I just finished my Masters, got placed in a well-reputed MNC and had a month to go before I could start my job. With my birthday around the corner, I wanted to do something offbeat to bring in my birthday this time around. So, I decided to treat myself with a solo trip to a unique destination – one that no one I knew had been to before.
I was done with all those college trips to Goa, Manali, Pondicherry, etc. and wanted to venture out of India this time. However, getting together the entire gang for an international trip was next to impossible due to date issues. So, I decided to travel solo for a change. One thing was certain, I was definitely going to a place no one could say, ‘Been there, done that!’
My Destination of Choice – Gothenburg in Sweden
I started my research and looked up destinations around India with decent flying times. I didn’t want to go to the typical beach destination or simply one where I would only shop. I wanted to do something different and exciting each day, after all, I was going solo, so I needed to ensure I would be entertained throughout my time there. During the course of my research, I stumbled upon a city I had never heard of before – Gothenburg, or as the Swedes say it, Göteborg!
The more I read, the more I was drawn to it. I quickly checked for flight connectivity before beginning to daydream about visiting Gothenburg in Sweden. Thank God for Qatar Airways and their direct flights to Gothenburg from Doha. What a relief, right? I’ve often had to pass up on visiting a destination due to the lack of flights going there. I didn’t need to do any more research on the airlines, as Qatar Airways has always been my airline of choice, for their amazing inflight services, entertainment options, warm service and, last but not the least, the delicious inflight meals. So, without much ado, I quickly booked my tickets and planned the rest of my trip.
I started my journey from Delhi. I first flew to Doha from Delhi with Qatar Airways, where I was able to catch my connecting flight to Gothenburg. Since Qatar Airways has 5 flights to Gothenburg each week, the great connectivity ensured I barely lost any time in transit.
Touchdown in Gothenburg
I landed in Gothenburg in the evening and the jetlag had caught up with me by then. However, I was determined to ensure I don’t waste a single day. So, I went straight to the hotel to drop my bags off and freshen up and head out for a nice meal. I decided to start my trip on a high note, with dinner at one of the six Michelin star restaurants in the city – Bhoga. This Michelin starred restaurant specialises in Swedish gastronomy and offers a variety of delicious Swedish meals made with fresh, local ingredients. I indulged in some fresh oysters and shellfish, so much so, that I didn’t have any place left for dessert. So, I decided to talk a stroll along the canal before heading to the hotel, where I had the chance to converse with a few locals, who shared some great restaurant and gallery recommendations with me. As we chatted away, I told them about how I was visiting Gothenburg solo to celebrate the completion of MBA, my new job and my birthday of course! When Erik, one of the locals I was speaking to, discovered my birthday was at the end of the week, he instantly extended an invitation to join him and his friends for a get together at Gunnebo Manor. Truth be told, I was kind of glad that he invited me, because the thought of celebrating my birthday by myself did seem a little daunting. Since Erik insisted that I join in, I gladly accepted the offer! (Whoever said making friends can be tougher as your grow older, should visit Gothenburg and take tips from the locals!)
The Solo Tripping Begins
Like I said, I wanted to do something exciting each day. I started by visiting Liseberg, an amusement park in the centre of Gothenburg that’s been there since 1923. Liseberg features Scandinavia’s longest and fastest rollercoaster – Helix, AtmosFear, Europe’s largest free-fall attraction, and the best wooden rollercoaster in the world – the Balder. You simply cannot go there and miss out on these attractions. My day was spent running in between rides like the Flygis, Cyklonen and the Kaffekopparna, to name a few.
The Island Escape
After an adventurous day, I wanted to take a break and do something more relaxing the following day. So, I chose to explore the Gothenburg Archipelago, and my preferred mode of transport for the day was the humble kayak. I headed out to Önnereds Brygga in Västra Frölunda.
I chose the guided tour as I had never used a kayak before, and they helped me adjust to the kayak and learn paddling techniques and navigation. I kayaked around the area with quick breaks for refreshments in between. I ended the day with a dip in the pristine blue waters, followed by a meal at a quaint little restaurant by the bay!
Mementos for Memories
After visiting the amusement park and the archipelagos, I decided to dedicate my next day to exploring the city centre, or rather the several city centres of Gothenburg. I started the day at Götaplatsen, the cultural heart of the city and home to the City Theatre; the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg, and Concert Hall. After exploring the exhibits at the museum, I wanted to take a little break from being all touristy. So, I headed out to Haga district where I took a fika break at Café Husaren, home of the legendary Hagabullen (a plate-sized cinnamon bun). After my fika break, which stretched a little too long courtesy the yummy delights served along with my coffee, I decided to pop by some of the shops for a memento for my girlfriend. I stopped by Bebop Antik and found some cute trinkets and gorgeous ceramic teacups to bring back for her. Since, I was still full from my fika break, dinner was off the table, so I spent the rest of my evening going about the streets of Haga, chit chatting with the locals and exchanging travel anecdotes. I ended the day with a quick bite at a food truck nearby, where I tried the highly recommended halv-special. It’s a hotdog loaded with mashed potatoes and a lovely shrimp-and-mayo salad. Another thing you absolutely cannot miss.
Urban Nature at it’s Finest
For me, nature was all about beaches and scenic waterfronts for the most of it. But, in Gothenburg, nature found a whole new meaning in my dictionary. I was spellbound by the little parks, hidden in every corner of the city, and the fact that you could literally camp out anywhere as long as you respect your surroundings and its inhabitants. On my last day in Gothenburg, which also happened to be my birthday, I visited a place called Gunnebo House, along with Erik. Not only was I able to enjoy a meal with some wonderful people in an al-fresco setting, but I also got to go foraging for ingredients for my meal and help make it! It was the most relaxed meal I had made and enjoyed in a long time (especially after years of waiting in line for food at the hostel mess)!
My meal at Gunnebo house, that started off with ‘strangers’ ended very differently. By the end of the meal, we were exchanging contact details to keep in touch. With all the stories we exchanged during our meal, it felt more like a gathering of friends towards the end of it, making for the perfect end to my trip and my birthday celebrations. In fact, one of them even promised to visit India soon! I went alone, but came back with so many new friends and the wonderful stories they shared.
While I chose Gothenburg to do something different, unlike anyone else, I realized something I would have never known had I not visited this city. This multifaceted, vibrant city had so much to offer, but the real jewel in its crown were the people of the city. Their friendliness and warmth not only made me feel like I always belonged here, it gave me a certain sense of security as well. Another great thing about Gothenburg – all the locals speak English fluently, which means no communication barriers at all! Going to a foreign country, where people speak different languages, can be overwhelming, especially if you are travelling solo. But, in Gothenburg, those lines where instantly blurred and I felt like just another Swede going by his day. (I wish I was, then I could stay here forever!). Oh well, while that isn’t the case, I know this is a city I will revisit over and over again, simply for the way it enveloped me within itself and made me feel like I always belonged there!
The essence of Gothenburg cannot be captured in a single sentence. What I can say is that it sure was everything I expected, and more. Versatile, progressive and welcoming – a visit to Gothenburg can be a million different things, and that’s what makes it so exciting! I highly recommend visiting Gothenburg in Sweden to everyone out there, and if you’re going solo, fear not, because company will always be right around the corner! You can take my word for it.