GOTHENBURG. PART THREE.
"Do you want coffee? It's included. I make coffee for my guests. Also, do you want me to make you waffles tomorrow?"
In between my long walks in the city center, visiting the many parks and botanical gardens, the vegetarian cafe, the coffee shops, the library, the Haga district, etc., I spend time with my host, Marco. We have breakfast together on the mornings he cooks for me and even though he says he doesn't eat breakfast, he doesn't want me to eat alone, so he'll grab the second waffle, always giving me the best one.
We'll talk for awhile about any number of things. He tells me about hosting and his guests and how he wants to make the place affordable for people to come, and how he feels bad about his kitchen, but hopes that his hospitality makes up for it. I tell him that his kitchen is fine. I suggest an area rug for his table area. He takes his hosting duties seriously. I ask him where he wants me to empty the trash can in my room or if I should strip the bed of the sheets when I leave. "That's not your job," he says seriously. "That's mine." And for his sincerity, I appreciate this.
He tells me about his many business dreams, one of which includes opening a Vietnamese restaurant. One of them includes being a taxi driver (after taking his driving test of course. The whole process sounds much more involved than our own test). And one of his dreams used to include opening a bubble tea shop. But, "I already tried that. When I was sixteen. No, I want to open a Vietnamese restaurant. A nice one. For my guests (he means his Air Bnb'ers) to come to." I am fascinated by all of his ideas and ideals and supportive. After all, I am here on a personal quest to uncover and pursue my own dreams.
He is supportive of me too: "You should blog (this is before I tell him that I am) and do it all the time. You'll get better at it. You have to keep doing it. Keep writing."
He has already, in his twenty-three years, done and seen and worked at far more eclectic places than I could have imagined up. Marco regales me with personal stories. He tells me about his traveling exploits, his jobs, etc. I could write chapters about these stories and Marco, that is how much he shared. It was absolutely delightful.
I stayed in Gothenburg for five nights and on two of them, Marco and I went for long walks. The first was through a park near his home. A park he used to train for a marathon. The park was a veritable stretch of forest and quite lovely. On this walk, we talked about politics and WW2 history. Marco was not the first Swede to tell me that Sweden's role in WW2 was....well, they did supply the Germans with lumber and steel, and they let the Germans pass through Sweden to get to other places...
"Did you learn that you won the war?" Marco asks.
"See, we learned that the British won the war."
On our second walk, we head into the city center where Marco takes me to a candy shop. The candy shop is unlike any I have ever seen. Hundreds upon hundreds of different candies are on display everywhere. Marco picks up a paper bag and a plastic spoon and begins scooping up candies--gummies, chocolates, you name it--into the bag. We emerge from the shop with a hefty bag of sugar. I try just a few. And I have to admit, they are good. I feel delighted in the experience, because it is so Swedish. Adults of all ages (and children too, of course) were in the shop--8 p.m. or so on a Saturday night--getting candy.
We wander to a red brick church on a hill where there is a great view of the city area. It is "almost" sunset. "Almost" because the sun doesn't really set during this time of year.
"I've been up here fifty times in the last six months with guests," Marco says. "If I had a car, I would take guests around the city." *
"You could make a little more money that way," I suggest.
"No," Marco says. "It would be part of staying at my place."
This is his hospitality. This is his welcome. To say I am impressed is an understatement.
When we arrive, a contingent of rockabilly types have arrived in their 1950s/1960s American Classic cars. They are all middle aged and white, and they let their Americana music blast while they take in the view and smoke cigarettes.
The rich kids arrive in their expensive cars and take selfies while holding bottles of wine.
But then Marco and I head off, this time to wander down to the harbor area where we will take a boat (part of the public transporation system) over to the other side of the city that is the headquarters of the Ericksson company. This is where Marco wants to open his restaurant.
And this is a good spot. The first ever skyscraper is going to be built on the Ericksson parking lot. It's going to be a huge development.
I am unsurprised that there is so much urban development here and everywhere that I have seen.
The world is moving really fast.
Having to wait 30 minutes for the next bus seems an impossible option, so we walk. We are back to his place by 11:30 p.m. which, in a Scandinavian summer, doesn't seem quite that late the way the sky still emits its midnight blue glow.
I arrive feet sore, but satisfied by the amount of walking.
I arrive mind full, but satisfied by the amount of city lore (and Marco lore) I have heard these past few hours.
*I can't remember how many times Marco said, but it sounded like a ton. I think he takes every guest here. And that is a real treat.