Our Trip to Sweden

So now that we are back at home and finished with our two whirlwind weeks of traveling, it’s time to blog about it all! Starting with our trip to Sweden the week before last.

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Apparently we picked the worst weekend ever to go to Sweden. The weather suddenly decided to drop 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) – one week out from this trip, and we are now unquestionably into winter – and it rained all weekend. Like, constantly. Constant rain.

In addition to the weather, it was apparently a holiday in Sweden. While Halloween is new to Europe, they’ve been celebrating the two days following it – known as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day – for a very long time. The only thing is, most Danes are not very religious, going to church only for Christmas and Easter or a baptism. So these aren’t holidays that many Danes seem to celebrate, at least not publicly. We didn’t even think that it would have any barring on our trip to Sweden. How wrong we were. Probably about 2/3 of the stores were closed for the whole weekend, leaving us with very little to do apart from appreciate the architecture.

But, we made the best of the weather and the holiday and really did have a great time. This trip was a great example of how vacations can turn out fantastic because of serendipity.

So we started out by taking a gigantic ferry from Julland (the biggest part of Denmark where Aarhus is located) to North Sjaelland (the largest island where Copenhagen is located). We then drove down past Copenhagen, over Øresund Bridge – the bridge connecting Copenhagen and Malmø – and then North to a little university town called Lund.

The town of Lund, Sweden. Saturday night, the fog rolled in.

Lund was my favorite part of the trip. It’s a wonderfully cute and hyggelig city. I’ve heard it described as Sweden’s Oxford because it’s built around a huge university and is home to a magnificent cathedral. In fact, the church is actually very important in Danish history. It was once the religious seat of the Danish empire where the Bishop sat.

The church is really fantastic. There’s a magical clock that plays some intricate song and has moving parts that do a little dance. However, we weren’t able to see this because there was an extra All Saints’ Day service during the time when the clock was supposed to play. We did, however, get to see a bit of the service, listen to the wonderful acoustics of the ancient church as the choir sang, and to go down to the crypt.

Lund Cathedral, its magic clock, and its crypt.

We then drove down to Malmø and walked around its pedestrian area. We attempted to see the new Malmø library, which was recently renovated similarly to the St. Louis Public Library, but All Saint’s/Souls’ Day struck again, and the library was closed. Instead, we visited the strangest, quirkiest museum ever: the Malmø Museer, located in the oldest Nordic Renaissance castle.

Malmø in the rain. That’s me in front of the new library. Malmø Museer is on the top right.

Sunday, we left Sweden and drove north to another ferry that would take us to Elsingnor (Helsignør in Danish), Denmark, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. On the way, we decided randomly to stop in a little coastal town Landskrone just to see some of the Swedish coast. We found the city center – as is pretty easy in Europe, just follow the cobblestones – and randomly discovered a cool old castle. Randomly exploring Europe is the best. I love letting serendipity take over.

Landskrone, Sweden.

Elsingnor is a beautiful little town, and the castle (known as Kronborg Slot in Denmark) is quite interesting. It was a tiny bit of a letdown inside for me because it all burned down in 1629 and was rebuilt in a “modern” (read, more boring) style. But it was definitely worth a trip, just to see the halls where Shakespeare imagined Hamlet soliloquizing and Ophelia loosing it.

The cute little town of Helsignør.

Some details – those that remain – of Kronborg Slot.

So that, folks, was our trip to Sweden. Hopefully we’ll get to visit again so we can get to Gothenburg or Stockholm as well.