The weather report posted in the elevator (what a good hotel! Top of the Rathaus English-language papers at breakfast, wonderful blackberry jam, and weather reports in elevators!) said cloudy and rainy, but the sky was blue, so we headed to the railroad station to catch the new train for Malmo.
The railroad, which knocks an hour off the old ferry trip, was opened in July with a new causeway, bridge and tunnel for cars and trains. Queen Margarethe and King [Carl Gustav XVI] Notinworldbook of Sweden rode their respective trains, which passed each other at the middle of the bridge, thus cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
We got a map of downtown Malmo, Sweden's third largest city with 250,000 inhabitants, from the tourist office at the railway station and set out for a ramble. The Rathaus with its gilded roof decorations is set in a square close St. Peter's altar to the canal and the train station, with the residence of the governor nearby. The square itself is undergoing some kind of improvements requiring heavy equipment and fences, but one of the past King Carl Gustavs, who was built kind of like Bob, sat imperturbly astride his horse in bronze at the very center of the action.
St. Peter's Church is an attractive church, light and airy with an impressive altar. Ironically, the lightness is due to Reformation whitewashing; most of the ornate wall and ceiling paintings were destroyed when the church was scrubbed and whitewashed. However, a little side chapel was overlooked by the zealots; it was in use as a firefighting station. So today visitors gaze in wonder at the lovely old paintings of saints and angels and wonder how beautiful the whole church must have been before the Reformation.
We headed down the main pedestrian shopping street enjoying the One column marching band occasional public art, like the statues of the one-column marching band. Malmo has lots of statues and fountains, all attractive, most of them new. Here and there we used our map to name where we were, or to point out a public building to each other: school, library, museum, concert hall, theater.
Then we found our way to a lovely park; the damp yellow-brown autumn leaves were collecting beneath the trees, the grass was green, and the lake was blue and lovely, filled with mallards and white ducks and coots and big colored geese. The park is bordered with paths and bikeways, with plentiful benches. It was a mild day, in the fifties. At the far edge of the park we passed a Lovely park historic windmill, and then the Malmo fortress, built back in the days when the area was a prime target for raiders. Today it houses a modern art museum.
Walking back toward the waterfront, we crossed a bridge where two men in a raft, and one diver, were busy in a small inlet that eventually connected to the harbor. The diver, who was going down close to the bank, had some kind of radio and would talk to the others, one of whom had a clipboard and was making notes. The other man was watching out for the diver. Since it was all in Swedish, we don't know what they were saying; and since we don't know what they were doing, we can't guess what they were saying. We realized again that one of the best parts of our city walks is finding the residents going about their Beautiful fountain business. When things like this diving operation seem odd to us, we ask ourselves, would we see this in the U.S.? And if not, why not?
We found an area with a lot of wharves but no ships. Now that the highway and railroad connect Stockholm directly to Copenhagen and then to the European mainland by way of Odense, we imagine there is a decline in shipping but an increase in other businesses. The ferry had the word Copenhavm (Swedish for Copenhagen) painted out, and was tied up at the dock, perhaps waiting for a charter or sale.
The guide book says that Swedes take more vacation time than anyone else Royal gryphon on sphere in Europe (is that a blessing or a curse?) and that 20% of Swedish families have a second home in the country.
We returned for a late lunch in Copenhagen. We're interested in trying the open-faced sandwiches (smorrebrod) but we haven't found the right Scandanavian buffet. Today we went to Scala, advertised as four floors of restaurants and entertainment centers. We found a Japanese place; the sushi and tempura were indistinguishable from those in the U.S. We're trying hard to learn the relaxed European eating tempo, especially between Clearing The Entree and Presenting The Check, but after fifteen minutes Bob went in search of the waiter, finding him sitting in the kitchen reading a book. He thanked Bob for coming, and said good-bye; when Bob said we needed the check, a light bulb went on and the waiter was greatly embarrassed!