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Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

9th October, 2018

Our final port of call on this lovely scenic Scandinavian jaunt, is Sweden’s second largest city and the largest situated on her west coast. I have never visited Gothenburg before, however had heard many positive stories from those that had.

Founded in 1621 after King Gustav 2 became irritated by constant Danish raids, he ordered a strong fortress built to secure Sweden’s only western port. It grew rapidly into the trading and maritime city envisioned by the King, and the famous East India Company became Sweden’s first international trading company during the 18th century. Now a busy modern city, Gothenburg is noted for its canals and numerous open green spaces that contrast with surrounding skyscrapers – one of which, I must say, looks like a giant lipstick tube.

We approached the rocky coastline in the early hours, before embarking our pilot at 06:30. After he had settled and informed me about how delighted they would be to offer us their new passenger cruise terminal in town, we entered the river for the 16 mile or so transit up to where we would ‘park.’ Initially weaving around rocky outcrops, the sun then started to rise as we passed the commercial dock area where one of the largest container ships in the world (399m long) was berthed. The river narrowed and about 4 miles further upstream, not far from the city centre, we swung the ship around adjacent to the ferry terminal before docking just ahead of it just after 08:00.

It was a grey day but the forecast once again promised a dry one, which I relayed (albeit tentatively – knowing all too well northern European autumn weather forecasting) to our passengers before they headed off to explore ashore. There were literally dozens of options for everyone to embark upon today. Several city tours were on offer in various different guises – from coach trips, or tram journeys, to scenic canal cruises. For our gardening enthusiasts, there was even a visit to the Botanical Gardens where one could perhaps pick up a few tips on how to grow plants in Swedish sort of weather!

I popped off ashore for a wander in the evening once the day’s deskwork was complete. Town centre was lovely in the evening light, with the chilly air and fairy lights everywhere, one could almost be convinced that it was Christmas. Mulled wine was even being sold in some open air bars and street stalls. I searched for a good 45 minutes for what I would consider to be a traditional Swedish eatery, however kept coming across burger bars, Irish pubs and swanky-looking glass-fronted bistros offering things like salads & vegan dishes. As nice as these looked, I wanted something a bit more Swedish.

It was then that I stumbled into a backstreet which presented me with two fine looking Indian restaurants. It was already gone 8pm, and I had walked a good few miles, so I called short my epic hunt for a traditional Swedish dish and settled down to a jolly nice curry instead. Anyone who knows me will not at all be surprised at this.

Wandering back an hour or so later with a particularly full tummy, Saga Pearl 2 stood out looking fine in the night on the riverside as I returned along the riverbank.

The next morning, after an extra night in port to allow our party revelling passengers to enjoy the Swedish nightlife, we set sail back across the North Sea towards Dover. This would be our last call into Dover for Saga Pearl 2…for our next UK call will be back in Portsmouth. It would also be a special day for me, for I will be handing over this beautiful little ship to the capable hands of Captain Sunderland again whilst I head off and enjoy some holiday time.

Happy blog-reading and speak to you again in November!

Captain Kim Tanner

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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