Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Cleveland of Sweden

The drive from Stockholm to Goteborg was pretty easy. Easy for me, since I did absolutely none of the driving on this trip. Good job, Darrell. Getting out of the city was very civilized and nonaggressive. There's not a lot of horn blowing or angry driving in Sweden. Made the morning rush hour escape noteworthy in its uneventfulness. This makes sense to me, and possibly only to me.

It took about five hours to get to Goteborg. The GPS guided us safely back to the Volvo HQ where we dropped off our mud-encrusted car. We emptied out the car and Volvo promised to make it all spic and span before shipping it home. Note: At the start of the trip we asked if we could use the car to carry larger purchases back to the states. The answer was NO. The car had to be empty as it went through customs. We were glad we asked, even though we didn't buy ANYTHING other than what we ate, drank, slept in or handed to a ticket-taker.

The nice Volvo man drove us to our hotel in downtown Goteborg. We stayed two nights at the Radisson Blu, a very nice hotel located near the city center and colorful local entertainment - like the Swedish Michael Jackson.
The Swedish Michael Jackson

Volvo paid for one night of our stay in this vibrant, working-class city. Goteborg somehow reminded us of Cleveland, and I mean that in a good way. You can read about Cleveland's problems in someone else's blog. Goteborg seemed more down-to-earth and accessible than Stockholm. The people had more grit and girth, and that's not to say they were fat and unfriendly, they just seemed more regular. We spent a day and a half here, walking around, taking a bus tour and just chilling out before heading home.

Rooftop view of the city and the port
Upon arrival we went on the hunt for lunch and found plenty of choices well within walking distance of our hotel. We stopped in a pub and had a nice chat with the young bartender who was from New Zealand. I'll call him Sam. Sorry I don't have a picture of Sam. He's really cute. Sam told us how easy it is to get a work visa in Sweden. His girlfriend is from Goteborg and all he had to do to get his visa was prove that they were a couple. We heard a similar story from an American girl living in Stockholm. (Did I mention that already?) Sam also said how confounding he found the language and we had a laugh about that. Then he pointed out, with a bit of disdain, the "Norwegians." Very wealthy men with an air of entitlement, in Sam's estimation. He went on to say that the cost of living in Norway far exceeds that of Sweden. We were a bit dumbfounded by that. Yikes! What are we talkin'...$40 hamburgers? Could be.

Other highlights in Goteborg included Saluhallen, an indoor marketplace similar to Cleveland's West Side Market, only the West Side Market is cooler, more authentic.

Also, Olhallen, a 100+ years old beer hall. One room. No food. No wine. No liquor. Just beer, thank you very much. Darrell wasn't too impressed, but I thought it was worth a picture. Too bad they didn't have any Dortmunder.

There are lots of restaurants in Goteborg. We found a little out-of-the-way gem, Indiska Hornet (Indian Corner) and enjoyed a terrific Tandoori dinner there.

The other culinary, Cleveland-like highlight was the breakfast buffet at the Radisson. Getting readjusted to USA breakfasts, we enjoyed all the bacon, sausages and eggs you could shake a stick at. There were still plenty of cold cuts and plain yogurt, too. Both mornings as we had our breakfast we could hear the mood music over the PA system. Sure enough, we weren't imagining that we were listening to the Kenny G Christmas album...on May 31 and June 1. Swedish humor? You tell me.

On the morning of our departure, after breakfast with Kenny, another nice Volvo man picked us up and took us to the airport. They said they would do that and they kept their word. I love me some Swedish promises and we're on our way, having enjoyed a great trip, happy to head home.

The only glitch getting home was due to a tornado in the Boston area that delayed our departure out of Newark by several hours. This enabled us to catch up on the news via CNN and the continuous loop of Anthony Weiner explaining that his Twitter account had been hacked and he had nothing to do with sending lewd photos to young girls, and with a name like Weiner and blahdy-blah-blah. The first time I watched the interview I thought "who's Anthony Weiner?" By about the eighth time I watched it I had my answer. He's a flippin' liar, that's who! Why I oughta.

Welcome to America.

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