When heading for Scandinavia, we had wanted to stay in Copenhagen but alas there was no accomodation, or none that we were willing to pay for; hence we decided to stay across the Øresund straits, in Malmo. In fact it turned out that what we thought was an apartment in Malmo, was about 5 kms away from the city in a suburb called Bunkeflostrand. Sometimes the map just doesn’t really tell the story or maybe sometimes we just don’t research enough. What the hey? There we were and the best of it, we would make.
In all honesty we hadn’t really planned to end up in Scandinavia at all but we were trying to avoid the tourist hordes in the usual Western European countries and it sounded like a good idea at the time. If we have learnt nothing else at all in nearly 7 months of travelling, it is to be flexible (in nature, not body).
We arrived at Copenhagen airport only to find that, with our limited Swedish/Danish vocabulary, buying tickets was a bit challenging. Who knew the Swedish chef didn’t translate the train ticket machines?
Anyway we eventually found the train and with a little bit of trepidation headed across the Oresund bridge, which you may remember from the TV show, The Bridge (original name that!).
In the fading light, at 11:30pm, we struggled to find the bus stop, which could be attributed to the fact we started out our journey at 5 AM or to Google maps being absolutely no help at all. Bloody Google! So after about 15 minutes of wandering around the station and against our better judgement, we opted for a taxi. Oh god, Taxis, is there a city in the world where they don’t take advantage of you? 194 Swedish Krona lighter we finally arrived at our AirBnB apartment.
The owner had kindly waited up for us and it was great to arrive but maybe tiredness got the better of us and whilst he was kindly informing us of all the sights to see in Malmo, Ian just blurted out, “Oh we are really only here to see Copenhagen.” Oops!
Our first morning in Sweden was taken up with the usual arrival in a new city activities: figuring out public transport and finding a supermarket, both of which were pretty easy. An app downloaded to the phone (which was in Swedish so we were to learn some of the local lingo, like it or not) and a short walk to the supermarket, which as it turned out was the bus stop too! But wow, even getting a few basic items like pasta, bread, bacon and eggs is a pretty expensive affair in Sweden and where had they hidden the wine? There was beer but no wine, no vodka, nothing! You can imagine this was making both of us a little queasy! So we were off home in a hurry to investigate the likelihood that we had ended up in a country with no wine!!!!!!
Don’t stress, they have wine and spirits but it is sold only in bars and Systembolagets, phew!
Apparently, or so we were informed, the long, cold, dark winters can lead to some issues and the Swedish Government figure that regulating the hours and number of venues that alcohol can be sold in, helps decrease the risk of anti social drinking. Sounds like a fair and reasonable supposition and once we were aware of them we spotted Systembolagets pretty frequently. You also have to think about what a money spinner it must be for the government, the trouble is we can’t see the private business interests in Australia giving in without a huge barney.
As we have previously described, the train across the bridge is a pretty expensive affair so we had a few days to explore the Malmo area in between our Copenhagen excursions. And what a lucky break that was, Malmo is quite an interesting city and the Skane area of Sweden has many attractions you have most likely never heard of (neither have all the other tourists). It is by all reports the Riviera of Sweden, although we are still not sure the weather supports that theory.
The city of Malmo, is an eclectic mix of modern and ancient, filled with roses blooming in the streets, along the pavement and even climbing up the front of houses. There are many parks which are a delight to wander in and if you are lucky with the weather a great place for a picnic. It is an easy city to walk around and the public transport is frequent, comfortable and has free wifi on the buses.
We spent a couple of days exploring the city and although it apparently has a reputation for being unsafe, or so the trolls on Twitter informed Cath (we must be doing something right on Twitter, we have been trolled!), we found it to be a very pleasing and easy place to wander around. There were very few if any tourists and a number of very nice parks, the Turning Torso building is quite frankly crazy but worth a look and the area surrounding it is lovely to wander along the waterfront back into the city itself. You can also get great views and photos of the Bridge from this spot and if you enjoy watersports like sailing, skiing or kayaking this is the place for you!
The old city was reminiscent of Glasgow with many red sandstone buildings and rather Gothic or neo Gothic architecture, which of course warmed Ian’s Scottish heart. Whilst the weather wasn’t fabulous on the days we visited, there were breaks in the clouds and drizzle and you could imagine that for a few weeks the locals must love to sit around the Lilla Torg, in the many outdoor restaurants and bars. It must be a bit chilly in winter though. The delightful and historic centre is surrounded by modern shopping, bars and restuarants and of course the sleek, Scandi design shops. Very tempting to buy a house full of furniture, although the current lack of a house does pose a small issue.
Malmo also has one of the biggest shopping centres in Sweden, Emporia. We are not usually drawn to such places but as it was located at the Hyllie train station, which we used frequently and it had a systembolaget inside we spent some time there. It is magnificent, in Cath’s humble opinion the best shopping centre she has ever seen, perfectly designed, sensible and of course great to look at, simple and sleek.
In every travel blog and book you read about Scandinavia, it points out that it is expensive and they are not wrong, so in the interest of maintaining some fiscal responsibility we ate and drank at home most of the time. Which is a bit boring, not that we mind spending time with each other at home but rather you miss a little bit of learning about how a society functions. And let’s be honest that sort of learning is best done in bars and restaurants. We did however have some very nice bangers and mash, meatballs and pasta, not quite the new Scandi cuisine some of the Michelin restaurants are serving but nevertheless enjoyable. Ian was particularly impressed with the local version of sausages, fat, salty and like a hot dog, not the ubiquitous lean tasteless supermarket snags of Australia.
At the start of this tale we were not so impressed with the location of our accomodation but as the week went on, it was a god send. The area was quiet, the apartment nice with a small garden to sit in and the block out blinds very effective. So we had the chance to dag around at home, sleep late, eat 2 breakfasts, drink too much vodka or wine, play cards, catch up on news from home and work on the new project, the blog (which you are obviously aware of wonderful reader!).
Now comes a word of warning, do not venture into Malmo to check out the food market, Saluhall, with a hangover! The Saluhall itself was pretty underwhelming, although we had read it was a bonanza of local foods and produce, it’s not. It is a series of expensive coffee shops and deli’s most of which are closed on Sunday afternoon.
Having made the trek from the city centre to there we took a quick look, checked the Like a Local Guide (our trusty new friend) and headed off for a burger to salve our somewhat hungry tummies. We found the Malmo Surf Shack without any issues, plonked ourselves down, ordered our burgers and then checked the price, $52 AUD for 2 burgers, a coke and a thick shake! And whilst they were good, nothing could make up for the fact that we had just payed a ridiculous amount of money for a burger, should have gone to the dreaded McD!!!!
Our week in Malmo ended on Cath’s birthday and we were headed for Gothenburg. Naturally the train carriage was beautifully designed and we were soon seated in a very comfortable chair, yes chair, like a lounge chair on a train; in true Scandi style it had lovely blonde wood seat handles and tables. It was the Ikea of trains. The Swedish countryside is really very beautiful; green fields, bordered with numerous forests interspersed with lovely little lakes, gorgeous little boat sheds and quaint country houses. An absolute delight of a trip.