Monday, June 16, 2008

Sweden's West Coast (June 15, 2008)

Helsingborg, Lund and Malmo (updated)

This was our last full day in Sweden and essentially began our long journey home. We drove south and toward the west coast, bypassing Goteborg for a more express route to the southern cities along the coast. Our first stop was the quaint seaside village of Helsingborg. This town is located on the tip of a small peninsula that reaches out toward Denmark. This distance to the twin city of Helsingør on the other side of the straight is only two miles. It is easy to sea this area has had close ties to Denmark for ages.

Another thing that stuck us about these three towns of Helsingborg, Lund and Malmo is the apparent old English influence in the architecture. There were many Tudor style buildings in all three towns that were not seen in the other parts of Sweden we have visited. In Helsingborg, we needed a break from the long car ride and found a tower to climb, not as tall as some of the others, but enough to give our legs a nice work out as we spiraled up the narrow stairway.
Helsingborg view
The view of Helsingborg from the castle tower

The view from the top was worth it and we could easily see prominent features in Denmark on the other side and ferry boats crossing back and forth. Also in Helsingborg, we found an excellent authentic Indian-food restaurant for lunch and it was a welcome change for everyone. We made this our big meal of the day and enjoyed all of our favorites.

In the town of Lund, we found the Domkyrkan, which is the oldest cathedral in all of Sweden and was founded in the 12th century. This cathedral was also very large, and I would say that for interior space rivals the St Mary’s Cathedral in Gdansk, which was said to hold 25,000 people. This is one of the original cathedrals in Sweden that was still being used for regular services. It was Sunday when we visited, but we were a bit too late in the afternoon to attend one of the protestant services that was held there. The art work inside was quite amazing and the photos can not capture the detail.

The oldest cathedral in Sweden, located in Lund

Right around the corner from the church was the Lund University and to our surprise, they were having a renaissance festival today in a very old English part of town. We walked around and enjoyed some reenactments of life in the middle ages and heard some old English music being sung in Swedish.

Lund Festival musicians

We found the hotel Rica for our last night in Malmo right on the center town square. The hotel was first-rate in every way and being right in the center of town gave us quite a different experience than our previous farmstays and B&Bs. That night in Malmo was the final game of the quarter finals of the Euro-2008 (soccer championships). Sweden had been eliminated in the game the day before, so we weren’t expecting the attention the games had to the local crowds.

On the town square there were many sidewalks bars and coffee shops that had quite a crowd as we retired for the evening. Periodically we would hear the crowds break out into cheers or jeers until the game ended about midnight. Then it seemed the entire town brook loose in a huge party with singing, chanting, car-horns and people marching and banging on drums. This was on a Sunday night after midnight. We were quite surprised at the reaction and could never really understand the reaction to what we learned was a victory for Turkey. Why would Swedish soccer fans be so enthusiastic over a Turkish victory?
Malmo Square
Malmo Square

We all had a very enjoyable vacation and the range of experiences of the past three weeks will stick with us forever. The boys really enjoyed some of the independence we extended to them on this trip and were always willing to take on the next adventure. We spent many evenings just talking and getting to know one another in ways that we seldom have a chance for at home. I think there remains an urge in each one of us to come back and visit some of these areas again.

More photos are available here:

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