Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Gothenburg Diaries: Day 1, Friday 17 April 2009

This was no ordinary holiday of course: last weekend was all about my trip to Gothenburg to see Salem Al Fakir in concert.

Our destination was Gothenburg City Airport, described as "Sweden's fastest growing airport" although "Sweden's fastest growing portacabin" would probably be more appropriate. Nevertheless no complaints as our flight (from a well-known low fares airline) arrived on time and it was straight onto the Flygbussarna (Tip: book your ticket in advance on the internet and just show your email to the driver, otherwise it's credit-card only on the bus) and a pleasant 25 minute journey into Gothenburg. A big relief for me was that we didn't have to go over that big suspension bridge to get into the city, but rather a more agreeable bridge adjacent to the "Lipstick Tower" that distinctive red and white building which towers over the city. The bus takes you to the Nils Ericson Terminalen (bus station). On arrival the weather was absolutely beautiful, with most of the local residents in designer shades...I began to wonder if my black coat was such a good idea, although it did get a bit colder as the evenings progressed, giving some justification to my coat-wearing after all :)

Due to the theme of our holiday you can imagine that I just let out a great big scream when I saw posters for Salem's concert, amongst some others posted on a window outside Central Station:

...and from there it wasn't too far to go till our base for the weekend, the Scandic Crown Hotel (pictured below), specifically chosen because (a) we'd previously been there in 1996, and (b) its close proximity to Trädgår'n, the venue for Salem's concert on Saturday.

We headed to our room after check-in and immediately I switched the radio on of course - lots of pop gems which you can find in my soon to be published Holiday Hit List. I was in Swedish pop heaven and back to one of my spiritual homes.

(I probably had a more positive experience of the Scandic Crown this time than in 1996: back then, in the height of a (very hot) Swedish summer, we had to share the hotel with a load of businessy-types who distinctly frowned upon anyone wearing shorts (!) of course I've moved on and discovered the joys of cropped jeans/trousers, anyway I digress).

Decided to check out the whereabouts of Trädgår'n (pictured below) on our way into the city centre tonight - it was only about 10 minutes slow walk from our hotel, past the Gamla Ullevi stadium. During our trip I saw posters about the reopening of this stadium as a dedicated venue for women's football (a sport which the Swedes take very seriously) and there was a special concert being staged to celebrate this event, with acts including Alcazar and Amy Diamond.

It's not too far from the Kungsportsavenyn, aka Avenyn (The Avenue). You exit Nya Allen at Storan (where Salem played a concert on 26.11.07) then we headed up Avenyn and after checking out a few options for dinner we settled on Lilla London ( one of the most famous venues on Avenyn. We'd been to the bar there back in 1996 so it was most appropriate to return there! Nice dinner, presentation was a bit "nouvelle cuisine" I guess but we liked the surroundings, sat outside under the glass canopy, people-watching, and feeling considerably richer than we actually are. But last weekend was about living the dream, so it was more than appropriate I guess.

Back down past the Hard Rock Cafe (where I helpfully pointed out that Salem had played there once upon a time) and took a walk around the Östra Larmgatan area - which I can't really remember from my first trip - but we ended the night there with drinks at Sense bar/restaurant. Back to the hotel for an early-ish night. Had to be sensible and get some sleep!!

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