After a lovely weekend with my friend Dan at an adorable Airbnb in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District, I wasn’t ready to go home. We’d spent the first day exploring on Donkey rental bikes picked up from outside the grand Central Station building. Cycling over to the Torvehallerne food market, we stocked up on fresh fruit, bread and cheese for the day. After returning to our bikes and loading them up with our purchases, we set off for a day’s exploring. Dan’s a lot more confident on a bike than I am, so he led the way and I wobbled along behind, hoping to avoid running anyone over and feeling hopelessly out of my depth among casually stylish Scandinavians who rode as if they’d been born on two wheels.
Our first stop was the appropriately named Round Tower, a seventeenth-century tower and observatory built by Christian IV. Climbing the sloping stone path inside brought us out on to the viewing deck at the top, where there’s a panoramic view across the city. There is also a small observatory, but that was closed the day we visited. You can also stop to peer down through a glass floor into the tower’s inner structure, which was fascinating but probably not recommended if you don’t like heights!
After the tower, we headed into the lanes and alleys of Freetown Christiania, exploring in a cloud of summer drizzle before stopping for a late but delicious lunch at Morganstedet vegetarian restaurant. After lunch, we spent a good while marvelling at the stunningly colourful work of Marios Orozco in the Christiania Art Gallery while the rain pattered down outside. Having made it safely home, we toured a few bars in the evening, sampling some of the local microbreweries’ finest.
On the Sunday, after a tasty Scandi breakfast at Bowl Market and a failed attempt to visit the temporarily-closed Carlsberg brewery attraction, it was time to check out. After getting hopelessly mired behind various legs of the Copenhagen Ironman in the pouring rain, we finally made it to Nyhavn. Dan hopped on the metro to the station, to get back to Amsterdam and his job. I checked into the quaint and welcoming Bedwood Hostel, a half-timbered building in a courtyard off the Nyhavn waterfront, and wondered what to do next. There were still a couple of weeks left of the summer holiday, and I didn’t want to spend them sitting at home, where there was a 90% likelihood I’d end up going into work whether I needed to or not.
The next day, sitting in a pavement cafe watching the boats on the canal, I opened Maps. Where to go next? Maybe I should move out into the countryside for a day or two, or start to make my way west towards Flensburg and the German border, the beginning of the way home. That was when I saw the bridge. Yes, that bridge. The Bridge, the bridge. Mind made up, I picked up my bag from the hostel’s front desk and headed for the station.
Properly named the Øresund Bridge, or Øresundsbron, the 16km bridge serves as a road and rail link between Copenhagen and Malmö. The journey between Copenhagen Central Station and Malmö Central Station takes very little time, about 40 minutes from end to end, and costs around 122 Swedish Krona, or 87 Danish Krone. Tickets were easily purchased from the machines in the station, or can be bought online at the Öresundståg website. It’s handy to know that Copenhagen Central is generally referred to as Kobenhavn H on ticket screens and the booking website, while Malmö Central will usually be shown as Malmö C.
Boarding the 029 Øresundståg train, I briefly wondered if I’d accidentally stumbled into first class, but it turned out that Scandinavian trains are just incredibly posh. Gliding out past the airport and on to the bridge itself, the view was obscured by the heavy iron girders. However, it was still possible to get a glimpse of the artificial island of Peberholm. Left undisturbed, it’s turned into a bit of an ersatz nature reserve, although we were going too fast to see much of the wildlife.
Of course, a spur of the moment decision to go to Malmö was going to involve sleeping somewhere. The first listing that came up on Airbnb was titled The Magic Bus. That was far too intriguing to pass up, so I was booked it, thinking that if it turned out to be a joke when I got there, at least it would make a funny story later.
It turned out to be an actual bus, a.k.a. camper van, sitting comfortably on a plinth in the garden of a local art gallery. Passing the plain wooden gate on an unassuming residential street in Norra Sofielund, it would be hard to guess what lies behind if it wasn’t for the sign. Galleri Tikotin, the brainchild of artist Christopher Nelson, is a wild and wonderful combination of cosy home and eccentric artist’s lair. Chris has spent a lot of time decking it out as a traditional salon, and coming back out afterwards, it was a genuine surprise to find myself in 2019 Sweden instead of 1920s Paris.
Chris was a warm and welcoming host who regaled me over coffee with stories of the artists’ salons he held in the gallery. He was kind enough to show me the main room, where there are some stunning works to be seen. The beautiful weather meant plenty of time in the garden, picking tomatoes from a huge overloaded vine under the close supervision of the resident cat, and getting a shock from suddenly catching sight of my own reflection in a half-hidden mirror among the bushes.
The next day, I walked up the coast along the Ribersborg Beach to meet a local connection from a hospitality network at the Ribersborgs Kallbadhus sauna. The men’s and women’s sides of the sauna are segregated, so we made sure to have a good chat over coffee on the outdoor patio before we went in, staring out the the glistening sea with the Øresund Bridge in the distance and occasionally warding off marauding seagulls. The contrast between lounging in the heat in the classically Scandinavian wooden steam rooms and scrambling down a ladder directly into the Oresund Strait made for a refreshing and invigorating experience.
After another couple of days of lazy beach walks, rambling round the Kungsparken and through the backstreets and squares, seeing a live band at a courtyard bar at the Folkets Park, finding an adorable baby wild rabbit in the most unlikely of spots (see photo) and eating far too much lakrits ice cream and smørrebrød, it was finally time to say goodbye and make my way back to the UK. Until next time, Scandinavia!