On my second morning in Gothenburg, I visited the botanical gardens, and later on I sent my parents a message saying: “If it were possible to die of happiness I’d be a goner!” Anyone who has read my travel blog will recall that botanical gardens are amongst my must-sees in any city. Also on that list is climbing to the highest point to take in the view and museums of modern art. With a long history as a list-maker, I will share my top five picks for botanical gardens all over the world, should you be so inclined to base your future travels around flowers:
Top Five Botanical Gardens:
- Sydney: The winner is, naturally, the enormous gardens in the Sydney CBD, which feature some of the best harbour views, little nooks and a stage for operas and performances.
- Barcelona: Barcelona has an incredible, diverse and almost haunting botanical garden which sprawls across a hilly terrain just outside of the city. When the warm sun is high in the sky, take a picnic and enjoy the silence amongst the unusual plants.
- Gothenburg: Beautiful, manicured and with a touch of Alice in Wonderland, Gothenburg’s gardens are well-planned, peaceful and big enough to find solitude but not so big as to be unwieldy.
- Edinburgh: I visited these gardens on a grey, drizzly day in June and I remember being pleasantly surprised. It reminded me more of a gorgeous, lively park than a classic English garden.
- Copenhagen: I had visited Copenhagen a view times in the winter and enjoyed wandering around the modestly-sized gardens then, but recently returned in the summer. The flowers were in bloom, the little creeks flowed enthusiastically and, to my surprise, a number of enormous sprinklers came on, causing me and a number of children to unsuccessfully attempt to dodge the heavy spray of water. It didn’t dampen my spirits, if you’ll excuse the pun.
After my stroll through the gardens I checked out of my hosted and then tucked into a hearty lunch at Kage’s in the food market. As Danish and Swedish aren’t the same thing I really didn’t know what I was ordering when I asked for the dish of the day. I thought it was beef. Turned out it was fish, crispy fried fish on a huge portion of mashed potato, which I gobbled down zealously (the only way to eat mashed potato is to gobble it).
I allowed myself plenty of time at Gothenburg central station to get my train to Abisko, via Stockholm. It was scheduled for 14:34, and would arrive into Stockholm at 17:49. The night train taking me to Abisko was at 18:10. It just wasn’t to be. My train was running 20 minutes late, and eventually arrived into Stockholm over an hour late, meaning I definitely missed my connection. I spent the journey searching the SJ Trains website to find out what kind of compensation I was eligible for.
Thankfully there was another train, departing at 23:14, which was just fine compared to waiting 24 hours which I thought I might have to do. I received 100kr to spend at the newsagent, 100kr to spend on-board, and access to the SJ lounge, which was wonderful because there was wifi, food and footage of moose on the television. Unfortunately, it closed at 20:30 and I had to hang about in the central station for three hours.
I thought perhaps a wander outside the station might be good idea. It wasn’t. Stockholm wasn’t anything like Gothenburg. It felt edgy and I immediately wanted to go back into the station, which was starting to fill up with the kind of people that hang out in train stations even though they don’t have a train to catch. So, I went directly to my platform, two hours early, and waited patiently.
Once I was finally on-board I met my new room-mate, who was thankfully very friendly. You have to be friendly in sleeper carriages, because there’s barely room for one person let alone three. There was only two of us, thank heavens, so the middle bunk remained folded up. My new friend, Louise, gave me a big hug and said “Welcome!” then showed me how things work in sleeper cabins: there was a ladder I had to climb to get to my bed at the top, and two strangely placed baskets for luggage hanging from the ceiling. I changed into my pyjamas and crawled into my little refuge, which was surprisingly comfortable. Despite the bad scheduling (I nearly missed my connection in Bodin because my Stockholm train was also running late!) I enjoyed my first experience on a night train, especially the part where I woke up to some beautiful Swedish scenery outside my window.