CYCLE LIKE THEY DO IN SCANDINAVIA
Getting around on two wheels isn’t just confined to the cycle mad Amsterdam or the hipster central Copenhagen, it’s in fact spilt over to Sweden too. Malmö has been ranked as the 5th best place to cycle, and we couldn’t resist seeing how this was so on our Scandinavian stopover.
The impression I get when I mention Sweden to people, they think it’s permanently plunged into darkness and forever in winter mode. I can honestly say that this is far from the truth when summer time calls. In fact, nearly every time I’ve visited during the summer I’ve ended up sun burnt – it’s become a bit of a running joke amongst family now. So if you’re like me, of the English Rose variety then pack your sun screen. Nobody looks good in lobster red!
I must confess that I’m not at all the athletic type so when the idea of cycling popped up for an activity, it filled me with dread. I had sudden visions of ending up inhaling for dear life on an oxygen tank and covered in a tin foil blanket like a giant turkey ready for the oven. However after more research, and much to my delight, I found that Malmö was flatter than their rye bread. With thanks to MalmöTown for organising our bike rentals from the Travel Shop, we were set to go.
The initial plan was to whizz around Malmö’s city centre, pass by Slottsträdgården and then head towards the Västra Hamnen to see the most iconic structure of all, but first I had to teach myself how to ride a bike again. I think the last time would have been 2013 and even then I cycled into a bush. After circling around some empty car parks (and one minor fall), we were ready to go – you never really forget how to ride a bike…
So, after a shaky start, we were off! The city itself was recovering from midsummer, a day of Swedish celebrations that is filled with schnapps, pickled herring and dancing around a maypole like a frog. A wonderfully bizarre social event not to be missed if you ask me. The roads were relatively quiet (thankfully). The dedicated cycle paths are gorgeously structured as you’d expect from the land of IKEA. We meandered through the streets of Malmö getting used to being on the wrong side of the road and trying not to run anyone over, to be greeted by Stortorget, one of Malmö’s three squares.
Stortorget is the largest and oldest market square in Malmö and is now used for public events such as the annual Malmö Festival in August, pulling in crowds of excited Swedes; any excuse for more schnapps. A few steps away is the more cosy corner of Lilla Torg, a square designed to deal with the overflow of traders, now a cobbled square with numerous restaurants lining the four sides. Lilla Torg can be a bit on the pricey side for food. If you’re strapped for cash, it’s worth going a little bit further out of the city centre for food. However, that said if you’re feeling flush with your cash then there are plenty of places to store your bike while you have a little pit stop.
As we were heading towards Slottsträdgården we peddled through what can only be described as the most picturesque part of old town Malmö, in fact, it’s called Gamal Väster. There were no two ways about it. We had to stop. The streets were lined with wild rose bushes in full bloom, and the buildings were gorgeous and quaint, even the oncoming downpour that shortly followed did not deter us, and it would be rude of us not to stop and take some snaps.
We took cover in the Kungsparken for a short while to wait for the rain shower to pass, the tall trees in the park were perfect for providing shelter from the ever changing weather. For once we didn’t even mind that it was raining a little, after all, we are from Manchester! To our joy, the sunshine followed after the short and sharp burst of rain, so we continued on our cycle expedition to Slottsträdgården.
It’s no secret that I am a lover of all things outdoorsy, and Slottsträdgården did not disappoint. The garden was beautiful, very well kept and the array of flowers were lovely. You could even find wild pheasants just milling around amongst the plants, flowers and shrubbery – where on Earth would you find that in a city?! This is the place where Richard became snap happy and begun a love affair with the windmill. In the end, I had to drag him away before the camera battery died!
Next stop was Västra Hamnen. Directions were not needed all you had to do was scan the skyline and spot a twisted skyscraper. The Turning Torso is a structure that symbolises some of the architectural beauties that Malmö has to offer. Standing underneath the Turning Torso and looking directly up will have you clambering to find your balance again.
Västra Hamnen is a hub of activity and is in working progress. If you put aside the construction work and cranes everywhere and look deeper, you can see what is trying to be achieved here, a utopia for all things green. With green in mind, it was excellent news to hear that a new initiative was being introduced and of course I wanted to know more about the first cycle hotel. Oh Boy Hotel is designed for a modern and urban lifestyle that is a sustainable and comfortable way to live.
Oh Boy houses 31 economically green loft hotel rooms where bicycles are provided (what other hotel offers that as an extra?) and 55 residential apartments. The philosophy for Oh Boy is about making it easier to live green and enabling sharing of resources, reducing emissions and living a comfortable life. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a hotel so green, even the interiors are wonderfully green too! Oh Boy Hotel is the place to be if you want to be at one with nature in the city.
Final stop the Öresundsbron and the sun came to greet us once again. Many of you may already recognise this bridge, and you’d be right. Yes, it’s the central focus in the best (in my opinion) Nordic TV series out there ‘The Bridge’. The UK copied and called it ‘The Tunnel’. It was awful, don’t bother watching it! The Öresundsbron is a vital connection between Sweden and Denmark, and you can be in Copenhagen in less than 40 minutes. How good is that?!
Malmö is certainly a feast for the eyes, especially if you’re on a bike. There are many cycle routes that you can follow; we stayed near the centre because we were short on time. However, if you’ve got more time, there are plenty of scenic routes north to the beautiful town of Lund and also to the south where you’ll find the gorgeous beaches of Kämpingrstranden and Skanör. This cycle tour of Malmö was only a small glimpse of what is out there, and if its anything to go by, then I’m sure it will not disappoint.
Jamie Carter | @NomadicFox