Position: 55°36’54.7″N 12°59’24.1″E
The worst summer anyone in the Baltic could remember wasn’t finished with us. With yet more weather roiling in from the North Sea, unencumbered by the low, shifting sand dune that is Denmark, three days at our anchorage on the outskirts of Copenhagen wasn’t going to cut it. We were running low on food and, worse, gin.
Nearby, the city’s quayside moorings were already two and three boats deep. A local yacht club might have served, but it sat under CPH’s flightpath. Modern jet aircraft are filthy things. They strew black, oily schmutz wherever they go. Take-offs with the engines at full throttle are the worst. Plumes of black soot billow out the back of even the most efficient jets. It’s why the sky looked so clear during the pandemic. Our experience anchoring near airports is you need a good microfibre cloth, lots of biodegradable dish soap and a couple of hours to clean up afterwards. Otherwise, the waterproof filth works its way into the gelcoat and that’s a whole new level of aggravation. (Is this a rant? Get on with it! – ed.)
Thirty minutes of web surfing was all it took for Carol to locate a hurricane hole across the strait in Malmö. We headed there with all the dispatch we could muster. Malmö is one of several post-industrial cities along Sweden’s west coast. From the sea these cities share a similarly low profile punctuated by a couple of tall, 19th century red brick city hall or customs buildings, giving a clue to their earlier prosperity.
As the third largest city in Sweden, it naturally has a university, a long, colourful history, and dozens of new apartment blocks with balconies jutting over the land on which shipyards once engaged thousands of workers. Shipbuilding in this part of Sweden petered out by the mid-1980s, taking a large amount of industrial production with it. Things hit rock bottom economically ten years later. Then the process of reinventing the city as a cultural centre started. The university opened in 1998, followed by the Öresund Bridge a couple of years later. The bridge connects Malmö to Copenhagen and the rest of Europe with direct rail and road links.
With the injection of youthful collegial energy, the café and nightclub scenes flowered. Museums, historical building restorations, and music festivals soon followed. Today it is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, if its high crime rate is any indicator.
Aleta’s berth in a former dry dock was as far from the entrance as we could get. For three days the storm battered the coast with 40 knot winds and torrential downpours. The mooring lines taughtened every now and then, but tall apartment buildings and a double breakwater protected us on all sides.
Touring the city was blustery, soggy work, forcing us to stop even more frequently than usual for a warm drink and bite to eat. Once the storm passed and the sun broke out and we managed a couple of good long walks around the city’s main parks and gardens. A few large trees had suffered broken limbs, yet within 24 hours crews were out clearing up the mess.
Entering the old quarter from the dockyards means crossing several canals and walking down narrow side streets into one of several brick-paved plazas. A few buildings, including a timber framed mill dating back to the 16th century, give a feel for how the ancients lived.
One origin story of the city’s name begins when a maiden was caught in the mill and ground up for flour. Mal Mö, according to some sources, translates directly to ‘milled maiden’. Elsewhere, late 19th century banks and trading houses covered in baroque terracotta adornments speak to the wealth of the area 120 years ago. Today’s vinyl record stores, espresso shops, and colourful diversity rainbows speak to its hipster student vibe. Naturally, everyone speaks faultless, unaccented English.
The Turn Worms
The white building in the photos is Sweden’s [second] tallest skyscraper. The Turning Torso opened in 2005 – a neo-futurist keystone of Malmö’s cultural renaissance. Looking up along its curvy lines is a little dizzying. On the day we got close, strong winds reassuringly howled and groaned through the latticework. I wondered how loud it was inside.