Here I am writing about my impressions on my first trip to Sweden with my boyfriend Matt, which occurred between end of February and beginning of March 2015. We stayed in the county of Skåne (Scania): Malmö, Skurup and the surroundings; while also visiting Copenhagen in Denmark.
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On Saturday we woke up to a grey weather. I wasn’t surprised at all, when considering that we had arrived in a similar weather the day before. And heck, this is the North and it’s February, so I wasn’t expecting anything better. In any case, the forecast wasn’t predicting a terrible weather for the day.
We went upstairs for breakfast. I admit that breakfast is my least favourite meal and I often skip it, but when I’m on the move I easily get hungry. So I indulged in some slices of bread – one with regular butter and ham and the other spread with Kalles kaviar, which I had already tasted back in Malta and loved instantly (unlike many other people who don’t fancy it from the start). I also tried Swedish coffee for the first time. Wow… it’s a very strong coffee. Since I don’t like pouring in milk, I had to put three spoonfuls of sugar to be able to drink it. I also felt like getting a headache from its power, but it still energised me.
The plan for the day was to be driven to Malmö to visit Matt’s grandmother for dinner but before that, our hosts would take us (and specifically me) for a sightseeing drive. First stop, Limhamn.
Limhamn, once a city district on its own, now forms part of the Väster (West) district of Malmö together with Hyllie. By the time we went out of Skurup and reached the city, the sky had cleared a little bit and the sun was out. We stopped at a spot where we could see the entire view of the Limhamns kalkbrott. This was a limestone quarry in which some particular endangered species of animals, such as rare toads, were discovered. Thus it became a protected area. I was told that the houses overlooking this area can be pretty expensive.
Our hosts stopped at a shop to buy some fish for Sunday’s family lunch. If there is a smell that I really hate, that must be the smell of raw seafood, but I did my best to block the smell out and went in. I was surprised to see the shop divided into two: the fish counter and the eating area. I don’t think I would even resist half a meal next to a counter full of freshly dead fish staring out at me. Although I still thought the shop was cute. Matt and I went out and walked around. Limhamn was a little picturesque place, with moored boats that reminded me a bit of any harbour village back in Malta. However the surrounding buildings were much different, definitely Nordic.
The next stop was at a spot where I could see the Öresundsbron. Yes, that bridge which I had crossed by train the day before without barely realising. It was there, majestically stretching out into the horizon, and I was in awe.
Back in the car, I was showed the villa of local hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It had been on sale for a long time, worth some £2.3 million. I also saw a strange high building, looming in the distance between the trees. It was Turning Torso, the highest building in the city. Our hostess Ker commented that I could choose between Zlatan’s place and a posh apartment in Turning Torso. Ah, I will probably never afford any of such residences (anyway, apparently Zlatan has just managed to sold his villa to an ice-hockey player).
We stopped at Central Station so Matt could get his transport card that would enable us to buy train tickets. It was my first time walking inside a train station so I didn’t know what to expect but it looked nice. I squeed a little when I saw Starbucks but I contained myself, knowing that I would not get to taste it, not there at least. Then we drove to Turning Torso. Fifty-four storeys divided into nine twisted segments form this outstanding building that defines the area’s skyline. I stood right beneath it, straining my neck to look all the way up, trying not to feel dizzy. I thought “What would the Maltese think of such a building?” Knowing of their fuss on Renzo Piano’s new Parliament Building in Valletta, I knew they would probably not appreciate Turning Torso either.
After that, we were driven to another part of the city and dropped off on the street where Matt’s farmor (paternal grandmother) lives. It was an awkward and tense moment for me because getting her approval was important. But it seemed that she liked me, she was very warm and welcoming. Another awkward moment was to get undressed from the coat, scarf, hat and shoes in the small hallway. You have to know that taking off your shoes at the entrance is a must in every Swedish house. I don’t mind it all, I have also adopted this custom in our own apartment.
For dinner, Farmor had made one of Matt’s favourite dishes: Jansson’s temptation. It’s a popular and unpopular Swedish dish at the same time; many people hate the taste of the sprats (similar to anchovies) and in fact during our stay there, we would discover that most of Matt’s relatives don’t like it. He and Farmor watched me with bated breath as I took my first bites and were overjoyed when I gave them my approval. I took a second generous portion of it which would later give me nightmares, as I felt like a pig (I also feared it was too rude to take too much food when invited by a Swede). But really, as long as it has loads of potatoes and cream, I’m going to love that dish forever!
After 5 p.m., we left on foot for the Triangeln station to catch the train back to Skurup. It was the first time that I could sit in the train and enjoy the ride. It was extremely comfortable and I could witness the introverted behaviour of the Swedish commuters while also following the news on the screen. We arrived safe and sound in Skurup at around 6 p.m. Now the tricky part: did we even remember our way back to the house? Our hosts had explained the way the day before but I wasn’t paying much attention. Besides, I am the foreigner; was I really supposed to remember?! Matt remembered that we had to reach a gas station, which we easily did, but from then on we roamed the neighbourhood. Completely lost.
To make matters worse, the hosts were out and we had problems to contact them. So we just walked and walked for several minutes. I wasn’t panicking at all; I was sure we were very close to the house, just missing the correct street. I was also distracted by what I was seeing around me. It was dark and I have to say, the streets were a little poorly-lighted, but I could make out some people walking their dogs. I also couldn’t help but stare at the windows of the houses. They were prettily adorned with small plants and lamps and there were no curtains or blinds drawn down, at all. So I could see people preparing for dinner and doing other stuff, mostly on ground floors. It was very cosy but at the same time very weird. Don’t they care at all for some privacy? At least I saw nothing indecent.
After finally reaching our hosts by phone, we managed to find our way to the house. It had been a whole hour of wandering. Indeed, we had been very close to it, yet we still missed it. As soon as I was in the bedroom, I searched the way from the train station to the house on Google Maps and saved it. I was not going to have another such evening, not when I have this technology in my phone!
We consoled ourselves by watching Melodifestivalen on Matt’s phone. It was the fourth and last semi-final, which included the would-be winner Måns Zelmerlöw. But we were rooting for Hasse Andersson, who happened to be a distant relative of Matt’s grandpa. It’s a sweet song with traditional Swedish folk tune, like those played on Midsummer. We were happy when he won the Second Chance, meaning that although he didn’t pass directly to the Final, he still had a chance to pass, if he beat other Second Chance contestants. Yay for Hasse!
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