Some tourists visit Sweden’s third-largest city Malmö to check off another Scandinavian country from their list. My objective was more complex. Departing from Denmark one Sunday morning this past May, I traveled across the Øresund Strait via first the magnificent 5-mile cable-stayed Øresund Bridge, then the artificial island of Peberholm, and finally a 2.5-mile tunnel, to attend the 2016 Malmö Garden Show.
It is most ideal to travel one way by car or bus and experience the bridge’s lower level train ride during the return trip. The bus operators needed their rest on Sundays though, and other forms of transportation could not be easily arranged. In lieu of a solitary vacationer, I imagined myself a daily train commuter in Scandinavia, spending a mere twenty-five minutes each way getting to work and going home.
The friendly hijab-wearing saleslady at Malmö Central Station’s supermarket estimated 15 minutes of walking time to reach the city park where the garden show was held. My 45-minute breezy stroll enticed me to stop and examine Malmö’s whimsical architecture along the broad, deserted boulevards and canals. When several white tents finally emerged in sight, it registered that Malmö’s residents had not abandoned their homestead (of course not!) but had congregated to celebrate the advent of summertime!
The vendors packed the event grounds with their horticultural achievements, all of which appeared extravagantly effervescent and evergreen while immersed in a potpourri of light and heat. The crowd gathered in front of Roots of Malmö’s booth caught my attention as I sauntered and pondered the possibility of me being the event’s only foreign visitor.
There was Kombucha tasting in Scandinavia! As much as wanting to try this fermented tea, I failed to squeeze to the front to request a sample. Subconsciously I must have recalled kombucha’s availability in the States; moreover, Scandinavians are known for their coffee, not tea, drinking habits. Only after I returned home did I learn from the company’s website that Roots of Malmö’s proprietor is an American expatriate; it would have been fun to chat with a country fellow.
Several booths away, another small crowd as conspicuous as Roots of Malmö’s had assembled. I was determined to taste that vendor’s sample, whatever it was. Linas och binas’s yummy all-natural jams preserved the aura and aroma of Scandinavia’s much cherished vegetative cycle. Earlier this morning I savored again its carrot citrus marmalade I brought home and reminisced about one Sunday in Malmö.
Hoping to find another tea business, I traipsed further and landed at the information booth where gregarious event organizers handed me the official event tote bag, free of charge of course. Even after revealing my home country, I felt comfortable conversing with everyone like a next-door neighbor, except more inquisitive.
In Malmö, one could not possibly miss the skyscraper Turning Torso – the tallest building in Scandinavia. Knowing that time might disappoint, I kept appreciating Turning Torso at its base as a bonus and a probable surprise. Once the striking 54-story structure abruptly surfaced quite a distance ahead, I resolved to reach it even if it were a mirage. Majestic Turning Torso wriggled and twisted while I peregrinated towards and away from it. How will the vast surrounding development change this unique skyline? I gazed at Turning Torso one last time as I said goodbye to Malmö.
The Swedish Number, which I called a few times prior to my trip, was installed by the Swedish government to commemorate Sweden’s abolition of censorship in 1766. I enjoyed talking with the high school student who taught me all about Swedish desserts, with the nurse working at a hospital for senior citizens, with a father who goes back to school to study IT, and with the young man who corrected my pronunciation of “Øresund” and stressed that the Malmö Garden Show’s website does have an information page in English.