With Thanksgiving bearing down on the necks of Americans everywhere (in Europe the equivalent might be the opening of Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany), it is time to bring our summer adventures to a close. Herewith we share with you, dear reader, the last of last summer’s photos. We barely scratched the coastline, but such were the riches of history in every port we visited, we cannot wait to finish (that’s Finnish, surely – ed.) our planned Baltic Sea circumnavigation.
From Malmö these days, Copenhagen is a proverbial stone’s throw. Or an actual 36-minute train ride. On a windy, rainy day we landed in the centre of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous city. The previous day we had taken Aleta perilously close to the famous, and much smaller than you think, statue of the Little Mermaid just to the north of the city centre. Sadly, there was no room at the snug harbour next to her rock.
Wandering the streets gave me the impression that the city has two competing cultures. The first is consumerism run rampant. The second, that of bohemian studentism. The first seems to cater for crowds of tourists our age and older barrelling in and out of hundreds of fashion shops. The latter catering for actual students, and tourist wannabes trying to escape the onslaught of oppressive international luxury brands with cozy cafés and stores selling bespoke sex toys. Perhaps this conflict is best captured by the peculiar building-sized ad for Louis Vuitton (see photos).
This hotbed of international crime (lots of ferries bring in lots of drugs) is mostly famous among the sailing community for being the erstwhile home of Yanne Larsson and Carl Andersson, circumnavigators and co-authors of the book Brave or Stupid. We listened to B or S intently during our boat hunting adventures. Besides being entertaining, it inspired us. After all, we reckoned, if a couple of middle-aged guys with no sailing experience and prone to seasickness can sail around the world, why can’t we?
Apparently, we are not alone. Helsinborg’s harbour master smiled as soon as we mentioned the book. At least half the cruisers pausing at his marina mention the book as their reason for stopping by.
Helsingborg, like Malmö, is a post-industrial city with a long history and great views of Helsingør across the strait. In the centre of the city stands an imposing 14th tower, the Kärnan, looming over the escarpment. It’s a long climb to the top, but engaging multimedia history presentations keep you motivated. Farther afield we found a much more recent type of castle and grounds. Stopping at a grocery on the way home, I was impressed with the store’s south-Chicago style steel bars and rolling shutters covering the windows. It seemed like overkill – but then I lived in Chicago 55 years ago, not Helsingborg today.
Sitting a day’s sail (that’s about 50 miles, or 80 kilometres) between Torekov and Långedrag Marina near Göteborg, Varberg more than lived up to its reputation in our favourite Euro-navigation app Navily. Situated behind two huge breakwaters and then around a sharp corner, the harbour proper had just enough room for Aleta. All our close quarters manoeuvring practice in Holland paid off as we came alongside the tall quay. A handy ladder amidships made getting on and off easy. With our American ensign flying from the stern, we immediately became an object of curiosity for both sailors and campers alike.
Varberg’s big attraction is its 14th century fort, all but replaced and updated in 1645. It served as a prison and military installation all the way up to 1931. These days it houses a museum and some delightful views of the sound from the parapets. More recently a lake monster was spotted in the castle’s moat eating ducks. I suspect the witnesses had probably imbibed more aquavit than they should have.