Monthly Archives: August 2011

Visiting the Fish Church (Feskekörka) in Gothenburg

My boyfriend is not the most religious of folks, so it’s a rare day in Sweden that he says he wants to go to church. Because of that, I didn’t really argue with him when he said he wanted to go to Feskekörka (a phonetic* spelling of “Fish Church”) when we were in Gothenburg last weekend.

Looks like a real church, though, right?

Of course, it wasn’t really a church.

Instead, it’s a big fish market, selling seriously the most beautiful fish and sea food I have ever seen in my whole life. Not to mention the amazing, fanciful displays at one stall.

Dancing shrimp, apple swans, eggplant penguins, onion pearls, and a seafood display that looks like it was inspired by Disney's The Little Mermaid.

The Fish Church was established in 1874 after the wives of the fishermen at the time said they needed some sort of building to sell their fish from. I can only imagine how cold it must have been handling cold, dead fish outside in Sweden in the fall. Yikes.

In response to their request, the city architect at the time, Victor von Gegerfelt, built them this market hall. According to Gothenburg’s website, he was inspired by both the Norwegian stave churches and Gothic stone churches. As a further note, since I know nothing about churches, apparently “stave churches” are Medieval wooden churches with a post-and-beam construction (obviously this is all coming from Wikipedia…), and they got their name from the wooden weight-bearing poles, or staves.  Gegerfelt wanted his church to be totally without poles on the inside, though, and you can see the result a few picture down.

When Feskekörka was built, it was a pretty futuristic experiment and quickly got the name “Fish Church” because of the way it looks from the outside.

It's pretty darn church-like.

Even though it’s not a real church, people have gotten married there—the first couple in 1970. Our guide did not say whether it was a common occurrence or not. Apparently they also have a lot of other events there, too, like wine tasting and the national oyster-opening competition…

It’s pretty big inside. There are four vendor stalls and two restaurants, and even if you are staying in a hotel it would be well worth stopping by before lunch to pick up some ready-made food for a picnic in one of the three thousand parks nearby. (Seriously, Gothenburg had a ton of parks.)

What it looks like inside the Fish Church.

We hadn’t had breakfast yet when we passed through, so the idea of fish or seafood at that hour was not that appealing in comparison to my hopes for a giant cinnamon bun. Even so, I noticed that one of the stalls offered made-to-order baguette sandwiches. MMM. It sounded really good.

I had to take a picture of the “lyxig” smörgåslängd (“luxury/gourmet” long sandwich) below. It’s meant for three people, and it looks fantastic. It’s also a pretty good illustration of what luxury sandwiches look like in Sweden: slices of lemon, various greens strewed on top, and the obligatory cucumber slices everywhere. I guarantee you that there’s either butter or mayonnaise somewhere in there, too, to balance out all the freshness.

Seafood sandwiches! om nom nom.

Swedish people also like it when you take one kind of food and wrap it around another kind of food and then garnish it with some sort of berry. As seen below.

I think this is smoked salmon, fresh cheese (probably mixed with some chives, dill, or other herbs), plus a physalis on top.

Next time I’m in Gothenburg and I’m feeling particularly rich and fancy, I would love to go to one of their restaurants in the evening and have some fantastic seafood overlooking the canal. Actually, I just looked it up, and I don’t even have to be that rich and fancy. Maybe the next time we’re in Gothenburg we actually will have dinner there.

Photos from Restaurant Gabriel, located on the top floor of the Fish Church. I think they're the ones responsible for the seafood art, too.

Important info:

Address: Rosenlundsgatan, 41120, Göteborg (Gothenburg)
Website: www.feskekö
Open hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 9 am-5 pm; Friday, 9 am-6 pm; Saturday, 9 am-6 pm; closed Sundays and Mondays
Telephone: 0046 313 684 200 if you’re calling from another country, 031 368 4200 if you’re calling from within Sweden

Visa större karta

*Phonetically, you’d pronounce Feskekörka like “FEH-skah-SHUR-kah” if you’re American and understand the way I’m writing these vowels…



Catch up with the Expat Blog at!

There’s been a lot of action at the Expat Blog over the summer, and of course I don’t want you to miss a single minute. An entire summer’s worth of Sweden posts? In one place? Could your reading list get any more convenient? (No.)

A Preliminary Treatise on the Style of the Swedish Male The Swedish male, while obviously related to others of its type, looks very different than other nationalities’ specimens.

Top 5 Money-Saving Tips for Traveling in Sweden There’s no reason to go broke while traveling in Sweden.

Quick trip to THE MOTHERSHIP! In Stockholm and at the Swedish Institute!

Nostalgia, Hybridity, and the Zen of an American Brunch in Sweden American brunch gets Swedified with elderflower mimosas, lingonberry pancakes, and much, much more.

ALL THE INSIDER BABY GOSSIP: What the English-speaking media doesn’t know and isn’t telling you OMG Victoria is having a baby!! Get all the dirty gossip.

5 Simple Steps to Start Speaking a Foreign Language Now Five easy steps to help you get started speaking a foreign language now. Based on my experience learning Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish as well as my work as an English teacher.

Cope with Summer Rain Like a Swede “Close your eyes and think of the empire.” No wait, I think that was for something else.

Brief Update from Southern Sweden A canal boat! Old timey folk songs! Europe!

1 Year in Sweden, 30 Swedish Experiences… and 30 more to work on What a year. Feeling better than ever and looking forward to more. Bring on the Swedish experiences!

The Great “Sweden is Socialist” Hoax Let’s talk dirty… real dirty. About toilets in Sweden and how they’re not free and how this is substantive proof that Sweden is not socialist. 

Oh, Snap(s)! It’s Midsummer Midsummer is here, and we made our own snaps! So bootleg, right?

Happy Midsummer! Twas the night before Midsummer and all through the house…

5 Steps to Making Your Own Midsummer’s Head Wreath Five simple steps to help you be the Swedish fairy/princess/queen of Midsummer that you always wanted to be.

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON! Pre-Midsummer anticipation! Plus, an insider look on what really goes on in Sweden during Midsummer.

When eating flowers out of the garden is not just for unruly kids How to make elderflower cordial/concentrate and the joys of being one with nature in Sweden.


In Gothenburg for the Weekend!

Simon and I are in Gothenburg for the weekend, and I am loving this city. Our trip could not be going better—our hostel is amazing, everything we’ve eaten has been delicious, and best of all, the vibe here is just great.

For me, Gothenburg feels a little like a Swedish take on a continental city. There are tons of cafes and bars overflowing into the streets, giant, wide avenues, and some of the architecture looks a lot like what you would find in Vienna. At the same time, of course it’s totally Swedish.

We took a boat tour yesterday through the canals and out into the harbor. I really enjoyed the tour, and the guide—this tiny little girl with blond hair who looked max 16 years old—was totally hilarious. She delivered her standard corny tour guide jokes with a lot of flair in both Swedish and English like a pro.

During the rest of the day, we walked around, window-shopped, enjoyed the Saluhallen, checked out various dinner spots, ran into the beginning of the Gothenburg Jazz Festival, and finally ended up at La Bouffé Provencale Bistro, where we both had the most amazing three course meals.

More on all of that later… just one quick photo of what has been one of my strongest impressions of Gothenburg so far: the laid-back lounging that’s going on all over the place.

Kungsparken (The King's Park) from the canal.

Whether it was at a cafe, a restaurant, in the park, on a park bench, or wherever else you could be, people in Gothenburg really seem to be good at taking it easy and enjoying the summer while it’s here. The city is full of places to sit and chill and meet people, and it makes a huge difference. I’m really looking forward to walking through the Botanical Gardens today (home of the Scandinavia’s largest rose collection!) and soaking it all in some more.

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for updates from all of my exciting trips that I’ve been doing over the last three weeks.

Malmö Festival is here!

Malmö Festival is here!! Free concerts, food stalls, art exhibitions, demonstrations… general excitement all over. Here are a few pictures I took on Sunday night on my way to the Veronica Maggio concert!

A street artist working by spotlight

Carousel at the Malmö Festival.

"Throw your prejudices here."

Veronica Maggio, up close and personal


The View From Above Stockholm on Observatory Hill

The old Stockholm Observatory can be found on Observatoriekullen (Observatory Hill), the highest point in downtown Stockholm. Elaine and I had some time to kill before our breakfast date at Foam with Satu and Oscar of Brunch Stockholm, so we took one last, winding walk through the castle on Gamla Stan, through Sergels Torg and up Drottninggatan. Then it was up the stairs cut into the side of the hill and to the top.

I love Stockholm.

At the top of the hill is the Observatory Museum and a cafe, which advertised coffee, tea, and sweets. Tempting, but we were saving ourselves for brunch. One of the museum’s main attractions is an instrument called a “temperaturslinga” (some sort of coil) that has been recording the daily temperature since 1756. Today, it takes the temperature three times daily, and there is a display of the average temperatures of the year’s warmest and coldest months (July and February, respectively) from the first recordings to today. This Observatory is responsible for the longest-running record of daily temperatures in the world.

Elaine, chilling on Observatory Hill.

Stockholm never felt particularly crowded to us when we were there—maybe a little on Saturday afternoon in the most central areas, but other than that, there was this feeling of overall calm and orderliness everywhere we went. The area on top of Observatoriekullen took that to an extreme. Besides a few other tourists who quickly left and a mother and son duo having breakfast together, we had the place to ourselves. So we sat, rested our feet, which were tired from several days of all-day walking, and enjoyed the view until it was time to move on again.

The view from above.

I’d like to go back someday and actually go into the museum. Visitors can use the Observatory’s telescope, made in 1910, to view the sky. It must be amazing on clear, cold winter evenings to trek up there and take a look. For the meantime, though, we were focused on Stockholm at the ground level.

A little slice of the city.

ALL THE INSIDER BABY GOSSIP: What the English-speaking media doesn’t know and isn’t telling you

Crown Princess Victoria has “en bulle i ugnen”—a royal bun in the oven!! Woohooo!!! I’m so excited. Victoria, Daniel, if you’re reading this, CONGRATULATIONS! (Omg, I would die if they read this.) If you’re trying to find out more about the royal-highness-to-be, but you don’t speak Swedish, you’re probably getting the following news brief from the Royal Family and not much more.

The Crown Princess Couple is expecting a child

Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel are happy to announce that The Crown Princess is expecting their first child.

The birth is expected to take place in March of 2012. No changes in the schedule of The Crown Princess’s public engagements are planned during the fall of 2011.

All due respect to the Royal Family’s press office and all, but that is not enough information. And you know I can’t get enough of the Swedish monarchy.

So here’s all the royal dirt that there is to be found, collected and translated by yours truly from all the Swedish media sources I know (Aftonbladet, Svenska Dagbladet, Sydsvenskan, blogs, etc.)

For all the inside information, follow this link to the Expat Blog, “ALL THE INSIDER BABY GOSSIP: What the English-speaking media doesn’t know and isn’t telling you.”

Copenhagen Central Station: Classiest Flash Mob of All Time

I just got back from a long weekend in Stockholm, and WOW I have a lot of photos to sort through and stories to share. Before that, though, I have to get myself together for the lessons I’m teaching today.

In the meantime, here is a video I just came across of something a little closer to me… a flash mob in Copenhagen Central Station. I’ve been here so many times, but does the Philharmonic ever show up for me? Noooooooo. I tell you, the injustice of it all…

So awesome. FYI, they’re playing Ravel’s Bolero.


As a sidenote, over the past few months apparently I’ve become a crier. Like, silly things are just making me go all leaky faucets at the drop of a hat. I got all teary-eyed watching this video. Why??? Does this make me super weird?? Why does someone all of a sudden become a crier? It’s not like I’ve had a spiritual reawakening and have amazingly become a more beautiful and sensitive soul. Nope. Same old me, just a little dewier…

The Uncertain Tattoo Shop in Värnhem, Malmö

While Bryant was here visiting, we went to a Chilean-themed dinner party in Värnhem hosted by my friend Andrea, who is Chilean but raised in Sweden. She used to live in Barcelona and work as a candy maker, and she’s headed back soon… it’s great for here because she loves it there, but we’ll miss her here!

Anyway, while we were on our way, Bryant pointed out a tattoo shop that we were walking by that seemed less than confident in its abilities.

Skinlab Tattoo: Tattoo and Laser Removal

I suppose this makes sense as a business concept if you believe that someone can bond enough with their tattooer or the receptionist enough to come back for laser removal after their affection for the actual tattoo has died.

Otherwise, this just seems like bad marketing.

ICA Maxi: The Walmart solution to all of your European problems

If you live in Sweden and you’re like, Yeah, well, life here is great and all, but what I really need is a Walmart, look no farther than your closest ICA Maxi. Yes, it sounds like a type of feminine product, but I can assure you that it is not.

Instead, it’s a giant warehouse-style compendium of actually quite fresh produce, prepared foods, bulk and frozen foods, home products, gardening tools, and the required assortment of random seasonal stuff. Plus the Sam’s Club-style eatery, which we’ll call a cafe only because I found a blog post titled “The Greatness of the Sam’s Club Cafe” (by, appropriately enough, a blog called “Dude Foods“… love it). The author of that blog and I should probably be best friends on the basis of the following paragraph alone:

Another plus when it comes to eating lunch at Sam’s Club is that they usually have free samples each day, so when you’re done with your lunch you can walk around the grocery area with your giant soda and eat even more food! I love it when I finish a couple pieces of pizza and then walk around only to find out that they’re also giving out free samples of pizza. That’s bonus pizza!

Ahh, free samples. I miss you, America. Anyway, if you like hot dogs and soft serve ice cream… you’ll love ICA Maxi’s cafe.

Back to the point. Love the ICA Maxi. Next time you need to buy lingonberry preserves or planting soil in bulk, you know where to go. In Malmö, it’s right on the way to Västra Hamnen. You can get off at the bus stops at Turning Torso, Kockums Fritid, or Propellergatan (the absolute closest, in case you’re super lazy or perchance the weather is terrible, which is fairly likely).

The last time I was there was with my friend Bryant, an American friend who worked in London during the summer. We were en route to Turning Torso in Västra Hamnen, and we needed some sustenance for the road. (At least, I need some sustenance. FEED ME.)

Fortunately, ICA Maxi was there to help.

Notice at the top how it says "Bra för humöret." That means "good for your spirits" or "will put you in a good mood" or something like that. Eat candy... it's good for you!!! (Spiritually speaking.)

I’ve written before that Swedes love their candy, and this is just one part of the candy section in ICA Maxi. There are several rows of chocolate and pre-packaged candy in the rows right behind Bryant. There was also a wall about half this size of dried fruits and nuts in the produce section, all equipped with the same tiny little shovels. Oh Sweden, how I love your candy.

A shark raft!! Oh yeahhhhhhh! Just what we need for the pool.

Look at all the stuff behind me!! And the size of the of the charcoal bags at left (to my right)! And the magnificence of the shark raft!!! 2 awesome 4 wordz, dood!!

So there you have it. ICA Maxi: the European Walmart you’ve been looking for.

5 Simple Steps to Start Speaking a Foreign Language Now (from the Expat Blog)

From the Expat Blog…

I’ve lived in four different countries and studied four foreign languages, plus I work as an English teacher. Thanks to these experiences and, well, my personality, I have developed some strong opinions about languages and language learning.

Regardless of whether you’re planning on moving to Sweden or just visiting, I’ve decided to share my tricks for kick-starting the language learning process so you can be a Swedish whiz by the time you get here.

ONE ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT: You must be brave. You can memorize verbs, build your vocabulary, and study grammar until the day you die, but unless you start speaking, it won’t do you any good when you actually want to use it. (NB: It’s not cheating to strengthen your resolve with alcohol.)

A few of my Swedish books. They're great, but most important... start speaking!

Step 1: Focus on the present tense first.

Step 2: Learn the past and future forms of to be, to want, to need, to have, to like, and to go.

Step 3:  Build your vocabulary.

Step 4: Speak… all the time.

Step 5: Stay positive.

For the whole story, check out the Expat Blog at!

My trusty Swedish pocket dictionary has been a real lifesaver from time to time.