Malmo – Gothenburg – Stockholm
We woke up in Copenhagen, packed our bags and headed down to breakfast where we spent much of the morning. Eventually we returned to the central station to continue our journey into Sweden. It turned out to be another interesting train journey, not quite as exciting as the train boat, but we crossed the Oresund Bridge which is quite an architectural achievement. The journey into Malmo was very short, potentially the shortest we would have all trip, and we arrived in the early afternoon. However, this turned out to be only half of the journey as we had a four kilometre walk to our hostel. We loaded up and got on with it, the weight of our bags crushing us into the ground. After about an hour of walking we eventually found the hostel and were dismayed to find that the reception wouldn’t open for another hour! Fortunately, somebody was still around and we were let in to our first private room of the trip. I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to wash some clothes in the sink and stole the best locations for drying, leaving David with coat hangers.
In the evening we headed out into the city centre, guided by Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring, and found a ‘restaurang’ (Swedish for restaurant) called Mellow Yellow. Similarly to Copenhagen we had found the wind chilling, and had hoped to sit inside, but the Swedes seemingly have a policy of two patio heaters per person and were guided to a pleasantly warm outside table. As we were on the coast David and I opted for fish and enjoyed a delicious salmon and tuna steak respectively. After this delight, we found that the second leg of the Champions League game was being displayed in the bar area of the restaurant and we found ourselves purchasing an expensive ‘pint’ and enjoying the subsequent goal-fest.
The following morning followed the usual routine; we got up, we ate, we went out. One of Malmö’s distinguishing features, and supposedly iconic landmarks is the Turning Torso, one of the tallest residential buildings in Europe and seeing how little we knew about the city we selected this as our first point of call. After losing ourselves in the old harbour area, finding some abandoned railway lines to take some edgy photographs, we eventually found ourselves not near the Turning Torso but infact on Malmö’s beach. We did, however, find ourselves to have a pretty good view of the tower and decided this would be close enough. As the weather was nice, and we could just see the Orseund bridge in the distance we decided to walk down the pier-scattered beach. We eventually stopped at walked out on one of the piers and found that the sea remained shallow out to the very end.
After a bit more ambling along the waterfront we decided to head back into town via one of the King’s Parks. Once back in town we found a small Cafe where we spent much of the afternoon. Quite a few coffees later we decided we should probably find somewhere to eat on the way back to the hostel. Not too far from the main street we found Bright Bar & Grill where I enjoyed chicken skewers and David had another burger. We then continued back to the hostel for an early night, knowing we had to check out early the next morning.
The early start was no surprise, and sadly, neither was the painfully crushing walk back to the train station where we would be heading to Sweden’s second city; Gothenburg. Once on the train we found ourselves blessed once again with announcements in English which informed us that the train would be splitting at Helsingborg, and that we were in the wrong part of the train. The journey passed quitely, the countryside and coastline making a welcome break from the steady flow of cities that we had visited so far. On arrival in Gothenburg we found ourselves with yet another trek to the hostel where we discovered that we would again have to wait an hour before anyone would be available to let us in. This time we did actually have to wait as well. Nightmare.
Eventually, we made it into the hostel, greeted by yet more beautiful Swedes before being crammed into the smallest possible room with the largest possible number of beds. We made a brief stop to put up our feet and recover from the day’s journey, at which point one of our room-mates requested that we be so kind as to leave our boots outside the room. We then headed out into the city, finding no end to the extortionately priced restaurants David suggested that maybe we try some fast-food instead. This lead us to the discovery of one of Sweden’s many delicacies; the kebab-pizza, which comes exactly how you would expect. Following on from this culinary experience we headed back to settle down for the night.
We awoke late and enjoyed a casual breakfast, which seemed like a reasonable idea as it was Saturday after all! We then headed out into the city to enjoy some glorious sunshine in one of the cities many parks. After a short walk along a canal we came across a free bench and began to discuss the more important topics life has offered us; alcohol, women and football. So far, Sweden had lived up to the stereotype of beautiful blondes and we were hard pressed to find somebody who didn’t conform to this globally held stereotype. We eventually decided that maybe it was time to see some of the city and took a walk through the main square and the shopping precincts. After finding very little of interest we stopped once more by a fountain to consider how best to spend the remainder of the afternoon.
We decided it would be in our best interests to find something to eat, and with the initial plan of finding a supermarket we spent a good few hours searching the city’s suburbs before deciding that Sweden obviously didn’t do supermarkets in the same way Britain does and just as we were arriving back at the hostel, we found one. We ignored it and decided we would instead find a restaurant where we could afford the food and once more, not too far from the hostel, we found a small curry house and enjoyed our second Scandinavian curry.
Another early check out time forced another early start, and we ate quickly and cleaned ourselves up ready for another long haul through the Swedish countryside. If we had been sensible enough to make reservations we could have been in the capital within three hours thanks to the high-speed rail network, but winging it as we were, we ended up on a slow train; so slow that it had to stop for an hour in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. Our eventual arrival in Stockholm was blessed with a walk less than five hundred meters to our hostel.
We were both surprised to find our rooms below ground, with no windows but this made little impact as we dropped our stuff and headed straight back out to find food. On our way out of the hostel we met Californian solar-panel installer Ben, who tagged along for the ride. We found a small restaurant, shared ideas, opinions, anecdotes and wit, and once we had finished eating decided that it would be necessary to find a bar to continue the discussions. On our final return to the hostel David and I were even more surprised to find that our subterranean room of twelve was occupied only by the two of us.
The next morning we awoke, slightly worse for wares and struggled to enjoy what was our worst breakfast yet. We met up with Ben once more who had decided to join us as we walked through Gamla Stan, and south Stockholm where the cliffs offered an impressive view over the city’s waterways and skylines.
We walked further through the town before deciding to make a solid plan for the afternoon at one of the cities many museums. We headed first, back to the hostel, and then down to Max’s which is a Swedish burger chain where the burgers were actually enjoyable. From here, Ben had decided we should check out the Vasa Museum; a museum dedicated to the Swedish embarrassment of the gunship the Vasa. Somehow, the Swedes have managed to turn this into one of their most impressive tourist attractions and a landmark in marine archaeology. The ship is incredibly well preserved despite, or because, that it had sat on the bottom of the Stockholm archipelago for over 300 years.
On our return to the hostel we stopped by Systembolaget, one of the government run alcohol shops, to pick up some beers for the evening’s entertainment. Originally, there was a plan to go out for dinner, but having lost Ben in the hostel, David and I found a steak house, where chili and nachos were enjoyed. On our return we met Canadian Mike, and Californian Kevin just outside the hostel who invited us to join them to a club. We accepted, and as we readied ourselves to go, Ben showed up once more along with Russian-Canadian Ivan. It soon became clear that Ben had found Mike and Ivan and their supply of duty free and they had become firm friends. Ivan lead us out into town, assuring us that the club he was leading us to would be open on a Monday, but on arrival we found it to be closed.
Not to be put off, we continued our walk through the city eventually coming across a bar that was open and more alcohol was enjoyed. However, the bar didn’t keep us entertained for long and we were forced on to find some more drinks, picking up low-quality beer before returning to the hostel where the duty free emerged once more.
It was small surprise to wake up the following morning feeling awful, but we managed to get up and headed immediately to Max’s for some stodgy food to help with the recovery. The group of us, excluding Kevin who managed to stay in bed, then headed out to the national museum which held much of the same information as the Copenhagen equivalent. The difference however was the way the information was provided; Copenhagen had told us things. Sweden, however, asked us questions, and was interested in what we thought about the exhibits. It was made all the more entertaining by a ten minute video which took us on what felt like a hallucinogenic trip through Swedish history. It was by far the most amusing museum I had ever been in, topped off by a display of plastic brushes, perhaps suggesting what museums will be like in thousands of years when present day civilization is a point of wonder and interest to the future.
Ben had to leave us following the museum as he was continuing his own trip into Germany. The rest of us felt that the time had come for the drinking to being once more. More beers were collected, and back at the hostel the drinking games were introduced; pyramid, kings cup and president. We were joined by New Yorker Danny, who had recently come back from training local security and police forces in Iraq. Eventually, Kevin also joined us and we headed out once more in search of the elusive Swedish night life. The night again resulted in little, but Kevin, Ivan and I did not give up hope. We met some of the locals outside one bar, who offered to take us on further through out the night. Once we arrived at our next destination it was closed and our local guides had subsequently changed their minds about dragging some tourists around the city and so we returned once more to the hostel, hotly anticipating another hangover.