22.25 Fredag, 14 Juni, 2013
I arrived in Malmö around 21:00 on Saturday and had to walk a long way with all my luggage (4 bags!). An hour later, I finally arrived at the hostel, exhausted. Malmö is in the southernmost region of Sweden, called Skåne (English: Scania). Skåne is an interesting region because for many centuries it was controlled by Denmark and thus has close connections to Denmark. The flag of Skåne is actually a combination of the Swedish and Danish flags, and people in Skåne sound like they speak Swedish with a Danish accent. Skåne is also rather low-lying and flat (like Denmark) compared to the rest of Sweden. If you’re from the United States, you’ve probably never heard of Malmö, but if you’re from Europe, Malmö recently spent some time on the front pages because it was the host city for Eurovision, the annual song contest between the countries of Europe.
The Flag of Skåne
On Sunday, I slept-in a little, then walked into town to get some breakfast and go to church. After church, I spent the afternoon walking around the town. There wasn’t really much to do in Malmö except see the city. I walked around the old town, which has several nice canals running through it. I also had a look at the fortress, Malmöhus Slott, which turned out to not be very impressive. I also walked down to a newly-developing area of town called Västra Hamnen, which is home to the iconic “Turning Torso” building, which is a residential skyscraper that looks like it is twisted around. Also in this area, there is a nice waterfront overlooking the Malmö harbor and the straight that separates Sweden and Denmark, called the Öresund. It’s about 18 kilometers from Malmö to Copenhagen on the other side, and since 2000, there is a bridge that connects the two cities/countries (although only about half of it is a bridge – the other half goes onto an island and then into a tunnel). Since Malmö is known as the “falafel capital of Sweden” (indeed, there are many falafel stands), I stopped to have a falafel wrap in the afternoon. I had never had falafel before, but it was quite good!
A canal in Malmö
The ‘Turning Torso’
On Monday, I slept in some more (all this travelling is starting to wear me out!) and then went to the train station and got on the next train to a town called Ystad, which is about 45 minutes southeast of Malmö, right on the southern coast of Sweden and overlooking the Baltic sea. When I got there, I picked up a guide pamphlet from the tourist office and walked around town to see all of the recommended places. It’s a very nice little town, and it is unique in Sweden because it has such a large number of ‘half-timbered’ buildings, which look like the one in the picture below. Ystad is also famous in Europe because it is the setting of a series of novels (and movies) about a fictional police inspector named Kurt Wallander. In the afternoon, I wanted to go to a place called Ales Stenar, which is like Stonehenge except with rocks in the shape of a ship. However, when I went to get on the bus, the driver wouldn’t let me on because apparently they only accept European credit cards. So, I went to the train station and bought a ticket with the machine, but then I found out that the train doesn’t go there, and the ticket was for the bus – and I had just missed the last bus for the next 5 hours. So, it was a disappointing afternoon, and I lost money. Great. After that, I just wandered down to the beach for a little while, then took the train back to Malmö.
A half-timbered building in Ystad
A street in Ystad
View of the Baltic Sea in Ystad
Skåne countryside, seen from the train
On Tuesday, I took the train to the nearby city of Lund, which is famous for its university, Lunds Universitet, and for its student-friendly atmosphere. When I got there, I didn’t know where the tourist office was, so I just started wandering around, assuming I would find it pretty quickly. I didn’t. I ended up wandering way out of the center of town and found myself in the outskirts of the university campus. Since I didn’t want to get further off track, I took advantage of the fact that my student account in Sweden was still valid, and I could use the university’s wi-fi to find out where the tourist office was! (All universities in Sweden share the same wi-fi network that all the Swedish students can use, and you can even find this network in other places, such as train stations.) So, eventually I found my way to the tourist office and got a map and some tips, then I headed off again to get some lunch. I had a Swedish food-stand classic for my last meal in Sweden: a hot dog on mashed potatoes! After that, I walked around the nice old town in the center of Lund. I noticed that it must have been graduation day for the high school because all of the students were taking part in the Swedish graduation tradition: parading through the streets wearing their graduation caps (in Sweden the graduation caps look like sailor hats) and making lots of noise, especially with whistles and horns! I also went to see the Lund cathedral, which has an impressive astronomical clock that puts on a show twice a day! The clock keeps track of the date, month, year, astrological sign, and much more (I couldn’t figure out what all it was measuring), including the time of course. I watched the show at 15:00, which involved a swordfight, trumpeters, and a parade of the wise men going to Bethlehem, all accompanied by music that was also played by the clock!
Lund is a good city for biking!
The main building of Lund University
The Lund Cathedral
The astronomical clock in the cathedral
Shortly after that, I made my way back to Malmö, where I went back to the hostel to pick up my bags. Then I made the long trek back to the train station, where I took the short train ride across the Öresund and into Denmark, which concludes my time in Sweden.
Hej då, Sverige – jag ska komma tillbaka så snart som möjligt!