Saturday, July 2, 2011

from copenhagen to malmo

in between our baby-sitting duties in melbourne - to take care of our first grandchild - we joined a fly-cruise to the baltic region. we had booked this trip to scandinavia a year before with a travel agency in kuching, sarawak. the final group comprised 29 from kuching, 6 from perth, 3 from miri, 2 from singapore and 1 from sydney.

from our respective departing points, we all rendezvoused in bangkok. it was an 11-hour flight from bangkok to copenhagen, where we would embark on our 11-day cruise. however, we did not spend our first night in copenhagen. instead, we crossed the oresund bridge, that links denmark to sweden, to malmo, the third largest city in sweden.

the 7845m oresund bridge, opened in july 2000, is the longest road and rail bridge in europe. there are toll booths but we did not have to get down from the coach for any customs or immigration clearance. in fact, during the entire trip, the only place where we had to carry our passport and have it stamped was in st petersburg, in russia.

in malmo, we stayed at the master johan hotel, right in the heart of the old town. the stone-cobbled streets and the many bicycles would be our constant reminders that we were in a scandinavian country. the cobbled streets inconvenienced those who are wheel-chair bound; there were three in our group and they found it bumpy, uncomfortable and tiring trying to navigate the uneven surface. i also saw some gadgets found on the bicycles in malmo, like the dynamo and the push lock, which have not been seen in singapore for quite sometime.

as is my practice, whenever i visit a foreign country, i wake up very early to explore the place when most of the locals (as well as visitors) are still in bed. as it was a sunday morning, there was hardly any traffic or people on the road. the central train station, which i had visited the day before, was closed. however, the hundreds of bicycles parked outside the station were still there.

i walked until i reached this church before making my way back to the hotel. i found out that this church - st petri kyrka or st peter's church - is the oldest building in the city. it was built in the 14th century.

our hotel, for which we were quite pleased with the service - there was free flow of coffee and internet connection was also free - was about 200 metre from this square known as the lilla torg. it seemed like a fun place. in the evenings, lots of locals visit the restaurants and cafes in this area. the old buildings were mostly built between 1600 and 1800. it was interesting to see the local people riding their bicycles to wine and dine at the sqaure. although most of them were casually dressed, some ladies came togged in dresses and high-heel shoes and some of the men were in business suits.

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