Clocking in at a paltry 33 minutes, the journey from Copenhagen to Malmö – on a train over the famous Øresund Bridge – was by far the shortest of my city transfers. I was only really going to Malmö because it was on my route, and was only staying a day – it didn’t seem to be a popular tourist destination, evident mostly by the lack of hostels in the area. There were a grand total of 2 listed on Hostelworld, neither of which had glowing reviews, and so I had ended up using travel tool du jour Airbnb to find a place to stay, as hotels were megabucks.
After lots of searching, I found a £28-a-night spare bedroom – a decent price – near Slottsparken, a beautiful park near the city centre, and a short bus trip from the station. My host was Eva, and she was an immaculate host: the room was tidy and comfortable, there were pamphlets about the city on the desk, she offered me use of all her shower lotions and potions, and left a huge selection of breakfast food in the fridge for me. The huge world Scratchmap in the kitchen showed that she too was a keen traveller, and had been all around the world (albeit to fewer parts of Europe than me).
Having settled in, I went to look around the city, intending to do little more than walk and eat. Spoiler alert: this is exactly what I did, and nothing exciting really happens in this blog hereafter. I wandered over to Slottsparken and ate my lunch (a plastic pot of pasta I’d brought over from Copenhagen) in the sunshine, then went exploring through the park. There was a botanical garden stuffed with flowers of all colours in bloom, a huge windmill, and a family of ducks on the lake – all very picturesque stuff.
Emerging from the park, I found Stortorget, the city’s main square. It’s pretty big, the space in the centre interrupted only by a furiously bubbling fountain, a statue of a man on a horse, and a scattering of foliage-free trees. This is born down on by the Town Hall, which is imposing and bears something of a similarity to the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (minus the enormous spiralling tower at the top). Among the neat, functional Scandi buildings there is a Burger King. Pesky capitalism.
I stop at Café Mäster Hans, a few doors down, for an acceptable chai latte, and sit in the outside seating area to update my journal. Sweden is so orderly and bureaucratic that while waiting to order my drink, I have to take a ticket and wait for the number to be called out. The same thing had happened earlier while waiting to ask at the station help desk where I could buy a bus ticket. This ticketing system is something that you only really have in Clarks shoe shops in the UK. We’re just too fond of queuing to need a ticket system for it.
During the several hours I am here, a group of Japanese tourists congregates and buys a metric shit-tonne of the cakes and chocolates, only to leave some of them unfinished and find themselves at the mercy of some rowdy, hungry seagulls. Seagulls are one of the worst animals, so I flee.
Round the corner is Lilla Torg, a small square with plenty of old, rustic buildings, most of which host restaurants and bars. It’s much prettier than the main square, and you get the impression it will be bustling in the evenings. But it’s about 5pm now, and footfall is low. Onwards to the station, where I started, and down to the waterfront.
There are some weird modern statues here, but the scenery isn’t exactly an Instagram post waiting to happen. It’s functional, not beautiful. I follow the seafront for a while, until it disappears, and find a perfectly well constructed building that has – for no apparent reason – no roof. Look at this thing:
After pondering this deeply and getting nowhere with it, I continue and find the waterfront again. There are lots of boats, a tall building in the distance – this must be the Turning Torso, Malmö’s highest building, which Eva had told me about earlier – but, most pleasantly of all, a tiny fishing village with the red wooden houses you expect of Scandinavia.
I find Eva’s street, but there’s barely any food outlets around here as the nearby shopping centre is closed. Finding an open Subway, I order my meatball marinara sub in English, to the surprise of the waiter – who, it turns out, is American and moved to Sweden several years ago to be with his wife. He loves England (as do all Yanks, Ron Swanson aside) and is excited to be chatting to a Brit. Ego boost: +5.
Eva’s spare room gives me a comfortable night’s sleep, and although she leaves before I emerge to have breakfast, she’s left behind hard-boiled eggs, fruit, bread, cheese, ham… there’s so much that I can’t eat it all, especially given that I have only an hour to make it to the bus stop outside the station. This involves an embarrassing sprint down the street after a bus, but happily I make it. The bus stops are confusing as all hell, but I work it out in the end. Gothenburg – prepare yourself…