Gothenburg, fika and IKEA

A journey through Gothenburg’s major sights and “fika” culture.

There is no English counterpart for the Swedish word “fika”. Looked up on the dictionary it refers to a break that practically consists of a coffee and a cake. As a matter of fact, that is correct. What is curious about “fika” is the untold meaning, the one concealed behind a simple concept that explained through mere words might not result as effective as it would be if experienced in real life. Yes, because the savvy Swedes have created something that is more than just a break – fika is a cultural heritage, a habit that is deeply-rooted into the Swedish lifestyle. By fika, folks share not only a cup of coffee and some baked goods, they share a moment. A moment to indulge in a well-deserved treat, getting together by sharing thoughts and releasing stress and tension.

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They say you can tell a lot of a country by knowing their eating customs. As an Italian expat who lived in London for 3 years, I was shocked by the way Brits werent valuing the ritual of lunch or dinner. It was just a binge. No talking, no sharing, no “moments”. Although Swedes might not be renowned for they cordiality, I’ve discovered that the hearty Scandinavians are everything but cold. I’ve learnt that there is life at -20. That in this IKEA paradise, there isn’t a furniture super-store around every corner (crazy to believe, isn’t it?). And their culinary tradition isn’t just about their succulent meatballs, the well-famous (or infamous) Swedish specialty that you find at IKEA.

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Here, I personally intend to dispel myths, and give an insight into my personal and humble view of Sweden, the one seen from a pasta/pizza eater and espresso-drinker (still keen to know it.? )

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View from Skansen Kronan.

As a wannabe-writer, I’ve started my career here in Gothenburg as a travel-guides creator and editor. Gothenburg’s charm lies in its picturesque crescents and quaint “fika” cafes ( isn’t it clear how much Swedes love their fika?), creating an atmosphere that is both welcoming and fascinating.

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One of the numerous bizarre statues located throughout town.

A port-city that boasts a unique beauty throughout, Gothenburg owns an enchanting force on travelers and on the numerous expats taking their shot in a city that has an increasingly huge offer of opportunities.

Legend has it that Sweden started a 5 hours working day. With my hopes up, I moved here looking forward to being able of enjoying myself and not being committed to a life in which working and making money are the ultimate goals. Unfortunately, that is just something that a company started a good 10 years ago, but that hasn’t taken over in the whole Sweden yet. Too bad.

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The old Haga district.

3 months since I moved here, and I’m still in the everything-is-beautiful-and-sparkly-phase. The quaint Haga District is my all-time favorite, a pulsing heart into the bustling Gothenburg. Here, evocative cafes line up next to antique shops and original designer boutiques, creating a hub where mingling is part of the daily life and smarty-pants mix with artists and tourists.

Second-hand clothes, antiques and local designs on the left. On the right Cafe Husaren, a most-loved cafe that serves traditional Swedish baked goods.

During some weekends over Christmas and the summer season, Haga Nygata turns into a buzzing market comprehending food, antiques and clothes stalls.

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Skansen Kronan.

From Haga, I continue my journey to Skansen Kronan, a 17th century hillside fortress whose advantage location provides a sweeping view of the city-center and the ideal spot to take impressive photographs. Pastel-colored houses’ facades blend with the green areas that sparsely dot Gothenburg, in a blurry, bird-sight spectacle.

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Cannons in front of Skansen Kronan.

And Gothenburg does certainly not lack of green areas, living lungs of this beautiful Scandinavian city concentrated within a compact area spread across 447.76 km2  . From the Avenyn, a boulevard filled with shops and upscale restaurants, bars and clubs, Bältespännarparken park stands out from the rest of the city thanks to its tree-lined perimeter.

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A stone’s throw away, Slottskogen is a favorite among tourists and locals alike and it’s Gothenburg’s biggest park. In February 2016 we spent an entire afternoon just wandering around, enjoying long walks up hills and the view of the park covered in a white blanket of snow (I have to admit it was quite cold though).Picnic spots are a bit everywhere, making the park a magnet for a cheerful crowd over the summer season and a flock of tourists who come to enjoy the park’s Nordic animals.

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Selfiee.
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Lilla Bommen district, a corner of Gothenburg’s harbor.
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Fiskkyrkan, “Fish Church”. A fish market that resembles wonderfully a Gothic church.
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Inside the “Fish Church”an ample assortment of seafood is showcased by locals. Gothenburg’s culinary scene is strictly linked to seafood-based dishes .

I might have given the wrong impression that Swedes are all about fika, seafood and parks – this is not true, well, it is partially. Swedes love partying and they do it the right way.

A few paragraphs above, I mentioned the Avenyn. That is cool, if you are posh and you like to “sink champagne”. Not familiar with this expression? It is called “Vaska” in Swedish, and it literary means “sink”. Spoiled brats in Stockholm have started it as a protest against the ban on spraying champagne in bars, but it is just a way to say “I have money” and show off a bit. Lame.

I will assume that whoever might read my blog doesn’t like to waste a £100 champagne bottle and would rather drink it (here I am). For us, the cool ones, the best area to hang out is Järntorget, the district that surrounds the namesake main square, a vibrant neighborhood where pubs, bars and restaurants are crammed down lively streets that tend to be filled with a young crowd over summer.

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Well, this is actually a pub in Haga. I’m sorry, we are not that talented in taking pictures after a few pints and we’ve opted to omit any other photographic proof.

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For more info: http://www.goteborg.com/

34 Comments Add yours

  1. Anjali Soni says:

    It was great to know more about other cultures. The thing about your post is that it has a perfect mix of words and pictures. Long posts gets tedious to most bloggers. The pictures keep the reader captivated. Keep writing! Also, you might want to add a title to your blog. As I use (mostly) WordPress app, I find (Untitled) written on your blog page. Though it seems fine in the desktop version. I liked your creative logo and the layout of your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Hi Anjali, Thank you so much for the tip, we will look into it 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Anjali Soni says:

        No problem! I enjoyed reading your blog. Keep smiling!

        Like

  2. Anjali Soni says:

    Hi there! I have nominated you for The Happiness Tag. Check out my latest post for my details. Let’s spread the happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Okay, I’ll check that out !

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anjali Soni says:

        I am sorry. I informed you before publishing. Here’s the link – https://eloraquence.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/happiness-tag/
        I would be glad if you accept this award. Thank you.

        Like

  3. Sweden! Aha! Your posts make me want to go there…The pictures are beautiful…
    Also, I think your job as a travel editor is just as cool as it can get!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Unfortunately I’m just an intern, I guess I still have a long way to go before becoming an accomplished travel writer but thank you ☺️ a positive feedback from a fellow writer is very much appreciated !

      Like

  4. thetanbunny says:

    Hi, again. My hubby and I are looking for a place to spend Christmas this year. Do you think that Sweden is a good choice for such an experience? Loved this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Thanks ! it definitely could be a valid option ! Gothenburg is a lovely town, full of local designer shops and great restaurants but maybe, if you really want to try something different, you could go to the Lapland, maybe Kiruna? From there you can experience the stunning northern lights and have a sample of the Arctic life ! I heard Stockholm is pretty nice too but alas, I haven’t been there (yet)☺️

      Like

  5. Great blog, I’ve never travelled to Gothenburg, Ikea or Files but you brought me there through your words and beautiful pictures. I’m feeling clostrophobic at home now, keep writing, we must see more!

    If you’d like, you can check out my blog, here’s the link to my latest post http://wp.me/p7yzBE-6D, it’s off my typical topics so please feel free check out the rest of my site!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Thanks a lot! I’m glad I could give you a little sample of my experience in Sweden.
      I will indeed check your blog !

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved the post!! I’m living in Gothenburg (what were the odds?!) so was cool to read about the city from the perspective of another fellow Italian expat! And omg, I’m not the only one that noticed how weird the statues are around here!! hahah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      No wayy !what a coincidence ! Yes, I’ve always wondered why the city is littered by those weird-looking statues,I guess we’ll never know the answer ahahah. Thanks for your comment, looking forward to read a post about Gothenburg from your side too 😉

      Like

      1. Haha yeah will remain a mystery!
        I’m actually planning to do a one-month Sweden themed in October on my blog, since it’s gonna be one year I’ve been living here. So stay tuned for that 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. APlaceWeLike says:

      BTW I attempted to follow your blog and it seems like it doesn’t exist? Perhaps you should look into it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sweden is some kind of fairy tale country in my head. I ve never been, though I watched many documetaries on the country. A long travel, or even living experience in Sweden is one on my bucket list. 🙂
    Thanks for the nice article, I will keep reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it 😊 yes, Sweden is very different from Italy or any other places I’ve been to!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. and so is this one ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Well, I’ve always wanted to to go to Japan. Looking forward to reading more about it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice article. Real detailed and nicely composed that one wouldn’t feel too texting to read even though it’s a long one. Awesome.

    Oh, and LOVED the selfiee! Too bad you guys only took one hah!

    Your pal,
    Benjamin
    http://www.projectbiy.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      Lol in that case we shall consider taking some more next time. And thanks for your kind words, I really appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. annj49 says:

    Interesting to learn about “fika”….
    Growing up, even our family meals were a rushed affair. There wasn’t a lot, and if you wanted some more you better eat fast! No time to socialize 😉 I find I have to train myself to make a meal more than just functional, and especially now that I live alone…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. APlaceWeLike says:

      I totally understand. Work, family or school – sometimes it is hard to find some time to spend time with our beloved ones! Living alone certainly doesn’t help. I myself end up eating dinner in front of my laptop screen quite often 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. annj49 says:

        I wrote a reply which seems to be missing. Internet is iffy when camping…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. APlaceWeLike says:

        That’s okay 🙂 Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. annj49 says:

    I had said that since marriage, and having kids, we always had lots to eat, leisurely meals, often with guests, quite unlike my growing up years, even though I was holding down a job, working on local council and involved in ministry.

    But, my kids are grown, left home, and now I have to remember to remind myself to eat! 😉

    Like

  12. Cj says:

    Loving your blog! And yes, Fika is the way forward 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mexploring says:

    Always special to read Italian view of the Scandinavian pleasures 🙂 Can be a lot of fun 🙂
    Great pictures, made me want to go there – always a good sign!

    Like

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