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