Monday, 8 November 2010

Gothenburg, Sweden top five

'No wait, I think I have a death metal version of Britney Spears here somewhere,' said Hampus. And there in one sentence is Gothenburg or Goteborg in its Swedish spelling. The home of the melodic death metal scene, an industrial and maritime hub (Volvo and Ericsson have centres near the city) yet also sweet, the locals are hilariously good-looking and the city is becoming a surprising cultural herald. Got a weekend spare? Here's where to go.

1) Cafe Kringlan, Haga Nygatan 13, 413 01 Göteborg
Even when the staff are having a bad day (and they had two when I was there. Not because I was there I hope ... )the food and coffee more than make up for it. Massive cinnamon buns which were delicious and superb latte. Quiet in the early morning but soon packs out with students heading up to the University of Gothenburg which sits at the end of Haga Nygata. Kringlan has a cosy, farmhouse-style interior in shades of floral green with low lighting. You could sit here until you are bored of reading that same page of the intensely intellectual novel over and over and over again.

2) Bitter bar, Linnegatan 59, 402 33 Göteborg
Extremely, unashamedly (maybe because it doesn't realise) cheesy bar. So bad it's awesome. A homage to the ratpack with their pictures everywhere and a fake fire burning on one wall. But the rum choice is huge and superb and it's well worth a visit for that alone.

3) Bar Kino, Linnegatan 21 413 04 Göteborg
Sitting underneath the art house cinema of Hagabion, this bar is a gorgeous modern speakeasy without the illict actions but a lot of the feel. A piano sits in the corner demanding someone to let loose, and low lighting combined with the black and white check floor makes for a groovy, downtempo, funky atmosphere.

4) Bar Italia, Prinsgatan 7
No way is this the best coffee in Gothenburg despite what fans may tell you! But it has a blue vespa stuck to the wall and frankly that swings it into this list for me. The espresso is thick and wonderful and the modish Italian furniture spot on for that Roman feel. Crowded every single time I went in but then standing up and necking strong coffee is what Italy is all about so that even goes in its favour.

5) Soppkaffe, Karl Johansgatan
This place is way out from both Haga and Linne, the two hipster parts of town but for its homely, local, lack of style it is a superb place to chill. Big windows, Gothic mirrors, huge velvet sofas and cute little red-check tableclothed tables just begging to house a first date for two shy 17-year-olds on a budget. Plus it's warm and smells of food which in chilly, windy Goteborg is a plus. Oh and the latte was pretty unique with quite a nutty flavour. Whether that was intentional or not I'd rather not know.

And in terms of places to stay, you could do a lot worse than the boutique Avalon hotel. Although the best part could easily be said to be the walk-in shower, glass bottomed swimming pool which hangs over the edge of the building, or the inclusive, huge breakfast. but no. The best bit is the sound of fairy magic as you walk down the corridor. Think Tinkerbell. Superb.

Oh. And here's that death metal Britney.