Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 9, 2008 Copenhagen to Skåne Sweden

Since leaving Norway, most of us have been suffering from allergies or fighting off a cold. To make matters worse, the seas of the north Atlantic were not as calm as the Baltic when returning from Oslo. Once we left the protection of the fjords, the seas were 1.5 – 4 feet and this was the most unsettling part of the trip. Becky was hit the hardest and this was during the time while we needed to pack up our bags. Thankfully, the seas calmed down as we reentered the protection between Denmark and Sweden sometime during the night. We left the Crown Princess this morning after our last breakfast aboard the ship.

There was some stress about whether the rental car we reserved would have enough space for all five of us and our big luggage. This has always been the hardest part of traveling with the family when renting a car, since they don’t guarantee a certain model. The last time we did this, the boys were much smaller and we didn’t need to pack for a cruise. We reserved an Opel Sophia, which is a car that is not available in the USA, but is a sort of cross-over mini-van stationwagon. We judged that it would just barely have sufficient room and may require some juggling to make it work. The next larger size was actually a regular sedan and would not have worked. To go even larger would have required the VW Mini-bus with that holds 9 passengers – not so easy to park or maneuver.

After some juggling of the bags, and putting one of the third row seats down and one up, we were just barely able to get all the bags in, with someplace left for everyone to sit. We had to beg with the rental counter to leave the retractable cargo cover behind so the bags could stand upright.

Driving in foreign countries is always difficult too. The basic signs are understandable, but there are too often signs with words that can’t be read and you just have to guess or try to have someone descramble them from the dictionary while you’re driving. I did get some nasty remarks in Copenhagen after doing a right-turn-on-red; something that is apparently verboten. But this is all part of the more immersive travel experience we wanted.

After crossing the bridge to Malmö, we picked up some local currency and headed east along the southern coast of Sweden. Our first stop was the ancient Viking fortress at Trelleborg. This is the excavation sight of one of the largest wooden structures recovered from the Viking era. The museum is brand new and only just opened a few months ago. The outside exhibits have been in place for many years and include reproductions of the ancient city wall and some of the buildings.

After stopping along the coast to look at beaches and speculate on the concrete bunkers that remain along the south coast, probably from WWII we passed through several small towns and villages. Most of the countryside was fields of grain and wild flowers with red poppies, purple lupines, and white daisies blooming. The further east we progressed the more wooded the areas became.

This experience was such a contrast to the more Disneyland-type experience on the cruise ship. By that I mean when we’re on our own we are immersed into the culture. For example while on the cruise, we only get to see major cities, and only for short periods of time and with limited need to communicate other than to purchase basic purchases. On the other hand, after our visit to the Trelleborg museum we asked the museum attendant for some suggestions for lunch. She pointed us to a local place that was on the second floor above a local car dealership. We never would have recognized this as a restaurant without her guidance. When we went in, we found a very nice lunch place that was clearly a favorite among the locals. We enjoyed roasted Ox, with cream gravy and other local fixings in a smorgasbord setting. Everyone agreed this was by far the most regionally typical meal we’d had on our trip.

The GPS guided us precisely to our First farm-stay, but since the hedgerows along the roadway were so tall, we drove right past and kept searching, thinking we’d missed it. After circling around a few times and re-reading her written instructions we concluded the GPS was right all along and we went down the driveway to find we were in the right place. The guest house was once a barn and has been very nicely remodeled to be just perfect for our visit. The boys have three beds in an upstairs loft area and Becky & I have a separate room on the ground floor. There is also a sitting area and a small kitchen.

The house overlooks the Baltic sea to the east and is surrounded by orchards with seem to be mostly apple trees. The two closest towns are Kivik (pronounced as ‘she-vik’) and Sodra Melby. Both are very small villages along the far eastern tip of Skane. We went to Simrishamn for dinner last night and after struggling with the Swedish menu, had a very nice meal at a sidewalk café.

The photos from Skåne Sweden are located here:

No comments: