Malmö and 7 things to do there

Our few days in Malmö provided a lovely smaller-town respite between Copenhagen and Stockholm. Malmö, the third-largest city in Sweden, is the capital of Skåne, the country's southernmost county. In addition to it being an obvious pass-through if training between Copenhagen and Stockholm, Malmö and Skåne showed up several times in the Martin Beck crime series I'm so fond of, so I figured I just had to see the place. Literary pilgrimage just a bit. ;)

Parts of it were really lovely (parts may have been those where (fictional) crimes were set), everyone was incredibly friendly, and we had some delicious food and drink. I'm not saying you need to make a special effort to visit Malmö, but if you're there, here are some recommended to-dos.

1. The Knotted Gun

Officially entitled Non Violence, this sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd was put up in 1985. He created it after John Lennon's murder, as a tribute to Lennon's peace work and as a way to process his own grief about the assassination (Reuterswärd was a friend of both Lennon and Yoko Ono). There are several replicas around the world, including at the UN in New York and in Berlin. Though the piece is smaller than I expected, it is very powerful, especially for an American who desperately wishes the US would do something meaningful to address the gun violence raging across the country. 

 Non Violence

Non Violence

2. Malmö Saluhall

This saluhall, or food hall, has both fresh produce/meat/cheese/fish/etc and stalls at which you can order prepared food. It has a great selection! Tom went to Pink Head Noodle Bar and got a bowl of hand-pulled wheat noodles with pork, bean sprouts, peanuts, and such, while I went next door to Papi and chose the pasta with pork cheek and gremolata. Both were really delicious. On our way out of town, Tom got a pulled pork sandwich and a falafel salad for us to take on the train. Again, both were quite good. And the coffee was excellent.

3. The Turning Torso

This residential skyscraper, and the tallest building in Scandinavia, was designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava. It was based on a sculpture he'd done called the Twisting Torso. Construction on the building, which sits on the Öresund Strait finished in 2005, and on certain days, the public can visit an observation deck on an upper floor. It's not mind-blowing, but again, if you're in the area, why not see a Calatrava work.

4. Lilla Torg

Lilla torg, or small square, is a popular plaza in the old part of central Malmö. It seems like a lovely spot to sit and enjoy cocktails as evening rolls in. We ate elsewhere both nights but enjoyed the architecture around the square as well as the people watching. (Have I mentioned my love of manhole covers?)

5. MJs hotel and bar & MJs restaurant

Just steps from Lilla torg, MJs is a wonderfully-located, welcoming, comfortable hotel with a great bar and restaurant and spacious rooms (if ours was an indicator of the usual). We couldn't have enjoyed our meal at MJs more nor the drinks and conversation at the bar with Erik. I told him I hated gin, and next thing I knew I was tip-toeing my way through a gin flight and then a Bee's Knees which is an exceptional cocktail (because the gin taste was hidden, in my opinion). The service throughout the place is impeccable.

5. Coffee and quiche at Eida

Maybe two blocks from MJs is Eida, a coffeeshop that also offers quiche, baked goods, and a salad bar. We loved it because it seemed like a real locals spot and also the coffee was wonderful. Additionally, the staff was super friendly, and my quiche was scrumptious. 


6. Gamla Kyrkogården

In this park is an old, beautifully tended cemetery. It hails from the early 1820s and has been designated of cultural importance. The tree canopies, flowers, and sculptures around the lovingly kept graves make for a very peaceful, thought-provoking walk. 

7. Final bits: Raoul Wallenberg park, Bastard, the Maxi, just walk and ride.

Restaurant Bastard gets rave reviews, and it's worth a visit. Not amazing, but a fun vibe, really cool wine list, and centrally located. (It's two steps from MJs.) There is also a small park dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg which is nice to see, and if you're hankering for a Super Walmart sort of place, complete with Post, gardening supplies, food and so forth, head to the Maxi. It's very near the Turning Torso. A good place for inexpensive travel essentials, and Tom also managed to find an excellent selection of Gardena garden products and we are heading home with a new nozzle for our hose. LOL.

Lastly, walk. And ride a bike if you'd rather or want some variety. Donkey Republic is a great bike rental service with an easy-to-use app, and we made great use of their bikes in both Copenhagen and Malmö. You never know what wonderful view is waiting for you to see it!

Copenhagen in pictures

Amass post to come following our return to the States which, at this point in time, is nothing I'm excited about. It has been indescribably fabulous to be beyond the borders of the decrepit toxicity that is the US right now. I haven't head to wear my nightly mouthguard once since being on Scandi soil, and I have noticed yet again that the pace at which Americans race through the days is excruciatingly unhealthy. There is more to life, but it's hard for anyone to be a schooner in a tsunami.

In any case, we left Copenhagen around noon today and arrived in Malmö (Sweden) shortly after. The cities are connected by a relatively new five-mile bridge called the Øresund, and we took a quick train to traverse it. 

For reasons I have yet to fully distill, I didn't love Copenhagen. Neither did Tom. We liked it, and in fact loved elements of it, but overall, it's not in our tops list. Nonetheless, a great five days, and here is a sense of the city in photographs.

^ 2nd row: the Round Tower; view from the Nyhavn bridge
^3rd row: Nyhavn; Vor Frelsers kirke

^ Christianshavn; Lars Bjørnsstræde; Lars Bjørnsstræde; Democratic Coffee; Torvehallerne x 2; the old Copenhagen stock exchange building x2. 

^ 4 views from Vor Frelsers kirke; a happy bee; the Amager Bakke plant (SO cool: read about it here). 

^ Reffen toilet; a Refshaleøen warehouse; wind turbines; the warehouse from the other side; a Danish boat flying the Dannebrog. 

^ at the Baby Baby Bar along Refshalvej; Em with ice cream on Strandgade; the rest throughout CPH; a father and son in Democratic Coffee.

Our gold medal find at Port 33 Vintage

As I mentioned, one of the reasons Tom and I included Denmark on this trip was to explore more deeply my mad love of Danish design. It is so clean and well designed and well made and beautifully proportioned. It is functional but it lasts.

Mogensen (who I mentioned yesterday re: the film we saw at the Design Museum) studied under Kaare Klint, a father of Danish design who emphasized top quality and perfect craftsmanship. He also felt strongly that anything superfluous to function should be stripped away. So upholstery? Out. Mogensen then worked for FDB Møbler under Frederick Nielson. FDB's mission was to provide functional, comfortable furniture to the general population. 

Anyway, during this creative heyday, the preeminent lighting designer in Denmark was Poul Henningsen. For 42 years he designed all manner of lamp for Louis Poulsen, a renowned lighting manufacturer. Henningsen's various models are so common globally that you've probably seen them, or copies inspired by them, without even realizing it. Here are some examples...

^   PH Artichoke; PH 3½; PH 5   ^

Yesterday, on a break from eating pulled pork sandwiches and tacos, we walked to Port 33 Vintage, a market just outside of Reffen's back entrance. It is a huge warehouse full of dust and treasures and junk, the sort of place you have to spend time searching through but in which might be some gold medal discoveries.

As I meandered through vases and port glasses and broken kids' toys and seemingly infinite mid-century chairs, I spied what looked like a PH 5. Dirty, yes, but the metal screens were unbent, the spacers were all in alignment, and the colored parts were the most delightful red and blue, one of my faves. I checked the neck, and there was the label: Louis Poulsen. Model and other original markers were there too. 

I started to get the total-body feeling of thrill. Here I was. In Copenhagen, the birthplace of Poul Henningsen, to see Danish design in the flesh. And a real piece, not a remake could maybe be mine. I texted my darling cousin who is a designer. 

"Doll- it's em and I'm at a vintage market in Copenhagen where I have found this original Poulsen pendant. What do you think?"

His response was to "Snatch that up and never let go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I negotiated to 1050 Danish kroner which, even knowing that the cord needed replacing and not knowing exactly what I'd find under the accumulated dirt, I knew was a fabulous deal. 

After the renting of the bikes and going to and from Christianshavn to find an ATM and knocking on the closed market door with a beer once finally back but after watching England score the first goal, the dealer told me how to take the lamp apart should I need/want to and packed it in a filthy, ancient box. I promised I would carry it home as a personal item. He was such a dear.


On the metro home, a random Dane peered into the box and said, "Oh! A vintage PH lamp. Did you just find it?"

"Yes," I said. "I just got it at a vintage place." He asked how much, I told him, and he was all "You got a GREAT deal. Especially since it's the red one. That's the best. Usually those go for around 2000 or more kroner. You are lucky. Great find."

I felt smugly wonderful in front of Tom who thus far had largely supported this mad endeavor simply because he loves me. Which is absolutely enough, but I suspect there may have been an interior eye roll in Port 33. There are NO more eye rolls now. Darling man immediately started researching authentic replacement cords (he found a great site and ordered everything today after we saw the current PH 5 models [version 6 now] in a store today). Cooler than cool is that we are nearly certain that ours is a version 3 manufactured here in Denmark in 1988 AND this year, 2018, is the 60th anniversary of the PH 5 lamp itself!!

I am just in heaven. What a special find on a special trip! We carefully took the lamp apart, cleaned it all (unbelievable what great condition it is in), and packed it in the materials we'd brought (I always travel with both bubble and foam wrap, tissue paper, and packaging tape) plus the repurposed box from the market. I can't wait to see this beauty hanging above my reading chair in our room.