One bleak winter commute, I made a resolution. With neither the money nor the time for a longer trip, I would visit a new country every month. With only £100 to spend on everything, including flights, I wanted the trump-card answer to: “What did you do this weekend?”
“Anywhere”, I told Skyscanner.com, and of the options it returned, Gothenburg, in Sweden, sounded the most challenging (Ryanair: £34.21; 0871 246 0000; ryanair.com). At £13 a bed in the cheapest dorm, paying for accommodation was not an option. I turned to Couchsurfing.com, whose members offer free sofa space on the basis that the favour will be returned. Andreas, a 28-year-old chef, agreed to host me and my friend for a night.
Painfully early on Saturday morning, we disembarked an Easybus at Stansted (£7.35 return from London Old Street; easybus.co.uk), where we woke ourselves up with coffee (99p, Pret a Manger). Two hours later our flight descended into Landvetter airport, where we picked up a City Card (goteborg.com/citycard; SEK295/£22.80) and the half-price airport transfers it comes with (SEK92.50/£7.15 return).
Before checking in with Andreas, we spent the morning hugging mammoths and exploring the four-storey rainforest at the Universeum science museum (00 46 31 335 64 50; universeum.se; free with City Card), before walking to Gothenburg Art Museum (00 46 31 368 35 00; konstmuseum.goteborg.se; free with card). After exploring the French Impressionists we took a tram (free with card) to the cobbled Haga district and compared couch-surfing nerves over cinnamon rolls and coffee (SEK77.60/£6) in Cafe Husaren (00 46 31136378; cafehusaren.se).
Andreas met us in Central Station and took us to his immaculate suburban flat, where he has hosted travellers every weekend since last August. We dined at vegetarian stalwart Solrosen (00 46 317116697; restaurangsolrosen.se) where we ate unlimited salad and admired Sweden’s vegan take on Cajun chilli (SEK90/£6.96).
Early Sunday, awoken by sunlight bouncing off the snow outside, we breakfasted on another cinnamon roll and coffee (SEK77.60/£6) before taking a tram to the harbour at Salthomen, where we boarded a ferry (free with card) to the beautiful, deserted island of Branno. We made our way through streets lined with coloured houses before striking west. As the forest thickened, we crossed a footbridge to uninhabited Galtero and stared at Denmark.
That night at Solrosen again we stuffed ourselves with salad and bartered for dessert (SEK110/£8.49). Flygbussarna returned us to Landvetter. I was home by 12.30am, pennies left over, snow still melting on the soles of my boots. Total spent: £99.95Reuse content