Sweden Rambles, Travel & Culture, Travel Diaries

Sweden, My Love: crossing the bridge to Copenhagen

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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Day 8

scrabbled_rambles_on_oresundWe woke up a little earlier than usual on Saturday and this time we had the hosts with us for breakfast. The weather was once again cloudy but I didn’t care too much because I knew that we were going to travel by car. During breakfast I was told of the plan for the day: a visit to Denmark’s National Aquarium in Kastrup and then a quick sightseeing trip and lunch in the heart of Copenhagen.

Farmor was coming with us, hence our first stop was in Malmö. Matt and I had a brief discussion on who was supposed to sit in the middle of the back seat – I thought it would be too awkward for me to sit very close to Farmor. In the end I won the debate and a scowling Matt had to sit in the middle, sandwiched between me and his grandma, for all the trip. All cramped inside our hosts’ electric car, we set off towards the Öresund bridge.

This time I kept my eyes wide open so I could experience the bridge-crossing better than I did on the train the week before. Sadly I only saw a grey haze on both sides, framed by the metal structure of the bridge. But at least this time I was aware of being suspended over the sea, as I was aware of going underwater while going through the tunnel.

Off the bridge, it didn’t take long to reach the aquarium. It is situated right next to the airport. Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet) – the biggest aquarium in Northern Europe – has been open for two years, after the national aquarium had been moved from elsewhere. I immediately liked its unusual architecture, with feeble rays of sun reflecting off it.

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An aerial view would reveal the whirlpool structure of the building

The first thing I saw inside was the projection of a BBC documentary, before we started our way through the ‘maze’ of aquariums. My first reaction was like “That’s a lot of fish” (I’m quoting Matthew Broderick’s infamous line from Godzilla but not with the same monotony). I had never visited an aquarium before and I admit that my interest in fish is nonexistent. However the dark ambience, the blue reflections and the colourful fish bewitched me right from the start.

There are different areas in the building, like Evolution and Adaptation, the African Lakes and the Cold Water sections. The latter, which houses creatures from the Nordic seas, also includes an area for sea otters; a spot from which I could admire the planes at the airport too. My least favourite section was the Rainforest: certainly particular but too humid for my liking. The area I liked the most was without doubt the Warm Ocean, holding the biggest tank in the aquarium. The best part of it? The tunnel that goes through the tank. It was an amazing experience to see sharks and stingrays swimming over my head.

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I went out of there with my phone full of videos and photos (half of them out of focus because of the darkness and the movements of the fish). When I checked the photos later, I noticed that I’ve been lucky to capture a couple of fish in funny poses or even looking directly at me. The visit to Den Blå Planet was definitely one of the highlights of my entire trip.

Our next stop was the Operaen (the Copenhagen Opera House), located on one of the islets of Holmen, where there used to be a naval base. The area looks industrial and the grey weather added to its strange atmosphere. Unfortunately the Opera House was closed so I could only admire its architecture as well as some theatrical costumes on show behind the glass. From this spot I had the panoramic view of the other side of the canal, with the focus being on Amalienborg (the winter palace of the Danish Royal family) and Marmokirken (the Marble Church or Frederik’s Church).

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The Operaen (below) and the view of the Amalienborg and Marmokirken’s dome (top)

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The Little Mermaid and… Ursula the Sea Witch?

The next thing we did was probably the most touristy thing I did on my entire holiday. From the Opera House we drove to the other side, to the the statue of the Little Mermaid. Den Lille Havfrue is a bronze statue sitting on a rock at the seashore, based on the fairytale of the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Being the most iconic spot of Copenhagen, there were obviously a big number of people in the area. I stood there for a long while, taking photos whenever there were less tourists surrounding the statue. Eventually, with the help of our hostess, I climbed down closer to it and she took several photos of me with the Mermaid. I was happy to have a memory of such a famous spot.

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My salmon plate and (below) smørrebrød

We drove further around Copenhagen – seeing more amazing architecture without getting the names of the places – before we stopped at a department store: Magasin du Nord, situated at Kongens Nytorv (The King’s New Square). It’s a huge mall owned by Debenhams and I could feel the opulence as soon as I stepped in. I did not even bother looking at the clothes and accessories on display, knowing that they were all of luxurious brands. We went all the way up to the brasserie/cafe. There was a wide selection of food that one can pick and mix on the plate. The most typical Danish lunch that one could have is the smørrebrød: an open sandwich consisting of a piece of rye bread topped with anything from cold cuts and cheese to meat or fish (just like the Swedish smörgås). It would have been good to taste it but my greedy eyes fell on an assorted plate of salmon and shrimps and I went for that. I loved it but soon afterwards I had to deal with the usual guilt of having had something that was not so cheap (since it wasn’t me who paid for it).

After lunch we went out of the mall for a walk. Unfortunately the large square was undergoing works so I could not see it. We turned onto Strøget, a long pedestrianised street popular with tourists. It is full of luxurious stores, which reminded me of the long street facing Piazza di Spagna in Rome, also populated with the best international brands. What captured my attention were the Guinness World Record Museum, the Hotel Chocolat and a store named ILLUM. ‘Illum’ means today in Maltese, so I took the opportunity to teach this word to my amused Swedish companions. Our sightseeing walk ended further up the cobbled street, at the crowded Stork Fountain. On our way back to the car, we walked by St. Nicholas Church, yet another great piece of architecture that I could appreciate.

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The Stork Fountain in Strøget

The relatives suggested that we could keep walking around the city on our own and go back home later. Although I would have liked to see more, both me and Matt were too tired to keep walking. It would also have been too stressful to figure our way back home in such a state. So we went back to Sweden with them, but not before I saw the last fascinating building of the trip: Den Sorte Diamant (the Black Diamond). It is the modern extension to the Royal Danish Library. Our hostess gently stopped the car so I could take some photos of it. It is as outstanding as the new library in Malmö, yet I was still unsure whether or not such new buildings were better than the old ones.

Back in Skurup, Matt and I went out for dinner at the kiosk. This time I had a very typical Swedish meal to compensate for my Danish day. I had Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce. Divine. I never understood the inclusion of fruit with meat-based dishes but I can say that the lingonberries make the meat taste much better. We concluded our day by watching the last round of the Melodifestivalen. Our favourite, Hasse Andersson, won his Second Chance round so we would see him again on the final night.

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Köttbullar (meatballs) with lingonberry sauce and mash

And so I could say that I’ve visited a new country. I had mixed feelings about Copenhagen. While I could appreciate its architectural beauty and various places of interests, I did not have the opportunity to see enough of it. Therefore I ended up feeling rather indifferent towards it. I was sure that I would have more chances to discover the Danish capital in more depth, so I wasn’t bothered by my indifference. I was also too excited about the next day because I would finally visit Svaneholm and for the first time I would be walking in a forest!

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