Lining up to go on board the flight you know its heading for Sweden when you see as many earings and nose jewelry on the guys as well as the gals. We arrive at the second airport of Gothenburg City which used to be a Swedish air base during the Cold War. Young Swedish draftees learned to play cards, drink coffee, talk about girls and suffer boredom for 2 years.
In 2000 after it opened to commercial traffic there were 8,000 passengers. In 2006 there were 550,000 with Ryan Air and other cheap flights to London, Frankfurt, Marseille, Madrid, Prague etc. Goteborg is a very pleasant place, nothing like 'Glitzy' cities such as Hong Kong or Rio de Janeiro, and is UNDERSTATED ELEGANCE, and fits like a favourite pair of old shoes. It has a bit of Amsterdam and Barcelona in it, having been designed by Dutch engineers, with well kept gardens, canals, 4-6 storey buildings and wide boulevards. It has hosted the World Cup, European Championships, World and European Track & Field Championships, World Ice Hockey, Davis Cup, boxing, top rock concerts and the GOTHIA CUP, the worlds most famous youth soccer tournament, held each July www.gothiacup.se and is Sweden's Soccer City.
I had dinner with DENNIS ANDERSSON and his son Niclas who had just finished a hard day at the office, at my favourite European restaurant, SMAKA www.smaka.com and my favourite meal, Swedish meat balls, meat sauce, lingonberries, thin sliced cucumber and mashed potatos, washed down my my local favourite, Koppenburg pear cider. Last time I was there was the night of the Gothia Cup Finals at Ullevi Stadium, half a mile away, in July, when they had outdoor seating, but at 10 below in January, we stayed inside.
Dennis has been in charge for 20 years or more and hosts about 1400 teams from at least 60 nations annually. The Heden which has about 8 pitches in the middle of the city has 2 artificial grass pitches and 2 more for 2007 and a plaque, where the first ever football match in Sweden was held over 110 years ago. Of the 100 or more Gothia cup pitches city wide, about one-third are of this type, allowing for less rain outs. Nya Ullevi, opened for the 1958 World Cup is near Gammla Ullevi (old Ullevi) which has just been torn down and is being replaced by 2008.
Its such an easy city to get around, with the beautiful blue and white trams, frequent buses and even ferries criss crossing the Gota ALV (RIVER) and at Saltholmen at the end of tram route 11, you can catch ferries around the archipelago. Visitors love LISEBERG, Scandinavia's biggest amusement park, and NORDSTAN the biggest indoor Mall. The Avenyn, a wide boulevard is full of life with cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs until the early hours in the summer, where it doesn't get dark until 11.00pm. The FESKEKORKA-Fish Church, is a Gothic church -style building, home of fresh fish, from cafes to a small paper cone of fresh shrimp, and a city center old indoor food market, Saluhallen.
Another favourite of mine at lunchtime is KOMETEN www.restaurangkometen.se with great lunch specials, and full of regulars who discuss politics with their traditional Swedish fare. I enjoyed a salad and a white fish plus an unusual cider type drink ,cactus and lime. The old lady that owns it has an apartment above and comes down daily to check on standards. Round the corner in the basement of the Mornington Hotel is The Rose and Crown www.roseandcrown.com a British pub and Sky Sports TV and Joe Farelli, www.joefarelli.com an Italian bar and cafe. There are not many skyscrapers in the city, but Hotel Gothia Towers is one of a kind with 1000 rooms in 2 towers overlooking everything. The sky restaurant is Heaven 23 www.heaven23.se. We enjoyed their special, a huge plate of fresh shrimp. Below was the Scandinavium, used by the Frolander Indians hockey team. The covered wagon style roof had been used by sledders earlier in the day which was full of snow and a picturesque site.
Wasa Alle www.wasaalle.se is a fairly new restaurant owned by Mats Nordstrom, married to a Brazilian girl and celebrating the birth of his new born boy, his sixth. He serves Swedish dishes with light sauces, and in the evening has a 6 course dinner called THE CHAIR, where you sit back in your chair and enjoy all that is brought to you for a 3 hour extravaganza. Mats is organizing a Brazilian Carnaval soon. Gothenburg is almost always full with conventioneers and headquarters to Volvo, SKF, Hasselblad, Ericsson, and other world famous brands. There used to be a thriving ship building industry across the river, but now its an almost completely new city, with a new IT university, trendy restaurants, apartment blocks and hotels. An awesome hotel is Hotel 11 in a renovated ship building factory, with magnicicant views across the river and a gigantic roof top hot tub.
Home of 4 local pro clubs including IFK Goteborg,The Angels, the last Scandinavian club to win a UEFA Cup, against Dundee United in 1985 then coached by Sven Goran Eriksson. Also GAIS, BK Hacken (host club of the Gothia Cup) and Orgryte. It also boasts a couple of decent womens clubs, including JITEX and Koppenburg Goteborg ladies.
Leaving from Gothenburg City Airport we stopped by the kiosk of the young immigration officer with one of those weak beards favoured by college freshmen who have reached puberty but not maturity. He was obviously a soccer fan. As he looked at peoples passports, with their city of birth, he played his little game. Bradford- The Bantams, Peterborough-The Posh, Arsenal fans with scarves-The Gunners, Leicester-The Foxes. SOCCER CITY INDEED !!.