En kärleksförklaring till Göteborg

Jag säger som Björn Gustafsson: “Göteborg är kärlek för mig”.

Jag spenderade mindre än 24 timmar i stan när jag besökte Västkusten senast och mitt beteende under dessa stackars timmar kan närmast liknas vid ett barns beteende på julafton. Det fullkomligt glittrade i ögonen på mig när jag kikade runt på Åhlens som hastigast strax efter ankomst och aldrig har väl en spårvagn luktat så gott som den 5a jag tog från Lilla Bommen till Töpelsgatan.

Det finns en mjukhet i Göteborg, en avslappnad och välkomnande atmosfär som gör mig närmast harmonisk. Få saker slår Avenyn en ljummen vårkväll. Att besöka Göteborg är som att ge sig ut på en nostalgitripp utan dess like som tar mig tillbaka till studentlivets glada dagar. Göteborg är städernas stad, västkustens okrönta huvudstad, änglarnas hem och mitt hjärtas stad.

En dag i en inte alltför avlägsen framtid kommer Göteborg återigen att vara mitt, men tills dess får jag njuta av mina minnen.

Happy easter!

What was meant to be an easter skiing in the Norwegian mountains turned out to be a relaxed holiday at my dad’s house. No complaints from my side!

I arrived on the west coast wednesday afternoon and had barely put my bag into my room before I put on my runners and went out for a run in my favorite running track. I hadn’t been out there for over a month but still managed to achieve a new all time high with the watch showing 34.58 when reaching the front door again after a very exhausting run. That’s an improvement of FIVE minutes compared to the first time I clocked myself! I’m impressed, are you?

The rest of the evening was spent playing cards with my mum and her boyfriend, just like in the old days!

On thursday I met up with my old friend Sara in Uddevalla. The aim of the day was to find a bride’s dress for her and I’d say that we managed pretty well. We were out of luck in Uddevalla where the shop was closed, but our luck was better in Trollhättan where we managed to find an open shop full of dresses. After trying out about 7 different models we were pretty united in our preferences and so she chose two of the dresses to show her mum on saturday. Sara looked like a princess in both of them so either way the decision falls I think she is going to look absolutely wonderful on her weddingday!

Friday I went with my dad to Gregeröd, the farm at which I grew up. I said a quick hello to my aunt and uncle before taking a walk down memory lane when going to my grand father’s place, passing by a curve named after me (Kulan’s curve). It is famous within the family for being a historically tricky curve for me to get through without falling, messing my clothes up. I’m proud to say that I did, this day, manage to get past this part of the road without falling. Arriving at my grand father’s house I spend about two hours cleaning. When my dad called him in the morning to advert him about my arrival he opposed the idea with an “but it is already clean!”, and to that I only have one thing to say: the definition of clean can be discussed! I will admit to the place looking ok at a first glanze, but the more I cleaned the more I saw that needed to be tended to.

In the evening I had sea food with my dad and his girlfriend on the balcony of their house and the view is absolutely stunning.

This day I started off with taking a walk and then I sat down enjoying the sun for an hour or two. At the moment I am awaiting the arrival of tonight’s dinner guests. Looking forward to a joyfull easter celebration in good company.

I wish you all a happy easter, may your day be as peaceful as mine!

Montréal

Montréal is a city located in the Canadian province of Québec. The majority of the population is francophone but there is also an Anglophone minority, along with a large number of other minorities of course. An interesting occurrence is that all the information given to the public such as menus and information about contents has to be in both English and French, and if I am not mistaken the French information is to be in a bigger font size than the English one. Something else that takes some time for a Swede to get used to is the fact that the tax is not included in the prices displayed. Frustrating to say the least as you can never be completely sure about what you will have to pay for your purchases.

I had the pleasure of spending ten days in Montréal in august 2008 and the city really grew on me! I might as well start my report on Montréal by confessing to be hungry while writing it as this will shine through in my report, it is not a coincidence that my most memorable things all turned out to be food or drink related.

Sweets are a reoccurring theme in my posts and this one will be no exception to that. Montréal used to be a French colony and guess what – that means you can easily find crêpes, which is always a good thing. However, no matter how much I love my nutella crêpes I did at least once manage to put that fascination a side and instead order a Canadian specialty called Queues de Castor (eng: beaver tail). This little creation can also be ordered with nutella so, to be honest, it wasn’t really that much of a sacrifice for me.

Speaking of Canadian specialties there is something else that one has to try while in Montréal: poutine. For an outsider it might not seem like anything special, it’s “just” French fries with cheese, but for Canadians poutine is close to a religious experience. Right now I can’t remember the name of the place where I had my first poutine experience but I will ask my friend about it and update this post with the information, I mean, if you’re going to have poutine you might as well get to try the best poutine that Montréal has to offer.

I have now reached the point in this gastronomic review where my mouth really waters by the memories from my visit to Juliette et Chocolate on St Denis. Imagine a menu full of chocolate related items, can it get any better?! I had a super yummie chocolate fondue with apples, pears, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, grapes and kiwi fruit. It was to die for! Had it not been for the fact that my first visit to Juliette et chocolate was at the end of my stay I would have made sure to squeeze in a second visit before returning to Sweden!

I was lucky enough to visit Montréal during two special events; one being an 18th century market at Pointe-à-Callière and the other being the Montréal World Film Festival. The first one brought me back in time to a Montréal 300 years earlier. The market stalls were timely, the sales men at the market were all dressed timely, the products sold were home made and decorated as if though they were actually sold in the 18th century and last but not least the streets were decorated with straws. During the market I got to taste home made truffles, jam, honey beer, honey wine and cheese among other things. If you are in Montréal during the time of this market, make sure you visit it! The second event was the film festival. We have a film festival in Gothenburg each year as well but I have never visited it. In Montréal, however, me and my friend just “popped” in and watched a movie completely unplanned, and what a movie! It was a Danish movie about a girl trapped between two worlds, the one of her family’s strict religious believes and the one of a regular teenage girl wanting to fit in.

Beer might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Montréal but the city does have quite a pub culture. Once again St Denis is the place to be, with bars on either side of the streets it leaves you with a Mediterranean feeling. For a memorable night of Quebec culture I also recommend a visit to the pub Les Deux Pierrots. On my visit to this bar they had a well known band from Quebec playing and the crowd sang a long to most of the songs, creating a very cosy atmosphere. Another night out that has nestled in well in my memory bank is the night at Baloo’s; not so much due to the party going on there but more due to the idea of having a popcorn machine on the premises serving the visitors with free popcorn all night long! How come more bar owners didn’t think of that!?

When in Montréal be sure to:

  • Explore the underground system of shops and restaurants. It’s like a second city in the city!
  • See the Sacré Coeur of Montréal, l’Oratoire St Joseph. Apparently the dome of this church is only exceeded by the St Peter’s church in Rome. However, I would say that it is enough to admire this church from the outside as the inside can be considered a bit disappointing if compared with for example Sacré Coeur. The stairs leading up the church are reserved for pilgrims climbing the hill on their knees, an amusing idea.
  • Don’t miss the Mont Royal hill, with its parks and magnificent view of the city it is a great place for spending some hours!
  • If you visit the city during the summer, check whether or not there is a picnic electronique on Sundays. It’s quite an experience!
  • Eat Asian food. Might not make much sense to recommend this in Canada but really, it is very good here! Especially in China Town.
  • Stroll around the area of the docks and check out the clock tower. If there is time, rent one of the pedal boats and enjoy a relaxed hour or so in the harbour area.
  • Eat smoked meat and drink Black cherry soda at Schwartz on St Laurent. The meat was not so sensational in my opinion, but the black cherry soda was fun.

Lille

To a lot of people Lille doesn’t really ring a bell. In my opinion it is one of the hidden jewels that the north of France has to offer. It might not offer that many well known sights to visit but it is a perfect place to live in.

Admittedly one of the great advantages of Lille is the city’s location, which allows easy access to cities like Bruxelles, Paris and London. Not to mention a personal favorite of mine: Bruges, which can be considered the Venice of Belgium and is a MUST for those who, like me, love well kept old cities, romantic channels and cobblestoned streets.

Even if one of the great advantages of Lille is the fact that you can easily get from there to some of the big european capitals there are also places worth exploring within the city’s borders. I am a huge fan of old towns and Lille’s more historical area is no exception. It won me over in less than five minutes with its maze of alley roads filled with bakeries, restaurants, chocolate and gift shops, artist studios and a fascinating cathedral which can be found on Rue Jean Moulin.

When you are done with dreaming away in the old town the next stop on my city tour around Lille is the park of the citadelle where you can find something as luxurious as a free zoo! I found this little pearl early on during my stay in Lille and it quickly became a favorite when it came to taking sunday walks! The zoo offers a wide range of wild animals in a beautiful setting and is perfect to combine with a walk along the channels in the park.

Besides my fascination for old towns I have a soft spot for sweets, crêpes in particular! I see it as a duty to eat as many nutella crêpes as possile whenever I visit France. And Lille is no exception to that. However, I also got another favorite during my stay in Lille: the merveilleux sold at Carrefour. A chocolate lovers wet dream! Chocolate mousse and meringue, yummie!

Being a swede means enjoying to spend hours at cafés: having coffee, eating pastry and chatting with friends. In Lille I had a hard time finding a good place to do this as there didn’t seem to be to many cafés offering something to eat and drink without having to breath in a lot of second hand smoke. However, half way through my stay I found this one place called Le pain quotidien at Place Rihour that lived up to my demands, plus: they offered a white chocolate merveilleux! Loved it! (While writing this I found out that it is actually an international chain, no cafés in Sweden yet though..)

So, to conclude my little review of Lille:

  • Eat crêpes, merveilleux and visit le Pain Quotidien.
  • Take some time to explore the maze of alley roads in the old town.
  • Visit the zoo and explore the area of the Citadelle.
  • Take advantage of the city’s location by making day trips to surrounding citites!

Nice

In 2004 I spent 13 weeks, from January to April, in Nice on the French Riviera. The aim of the stay was to improve my French skills in order to be better prepared for the French classes I planned to take at the University of . I stayed at a host family and studied French at Azurlingua where I made friends from the Gothenburg US, Spain, Holland and Sweden.

I had class for three hours each morning and the rest of the day I used to explore the city. I have to say that there are worse places to live in than Nice. The city is beautifully located by the Mediterranean, however, he who comes to Nice for the sandy beaches will be disappointed given that the beach is all made up of small rocks. Nevertheless, spending time by the ocean is enjoyable, one gets used to the rocks. There is a lot more to Nice than the beach though. I spent hours strolling around in the old city, having ice cream at Pinocchio and meeting friends for Sangria at Johnny’s wine bar. My best nights out in Nice were spent at Wayne’s, dancing on table tops and drinking sparkling wine. Those were the days.

Nice has a lot of museums for those interested in art. My personal favourite is hands down the Marc Chagall museum where his biblical works are displayed. I have never experienced anything like it! The paintings are huge and incredibly colourful, if visiting on a sunny day it is like as if the paintings are glowing. It is a must see when in Nice! Unfortunately the posters are nothing like the real works so there’s no way of bringing the experience back home, except for in ones mind.

Other things to see and do when in Nice:

  • Take the train to Monaco. It’s really easy to get there and back and it’s worth a visit.
  • Visit Cannes, Antibes and St Paul de Vence. Beautiful and picturesque villages.
  • Walk or take the bus to Cap Ferrat and see the light house.
  • Visit the Russian church, it’s a little bit hidden but definitely worth seeing.
  • Eat Crepes! And eat lots of them! With nutella, banana, ice cream or what ever gets you going.
  • Walk up the castle hill (la colline du château).
  • Walk along the Promenade des anglais.
  • Visit the chocolate factory in the harbour.
  • Have tea at Nocy bee, a tea house in vieux Nice. I found this little jewel just before leaving for Sweden but it has stuck with me ever since. It’s an experience.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney (pronounced /ˈsɪdniː/) is the most populous city in Australia, with a metropolitan area population of approximately 4.34 million (2008 estimate).[3] It is the state capital of New South Wales, and was the site of the first British colony in Australia. It was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, admiral of the First Fleet from Britain.[4] A resident of the city is referred to as a Sydneysider.

I visited Sydney and stayed at an old Swedish friends place Lina. However it was here that I met one of the most amazing people of my life. His name was Peter. Suddenly the air seemed fresher, food tasted different and every drink just quenched my thirst for more. I agreed 100% with everything he had to say and he was the light of my life.

Some of my favorite Sydney links

Australian Museum: Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney
Sydney travel guide from Wikitravel
Historic photographs of Sydney buildings
Sydney Exposed – Photographic collection from the State Library of NSW