Scandinavian Summer, Day 4: Gothenburg and Garden Fest


After a great night of sleep, I was firmly a fan of glamping!  We were both awake on the early side thanks to the jet lag and sun.  We went for a walk along the coast and took in the mellow beauty of Hven.  Then it was time to pack up, walk to the bus stop, and wait for the bus.

And wait.  And wait.  After 15 minutes and seeing one local walk up the hill, I realized that the National holiday may have affected the schedule so we set out to walk to the ferry.  Fortunately, there were several a day since we were heading to the Swedish port of Landskrona.

We walked across the island which, I confess, might have lost a little luster due to an unexpected delay and dragging a roll-aboard behind me (SMS helped!).  I chided myself, asking why was I so antsy to leave paradise.  But there were other places to go and explore…like Gothenburg!

We got on the ferry, bought a breakfast pastry, and sat outside for the half hour ride.  Then we hopped on a bus to the train station and purchased our passes.  We only had 13 minutes, which was a tight time window to find out how things worked, buy the tickets and make it to the train platform.  We did it, though, and SMS had a convenience store hot dog to tide him over through the 3 hour train ride.

By the way, let me interrupt this slight boring recitation of travel connection to rave about selective smartphone use during travel.  Specifically, Google maps. The transit feature for directions is very, very good and really helps with bus and train connections.  When I travel, I like to experience the new surroundings and not get caught up with stuff back home.  Disconnecting from a smartphone is the quickest way to do that but there are advantages to having one.  So, I used the phone sparingly- I didn’t check the NYTimes multiple times a day, I didn’t look at Facebook.  But I did use it as an e-guide for local information, travel timetables, and Yelp reviews.

We arrived at the central train station and walked to our hotel.  It was only 5 minutes away and on the edge of the walkable section of tourist-interest Gothenburg which, for this quick visit, extended from the train station down to the Göta älv, the river that empties into the North Sea.  Our hotel was the Hotel Royal with beautiful Art Neauveau interiors.  It was clean, comfortable and had a beautifully tiled bathroom.  The location was excellent as a base for exploring by foot.  I highly recommend it!

It is funny when checking into the hotel because they emphasize that they are the “oldest hotel in Gothenburg.”  In my mind, that doesn’t bring up the best connotations for how the hotel will be.  As it turns out, they are 1. proud of their history and 2. really emphasizing the importance of not losing the keys.  It did not mean that the place was musty, dusty and a wee bit smelly, which is what “oldest hotel” brings to mind.

Wrinkly poster

I knew there was a music festival that night and it turned out that the hotel manager was going.  GARDEN was a first time music festival held in the Trädgårdsföreningen, the Gothenburg Garden Society’s park.  The National was playing and I really like them.  I had also heard good things about Future Islands.  So, we decided to go check out it out!


We walked over to the garden and bought tickets.  The festival definitely drew a crowd but it wasn’t crowded, if that makes sense.  We went to the bar area where we got drinks and also admired the coolest hand-washing station at the ladies room- an outside shower-like water stream emptying into a clawfoot tub in a decorated inside/outside room.  Very Instagram-able.


Then it was time for the music.  We listened to Warpaint.  It was a quartet of women and they were excellent!  It was a great new-to-me discovery.  The Future Islands lead singer bops around the stage like a big ol’ weirdo.  It’s simultaneously cool that he’s into it and a little distractingly funny.

The National 


Finally, it was time for The National.  The lead singer’s voice is really beautiful and although a lot of their songs drift to the melancholy, it was really a great show.  At one point, he ran through the crowd which was pretty cool.  I thought the funniest part was the sound guy frantically trying to feed out the mike wire to allow the show to go on!  I hope he got a bonus because he did an excellent job.

Then it was time to head back.  We saw a few late-night bar options but we were tired and so it was back to the hotel!


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