Hello. My name is Isaac, 35 years old from Vancouver, Canada. I have set this blog up to document my journey following Mark Knopfler’s 2013 “Privateering” tour, from April 25 (Bucharest, Romania) to July 31 (Calella de Palafrugell, Spain).

Due to Despite the tour’s obnoxious schedule (thanks, Mark), I cannot be entirely sure that I will attend all concerts. That being said, I will try. You are more than welcome to sit back, relax, read, and comment. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed (see the “Subscribe for Updates” box at the right hand side of the page. For standard RSS readers, select the “Atom” option).

Have fun,

Note: The contents of this blog are also available in hardcover and paperback formats. For more information, click here:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stavanger, Norway to Gothenburg, Sweden (June 14, 2013)

Stavanger to Gothenburg… finally.

I was looking forward to this.

Not because I was so eager to get out of Stavanger (I wasn’t), and not because I was so eager to arrive at Gothenburg (I wasn’t).

The reason I was looking for this day was that, after this day, there would be no more flights in the itinerary until some time in mid‐July; and after so many flights so far this month, I was eager to get the last flight (well, two; short layover in Stockholm) over and done with and start making use of trains again.

Woke up at 6:00am. Quick morning arrangements. 6:30am—breakfast at the hotel. To ensure arrival at the airport on time, breakfast had to be done with by 6:54am, as the shuttle to the airport was scheduled to leave 6:55am.

Stavanger is a beautiful city. Its airport is located in Sola, about 10km away, and even the ride to the airport gives you the right dose of green. Something in Stavanger makes me want to revisit it in the future. I may.

The flight was scheduled to leave 8:50am. Plenty of time to spend over coffee. Found this coffee bar in the terminal’s lower level, offering good yogurts and mediocre coffee for prices that only make sense in Norway.

An hour or so were efficiently killed until departure, which commenced on time. The aircraft was of the smaller ones: one column of one seat; an isle; and one column of two seats per row. Altogether three seats per row, and about 20–30 of them. It’s a Saab 2000, operating on turboprop.

I dislike turboprop aircrafts with passion. Rides tend to be bumpy, and this time, it surely was. I was happy to be done with it.

An hour and a half later, arrived at Stockholm’s airport.

The first thing you see when you leave the aircraft and enter Stockholm airport’s Terminal 5 is a puppet display of ABBA, which is (still) considered one of Sweden’s major contributions to the world of music.


Apparently, Stockholm’s airport is a sponsor of the ABBA Museum, which opened in Stockholm just about a month ago.

The layover was for just an hour; however, as we were flying from a different country and our end destination was in Sweden, we were supposed to actually exit the secured area and go through security again. Actually, that’s how it works in every country (that I had the chance visiting): if you’re flying from airport X to airport Z through airport Y, and airports Y & Z are in the same country (which is different from the country in which airport X is located), then your luggage may make it all the way to airport Z but you, yourself, must go through security again in airport Y.

Unfortunately, as much as it made sense, we forgot all about it and were therefore rather annoyed to find ourselves outside the secured area, having to go through security again with only 25 minutes left to departure. In Stockholm’s airport, check‐in is done at the ground level, and there’s a set of stairs leading to the second level, where security screening is being done. The line‐up to security stretched all the way through the stairs and to about 20 meters beyond.

Needless to say, I was stressed. A backup plan was already prepared (it is possible to get from Stockholm to Gothenburg via train; 3 hours, direct), at least I had that. Still, missing that flight would cause a chain reaction about baggage handling (if you check into a flight but neglect to actually board, your luggage must be ejected from the aircraft. That’s not done in order to make your life easier; it’s done as a security precaution) and I really didn’t want to mess around with that.

At the bottom of the staircase, a sign said “Waiting time from this point on: 5 minutes”. Looking up, I concluded that there was no way in bloody hell that all of those people could go through security in 5 minutes. To my amazement, though, they did. The continuing flight to Gothenburg was already boarding when we arrived at the gate.

An hour later, we safely arrived at Gothenburg’s airport. It certainly looked like a tiny airport—heck, the domestic terminal’s baggage claim area has one (!) baggage belt—which is why I was surprised, reading about that airport later, that it’s actually the second busiest airport in Sweden (after Stockholm’s). More careful reading showed that it’s the international terminal there which gets most of the traffic.

No train station at the airport; instead, a shuttle bus takes you to Gothenburg’s city center for about 100 SEK.

Sweden is a part of the European Union, but does not use the Euro currency. The local currency is called Swedish Krona, abbreviated as SEK. Current exchange rates: 1 SEK = €0.12 / $0.16 US / $0.16 CAD.

Bus, loaded with people; poor ventilation; nightmare. Traffic condition on the highway leading to Gothenburg’s city center prompted the driver to take an alternate route, prolonging the ride and shortening my will to live. Was as happy as a man can be when I left that stupid bus, right in the city center.

Welcome to Gothenburg.

The city of Gothenburg (written as Göteborg in Swedish, and pronounced yuo‐te‐bor; although, the city actually has two formal names—“Gothenburg” being the foreign one and “Göteborg” being the domestic one. Both are in use) is the second largest city in Sweden, and located at the country’s west. About half a million call Gothenburg home, with another half a million living in the immediate surrounding area.

The city is famous for its universities—primarily the University of Gothenburg—as well as for the various famous events hosted there on an annual basis such as the Gothenburg International Film Festival.

The main avenue in Gothenburg is called Kungsportsavenyen, stretching for about one kilometer right in the city center. That’s where most of the nightlife action in Gothenburg takes place as that avenue (typically referred to simply as “The Avenue”) is absolutely loaded with businesses catering to people who are hungry, people who are thirsty, people who feel like dancing and people who want to do pretty much anything except for being at home.

The hotel for the night was Hotel Poseidon, located at the city center, a short walk from The Avenue. Great location. Quick check‐in and went to the room, unloaded everything and off to grab something to eat.

Walking by the University of Gothenburg en route to the #1 rated Gothenburg restaurant according to TripAdvisor, I realized that Gothenburg is, while not as eye‐candy‐ish as Bergen or Stavanger, still a pretty neat place. A few cafes encountered along the way but were skipped as my mind was set on trying some Italian food.

Alas, it was closed, as well as some other restaurants we tried around. Starving, we just went inside the first cafe unfortunate enough for me to pass by: Cafe Garbo, ranked #316 in Gothenburg and I have no idea why. All food there is made on site, tasty food, very cheap (possibly because it’s located right across the street from the university), great service.

Massive lunch consisting of all sorts of healthy materials, and back to the hotel to try completing the previous post. It was then when I realized that the hotel’s Wi‐Fi sucks in levels rarely before seen. That was very frustrating. It was already time to head out for a pre‐show coffee; figuring that waiting around for the Wi‐Fi connection to just work out of nowhere would be a terrible way to use my time, I turned my computer off and headed out to the street.

My friend James Morris from the UK decided to make it to a few concerts in Scandinavia. He was mentioning that he “knows a good coffee shop in Gothenburg so let’s meet there”. I obliged. Only later it occurred to me that James doesn’t even drink coffee, and that by “good coffee shop” he referred to “a coffee shop that is good”, rather than to “a shop of good coffee”. Fortunately (for him, more than for anyone else), the place ended up serving really good desserts and excellent coffee. It’s called Frank’s Coffee & Co, located just off Kungsportsavenyen. Go there.


Minutes to 7:00pm, it was time to wrap things up and head to the venue, located a few minutes walk south on Kungsportsavenyen.


No better driver to the invention of “copy & paste” exists in this world, than the word Kungsportsavenyen.

The venue was called Trädgårdsföreningen and I hope nobody ever puts a gun to my head demanding that I pronounce it correctly. This long word means “Garden Society of Gothenburg”; it is a park, dating back to 1842 and boasting a rose garden, a few restaurants and cafes.

IMG_0818P1050725 provided a street address of where the venue’s ticketing office was. At least on Google Maps, that address made absolutely no sense at all. Ticket pick‐up was actually done inside the venue—a few steps past the main entrance.

The tickets were under my name. A gorgeous Swedish lady looked at my ID with a big smile.

– “Oh, you came all the way from Canada for this?”

I was contemplating whether I should tell her exactly what it was that I had been doing lately, and then proceed to ask her what she was doing in life, her dreams, aspirations, objectives, willingness to immigrate to Canada and, of course, marital status—but instead opted at emitting an incredibly pathetic smile accompanied by an even more incredibly pathetic “Yes”.

From the entrance, it’s a short walk to the area where concerts take place; “short”, that is, if you happen to be by yourself rather than surrounded by millions of people. On your way, the first notable scene one comes across is what I call the PTAPortable Toilet Arena—a large square consisting mostly of those blue portable toilet bins I grew to hate ever so passionately during the 2010 Get Lucky tour.

Amidst those, there stood a few of those infamous unobstructed urinals. I have only seen this stupendously horrid construct once before—in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, four years ago in a Coldplay concert—and the memories still haunt me. These are, effectively, plastic‐made poles, where males can simply stand and urinate against. Each such pole serves three or four, depending on the number of dividers.

Obviously, I couldn’t take a photograph of this. I mean, I could, but that might have been perceived offensive by certain people. Therefore, in order to better explain what I refer to, I drew this sophisticated diagram that shows how this construct looks like from above:


I am not entirely sure that a planet where such urinals exist is a planet in which I’d like to spend most of my time.

The concert was a standing, general admission one. ticket buyers received access to a special area called Golden Circle. The Golden Circle was a fenced area at the front of the stage: general public could not get access to that area. In addition, buyers received special “early entry” access to the Golden Circle, so they could catch a place right in front of the stage earlier than all other people who got Golden Circle access. Of course, that meant arriving even earlier to the venue (at around 5:30pm, before the general public is allowed entry)—a proposition that I wouldn’t even consider in a beautiful city such as Gothenburg.

Still, arriving shortly after 7:00pm, we got pretty good spots within that Golden Circle—not before each of us was made to wear a fancy wristband.


The weather was good at the early evening: sunny, some clouds, slightly cold wind that was generally harmless as there were lots of people around. At 7:25pm—the scheduled start time—the stage wasn’t even completely set up yet, which raised some concerns as there’s a limit to how long I can be standing up without starting to question life, universe and everything.


(The stage’s top, by the way, wasn’t round; it was flat. What you see is a distortion resulting from how I took the panoramic picture. I just included it here because it looks so peculiar.)

Not much of a delay, though. Concert started about 15 minutes past schedule as the band took the stage, evidently a bit concerned of the wind (there was no curtain behind the stage to block the wind from circulating around).

Concerts performed standing audiences tend to be more rhythmic and exciting than concerts performed against seated ones. This concert wasn’t an exception as we ended up receiving a dose of rhythm with a set identical to the one played just a few days before in Bergen—also a standing venue.


Good concert, during which it was evident that certain band members were experiencing some cold. Crew members were seen hanging around with jackets, as well as bringing other jackets to the stage area—possibly as an option for band members so they could pick some up if the cold becomes exceedingly annoying.


In the audience—at least in the Golden Circle—the cold wasn’t felt much.

Another consequence of having an outdoor concert in a northern country during the summer is that light works really don’t add much as they are barely noticeable at all. The only times when you would realize that light works actually take place were if you happened to look at the stage’s ceiling or look at other surfaces, such as the guitars. See here:


I thought Mark would just give in to the cold after Father and Son


—which he didn’t. The concert, however, wasn’t affected at all by the temperature: good guitar riffs—and whoever here plays guitar, should know how difficult it is to play in a cold environment; good tempo; great receptive audience… everything combined into one tasty experience. Lots of fun.


During Speedway at Nazareth, I was caught doing this:


Good Telegraph Road solo, a break…


And for the encore, apparently it was already too cold for some people.


Someone was asking for a pick.


Concert ended and it was time to head out. Took about 20 minutes to leave that park, partly due to the fact that the pathways are narrow but mostly because people simply took their time, walking slowly and holding everyone else hostage. Once out, we went back to Frank’s Coffee & Co for a post‐concert snack.


Back at the hotel for a mediocre night sleep.

Signing off this post from the hotel room in Malmö, Sweden. Starving. Going hunting for food.


1 comment:

  1. If you are looking for a woman Isaac you could always post your intinary up on Craig's list. Then you could plan ahead, exchange photos and interests. I agree about the Swedish wimmen, my son had accomodation near a group of girls studying modern dance. This dream of a perfect girl walked past, I asked my son who she was..."oh that's Kaeser" he said. He knew my next question.."not a hope in hell" he said "we all tried".