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Sweden's Second City with a Second Name


2 years agoBusy3 min read

A gray day in Gothenburg

The big blue drydock, now gone. This massive blue drydock with the "go:teborg" logo was a long time landmark. It was sold and towed to France in 2016. Note the happy warm tour passengers.

Gothenburg is no Stockholm but it is an easy train journey from Oslo Central Station. The tracks roughly parallel the coastline. NSB delivered me in less that 4 hours.

Go:town Boat Tour

On day one, I signed up for the Paddan boat tour, which covers much of the city via canal and takes you around the harbor. It's great way to see Gothenburg and good fun, depending on the weather. The boats are odd-looking, being completely flat on top to fit under the many bridges that cross the canals. The pilot sits astern near the engine cover and the tour guide is usually perched on the bow. Our guide was funny and informative. The transition into the harbor is so low that everyone has to hit the floor to avoid decapitation!

Gothenburg boat tour passing under a bridge
Gothenburg boat tour - Quite a high bridge

Coming out into the light Coming out into the light! (Forgive me, fellow photographers. haha)

A City by Any Other Name

Talk about a name. It's something you can do a lot of in Gothenburg, which is it's official name for foreigners. Locals will appreciate you not trying to pronounce the city's name in Swedish (Göteborg). Many of them told me it was their least favorite word, in their otherwise beloved language, when attempted by non-Swedes. It's sounds something like "yeh-teh-BOR-ee." But don't say it. Gothenburg is just fine.

That was okay with me. I had a Swedish friend in college who tried to teach me some sounds that are key to speaking the language. I was known for having a good ear for accents at that time and had received complements for my recitations in Spanish, Russian, and even Hungarian. I never made one Swedish sound that passed muster with my friend. Not once. 23 and Me identifies me as 14% Scandinavian. Not one correct pronunciation. Not one. Clearly, language is not passed down in the blood.

Luckily for this distant descendant of England-invading Vikings, excellent English is spoken throughout Scandinavia. The Norwegians are gifted linguists, often mastering not just the language but accents and vernaculars of specific regions of the US or UK. Some Swedes were not quite that adept, but I thank them to this day for learning my language and making my visit to their country so easy, fun, and rich.

Gothenburg bridges

Prometheus Statue This odd but fun statue is best seen from a boat in the canal. I later learned it is called "Prometheus." I'm sure it is full of meaning but it will forever be "Flabby Pyramid-Head with Bouquet" to me.

A Paddan tour boat A Paddan tour boat plies Gothenburg harbor.


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