Before heading over to Gothenburg, I was curious as to what the residents of Gothenburg like to do for some rest and relaxation, so I looked it up on the Internet. Along with indulging in fika at a quaint café, a visit to a park came out tops, too. My interest was piqued; being a nature lover myself, I was keen to explore one of the many parks that Gothenburg has to offer. Slottsskogen was one of the parks that caught my eye. Spanning a whole of 137 hectares, the main park of Gothenburg also houses a zoo, an observatory, and the Naturhistoriska Museet. I have to admit the part about the zoo got me pretty excited – a park and a zoo on the same grounds? Oh yes! Granted visiting a park – much less a zoo – during wintertime seems a little strange, but at least it would be a new experience for my friend and I. Hailing from sunny Singapore, we are very much used to having lots of sun and being surrounded by lush greenery all year round. Armed with our cameras, we wasted no time in hopping on a tram to Slottsskogen. We alighted at the tram stop Botaniska Trädgården and excitedly entered Slottsskogen.
The park was just beautiful. No doubt it would definitely be more luscious and colourful in spring; nevertheless, winter gave it a calm and serene appeal. There is also something about ‘botak’ (Singapore slang for “bald”) trees that makes for great photo overlays and backdrops. While making our way to the zoo, we came across a carving of the park’s founder, August Kobb, on the flat rocks.
The silence of the park was interrupted by some loud noises and wing-flapping, drawing our gaze to a flock of birds descending upon a nearby pond. We made a detour to pay them a visit, marveling at this congregation of ducks that seemed unfazed by the presence of two humans.
We headed back onto the main path to continue our trek to the zoo – passing by some joggers, dog-owners with their pooches, and families having some bonding time together. A leisurely visit to the park sure is a great way to unwind over the weekend and seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city.
After walking up a slope, we came to the Barnens Zoo (Children’s Zoo), which only opens in spring and summer. We were anticipating a sign saying “Slottsskogen Zoo” to greet us, but before we knew it, we realized that we were already on the zoo grounds! We were pleasantly surprised to find that the zoo had an open outdoor concept. Being able to admire the animals while still soaking in the environment and working those leg muscles (sloped pathways are long and many on this hill) was something new for us too.
Another unique feature about one of Sweden’s oldest zoo is that it is home to mainly native Swedish or Nordic animals. This gives visitors a chance to learn more about the animals that make up a part of Sweden and Scandinavia’s history. The signboards beside each enclosure pointed out some interesting traits about the animals too. For instance, the Scania Goose can grow to large sizes and sometimes even be too heavy to fly; it can also prove too loyal to its owners, making lots of noises when strangers approach it. Who knew a goose could make a good ‘watchdog’!
After passing by the goats, sheep, moose (sadly the moose was not feeling active enough to leave its shelter that day), and the birds, we came to the ponies! The Gotland pony is Sweden’s oldest living species of horses with historical roots in Sweden all the way back to the Stone Age; children who wish to may ride on the Gotland ponies, and although I would have loved to ride one, I had to settle for just a brief pat. It was still a glorious moment for me though; it was my first time touching a pony, let alone a Gotland pony!
Midway through the zoo, we spotted some trails leading to some viewpoint areas. Despite not wearing the right boots to do some climbing, we slung our cameras over us and began to inch our way across and up onto the snow and ice-capped rocks. It must have been quite a strange sight to attract the stares of a family walking by. After our balancing act was done, we got to a nice perch where a vista of Gothenburg greeted us. Although not the highest viewpoint in Slottsskogen, it was still a rather impressive sight. I would definitely recommend heading there to catch a glimpse of it in person.
After descending from our perch, we decided to carry on to the other end of Slottsskogen to visit the Naturhistoriska Museet (the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History). Somehow we ended up unintentionally walking out of Slottsskogen instead and had to find our way back in. Along the way to the museum, we came across the water tower – a lone medieval-looking tower standing at 282 feet above sea level. From the tower’s balcony round the back, one can also enjoy a view of the park and the city.
Afterwards, we passed by the Plikta (playground) area before reaching the Naturhistoriska Museum. The Naturhistoriska Museum is located closer to the Linneplatsen exit/entrance of Slottsskogen, so if one wishes to head straight for the museum then the closest bus and tram stop would be Linneplatsen.
The oldest museum in Sweden houses a large collection of stuffed animals, which includes an African elephant. It also boasts the only stuffed blue whale in the world – the “Malm Whale”, named after the then curator, August Malm, who saw the opportunity to preserve this young blue whale.
Unfortunately the museum got rather crowded, leaving us with less time than we would have liked to slowly peruse through the vast array of displays the museum had to offer. Since we also missed the feeding times of the seals and penguins, we decided that we should drop by Slottsskogen again. One day at Slottsskogen is hardly enough to admire everything here! It would also be interesting to see the park take on a new façade of colours once the weather starts to transition into spring.
Till the next time, Slottsskogen!
Written by Louise Chia