The next stop on our journey was Goteborg, aka Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city with about 500,000 people. Although the city was created around its harbor, its life (or at least the little of that we found during the vacation month of July) was more inland around the center of the city, by Kungsparken and the main avenue, Kungsportsavenyen (The Avenue). But life was limited as the university out of session and most of the rest of the city on vacation (July and August are large vacation months and many places are closed). We saw the largest crowd around a fire truck that came to the rescue of a seagull that became entangled in a couple of almost transparent wires strung between two buildings. BTW, the fireman were very competent and looked like they had experienced bird rescue before.
As for the nearly deserted harbor, we saw, but did not enter the:
- Barken Viking, a huge, four-mast schooner that now serves as a hotel and conference center;
- Opera, which is quite a letdown after the Oslo Opera; and
- Maritiman ship museum which is supposedly the largest floating ship museum in the world with 20 ships including a battleship, submarine, lightship, minelayer and freighter.
Slightly off the harbor, are other landmarks such as City Hall, the Museum of Art, the Cathedral and up by the University, the supposedly hot (but deserted during the holiday months) Magasingatan neighborhood, the old warehouse district that is now home to trendy design, kitchen good and vintage clothing shops.
The town center, around Kungsparken, is the town center, near many of the major retail streets, the canal, the head of “The Avenue” (the city’s primary thoroughfare) and of course, Saluhallen, a large indoor market that carries all types of fresh Swedish meat, fish and specialty foods and that has counters and outside tables that serve local foods.
The Avenue, like most streets in major Nordic cities, are virtually barren of cars (thanks to fees on cars driven in city centers. They are replaced with continually running streetcars and buses and by pedestrians who feel free to cross without mortal fear for their lives. Cars are limited largely be fees required to drive in the city. And if you do drive, congestion is reduced through use of real-time signs that guide drives to parking lots that have available spaces.
The Avenue, like much of the rest of the city, is lined with generally drab, uninspired buildings, interspersed with a few more interesting classically designed structures. (Unlike the case with Oslo, Goteborg has very few innovative or interesting modern buildings.) But at least the relative monotony of the buildings along The Avenue are broken up by dozens of nature-inspired “Green World”) public art pieces that line the way.
These public art installations carry all the way to the end of the avenue, where the largest one of all surrounds the statue of Poseidon and leads to two of the city’s leading cultural attractions—the Concert Hall (one of the oldest buildings in the city) and the Art Museum and, when we were there, at a Food Truck Festival.
As you head west of the city center, you come to another of the city’s culinary delights; the Feskekorka fish market hall, a large indoor space that, at least Monday through Saturday, is filed with fish sellers and seafood restaurants. Since we were there on Sunday, we missed the action. We are, however, already quite familiar with fish markets.