Thought of the Week: “Göteborg Checklist, Item 4—Buying Boots”

2010-09-26. Published in Life in Gothenburg
by Nina

When I moved to Göteborg little more than five weeks ago, I came with a 55L backpack and a rolling suitcase. I had spent the course of months back in Seattle trying to weed through the items that I knew I wanted to bring to Europe—giving away shirts, selling shoes, sewing items back together—and I had thought, stepping out from Central Station on my first day here, that I was all set. It wasn’t until I was caught in the first torrential downpour of my entire life near Hagakyrka that I realized I had forgotten the one thing that was going to get me through the winter: boots.

It seems boots are to Swedish feet as blonde hair is to Swedish heads. Seriously. To even prove to myself that this was otherwise a misconception, I spent an entire morning walking down Linnègatan and the Avenyn with my head down, looking at people’s shoes. Boots with laces, boots with straps, boots with buckles, boots with heels. Floppy boots, knee-high boots, rain boots, those terrifyingly-common Ugg boots. I think I saw the whole genus of “boot” alive and well in this city, all on women who had stunningly more adept skills for walking on cobblestones than I…

It became very clear to me that the simple task of finding boots that would (a) deal with the Göteborg rain, (b) work with a wide variety of clothing, (c) be made of genuine leather in a style I could not find in America, and (d) be under 700 kronor was going to be an all-day project. Armed with a patient and likeminded classmate, we started first at Nordstan. Two hours later, we ran out hyperventilating. Too many people. Too. Many. People. (And that’s saying something for someone who comes from the States!). Boy, if you want to go there to find boots, or to shop in general, do you need a game plan…

After a fika that nearly saved my life, we went to Linnè. Ah, vintage. Secondhand stores are my comfort food when it comes to shopping. Alas. Even though I have been wildly impressed by the selection and quality of vintage clothing here, finding decent boots that weren’t wrecked by their previous owners, weren’t 1000000000 kronor, and weren’t just gaudy, was incredibly difficult. Plus, I realized then that I wanted boots that were new—ones that were going to adventure with me throughout this entire “immersion” process. So, no go.

I couldn’t tell you the number of stores my friend and I went into that Saturday—mainly because it’s an incredible blur of “REA!”, fake All-Stars, and 2002 American music. In the end, I landed at Din Sko, on the Avenyn. There I found these incredible Swedish-style combat boots in genuine charcoal leather. Not super fancy, not quite ‘romantic European vintage’—but they were what I wanted, and for a price that was 30% off. So, if you’re looking for boots and you don’t know where to go, I’d start there first. You want more money for öl anyway.

Now if I could only grasp the concept of “treggings”…

/Nina, team 2010