Sweden, for the seafood lover in you

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GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- I don't eat fish, and I don't drink.

So what was I doing on a culinary tour of this southwest Swedish port city, dining in some of Scandinavia's top seafood restaurants, where guests are plied with house vodka, wine or aquavit?

I couldn't turn down the chance to visit the country's often-overlooked second city. So in between bouts of reindeer steaks and the like, I trolled Gothenburg's scenic byways.

A fan of Scandinavian design, I armed myself with the Designguide 2003 pamphlet for the town, which lists 22 shops, museums and hotels that best exhibit the Swedish design aesthetic.

My favorite was Kronhusbodarna, a complex that houses the workshops of such artisans as silversmith Hakan Kuhlin I found the best way to explore Gothenburg was by sea. A tour of the city's canals, harbor and shipyards on a Paddan Sightseeing boat was not only edifying but fun, as we had to crouch down on the floor of the vessel to squeeze under several low bridges.

Later, my tour group visited the East India Man, a reconstruction of a 17th century ship that once sailed Asian trade routes.

But the best seagoing experience I had here was a day trip by ferry to the city's southern archipelago, a collection of tiny islands that serve as quick weekend getaway spots. On Styrso, I had lunch at quaint pension Styrso Skaret, and a leisurely stroll along rocky shores.

P.S.: I did break down and sample some fish dishes after all.

So hats off to world-class restaurants Sjomagasinet, Fond, Herr Dahls, Gabriels Fisk och Skaldjursbar, Swea Hof, Restaurant Plus and Styrso Skaret.They almost made a believer of this fishphobe. Seafood fans, I'm sure, will find Gothenburg's dining scene a delight.

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