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Posts tagged goteborg

Last day in Sweden

Gothenburg has Scandinavia’s largest mall. The thing is absolutely huge. But malls aren’t fun to take pictures of so I didn’t. The shopping spills out of the mall and into countless, cute, cobblestone streets. Unless you are earning a living in Swedish Kronors or Norwegian Krones I can’t imagine really wanting to shop here as those of us with U.S. dollars can’t get much bang for our buck.

Gothenburg Sweden harbor

Gothenburg reminded me a bit of San Francisco, and the above picture may give you one indication of why.

Gothenburg Opera House and Scandinavian flags

In front of the opera house flew the four Scandinavian flags. Maybe someday, when the U.S. dollar is worth something I will get to take another trip to see Norway and Finland. Right now things in those two countries are even more expensive than Denmark and Sweden.

Gothenburg canal

Gothenburg has a canal that rings the city center. We took an hour long canal tour which was very nice. We plan to do the same in Copenhagen this coming Sunday.

Gothenburg statue

Gothenburg was filled with very cool statues and parks. The batteries in my camera died early in the day so I don’t have many pictures of them though.

Gothenburg canal and architecture

gothenburg canal tour

This was the only picture I got off from our canal tour before my camera’s batteries needed recharging. After the tour we walked around the Haga area which was very pretty before scrambling back to the train station to head back to Copenhagen.

The train took us back through beautiful countryside with occasional views of the ocean. Towns included Kungsbacka, Varberg, Halmstad, Helsingborg, and Malmo. We may head back over the border at some point to visit Malmo from more than the seat of a train.

Gothenburg, Sweden (Göteborg)

Gothenburg was a really nice place on many levels. As noted in a prior entry, we stayed at the Hotel Barken Viking, an actual boat in the harbor. We later learned on a canal tour of the city that the Viking can no longer physically leave the harbor because bridges have subsequently been built which are lower than its height.

inside the barken viking gothenburg sweden

The above photo is of my kids in the lobby of the hotel. You can find more pictures of the ship on their blog.

Hotel Barken Viking

If I look really thin and sickly in the above picture it is because I was. Although I had a great time anyway, I’d love to do this trip again now that I’m no longer sick, jetlagged, and tired but unable to sleep. I had not slept for over 30 hours when this shot was taken. And the last time I had slept was for only a few hours.

exterior of the barken viking gothenburg sweden

You can’t really trust the reviews in guidebooks or on sites like tripadvisor as the Viking was totally restored and remodeled in May of 2008. We were told that it used to be somewhat hostel like, with small rooms, shared bathrooms, etc. The rooms are now larger than they used to be. They are also nicer and each has a really nice bathroom (made completely out of wood). The prices are also higher now and a free pass to the amusement park is not included in most rooms.

Breakfast is included though (and is very good!). The scrambled eggs at breakfast were, by far, the best I’ve ever had. I didn’t realize scrambled eggs could have flavor like that. I wish I knew the secret ingredients.

hotel barken viking gothenburg sweden from bridge

The staff at the Hotel Barken Viking were all very nice and helpful. They all speak perfect English (as does everyone in Sweden it seems). The Danes speak good English as well, but the Swedes are even better.

In other non-English speaking foreign countries when you ask someone if they can speak English you either get a blank stare, a “no,” or an answer of “a little.” In Denmark the answer is usually “yes.” In Sweden it is usually “of course.” And they aren’t kidding.

To say hello in Sweden you say, “Hey.” You shouldn’t stop there though (unless you speak Swedish), or the reply will be a load of Swedish. I found that saying, “Hey, do you speak English?” was the best greeting as it started in Swedish, but didn’t result in a response in Swedish.

hotel barken viking room porthole

Morning came after a nice 10-hour sleep on the Viking. The above is a view from the porthole in our room. The room smelled so good. I don’t know if the nice smell was due to the new remodel or if it will always smell like that, but all hotels should be so pleasant to the nose.

I actually have quite a few more pictures from Gothenburg so our less-than-two-day trip to Sweden is going to turn into a five-day blog with tomorrow’s final installment.

Metaltown 2008 pictures

I’m pretty sure my Mom is clamoring for more photographs from Metaltown 2008 in Goteborg, Sweden. So, Mom, this post is for you.

Just kidding. Actually, my Mom, and anyone else who knows me (expect probably David, Eric, and John), should ignore this blog entry and come back tomorrow for something more to their tastes.

Martin Henriksson of Dark Tranquility at Metaltown 2008

You’ll want to click on these images for a bigger view or right click on them and save them to your computer if you want to use them as desktop images. My wife is looking forward to seeing these on a daily basis as our home PC desktop background. 😉

Mikael Stanne Niklas Sundin and Michael Nicklasson of Dark Tranquility

Compared to concerts in the U.S. the Swedish crowd was well behaved on average. I unintentionally ended up in the mosh pit for Dark Tranquility before fading into a more enjoyable position. Some bands had no mosh pit and others only had a small one develop for certain songs. This was a welcome change as you could be up front without being uncomfortable. That’s not to say the crowd wasn’t enthusiastic. Near the stage the crowd was very engaged without being rude to their neighbors–something some U.S. concert goers have failed to learn.

I always imagined that of the Gothenburg scene bands Dark Tranquility and In Flames would be about equally popular in their hometown. It turns out that In Flames is far more popular.

Gothenburg movement Dark Tranquility

Most bands started and finished within a minute of their scheduled start and end times. For some unknown reason DT left the stage with more than 5 minutes available to them.

Just before landing in Copenhagen last week, DT’s “The Wonders at Your Feet” came on my ipod. Needless to say a large smile crossed my face at the poignancy of the timing. They did play that song at Metaltown too (although not as the opener as they did when I saw them in Eugene, Oregon).

Fintroll at Metaltown 2008

As you can tell from this shot of Finntroll, the wind was extreme on this day. 😉 (not really–sometimes one must make their own extreme wind)

Finntroll Finland Finish Metal

Soilwork actually played between Dark Tranquility and Finntroll, but I wasn’t very close to the stage so the pictures are nothing special; I am not posting them here.

Few things in life are quite as fun as men in skirts. Finntroll, like Amon Amarth later, seemed to be having a great time. Finnish metal, or at least Finntroll’s version of it, is quite different than the Swedish variety.

Mathias

Had Opeth been playing next, as scheduled, I would have vacated my prime Finntroll position to get a good spot for Opeth. As it was I stuck it out to the end of their set which was enjoyable from beginning to end. If you like heavy, melodic music and haven’t listened to Finntroll before I strongly encourage you to check them out.

Satyricon at Metaltown 2008

This was the time slot I was waiting for since Opeth was due to play. I suppose as fill-in bands go you can’t do too much better than Satyricon. Satyricon, hailing from Norway, made the balance of acts go to 2 from Norway, 2 from Finland, and 5 from Sweden.

The only band that spoke in English between songs was Dimmu Borgir (from Norway). All the songs were in English (except a couple of songs by Satyricon and Finntroll who have lyrics in Swedish even though they are from Finland). Some of the bands spoke a lot between songs (like Opeth does and which is rare for non-Scandinavian metal bands). However, it was all in Swedish (I think) so I couldn’t understand a word.

Satyricon had a few really good songs (near the beginning and at then again to wrap up their set with “Mother North”). The rest seemed a little too similar and needed more variety in sound, but maybe I would feel differently if I were more familiar with them. I don’t have any of their CDs but do have a few of their songs on my ipod. I also hear them pop up on Pandora.

Amon Amarth at Metaltown 2008

I have recently gotten into Amon Amarth. They did not disappoint at Metaltown. In fact, they jumped into my top 10 favorite bands with their performance.

Another interesting thing about Swedish fans in comparison to fans in the U.S. are the number that wear ear protection. In the U.S. I’d guess less than 10% of the audience wear ear protection. At Metaltown 2008 I’d guess that percentage at over 50%. Even after I made it back across the river I could hear Nightwish fine once I pulled my plugs out.

Amon Amarth gothenburg sweden 2008

I thought my camera ran out of batteries after the above picture. Lucky for you, I tried it later, and it still worked.

Dimmu Borgir at Metaltown 2008

The Dimmu Borgir t-shirts people were wearing had some interesting slogans on them. Just in case my Mom is still reading this, I will not post them here. 😉

Nightwish at Metaltown 2008

Last, and least in my opinion, was Nightwish. Actually, In Flames was last, but see yesterday’s post for information on that.

Tomorrow we will resume our regularly scheduled program. Sorry Mom.

Metaltown 2008

Metaltown took place just over the bridge from our hotel. Although it was an interesting experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself at times, there were some problems. The first was that my ticket never arrived so I had to buy another one. The second is that the band I was most hoping to see, Opeth, cancelled due to Mikael Akerfeldt coming down with chicken pox. But the biggest problem of all is that I was sick and running on only about 8 hours of sleep in the prior 3+ days.

The final problem is with festival concerts in general. I think this was my last (of many). It just isn’t the optimal means to enjoy music. Too many bands and too many people in the audience do not make for the best of experiences. I wasn’t the only one spent after just three or four bands. How does one stay up (even with a good night’s sleep) for 10 bands over nearly 11 hours?

Dark Tranquility at Metaltown 2008

I was in the front for four of the bands (Dark Tranquility, Finntroll, Amon Amarth, and Nightwish). During the others I mostly rested. I was favorably impressed by Finntroll. The highlight, for me, was Amon Amarth who call their music Viking Metal. Satyricon filled in for Opeth. Lillasyster, Soilwork, and Nightwish didn’t do it for me. Dimmu Borgir did an amazing job of reproducing their highly technical and heavily produced (in a good way) studio sound live. I was expecting them to fall short in terms of sound, but that didn’t happen.

stages at metaltown in goteborg sweden

I should also mention that in addition to the two stages which almost always had a band playing (one at a time, switching stages, with a 15 minute break in between) there was a third stage which I never visited. Clutch played on that third stage. I met part of the band in the check-in line in Washington D.C. They came to Copenhagen on the same flight. After Metaltown they are playing at Roskilde this weekend in Denmark.

I ran out of Swedish Kronors early in the day and there were no ATMs to get more. This meant I could buy no food (other than a bag of chips). By 10:30 p.m. I had had no sleep, less than 1,000 calories, and had been standing or walking for the better part of 12 hours straight. I was also running a fever and felt like I would be a goner at any moment. With In Flames still to come I didn’t want to give up, but I had to in order to live to see another day. I left in the middle of the Nightwish set (which was boring me to tears).

(Plus, I was going to be very far from the stage when In Flames came on. I’ve become rather spoiled in the past year or so with being in or very near the front for concerts I’ve attended. This has now made the normal concert experience of being far away seem less than satisfactory. I was in the front row for several bands as mentioned above. I was only a few rows away from the stage for Satyricon. So sticking around to be far away to see In Flames just wasn’t going to cut it.)

A quick trip back over the bridge and I crashed on the Viking for the next 10 hours.

Nightwish playing at Metaltown 2008 with Hotel Barken Viking in background

As you can see from the above photo, the Hotel Barken Viking was not far from Metaltown. Although it was after 10 p.m. the sky had yet to darken. This far north, things don’t get dark until very late in the summer.

hot air balloon at sunset at metaltown in gothenburg sweden

From Denmark to Sweden…

…or from the land of the beautiful people to the land of the very beautiful people.

As previously mentioned, before leaving for Denmark we planned a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden for our first weekend. Prior to leaving on this excursion I ran into a bit of bad luck. I got sick (including fevers) on top of being jetlagged. For some reason my jetlag actually got worse rather than better, and the night before leaving for Sweden I was unable to sleep, at all. I think that was the first time ever I’ve stayed up all night. If it wasn’t, it was the first time in much more than a decade.

I was glad when the alarm went off at 5 a.m. as lying in bed wide awake for six hours isn’t any fun. We walked to the Copenhagen train station which had a great feel inside. I’m not sure what year it was built but walking inside felt like you went back in time 100+ years.

copenhagen train station interior

copenhagen train station platform

The train ride up the coast of Sweden was very pleasant. The train seemed quieter and smoother than trains I remember in Italy and Japan. The scenery included views of the Oresund Straights (between the North Sea and Baltic Sea), large farms (mostly grain but some strawberries), some livestock (mainly sheep and cattle—my daughter called them “wild cows” because the fields they were in were so large), forests, and windmills (both modern and classic). The houses were cute.

windmills at sunrise in the sea between denmark and sweden

sweden country side

Upon arrival we had to get our return tickets changed through SJ. They were very gracious about doing so even though the tickets were supposed to be non-changeable and non-refundable. So if you are ever traveling on the railways through Sweden don’t pay extra for the refundable or changeable tickets. Just be sure to change your tickets before the time on the reservation and you should be good.

I apologize for the picture quality on this leg of the trip. Metaltown would only allow small cameras so we only took my daughter’s camera to Sweden. Plus, pictures through moving train windows aren’t great to begin with. They do look better if you click on them though.

Metaltown 2008 Gothenburg (Göteborg) Sweden

I just nailed down our first excursion outside of Copenhagen for our trip. We will arrive in Copenhagen on the morning of the 25th. On the morning of the 28th we are going to catch a train from Copenhagen, Denmark to Gothenburg, Sweden. If you are ever in this situation you should know that there are many train options between the two. You can use the Danish reservation site at dsb.dk, Eurorail at RailEurope (or a number of other sites), or Swedish Railways at sj.se. It turns out that even though you are on the same train the rates vary widely and seem to be changing constantly on the first and last option. We ended up going with the latter because kids under 15 ride free. Round trip tickets for all four of us were about US$200. A few days earlier they were only US$150 so buying early seems to be key.

In Gothenburg we will be staying at the Hotell Barken Viking. If that isn’t the coolest name for a hotel I don’t know what is. But wait, it gets better. This is no ordinary hotel. It is a ship. Unfortunately, it isn’t a Viking ship, as the name suggests, but it looks exciting anyway.

hotel barken viking gothenburg

There are no pictures of the interior on the internet as it was just remodeled in May of 2008, but they sent us these pictures:

barken viking roomgoteborg viking interior

Just across the bridge from where the Barken Viking is docked is the main attraction for the day. While the wife and kids are off enjoying the summer in Gothenburg, I will be experiencing a music festival with a lineup one can only dream about.

If you were to ask me who are the current musical acts, never before seen live that I’d most like to see, I would answer In Flames and Dimmu Borgir. If you were to ask me who are the current musical acts, I have seen live before that I’d like to see again, I would answer Opeth and Dark Tranquility. If you were to ask me where would I like to see them, the answer would be in the heart of The Gothenburg Sound of course. It seems that all of these wishes are going to come true. And for icing on the cake, why not throw in a bunch of other great bands like Nightwish, Finntroll, Amon Amarth, and Soilwork too?

metaltown sweden

I have driven over 1,600 miles round trip to see Opeth on three occasions in Portland & Eugene, Oregon and Oakland, California, but this will be extra special seeing them in Sweden. Of course I won’t be able to understand any of Mikael’s usual between-songs banter in Swedish, but for this experience I can do without it. 😉

This won’t be my first concert out of the United States. Last summer I got to see Rush on their home turf in Toronto, and that was a night I’ll never forget.

I should also thank Morten, from Copenhagen Insider, for answering all of my travel questions so quickly.

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