Postcard 5 from Norway – Oslo, Gothenburg, Malmo and Copenhagen – The Unsupervised Tour

The Last Post – My carers catch up with me!

The Pilgrim has caught the night train from the Arctic Circle and I’m heading across the mountains from Voss. Both routes include some very beautiful scenery enhanced by snow cover in parts. Mine, at height, includes frozen lakes and the occasional ski run, now deserted, but with all the accoutrements of another season being worked upon through the not so snowy but still cold, summer.

The weather improves as the train begins its descent and my ears pop several times as the countryside becomes greener and more people can be seen without their, coats, hats and scarves, then without Norwegian pullovers and now wearing T-shirts and occasionally, shorts. The contrast is huge and wonderful for it.

The plan is to meet up with the Pilgrim and daughter Emma, who is coming for some relaxing time before her new job. I’d received a text from the Pilgrim saying she’d arrived so I responded with an ETA and hotel. What I hadn’t taken into account was that there are two Radisson Blu hotels and she’d dropped her rucksack off at one and I was making my way to the other. She’d been in an AirBnB last night with a bed that was on stilts like the top bed of a bunk but without the bottom one. It enabled better use of the space in the room and was quite possibly a good idea but I’d have needed crampons, ropes and a belay for my nocturnal visits for a pee. 

This time it’s a fleeting stop in Oslo. I point out the hire bikes that I used last time and suggest using them but get no response. As we’re just passing through we don’t need the added reach so we take the time to wander and C recommends the museum roof (well worth it) and I respond with a pleasant but windy meal at Salt (another place to be recommended especially if you like varied but simple international meals al fresco).

For the next few days, I’m being told what I will like and the activities are ramped up! Going somewhere directly isn’t going to happen; there will need to be additions to everything whether it be a detour to see something that has been seen before and apparently, I’m bound to like it, it might be an extra walk because it’ll keep our step count up or an extra place to visit because someone in a bar has recommended it. I’m slightly miffed that bikes will not be involved. I point to a rack and suggest we hire some, the response is lukewarm So it’s let’s walk and “keep our step count up”.

The morning train to Gothenburg leaves bang on time and the first hour shows a different side of Norway as the flat and productive fields create a lovely patchwork with the various crops that are kept watered with the numerous lakes and fjords and there is very little change as we enter Sweden although the announcements that were in Norwegian and English are now in Swedish and English. It’s surreal that these wonderful Independent nations coexist in such harmony and utilise another foreign language to bridge any gaps. 

Gothenburg is a biggish place with great public transport and we are in an AirBnB about ten minutes or so by tram or bus from the centre. This was a surprise change after agreeing to a special deal at a four-star hotel in the Centrum. The AirBnB is adequate and clean but no en-suite which is not ideal when you’re like me and need to pad across the corridor two or three times a night. The situation is further exacerbated when we go for a beer in the Heaven 23 – Sky Bar overlooking the city when I’m told that this is where we would have stayed if the plan hadn’t changed on a whim. It was like being told by Jim Bowen, “This is what you could have won”!

We have a stroke of luck when we decide to jump on a ferry without knowing where it is going. I like this when they’re plying the harbour and surrounds but in this instance, it’s just a shuttle to the other side of the bay and back but whilst we’re on the deck I photograph a map that indicates a ferry that loops around the bay and stops at various points one of which is near a wooded hilly area with some very old buildings that may be interesting. As it happens C discovers another ferry that also looks promising and has an unexpected number of people on it so we embark and ten minutes later we’re at a festival celebrating Gothenburg’s 400 years. Actually,  it’s 402 as the original celebrations were postponed due to Covid. 

There is an orchestra of youngsters with hundreds of proud parents, grandparents and siblings and they’re good. It’s followed by some rock bands in a huge tent and in the meantime we are offered free tickets to a cruise around the bay so off we go. It’s an hour and a bit long and gives us a different perspective on the city including witnessing the loading of a container ship which is fascinatingly like watching the robots collecting parcels and dropping them off in an Amazon warehouse – except these boxes are huge.

There’s lots of action around the harbour including huge ships and smaller but still ocean-going ferries together with the tiny yachts scurrying about the harbour.

The town is lovely but it is made even better by the joyful celebrations of the 16-year-old’s graduating from high school. Articulated lorries have been hired and they are rammed with joyful youngsters who’re pogoing to the rhythm of the music being played at full blast. Their enthusiasm is so intense the trailers are bouncing on their wheels as the graduates jump up and down. It’s wonderful and uplifting to see their happiness and joy.

We find the old town and spend time people-watching at an excellent coffee shop. Then it’s a slow return in the sunshine towards the AirBnB with a pause for a remarkably tasty Mexican on-street seating – magic.

I trigger the Interrail ticket on my phone with a destination of Copenhagen and the Pilgrim wants to stop off at Malmo as she had a great visit there previously. Changing a destination in the app is simplicity itself especially when no seat reservations are needed, you can even have two or more trips planned and switch between them provided you only have one switched on at a time it works.

Malmo – Sweden

I offer to hire a couple of bikes in Malmo but the reply is, “Well I don’t know how to do it” – I’ll take that as a no then!  So we walk to the ‘Twisted Torso’ which is a remarkable piece of architecture that certainly deserves exposure on the world stage. The walk to the structure is through industrial and residential concrete and the imagination that created the ‘Twisted Torso Tower’ masterpiece seems to have generated a deficit of creativity for the other buildings and access routes and the tumbleweed gives a deserted air.

Whether it’s the sunshine or just plain boredom by the time we get back to catch the train to Copenhagen across The Bridge that the Pilgrim uses as the ‘reference-landmark’. I can see why, it’s a seriously imposing piece of work which turns out to be seven kilometres long and it’s double-decked with road on top and rail below. It features in a Scandi crime drama that The Pilgrim has followed on TV where a body is found straggling the border between the two countries. It’s a case of who runs with it.

Copenhagen – Denmark 

The AirBnB in Copenhagen is out of town near the airport so it’s ideally placed for when Emma arrives especially as the flight gets delayed slightly and by the time she manages to fight her way through customs and immigration it’s gone 11 at night and even at this late hour, she injects a note of happiness as she smiles her way through the crowd. 

The AirBnB also works out for me as I opt for the early flight when I come home. 

The apartment is owned by an ex-doctor who is a delight. He just wants us to have a good time in his adopted country and offers all kinds of things to help us enjoy it. 

It takes about 25 minutes by bus to reach the town centre and we take Mr Chowdry’s advice and use the 250s which is a faster bus that doesn’t stop as much but leaves us ideally placed at the central station. The centre of the city is fascinating. There’s the odd chain store but the majority are local and specialist.  There are sculptures everywhere, some of them sited just ‘because they can’ and others commemorating someone special in the history of this lovely country. 

The one that really catches my eye though is a group of several figures just below the surface of the canal and they seem to come alive as the boats pass by and create the illusion of movement via the bow wave. It’s easily seen below the Højbro Bridge and as I lean on the fence I hear a lady use the term ‘sinister’ and I’m inclined to agree but am also fascinated too. They’re representative of a folk tale of Agnete and Merman and his family. The sculptures themselves are of Merman and his children with outstretched hands begging their mother/wife, Agnete to return. Emma and I are transfixed, it’s beautiful and sinister in the same proportion.

Near the bridge is a landing pontoon for a boat trip and, after a brief discussion, we take it. The commentary is in English and we get to see most of the landmarks or at least we now know where they are. It also gives a view of the city that you wouldn’t get in the streets including a couple of residential areas where the commentary is suspended out of respect for the residents. 

The pilgrim wants to show us a ‘round tower’ so we spend some time trying to identify it and eventually find it just out of the city centre. It has a spiral walkway rather than a staircase and much easier to climb. At the top there’s a remarkable view of the city and complements the views from the boat well. I’m surprised at the lack of green spaces but this doesn’t detract from the wonderful new vista, if anything, it just enables us to see it. 

Returning to the bus, we stop at a pub/restaurant with seats outside in the sun and enjoy a beer with a couple from Scotland who are about to embark on a cruise around the Baltic. We meet all kinds and they trade adventures with the Pilgrim for a fascinating half hour. 

Tivoli Day

Yesterday was touring the city; however, we have decided to explore Tivoli Gardens today. It is a garden in the centre of the city; however, it is also a theme park with roller coasters, sophisticated roundabouts, things that shoot the riders into the sky and then drop them like bricks and swinging chairs that whisk you way up high whilst swinging you out almost at right angles.

It’s a great relaxing day with a couple of rides on roller coasters to liven us up a bit and I take the opportunity to have a snooze on the grass – what’s not to like?

The evening is a very relaxing affair in the Meatpacking District discovered by the Pilgrim and a great discovery it is. At one time it would have been like Smithfield in London selling meat wholesale but now it has art galleries, breweries and eating establishments and sometimes all three and it’s like a magnet for young Danes to eat out and enjoy themselves. We love it and return well fed and watered!

The evening is a very relaxing affair in the Meatpacking District discovered by the Pilgrim and a great discovery it is. At one time it would have been like Smithfield in London selling meat wholesale but now it has art galleries, breweries and eating establishments and sometimes all three and it’s like a magnet for young Danes to eat out and enjoy themselves. We love it and return well-fed and watered! 

It’s been a fabulous two months and I’d certainly buy an Interrail ticket again. Tomorrow it will become invalid at midnight so my final journey will be on UK soil returning from Manchester 

Bon voyage

Enjoy the snaps. G x

Please comment - I love comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.