Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 3 |Malmo-Oslo | Faster than Fairies

We left Copenhagen, and started towards the next leg or trip. As always The Hag and I differed on what was going to be the way forward. I was looking forward to taking the ferry from - get this - Helsingor in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden. If you think the Scandinavians are short on names and creativity, you can say that again!

Helsing reminded me of Hugh Jackman(hot) and a stupid movie (not hot). Turns out - Helsingor, situated at the north east point of Zealand, is the same as Elsinore, mentioned in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The history of Helsingor can be traced back to 70 BC - wow ! That is the one thing that i missed in all my time in the US - nothing there was more than 300 years old (or perhaps they simply obliterated everything that was older!) It almost redefined my concept of history. When we moved back to New Delhi from Boston, and I discovered the ruins in the park in front of our house were nearly 800 years old, i almost gagged on the "ahhwesomme" that came out of me , unwittingly!

So the cross over the Øresund was going to be across an engineering marvel - the 16 km long bridge-tunnel link. One of the highlights for B on this trip was the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden, one of Europe’s largest ever construction projects. Just before we left i had read a bit about it - the bridge was celebrating its fifth anniversary on July 1. To quote from their website "This bridge and tunnel link across Øresund has generated a dramatic increase in the land transport of people and freight between the European continent and Scandinavia, thus substantially contributing to the development of the infrastructure of modern Europe." Apparently the bridge seeks to promote 'economic, cultural and mental bridges"!

If only it were that simple! At this point - the only mental bridges that needed to be built were
between the GPS - aka Hagatha (the Hag) and me. She insisted on efficiency, and led us through the fastest routes at all points. B loved her - he could program her, she always listened to him, when he made mistakes that required the iq of a flea, instead of calling him a *****idiot, she calmly advised him to make an u turn if possible.

I was frustrated. The landscape was only marginally nicer than Denmark. If anything it looked like parts of the New Jersey scape - the golden arches, large ikea stores, just boring generica.
Fortunately, they had decided to repair the E6 highway in parts, forcing the H to send us to some inner routes, where at times, she was lost ! Her silly voice would say "you are not on a digitised route". So even she wasn't invincible. Nearly, but not quite!

Some of these routes were rather scenic; there was village close to the Halmstad-Valkendal regions - large conifers, streams running through front yards, large red houses, all in all very charming. We were now in Småland - home of the Swedish glass-making industry. Unfortuantely most of them are located closer to the Kalmar region, on the east coast.
Also it seemed to be golf country from the minute we had crossed Malmo to go north. It was incredible to see so many people make the most of the rare warm weather.

We hoped to find interesting lunch - and were looking forward to trying the famous smörgåsbord. But it was easier to find the golden arches, so filet-o-fish it was. Sigh.

Time sped, as did we. At considerably lower speeds than Germany though. Towns and cities came and went.Names such as Goteborg, Uddevalla, Munkedal remained names on a map. Finally we reached the Svinessund Bridge,which connects Norway and Sweden, with the E6 running right through it. Fortuantely we had made it thus far, unattacked by the famed Swedish short snout dragon, though B was doing a pretty good imitation in bits!

The entry to Oslo is very charming. Hillside houses with spectacular views of the Oslofjord. A wooden bridge on theE 18. Purple wildflowers everywhere.

I was very excited about spending the night on a ship in the harbour. On the MS Innvik in Langkaia. Not sure why - but it didn't quite turn out that way! Perhaps best summed up by the gentleman showing us to our cabin - "Not quite what you expected, eh?" when he saw my expression! We hastily unloaded some of our belongings and made our way towards the city.

Oslo as B says is - one of those places, you can take it or leave it. Pretty enough, we did the usually touristy rounds of the Kongelige Slott (Royal Palace), Stortinget (Parliament Building), the Cathedral and Åkershus Castle.

The day ended after a fabulous meal at a restaurant D/S Louise on the quayside, Akker Brygge. Their oysters were very fresh, my baked catfish with black olives was good, but B's sea bass in the papaya sauce with asparagus was to die for!

Did I say the day ended? Not quite. Will explain tomorrow.

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