied, of course), you could drop a few krona in his pants-cup and have yourself a grand ‘ole time.
We began to make our way back to the ship but had time to stop at ‘The Wheel of Göteborg‘, which is Sweden’s smaller, less-famous answer to The London Eye. Its real name is The Liseberg Wheel, located at the front of an amusement park called Liseberg (we did not have time to explore the park). It offers a complete 360-view of Göteborg and is worth a visit. It’s certainly no London Eye but it’s ‘ight. I had many pictures of this place, but they are lost now (we all know why).
Overall, my day spent in Sweden has left me with some confusion, because while I wasn’t crazy about Göteborg, I still feel that if I spent more time and visited other parts of Sweden like Stockholm, I might like the country a lot more. We didn’t get to see or do a lot that Sweden had to offer because of the rain and short time-frame allotted. I don’t want to deter anyone from visiting Sweden, because I, myself, would like to go back one day, buuuut… unless you’re absolutely dying to visit Sweden, maybe hit a few more places before jaunting off there.