When my friend Yvette lived in Sweden a few years ago, she wrote about the plankstek, an apparently traditional Swedish dish. If you look around the internet for photographs of the plankstek, you would think it was one of those “mega meals” you might associate with Homer Simpson in an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The one I ordered tonight was modest by comparison. Either I was ripped off, or they’re like their planksteks in moderation in Malmö which is where I’m spending just one night.
I was actually feeling a little sad when I left Stockholm this morning. It’s a city I really love, and one in which I’ve been having a terrific time. “Why am I going to FGHJJS&*#ing Copenhagen?”, I asked myself briefly this morning when I love it so much here. And the answer is I’m heading off to a radio conference, which I am very, very excited about. But still, I was a little sad to leave for a few days.
The train trip takes about 4.5 hours and was quite pleasant. It was fascinating, in particular, to watch the landscape change.
I could half understand the conversation of two blokes who joined the train from Jönköping, and I heard them describe the difference in the landscape as we arrived in Malmö. “There’s no snow”, he quipped to his friend. Actually there is still some snow and ice around the place, but not much.
But Malmö is quite different to Stockholm in more than just the landscape and a lack of snow. First, and most obviously it’s smaller, though oddly enough it feels more like a “city” than Stockholm. As you walk around the city, you’re more likely to see tall buildings than you are in Stockholm. They also have a working harbour on a greater scale, it appears than Stockholm. And as I walked around the city tonight, there was more of a buzz around the place, though that may have more to do with the weather than anything. And secondly, the people here look quite different from those you see in Stockholm. The Swedish stereotype of the blonde with blue eyes is overstated, though they do exist in significant numbers in Stockholm. In contrast, the people of Malmö seem more likely to have dark hair.
I guess this reflects the more multicultural identity of the place with about a third of people here born elsewhere. Admittedly a fair few of those are from Denmark which is only half an hour away. But I think it would be wrong to say this is a Danish city in Sweden. All of the signs are in Swedish, and the people here mostly seem to speak Swedish, but there are signs here and there of Danish language and influence.
As a city I was pleasantly surprised. It’s quite clean. Quite attractive. And I’ve found the people in shops and businesses to very friendly. Hopefully this will be a sign of things tomorrow as I catch the train over the border into Denmark.
In other news, I’ve developed a bit of a rash on my thighs. According to the interweb, it’s probably due a combination of cold weather and central heating causing my skin to dry out. When I applied some moisturiser, as advised, it was literally soaked up by my skin in seconds. I also need a haircut. I can no longer hide my hair under my beanie. I’m guessing it will be cheaper here than in Copenhagen, so that’s a priority for tomorrow.