01.03.13

Scandinavia Part 2: Malmo, Dragor, and Roskilde

Posted in Travel Log (N. America & Europe) at 4:27 pm by Benjamin Ross

Whenever traveling to a new city or region, I make it a point explore some of the outlying, less well-known, areas.  One perk of Copenhagen is the state-of the-art long distance rail transportation which makes inter-city travel quick, convenient, comfortable (and like everything else in Scandinavia, expensive).  Factoring in the exceptional English abilities of most urban Danes and Swedes, as well as some of the lowest crime rates in the world, and Lower Scandinavia makes an excellent travel destination, even for the inexperienced traveler.  For my brief exploration outside of Copenhagen, this included stops in Dragor and Roskilde in Denmark, and a jump over the Sond Oresund to Malmo, Sweden.

Like Detroit-Windsor and San Diego-Tijuana, the metropolitan region of Copenhagen stretches across international borders.  With the opening of the Oresund Bridge in 2000, Malmo, Sweden is now a quick 20 minute train ride from Copenhagen Central. The cities are more linked than ever, with many people choosing to live in Malmo for its cheaper rents, while maintaining jobs in Copenhagen.  The Swedish and Danish languages are close enough that a linguistic barrier does not exist, and no passport is needed to cross the international border, making Malmo’s incorporation into Greater Copenhagen a natural fit.
Presumably because of their high-level performing economies, neither Denmark nor Sweden use the Euro, instead maintaining their own unique currencies.  Therefore switching currencies is the only minor inconvenience travelers encounter when moving between the two countries.
I was told repeatedly that Malmo is “the most dangerous city in Scandinavia.”  Of course this is all relative, and with Scandinavia being arguably the safest region in the world (in terms of violent crime), this probably still leaves Malmo far safer than any city in the US, or even continental Europe for that matter.  In particular, I was told by several Swedes to stay away from the Arab areas of Malmo, especially considering my own nationality.  I’m not sure how much validity there is to these precautions, but these fears no doubt play into the minds of the locals.
With a walloping 302,835 residents, Malmo is the third largest city in Sweden, and due to its industrial past one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Scandinavia.
Malmo has its fair share of ultra-modern Euro-architecture, such as this colorful round building pictured here.
Especially of note is the “Turning Torso” the tallest residential building in Western Europe…located in Malmo.  Who’da thunk?
Like Copenhagen, bicycles are the preferred form of transportation in Malmo, as evidenced by this parking lot.
Malmo is small enough that its own subway system is not necessary, but regular commuter trains conveniently link the city to Copenhagen and other destinations in Sweden and Denmark.
And like Copenhagen, the trains and train stations are all sleek, clean, and modern.
Those unfamiliar (myself up to this point) tend to think of Scandinavia as an ethnically homogenous region full of tall, affluent white people with blonde hair, blue eyes, and perfect teeth.  While this isn’t entirely untrue, Scandinavia does have its fair share of immigrant communities, and Malmo is a prime example.
Around this market in the northern part of the city, there were market stalls and storefronts providing a wide variety of ethnic products.
particularly Chinese
and Arab
Here’s one of the more peculiar Chinese restaurant names I’ve ever encountered.  The Chinese reads “Asia-United States”
Here are a few more shots from my walk around Malmo.
some remnants of Malmo’s industrial past
and another church
There isn’t much in Malmo to warrant more than a day trip from Copenhagen, but as far as day trips go, it is well worth it, if anything to just get a quick view into Sweden.
Next up was a half-day trip to Dragor, Denmark, an old port town near the Copenhagen Airport.
Dragor was peaceful, and quiet, and a contrast to the big city, international vibe of Copenhagen.
a suburban home in Dragor
the old port
What would a trip to Scandinavia be without a nod to the Vikings?  My last stop on my brief stay in Scandinavia was Roskilde, home of the famous Viking Ship Museum.  Here’s a shot of historic Roskilde Station.  Built in 1847, it’s Denmark’s oldest rail station still in use.
Around the year 1070, 5 wooden Viking ships were deliberately sunk in Roskilde Fjord in order to block the sea route to Roskilde and prevent an enemy invasion.  The ships were discovered and excavated in the 1960s and though far from complete specimens, the ships represent the most well-preserved Viking vessels in existence.
The Roskilde Viking Museum was constructed specifically to house the 5 Viking ships and also includes several other peripheral exhibits on Viking history, as well as exhibits documenting the excavation and preservation of the ships.
They also have a shipyards where carpenters construct actual ships in the same fashion as the Vikings.
What I didn’t realize until I arrived in Roskilde, is that rather than being just a suburb of Copenhagen, it’s a fantastic, quaint little city, very much separate from the capital.
Roskilde is not big (just under 50,000 people) and most of the town is centered around this commercial pedestrian street.
Roskilde has a decent collection of funky little shops, such as this Red Cross themed boutique.
another shot of central Roskilde
This has to be my all-time favorite name for a Scandinavian Mexican restaurant.
another shot from the pedestrian street
In addition to the Viking Museum, Roskilde’s other famous attraction is the Roskilde Cathedral, one of Denmark’s most famous religious sites, and the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick.
Here are more random tranquil shots of Roskilde streetscape.




Well, that wraps things up for Scandinavia.  Definitely a region of the world I would like to explore more extensively at some point.  More to come from Central Europe…

2 Comments »

  1. Peter Denmark said,

    January 17, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Hi Ben,

    Funny to see what interests a foreigner being a Dane myself :-)

    Didn’t know you planned on going to Denmark too, but would happily have given you shelter for a day or 2 if you needed it (lives in Aalborg though).

    I notice that you write: “Red Cross themed” shop. Its not actually just a ‘themed’ shop. It is a Danish branch/part of the International Red Cross and its a secondhand shop. There are loads of them here, but they are just named in Danish (‘Røde Kors Butik’ translates to Red Cross Shop) :-)

  2. Polish translator, Warsaw Poland said,

    January 25, 2013 at 2:44 am

    I’ve already been to Malmo. It was a ferry trip from Gdynia (Poland) and from that trip I can confirm only those superstitions about the Swedish. I didn’t notoce this “multicultural aspect” of Malmo.

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