GUIDE / GOTHENBURG

Life in Gothenburg, Sweden’s historical port to the world

MEHMET GURBUZER
Mehmet Gurbuzer, COO of non-alcoholic winemaker Oddbird, shares a historical and personal guide to ”Little London” on the Swedish west coast.
September 22, 2022

Who are you?

— I am 28 years old and born and raised in Gothenburg. I’m the COO of Oddbird, aiming to disrupt our drinking culture and norms by crafting world-class beverages — liberated from alcohol. Our goal is to create options for people that want to either stop drinking or drink less but not compromise on socializing. We’ve just launched our 2097 Arctic botanical spirit, made with berries and botanicals, such as juniper, spruce, angelica, cloudberry, lingonberry, and birch leaves, harvested in the Norrland region in northern Sweden and produced by local craftsmen near the Arctic circle. This December, after working on the US market for nearly two years, we will launch both physically and digitally in the US. We see that the moderation trend is growing rapidly there and that they’re finally ready to change their alcohol norms and will focus on being available at the best restaurants and stores in the country.

2097 Arctic botanical spirit.

For someone who hasn’t been to Gothenburg, how’d you describe it?

— It’s an almost 400-year-old city with great architecture very down-to-earth people, filled with great cafées, shops, and a lot of things to do. Everyone speaks fluent English and almost everyone works at Volvo.

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Gothenburg: 

— It has always faced the world and is a city with a long history of immigration. The Dutch actually built the city and they called it ’New Amsterdam’. We have a German church that is almost as old as the city, built by the large German population. We used to have our own East India Company, trading with the world, and we still have the largest harbour in the Nordics. During industrialization, we had a large influx of immigrants from England resulting in a new nickname; ’Little London’. We have built global companies such as Volvo and SKF which, between the 1950s and 1970s, recruited people from all over the world to come and work at their factories, including my grandparents. We are still facing the world and are one of the most innovative regions in the world as well as one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities and one of the fastest-growing cities for tourism. We are a so-called ’boom town’.

My favourite weekend routine: 

— Breakfast at Le GBG, walk around town and shopping at Vallgatan 12, lunch at Röda Sten Konsthall followed by tea at Da Matteo. Then I usually go and spend the rest of the day at one of my favourite spots in Gothenburg — my couch.

My favourite cultural spot:

The Gothenburg Museum of Art. Even though we are a small city, our museum has works done by artists such as Monet, Gaugin, van Gogh, and Picasso, and is also filled with renowned Swedish artists such as the Art Nouveau artist Carl Larsson.

My favourite place for dining out:

Vi Viet, a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant located in central Gothenburg. Unpretentious and humble, but at the same time with exceptional service and world-class food made for sharing. In several years, they’ve never made me disappointed and it is my go-to spot to bring customers.

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:

KokoKaka on Ringön. Creative hub with fashion, tech, and startups. They are also the only creative space I know of that is also dedicated to web3, crypto, and NFTs. Many of our great ideas have been conceived here.

My favourite breakfast place:

— Le GBG in the Linné area. Bali-inspired breakfast spot with magnificent acai bowls, smoothies, and French and avocado toasts. Unfortunately, they have very few tables so be prepared to wait in line.

My favourite space for great design: 

Artilleriet. This is a local favourite but potentially unknown to the world. Located in the inner city, they have established themselves as a powerhouse in interior design. Everything is masterfully selected and well-composed. World-class.

Artilleriet.

My favourite excursion or city escape:

— The 3.5-hour car ride to Copenhagen. Unfortunately, my definition of a city escape is to visit another city. I don’t think I need to introduce Copenhagen any further. 

My favourite hidden gem:

Hyaku in Old Town, or Gamlestaden. Located in the underground at the junction to the tram station — similar to Jiro in Tokyo — they serve trendy and always fresh sushi. Very difficult to find and even more difficult to get a table.

My favourite example of tech innovation in Gothenburg: 

Heart Aerospace. They are transforming the regional airline industry by producing electric aeroplanes. They have orders from airlines all over the world and will start to produce their aeroplanes in Gothenburg.

The fully electrical Heart Aerospace plane.

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:

— Can I say my mother? During my childhood, she was a social worker and family therapist. From a small office in Gothenburg, she started Oddbird. We have nearly 400.000 children in Sweden that are negatively affected by adults drinking. Those children are the reason she started her company that I am proud to call my job. 

My favourite route for a run or walk: 

Gothenburg Botanical Garden. One of the largest botanical gardens in Europe and one of the best places to visit in town. This is the place you go to find peace and serenity. 

My favourite place for fashion:

— Vallgatan 12. Another local hero. A multi-brand store focusing on fashion and home objects. Great range of selected items with an extra focus on Scandinavian brands. Half of our office is decorated with stuff from this store.

Vallgatan 12.

My favourite local media:

— Janne Josefsson is a local hero. Often regarded as the foremost investigative journalist, he has on countless occasions exposed corruption, abuse, and wrongdoings of the people in charge. I truly wish all journalists were like him.

My favourite thing at home: 

— My photographs from Nicklas Hultman that decorates both my living room and bedroom. He is a Gothenburg-based creative and artist that has a fantastic photo series called Baroque Ikebana. 

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