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A Gothenburg Birthday

I don't even know where to begin about another year around the sun and spending it in Sweden. It's all been... a lot. A lot of coffee and cinnamon buns and eating all the Swedish food and pick and mix candy and tired feet from walking and not having any idea what people are saying and fine china and cutlery and some of the most beautiful people just walking by on the street. (Seriously, there are models waiting to happen around every corner here.) It's a lot, but yet it's never too much. It's enough to make you look forward to the day you'll be back.

If I had to sum up Gothenburg in one word, it would be CHARMING. From the cobblestone streets to the fresh flower shops to the DJ on the street playing Sinatra, not like a DJ we think of - pure charm. I got to spend 4 and a half days here so hold on for the virtual ride...

We stayed at the Avalon Hotel right in the middle of everything which was amazing. The hotel is an art focused hotel and we had a life-sized horse lamp on the balcony. You heard me... a life-sized horse lamp. No words.

I can't remember the last time I got a massage, so the first thing on my agenda was to find a spa and prove if a massage is just a massage in Sweden, or if it is in fact a Swedish massage. It's a massage. I found Hagabadet which was unlike any spa I've ever been to. It was huge, and it had 3 pools you could do a warm float in, do water aerobics in, or take a cool dip in similar to a Roman bath. Each room had a place to sit and relax or a room off of the pool room where you could go take a nap where no phones or news or anything of the sort were allowed. My realization while at the spa... I am bad at relaxing. I could do everything for about 10 minutes...maaaaybe 15 and then on to the next. I checked in two hours before my massage so I went to the sauna, soaked my feet, laid in the nap room, had some avocado toast, floated in a pool and swung in a hammock chair until my massage time ticked to 2pm. It was fabulous. A massage in Sweden. An actual Swedish massage.

Everywhere has fresh coffee and fresh baked goods. I stopped by Haga at Cafe Husaren to get one of their famous hagabullen aka a bun bigger than your face. You either have to be extremely hungry for a cinny bun or you have to share. I shared.

Haga is really a special little special little place and is one of two boroughs of Gothenburg. There's shopping, eating of course and just pure charm. This is a must-do if you go to Gothenburg. There's also great murals as you're walking from Gothenburg city center to Haga, and I had to share the shark mural, naturally.

Tuesday was the big day...42 years on the earth. It doesn't feel like that long in some ways, and others...well, it does. Marcus planned for me to do a seal safari and herring fishing on a private boat booked with Kastor Boat Trips from Hono because he had to work, whomp whomp. The seals were definitely my favorite and Lasse - the captain. He was everything you think of when you think of an older Swedish boat captain. He had the hat and sweater to match - I just felt like he was missing the blue and white stripes. We took the boat by the seals and trolled for herring while we made our way to a little island and had Swedish fika. Let's talk about fika because you'll hear that word again. According to the definition of fika is:

"Fika cannot be experienced at your desk by yourself. That would just be taking coffee and cake.

Fika is a ritual. Even the mighty Volvo plant stops for fika. All Swedes consider it important to make time to stop and socialise: to take a pause. It refreshes the brain and strengthens relationships. And it makes good business sense: firms have better teams and are more productive where fika is institutionalised.

Fika can be a verb. Swedes will say to each other, "Let's go and fika!" or "You and I fika together so well".

Exactly what you eat during fika is not really important. The food is incidental to the companionship, the socialising and catching up with friends and colleagues. But whatever food you choose for fika it should be fresh and well presented. Ideally it should be homemade. Many team leaders in Sweden consider it important to regularly bake something at home to take into work for fika."

Why we don't do this, I don't know. If I win as President, I will instill Swedish fika as a daily ritual. #voteformegan

Lasse's fika on the island was homemade by his sweet widowed older neighbor. He provides her with herring and fish, and she provides him with fresh baked goods to take on the boat to his clients. He is winning. We sat and chatted about life, breathing in the salty air and he told me about his daughter, sailing and that he didn't "like football, drinking or brown beans."

After taking an uber out to Hono, I somehow found my way back to Gothenburg by taking a bus then a ferry, then a bus then walking to the hotel. I made it. And ate a shrimp sammy at the hotel before I had to get ready for a fancy pants birthday dinner. A shrimp sandwich is very Swedish. It has mayo, dill, shrimp, bread...need I say more? Dillish! :) Swedes love to cook with dill.

For my bday dinner, Marcus took me to a very nice feast at Project... an 11 course tasting with 7 pairings of wine and champs. If you know me, you know I'm terrible at drinking, so naturally, he had to help finish my portions. I took care of all of my portions of food - don't worry. He told me when he booked it, "You get 3 hours of eating for your bday - you're welcome." I said, "You know me so well." The meal was incredible.

After the huge meal Tuesday night (and drinks), Wednesday I needed a run and a workout and to not have any set plans. So, I did exactly that. I went to the gym associated with our gym - Nordic Wellness - and ran 42 minutes to commemorate my first full day of being 42 years old! Then came back and did a birthday workout - which I challenge you to do! Go check it out on demand or below.

Here's the workout:

Birthday workout!! This is a fun one to do if you're celebrating a bday or you want to celebrate someone else. I turned 42, so I had to do 42 reps of everything. I also started with a 42 minute run to warmup (that's why I look like this!). Split the burpees up if you need to! However many years you've been on earth - do that many reps...


Rock bottom squats

Jump lunges

Taps and hand release pushups (I alternated between 4 and 2 - ouch, but stick with 2 if you want)

Double squat plie jumps

Plank twists

Later that day I did something very touristy and I'm so glad that I did! For $20 I popped on a 50 minute Padden boat tour of Gothenburg and boated around the moat. I learned alllll about the city, which was really cool. Did you know that Gothenburg has a banana harbor where they used to bring the bananas into Sweden? FYI - banana consumption per capita reached 6.42 kg in 2019 in Sweden. We learned much more about the city. One of my favorite things was to hear about the King's Park and how they planted every species of Scandinavian tree into the park. The park was built because at the time many Swedish people couldn't afford a vacation so it was build for the city workers to go enjoy some time in nature even in the city. The Paddan tour goes under 20 bridges and into the harbor. If you happen to do the tour while you're here not in the summer - bring a big coat and a hat - it was a bit chilly.

Thursday I dedicated to shopping! Breakfast, a 5 mile run at the gym, one of my favorites - Joe and the Juice - and then gift shopping and vintage shopping!!!! We discovered this place when I went to Gothenburg and Stockholm on a fitness trip with my friend Anne Marie who is super passionate about all things Norwegian and our friends Dawn and Tiffany. I never dreamed 5 years later I would be back with a Swedish boyfriend tour guide. At the time we were in Sweden, Joe and the Juice was only in a few Norwegian spots and jeez did we long for it to come to the US. Soon enough, we snapped pics from NYC and Miami of the chains opening up. It's like a quick, healthy, flatbread, smoothie and juice place. YUM. Just YUM.

My of my fav things to do in a foreign city is to find a second hand shop or vintage shop and go to town. You can find some true treasures that you can't find anywhere else and what a souvenir!!! I have a Nashville trip coming up, so I focused on getting a few things for that and went totally crazy back to the 80's. I scored a Barbour jacket too. All of it - SO GOOD. I mean look at a few of these scores...

We had dinner with Marcus' coworkers at a pretty traditional place we happened upon - Restuarng Kometen and it was incredible. The old school facade and decor made me think that it would either be really good or really bad - it was really good. We had all of the Swedish things... pickled herring, baked cod, Swedish meatballs, shrimp toast. Put all of these things on your list to try when you come to Sweden - you just have to.

I thought I would have a lot of time when I was here, maybe finish my book...nope. I stayed super busy, and you can get lost in the wonderful little streets of this city. There are shops with fresh flowers, murals, lights and cute things hanging from the sky and again, charm just oozing everywhere. Make sure to slide through each of these pics so see a few of the cuties.

Friday was our last day here in this precious city. I'm actually sitting at a cafe typing this now getting a bit emotional thinking of leaving. After another gym run and packing up, I had pizza at an amazing place called Deg with a fellow American working here in Gothenburg who happens to be a dear friend's brother-in-law, Josh. It was great to see him and catch up on what has happened in life since I'd seen him there 5 years ago.

After some of the best pizza I've ever had, I moseyed over to a place called and had one of the best pedicures of my life and now I'm here typing trying to soak in all of the last minute things I can until I visit again. One more cinny bun and coffee got me through this blog. We hit the train to Stockholm for the day tomorrow before the long journey heading back to the States.

Gothenburg, I will forever love your horse lamp, your tons of dill, your strong coffee, your cute little lanterns hanging in the street, your lack of fast food, your first rate second hand clothing stores and your pure charm. I hope to see you again soon.

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