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Day 1: Gothenburg

We decided to make the most of our Bank Holiday weekends this year, and after heading to France for the first holiday weekend in May, we had a long weekend in Sweden booked for the second one. We got very cheap flights from Stansted to Gothenburg with Ryanair, and things turned out even better than we expected when the little airport miles from Gothenburg that Ryanair normally fly to was closed for repair works and our flight was rescheduled to the main Gothenburg Landvetter airport instead. Unfortunately at the point at which we booked the flights, it hadn't occurred to us quite how expensive accommodation in Sweden was going to be, so when I started looking for a hotel in central Gothenburg some weeks later it was a bit of a shock to find that there wasn't anything available in our budget at all! A bit of panic and some online research later, we discovered that accommodation got cheaper the further out from Gothenburg we went and eventually we found some affordable options in the small town of Ljungskile, about 65km north of Gothenburg. Phew, problem solved!

After the debacle of nearly missing our flight to France a couple of weeks ago, I was more than a little nervous about whether we would get to Stansted on time this morning, a situation not helped by the fact that our 06.45 flight required getting up at 02.30, but this time everything actually went like clockwork. We were out so early that there was no traffic on the roads, we had a meet-and-greet parking service with absolutely no stress, and our biggest problem at the airport was that Wetherspoons was so full it was difficult to find a free table to have breakfast :)

We left Stansted on time and arrived in Gothenburg just before 09.30. As the plane started its descent towards the city, we were treated to stunning views of the surrounding countryside: trees, trees and more trees! It looked pretty sunny, although the pilot announced that the temperature was a mere 7 degrees and there was definitely a rather chilly breeze as we stepped off the aeroplane. First impressions of Sweden were that it was almost too good to be true. The airport toilets were immaculate, the airport bus was sitting waiting right outside the terminal and the driver made helpful announcements in English and Swedish. There was even a moving graphic on the LED display inside the bus which showed where the vehicle currently was between all the stops! In the whole morning which we subsequently spent walking around Gothenburg, I don't think we saw a single piece of litter or dog mess on the pavements; a bit of a change from France!

The journey into the city didn't take long and we were soon exploring Gothenburg. More by chance than design, almost immediately we found ourselves in one of the main squares, Gustaf Adolfs Torg, named after the Swedish king who founded Gothenburg. The square is home to the town hall...


...as well as a huge statue of Gustaf Adolf himself.


From there we headed down to the city harbour. We were able to walk along the waterfront for about a mile or so, looking at all the boats, and it was really peaceful. We couldn't believe how few people were out and about in Gothenburg given that it was a Saturday morning!


After a while we turned away from the sea and started to walk inwards back towards the main city. We found ourselves walking along one of Gothenburg's canals.


There were interesting buildings on both sides of the water.


Following the map in our guidebook, we thought we should now be in the right part of town to see the cathedral. We caught sight of this building across the road, but we weren't sure whether it was the cathedral or not. It seemed a bit... understated.


It turned out it was the cathedral, though :) It looks a bit bigger when you go round the back!


Walking past the cathedral, we came across the Kungsparken, a large park which follows the edge of one of the city's canals. It was beautifully green and we had a lovely stroll in the sunshine.


Following the banks of the canal, we came to a church which actually looked more imposing than the cathedral.


We also found the university.


By this time we were walking out of the city towards the Slottskogen, Gothenburg's biggest park. It was quite a long walk, but we saw some interesting sights on the way.


When we eventually got there, we found a map and realised just how enormous the park is. There was no way we could see everything in the time we had left before we needed to catch our train to Ljungskile, so we decided to come back and explore it properly on Monday and get some lunch now instead.

Finding somewhere to have lunch turned out to be more problematic than we had expected, but eventually we found a bar which was serving burgers. They weren't the best burgers we had ever had in our lives, but they also weren't the most expensive (Helsinki still holds that record!!).

We got a surprise as we walked back towards the station after lunch and saw this sign!


We had no idea, but there is a square called Esperanto-platsen in the middle of Gothenburg!


Our train to Ljungskile was at 14.40. Swedish trains proved to be comfortable and spacious, and less than an hour later we had arrived in Ljungskile.

Our accommodation for tonight is a private room in a youth hostel. It didn't look far from the train station on the map, though we hadn't realised quite how uphill the walk was going to be. It was a tiring climb, but worth it when we finally got there and found this view :)


We retired to our room for a brief nap before setting off to explore Ljungskile in the early evening. The town itself pretty much just consists of one street, with a handful of shops and two pizzerias. We crossed over the main road and headed down to the waterside.


The views were beautiful, and we're looking forward to coming back for a longer walk tomorrow.


We caught sight of our youth hostel up on the hill behind the town (it's the big yellow building).


It was about 7pm by this point so we decided to investigate one of the pizzerias, before heading back to our room to watch Eurovision :)

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