Country #16! We blitzed through Helsingborg after departing the ferry from Denmark, on our way up to Gothenburg. It looked like a pretty town, and there was a pang of regret at speeding past.
The drive north to Gothenburg was surprisingly flat – apart from a single hill midway. The motorway was surrounded by fields of wheat, still looking somewhat green. It feels an age ago that we were in Tuscany, watching the golden fields of wheat rustle in the wind.
It was also the first time we’d felt the heat of the sun in Scandinavia. It felt so completely different to what we’d left behind in Denmark.
An old university friend is living here now, so we went to visit. It’s been nearly ten years since we graduated university, and while some things have clearly changed (he has two children, is married, and is living on the other side of the world, in a country that speaks a foreign language), people still feel the same, which is comforting.
We joined them for the tail end of their dinner, and caught up on the past years, as well as learn more about the area and the culture. They’ve got a comfortable life here, living in a nice house, and part of me is envious of this, as I can’t imagine being able to buy a house wherever we eventually settle down – nor having the support to start a family like they have in Sweden.
Our friends had prior plans for this morning, so after breakfast, we parted ways and said goodbyes. It was such a short time, but it always feels that way with us, moving on to the next thing.
They generously loaned us some bus cards, so we caught public transport in to town for a quick explore. I didn’t have a lot of attractions I wanted to see, so it was more about a casual exploration. The boat tours are popular, but we chose to just see the town by foot.
Sometimes not having any solid plans for a city works well, and things fluidly fall into place. Sometimes they don’t and we miss the some of the key sights. I feel like this may have happened here, as we didn’t really see anything that made us excited about the town. It was pleasant enough, but it just felt like any other town. The slightly miserable weather also puts a city into a different light. We’ve been generally pretty lucky with the weather (outside of Scandinavia), and have become somewhat spoilt, fair-weather tourists.
I grabbed a gourmet hot dog (from Gourmetkorv) – this was their dog of the day. Delicious sausage, mashed potato, garlic bread, pickles, lingonberry. Risa turned her nose up at the thought of some hideous processed meat – and then asked for seconds, and thirds.
Instead, she was interested in the fish market. It was pretty small, but the produce all looked outstanding. She grabbed some fish cakes, and a tub of cured tuna pieces. The little yabbies/crawfish are pretty special here, with festivals held around this time of the year – we saw some costumes for sale in one of the small boutiques. Though, I hear it’s getting so popular that meeting demand has required the importation of foreign crustaceans.
We ended up at Haga District. We wanted coffee, and to see the hipster area of town. The coffee wasn’t the best, and I don’t know if it’s a hipster area – more like a tourist/souvenir area. Still the cute arty buildings on their tidy streets made for pleasant walking.
We could have certainly seen much more of the town, and arguably missed many of the key sights, but we were already running short of time to meet some Norwegian friends vacationing near the Norwegian border.
But, before we left, I had to sort out our gas bottle. It stopped working the other day, and we’ve been making use of the battery for the fridge, and portable gas cans for cooking/heating water. It’s a nightmare finding new gas bottles, as every country is different, and every country has different connectors. We stopped by the local hardware store, and after a lot of waiting and shuffling between people, I was able to get someone to grab a gas bottle for me. As I went to remove the bottle, I noticed that the gas valve was already turned off. I turned it back on, and our gas was working again – so I guess we weren’t empty after all…
Onwards to Sweden’s West Coast.