Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg Sweden impressions

I only visited the city during the week so I wasn’t really able to experience the night life fully.  There really wasn’t much to do.  I spent a lot of my time just hanging around the main mall people watching.

Looking down on Gothenburg main street

Looking down on Gothenburg main street

I took a tram up to the well-reviewed Gardens on tripadvisor, but it was pretty sad.  Then again, it was basically winter.

Botanical Garden (Botaniska Tradgarden)

Botanical Garden (Botaniska Tradgarden)

 

That was the only photo I took of the entire gardens – the rest of it was entirely forgettable.  I passed only a couple of people walking on the grounds, locals out for some exercise.

This leg of my trip did give me one of the most best memories that I’m glad I got on video.  I took a train from Copenhagen to Gothenburg (and later onto Stockholm) and there was an awesome cloud formation that gives you one of those moments of “Ok the world is fucking awesome.  How many people really get to see this special thing right now?”, similar to seeing the northern lights in Reykjavik.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Impressions of Copenhagen

It’s no wonder everyone rides a bike here.  The streets and sidewalks are mostly old uneven European brick, making walking large distances painful and sometimes dangerous if you aren’t looking where you’re stepping.  When I say everyone, I’m not kidding – seeing bike parking like this was commonplace everywhere:

copenhagen 8

 

Here I’m climbing one of Copenhagen’s old churches and looking out over the city:

Once I caved into renting a bike from the hostel I was staying at, my mobility in the city increased greatly and so did my enjoyment.  I didn’t have to worry about walking to some far corner of the city for a night club or a restaurant that didn’t exist anymore – I could just bike away.  The bike came equipped with a rear-wheel lock that was self-enclosed and part of the bike itself – no need to carry around a stupid bike lock everywhere.

I ate some pizza at Gorm’s

Ate a buffet at Restaurant Samos

Healthy salads at Chilimili

After a couple days at the hostel I switched to Hotel Adlon just down the street

Had cocktails at Ruby

Was creeped out by some younguns at Wall Street Pub

In the meatpacking area of Vesterbro, I went to club Jolene and Karriere

If you like candy, you’ll like Danish movie theaters:

I did make a stop to Casino Copenhagen but only played poker for a short time.  An entry ticket just to get in the door is 90 DKK (about $16) which kind of sucks.

Casino Copenhagen chips

Casino Copenhagen chips

Overall, the food and nightlife were decent, but not anything special that I’d make an effort to return to.

Reykjavik, Iceland – Part 2

Did I See the Northern Lights?

Seeing the northern lights was one of my must-dos in my trip and the reason I would say I came to Iceland in the first place.  Watching videos of the lights makes them seem otherworldly – it seem real, and I had to see it for myself.

Gray Line tours in Reykjavik offers evening trips for viewings of the Northern Lights.  Each day they decide by ~6pm if conditions are favorable – if they are, they will take you an hour out of the city where there are less lights to see them.

I was halfway into my stay in Iceland and each night had been cloudy and poor conditions for viewing.  On a cloudy day, they may go anyways – hoping that they clear up later.  If they aren’t visible, your ticket is transferable to another night.

A busload of us were taken into a clearing.  It was still cloudy, but plenty of wind to push clouds around.  Did I mention Iceland was cold?  I was fully decked out in two pairs of gloves, heavy winter jacket, toque – the works.  They drove to another location… and waited… and waited…  all we got was a good view of some moonlit clouds.  In all we were out of town for 4 hours.  I didn’t want throw away an entire evening again, so I didn’t bother booking another viewing tour.

moonclouds

Not my picture. My camera can’t really take pictures at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the eastern coast of the US was hit by a terrible storm, unrelated high winds were hitting Reykjavik – reportedly hitting up to 80 km/h.  Before I knew the bus schedule near where I was staying, I braved a 30 minute walk from my airbnb.com homestay into town fully decked in my winter gear to grab a late dinner in town and explore.

Finally, there it was, above me – a completely dark sky, with a long green streak reaching just above the mountains reaching about 1/3 of the way across the sky.  It didn’t dance around, but writhed slowly and if you weren’t staring at it, you wouldn’t notice that it was even moving.

Looked something like this (camera can't take pictures at night)

Looked something like this, but thinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was happy.  I stood on the sidewalk watching for as long as the biting cold winds could permit me while walking into town.

Reykjavik, Iceland – Part 1

It turned out that when booking my trip the dates coincided with Iceland’s biggest music festival, Iceland Airwaves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland_Airwaves).  This turned out to be a bit of a mixed blessing.  On one hand I got to experience the collective buzz in the city from a fun happy social event, on the other hand I didn’t have a ticket (sold out, and I don’t really like concerts anyway) – so I wasn’t able to get in some of the bigger venues, and I had a hard time booking accommodations on the second part of my trip there.

There are two major tour bookers that exist in Reykjavik – I used Gray Line Iceland Excursions (http://www.grayline.is/Tours/activity_tours/Iceland.is) when I went caving. All hotel transfers worked out pretty well, you can get picked up at your hotel or just meet at the main office.

The time of year when I was there (late October/early Nov) it was dark very early.  This turned out to be the case in all of my stops in Scandinavia.  This means after waking up around noon some days, by the time I’d eat and roll out I’d only get a couple of hours of daylight.  Most of the Europe photos on my trip are going to be either indoors or appear to be at night time.

Fortunately not all venues were IA exclusive, some bands play in venues like Bus Depots or Hostels.  I was able to check out a lot of different bars in Reykjavik.  Given the cold, lack of available seats and coat check – most people just kept wearing their jackets in the bars or clubs the entire night.  Clubs didn’t charge cover – apparently “That just wouldn’t work here” – they just might have super long lineups to get in.  My first night in a bar in Reykjavik dancing I thought to myself “How cool is this?  I’m in fucking Iceland!”

I left the last few days of my Iceland trip unbooked hoping I’d find something while there.  I was able to find a place a 10 minute bus ride / 30 minute walk out from the city center.

Read more about Iceland in Part 2…