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06 Jul 2022

Travel: Counting the cost of a trip to Gothenburg

Henry Bauress recently spent three days on a bargain trip to Sweden’s second city, and has some great advice on travelling without breaking the bank

Travel: Counting the cost of a trip to Gothenburg

A Swedish flag fluttering over Gothenburg. Pictures: Henry Bauress

It had been probably 40 years since I last visited Sweden. Those were the early days when I, then in my early 20s, travelled mostly on my own.

The visit was to the Kalmar area in the south east of that beautiful country to see my penfriend, Asa Sander.

We had met briefly some years earlier on the boat from Dublin to Holyhead as I travelled to the Lake District with my scout group and we exchanged letters after that.

I recalled getting there via Cologne in Germany, where I visited my school pal, Bob.

I travelled north through Germany, into Copenhagen and then to Malmo, where Asa had arranged for a friend to put me up.

But Sweden faded into the background after a while during my earlier travel years — for price and other reasons, the Greek islands proved a far greater attraction for me.

If the lure of Sweden faded, particularly because of the reputation of its capital, Stockholm, as a beautiful but expensive city, the embers of desire to see it again did not.

A public transport boat in Gothenburg

I had not reckoned on Gothenburg being the location when that became a reality.

My wife, Aida, through her membership of Rory’s Travels (www.rorystravelclub.com), which identifies (for a €10 annual membership) good travel bargains, booked a three night trip to Gothenburg, from April 2 to 5 this year.

The main costs of the trip were €260 approximately for three nights at the Center Hotel, a walk from the city centre, and a return flight to Gothenburg with Ryanair for around €40 each.

Rory had recommended another higher grade hotel, also very good value, but we saved €150 on the difference between the two.

We learned beforehand that Gothenburg, a more working class city, is cheaper than Stockholm and we found food prices in this beautiful city, on average, no more expensive than Dublin or Galway, depending on where one selected.

Our first main meal, which was on the day of arrival, April 2, cost €40.20 (406 Swedish kroner) and the following night we spent €69.22, including a bottle wine, for an Asian dish at the Tandoori Kitchen.

We found wine and beer relatively expensive but many spots in Dublin could match their prices.

The final night, at the Smaka restaurant, a traditional Swedish dish spot, cost €96.95, the main cost here being a bottle of wine for around €38. I had a lovely meatball dish for around €18. We had no starter or desert.

We each bought, online on our phones, a public transport ticket which covered bus, tram and boats and our most enjoyable day was hopping on and off the boats, arriving at each stop very regularly, on a sunny Sunday morning. The tickets (from the Vasttrafik app) for three days (or 72 hours as it starts from time of purchase) cost €22.78 each.

Our most enjoyable time was crossing the river in the sunshine and wandering about Eriksberg, a former ship building area, which also has a nice hotel.

The Eriksburg Walkway in Gothenburg

We took an early flight from Dublin on April 2 and we arrived at our hotel just before midday after paying €27.54 for two tickets for the airport coach to the city centre.

The hotel was a solid standard comfortable hotel (our room was No 505) partly overlooking the river.

The hotel price included breakfast. This comprised for the most part of meats, fruit etc, allegedly healthier than your full Irish, but there was a hot scrambled egg and bacon alternative. The coffee choice was plentiful, including a filter option.

After breakfast, guests had free coffee all day with a variety of pastries.

The hotel is a short walk from the city centre of Gothenburg which has plenty of waterways, gardens and shopping areas.

Match atmosphere

We enjoyed all that and following a number of boat journeys on Sunday morning across the Göta älv's river, we decided to taste the atmosphere at IFK Gothenberg’s first home soccer game of the season in the Swedish premier division, known as the Allsvenskan. We had not, but should have, booked online to get a seat which would have cost about €23.

But we walked to the ground, Galla Ullevi, very close to the centre. All the seats were gone but we managed to get a standing room only ticket on the small terrace behind one of the goals.

It was occupied by the fans from Varnamo, a small town around 160 kilometres away. They had just been promoted from the second division. The fans were a nice mix of sons, dads, mothers and grandmothers. A baby or two was held in arms.

Gothenburg has a proud nautical history

It was not too crowded and the atmosphere was peaceful. The home team won 2-1 on the day.

I have been following Varnamo and Gothenburg since on the apps mainly because I enjoyed their fans so much. I have also managed to see some game highlights such as goals on YouTube. Neither side is setting the world alight and I am hoping Varnamo will not be relegated.

For the most part over the few days the weather was good but Monday was rainy. We used public transport to get around and enjoyed the city.

I would highly recommend Gothenburg and Sweden. The people there are friendly. Friends who have visited both Gothenburg and Stockholm say the latter, built across 14 islands, is even more beautiful than Gothenburg.

Henry Bauress is a retired Leinster Leader journalist

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