If you’re a day-trippin’ travel junkie who loves the rush of entering a new country, Malmö, Sweden is the bomb.
Feed 105 Danish Kroner (about $19 US) into the ticket machine at Copenhagen’s Central Station, jump on the train for a pleasant ride across the Öresund Strait, and 30 minutes later you’re in another country.
Walk out of Malmö Central Station and make a beeline for the tourist information office directly across the street. With a free city map in hand, saunter the two blocks into the center. It couldn’t be easier.
Like most cities in this part of the world, Malmö (pronounced Mahl-mer) is centuries old, and has 16th to 19th Century buildings to prove it. But on the Saturday we were there, the high street was buzzing with activity, and the town was showing off its vibrant, modern city side. Malmö is considerably smaller than Copenhagen, and with its relaxed atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to wander aimlessly.
Just three blocks south of the train station, you can’t miss the main square (Stortorget) with its collection of historic buildings. The 16th Century Town Hall dominates the square with typical Renaissance style details, but the weathervane atop the clock tower sent a unique message.
The shiny, gold spike includes both the scales of justice as well as a battle axe. Methinks that in the 16th Century, city officials supplied a full-service justice package; scales to measure justice and the axe . . . well, I guess to dispense it.
We spied a restaurant on the square with the unlikely name of “The Shawarma King,” serving kebabs (not typical Swedish fare, but one of our faves nonetheless). The spicy meat was authentic, and the garlic sauce protected us from Swedish vampires for rest of the day.
One of the smaller city squares, Lilla Torg, has a group of medieval farm buildings. The half-timbered houses were built from 1600-1700, and today are home to restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The contrast of the bright colors with the timbers was striking.
We took a break on a bench in Gustav Adolf’s Square, where a political meet n’ greet was being held. As the candidates wrangled votes (with the sharp-beaked Malmö Griffin looking on, hopefully keeping them honest), we listened to a gray-haired duo sing a few Dean Martin tunes. The lead singer, an obvious Dino fan, had Martin’s voice down cold. They changed to music from the The Jungle Book, and played a few bars of one of my favorites, I Wanna Be Like You. But honestly, it just wasn’t the same in Swedish.
On the train back to Copenhagen we saw, in the distance, another of Malmö’s famous signature buildings: the ultra-modern “Turning Torso.” Built in 2005, it’s the pride and joy of the city, and it’s part of the combination of old and new that make Malmö such a fun day trip.
Twenty bucks, 30 minutes, and two countries. Now that’s a day trip.