In truth, this sixth leg of the route is not a trip by bicycle, but by train. Since 2000 a train/highway bridge, which crosses the narrow Øresund strait, has connected Copenhagen and Malmö, through a combination of tunnel, artificial island, and bridge, but since the road is in fact classified a superhighway, one is not permitted to cross by bicycle.
On the other hand it is possible to take one’s bicycle on the Øresundtåg train: before starting my trip in Italy I had struggled hard to confirm this possibility; the websites of the Danish and Swedish railways are not very clear on this point, and the only confirmation I had about this being possible came from the travel journal of an American who had taken a bicycle on this train back in June.
In the end it proved much easier than I had imagined; I thought I had better request more information at the train station information counter, but the long line dissuaded me immediately; as it turns out it was sufficient just to look at the ticket machines at the station, with text in Danish and in English, to understand that I could do it all automatically and to pay with a credit card, without even the danger of having to deal with Danish currency.
When I arrived at the train platform I asked another cyclist who was waiting where the bike car would be, but the answer was “depends on the train”, in other words, just as in Italy; when the train arrived everything was very simple because the platform is level with the train and the bike wagon was well marked (in the middle of the train); I arranged the bike against the reclining seats securing it with the appropriate straps.
The train trip itself is not particularly spectacular, it runs partly below ground level in a sunken trench, then through a tunnel and for the section around Malmö it runs below the roadway so that one can see very little of the spectacular bridge over the Øresund. Arriving in Sweden the first thing I see is an enormous … Ikea, we are in Sweden all right. The train winds around the city and one arrives at the station to the north near the harbor.
Malmö, with 280,000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in Sweden; it doesn’t have any particular attractions, but for me who had never been to Sweden, it was above all an opportunity to fill this gap, even though very briefly.
As with most northern cities it is well served with bike paths, so that I could explore a bit randomly venturing some distance from the historical center which is also near the train station.
At the center of the city, as with most northern European cities, is the market square and the town hall (Radhus); the day of my visit it had turned into a construction site, apparently to build a stage for a concert in the square. I found it pleasant also to take a tour through the small streets of the historic center with its mix of old and modern.
Exploring the city I realized I had a small problem: both Denmark and Sweden having rejected the Euro, I find myself without any money to buy even an ice cream or a drink; prices are indicated only in Swedish Krones, perhaps they would also accept Danish Krones or Euros, but the idea of impromptu currency exchanges doesn’t sit well with me and I decide to postpone any meal until I get back to Copenhagen; they say that with the highway and train connection Copenhagen and Malmö have become a single urban area, but without a single currency it is difficult to speak of it as a single city.
In the end, after two and a half hours of visiting, I get back on the Øresundtåg and return to Copenhagen.
Later, when I get back to Italy, I discover, or I should say rediscover, that in Malmö, in the district east of the harbor, is one of the most interesting skyscrapers of (*)Santiago Calatrava, I had it in my GPS database, amazingly I missed it by a few hundred meters! A reason to go back a second time?
Latest visit: 10 August 2009