A beginning of winter
The end of November 2018 was a lifetime ago. And yet, a memorable (life)time as I went on a double-city break to Malmö, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark.
Because it’s been some time since then and I vaguely remember it, it won’t be a very detailed story, but I hope at least to make you curious about these places or stir up some memories.
There was a time when flights from Bucharest, Romania to Malmö, Sweden were some of the cheapest. So naturally, we booked a return flight and accommodation in Malmö. From the airport, we took a bus to the train station, as our hotel was nearby. On our ride from the airport, we were already noticing how good the infrastructure was, how buses were electric and noiseless, which we’re still missing in Bucharest.
The hotel was one of the best we stayed at and offered an amazing breakfast, where every morning guests would queue in to get second helpings of mustard herring or cut slices of freshly baked bread. I found it saved on my map, it’s called First Hotel Jörgen Kock, in case you want to check it out.
It was already late evening when we got there, so we only took a brief walk outside, as besides being dark, it was freezing cold. Although temperatures were pretty much the same at home that time of year, around 4-5 degrees Celsius, it seemed a lot colder in Malmö – a different type of cold, the kind that chills you to the bone.
The following day was reserved for a trip to Copenhagen. So, after a delicious filling breakfast, we went to the train station, got tickets, and boarded a very crowded train to Copenhagen. The trip took about 30 minutes or so and the train went over the Øresund Bridge, that connects the two countries (and cities).
From the Central Station in Copenhagen, we walked towards the city centre and almost immediately fell in love with the city. Besides the general cold that got into my bones even before I got to the city centre, everything was lovely. Architecture, streets, stores, everything. The pedestrian street we walked on was full of stores, all decorated for Christmas.
A side note:
A lot of them actually sold decorations and of course, the ones that caught our attention were tomte or nisse or tomtenisse, the little humanoid felt creatures with beards and long hats, that barely have a body – some of you might call them little Santas, or elves maybe. You know, the ones that are all beard, hat, and nose. They’re a common Scandinavian Christmas decoration and although legend says they were quite mischievous, they’re also supposed to be protectors of homes, from what I gathered. Anyways, they were everywhere and I had to have one.
With only one day in Copenhagen and so much to see, we had to pick just a few stops. After a brief stop at the Christmas Market, we visited Christianborg Palace, where we particularly enjoyed some intricate tapestries, the horse stables, and the kitchen. We also went to Fredrik’s Church, which boasts an impressive dome. We then went further, passed an Anglican church, called St. Alban’s. In the little light remaining from the dusk, the place was eerie, yet fascinating. We entered Kastellet, a sort of fortress small island surrounded by water, the home of the Danish Army Forces, then stumbled upon The Little Mermaid, sitting on her rock, minding her business. By the time we reached her, it was almost dark.
All the walking got us hungry, of course, so on our way back to the centre, we stopped at a restaurant called Kastellet, which was…closed. Most restaurants were opening later in the evening. Luckily, we managed to make a reservation and returned an hour later, after taking a stroll to Amalienborg, where we stared at the nicely dressed and heavy-hatted guards.
The restaurant was very nice, a bit more on the elegant side and the food was delicious. We had fish and pork roast, both very good, along with hot tea, to warm ourselves up a bit, before heading out into the cold again.
The next day was reserved for Malmö, which at first doesn’t strike one like a place that has much to offer to tourists. However, don’t let yourself be fooled. Malmö is a quiet, clean city that’s worth at least a stroll. You’ll be surprised at how many things you’ll discover.
As we left the hotel, we took to the port side and made a short stop at the Old Light House. Then we wandered the streets, till we reached Malmö Castle. The castle is surrounded by a moat and holds a historical museum. Nearby, we also visited the Technology and Maritime Museum, where we were able to enter a submarine and experience all sorts of interactive exhibits. After this, we took a walk in Slottsträdgården, a nice park, surrounding the castle grounds, that features a windmill. This whole area of Malmö is where we spent most of our day and I strongly recommend you do the same if you travel there.
We ate at one of the many restaurants at the train station, which probably sounds strange, especially if you’re Romanian and familiar with Romanian train stations…the Malmö Central Station is a whole other world. Trust me on this. The cafés, restaurants, small islands with sandwiches, they all look great. And the food was also very good – Swedish meatballs.
The following day, with all the walking done previously, we enjoyed a bit of sun in the city centre, went to a mall, where we bought not one, not two, but three tomtes; had some smørrebrød, which is a sort of open-faced sandwich composed of dark bread and pretty much any toppings, but mostly some sort of fish. You’ll find it in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway too, from what I gathered. Do try some, if you have the chance.
In the afternoon, we took the bus to the airport and headed back home with our three tomtes, which have been protecting our home ever since and have a place of honour around the Christmas tree every year.