Saturday 30 August 2014

Gothenburg River Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 4 km (2.5 miles), terrain: flat

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks! 

Gothenburg running routes:
Town Center Loop
River run

Haga and Slottsskogen park
For more running routes, see Route List.
Gullberg Quay Paradise
By Swedish singer, Håkan Hellström
Meet me where the boats roll out
Later today
Among rusty bikes
Rubber tires and factory fronts
Crushed glass and sewer pipes
For all of my life, all of my life
It feels like I am at home in
Gullberg Quay paradise

Gothenburg (Swedish: Göteborg), is a harbor town, with a long riverfront full of docks, ferries and loads of ships. Here's a simple little route that heads up the river from the town center for a bit of maritime flair.
Sunken dream along Gullberg Quay, photo by Goflorp
It will go by Gullbergskayen, a long stretch of old boats which Gothenburg romantics have decided to rescue from their deserved fates at the local scrapyards. The whole riverfront is lined with boat projects in every state of completion from "breathtaking makeover" to "cheap/ugly fix-up" to "half-finished and then ran out of time/money/interest" to even "there's no way on earth that this floating wreck will ever sail again". A few never even survived the long wait for their restoration, and they sunk right there at the quay, becoming one with the river bottom. If you like boats, this is the place to be.

We'll start at the same place as we did in the loop around the city center, at Lilla Bommen ("little toll-gate") harbor. This is a little marina next to the opera house. There are also ferries leaving from here.  
Lilla Bommen harbor, with the Viking and the lipstick, photo by Guillaume Baviere
NOTE: The Lilla Bommen ferries for Älvsnabben travel along the river and are a nice way to see town from the water, if you're interested in a cheap hour of sight-seeing.

Start the run at the east side of the little marina, and turn north, with the water to your left side. We'll now just follow the water all the way to the turn-around point, then head back home again.

In just a minute, you'll reach the north edge of the harbor, where you turn left to continue following the water. This is the side where the ferries land. You're running towards a beautiful white windjammer, the "Viking", more than 100 years old and the biggest one built in Scandinavia.  
The Viking, photo by Andreina Schoeberlein
ANOTHER NOTE: Speaking of maritime flair, the Viking is a hotel, and staying there is a great experience: I know because that's where I stayed the last time I was in Gothenburg, hence this route.

Now, turn right at the Viking and start running directly along the Göta Älv River. You'll immediately come to a red-and-white high-rise at the water's edge, shaped like a giant lipstick. This modern monstrosity dominates the whole scene. It does have a very cool tower on top, though.

You'll also run under a big, unattractive harbor bridge and come to the next stretch of re-developed riverfront. This part has new office buildings, but unfortunately, they put their parking lots right along the river instead of adding anything more human-friendly to make it more scenic.
The river from above, the lipstick in lower left corner, photo by Henrik Berggren
There are normally visiting yachts and other ships tied up along this stretch of quay, then another hotel ship, this one is a fake steamer (which never sailed anywhere) with an Ibis Styles hotel in it.

The street Gullbergs Strandgata runs parallel to the river trail. And across the river are more docks, shipyards, quays and warehouses.

After one kilometer you'll come to the Fartygsföreningen Gullbergskayen boat club, where all the interesting ship-restoration projects are tied to the seawall (or lie sunken before it), bobbing in the waves in their various states of nautical decay. There is a gate there to block cars, but pedestrians are quite welcome.
At Gullbergskay, photo by Martin Andersson
The ships are tied-up one- or two-rows deep along the quay, and on the land-side you'll run by a few sheds and containers for tools and spare parts. Depending on the time of day, you'll probably find a few guys hanging around, working on their ships or using them as a floating coffee/beer terrace.
A work in project: could take a few lifetimes, photo by Fredrik Olsson
The quay, also known as the "Quay of Dreams", is one big demonstration of naive love for these aging waterborne orphans, and they're fascinating to look at (OK, I'm a sailor, so I have a soft spot for junky old boats). You'll find fishing boats, barges, towboats, old ferries, sailing ships, rusty coastal freighters, navy patrol boats, about anything that ever floated.
Heaped-up chain along the quay, photo by Irene Kårlin
You'll also run by old ships' motors being engulfed in weeds, and other totally unidentifiable nautical leftovers. Across the river are more docks and cranes and passing harbor boats.
Ship details, photo by Daniel Ek
After 2 kilometers, at the north end of the boat club, turn around and head back to Lilla Bommen again, and you'll get to see it all again from the other direction!

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