XI: Carlsberg, Malmö, and the drive to Bohuslän

Copenhagen, Denmark
Malmö City, Skåne Län, Sweden
Kungshamn, Sotenäs Municipality, Västra Götaland Län, Sweden

Previous: X: Copenhagen (Part 2)

Next: XII: Bohuslän: Smögen


The next day of our journey, after a big walk and a boat tour around Copenhagen, we still had one thing left to do here: visit the Visit Carlsberg center. It is a museum/tourist shop at the old Carlsberg breweries. We didn’t have much time for the museum, but we wanted to pick some authentic beers as gifts.

So we walked from the hotel to Visit Carlsberg, again, not bothering with any public transport. This might not have been the best idea, actually, as it’s a long walk and we were lugging our suitcases behind us again. Visit Carlsberg is located on the street named Gamle Carlsberg Vej (Dan. Old Carsberg Road), in a part of the city named Valby. We walked there mostly along the big Vesterbrogade street, through nice but not particularly noteworthy neighboorhoods.

Carlsberg actually is pretty huge. It’s one of the biggest brewing companies in the world. Apart from Carlsberg itself, they own Tuborg, Kronenbourg, and Somersby brands, and in Russia in particular, they own Baltika Brewery, which has 38% market share in Russia. I’m not sure if the original brewery at Valby still actually produces anything of significance, but anyway, it is also pretty large, taking up several city blocks, with streets with names like Pasteursvej.

Fun fact: when Niels Bohr, a great Danish physicist, won the Nobel Prize in 1922, Carlsberg gave him a gift: a house right next to the brewery, with a free direct beer tap.

1. So here it is. Visit Carlsberg tourist center.

2. This is the old brewery building. It’s a museum now, you can go inside and have a look.

3. But obviously it’s more fun to taste some of Carlsberg and Jacobsen (presumably a better version of Carlsberg) beers here. I like beer very much, but I have absolutely no taste in it, so I’m quite content with cheap Russian brands like Baltika. But this beer actually seemed pretty tasty. Or maybe that’s just my perception “you went to goddamn Copenhagen, of course it has to be tasty”.

4. Carlsberg was founded in 1844 by some Jacob Christian Jacobsen, who named his brewery after his son. He seems to have been a classic 19th century industrialist, starting quite small (his father, farmer’s son, owned a small brewery) and having no formal education.

5. You can have a peek at the workings of a modern brewery behind a glass wall. It looks like you’d expect, a maze of piping and boilers.

6. A forklift is about the only part of it identifiable for a layman.

7. After we bought all the beer we wanted, we boarded a free shuttle bus going to Copenhagen Central Station. We didn’t know about it in advance, but we certainly were very glad to discover it. The driver, seeing our suitcases, made a small “wow”, probably thinking they were all packed with beer only.

8. Copenhagen Central Station is huge and has a very beautiful terminal building, with roof made of iron trusses. It also has a McDonalds, which came useful too.

9. Boarding a train to Malmö. Our return trip was not on the Øresundståg, but rather, on a regular SJ (Swedish Railways) train. There are some SJ trains going across the Øresund Bridge, in addition to Øresundståg; there are much fewer SL trains than Øresundstågs, but they are a bit cheaper. They make fewer stops in Denmark, but their routes are longer; ours went to Gothenburg after Malmö.

10. From the inside, SJ train looks not much different from Øresundståg. A pretty typical plane-like layout.

11. Goodbye Copenhagen!

12. Passing a large rail yard immediately after Central Station.

13. A stop at the Copenhagen Airport (Kastrup).

14. Entering the Øresund Bridge. The most obvious landmark, as seen from the bridge, is the offshore Middelgrunden wind farm. Built in 2000, it is rated for 40 MW of power, which is not much really; it provides about 4% of total power for Copenhagen. Nonetheless Denmark is pretty big on wind energy, what with it being a flat and windy place with a lot of space for offshore wind farms; it has some new wind power stations significantly more powerful than Middelgrunden. On a good day, Denmark can even feed all its needs entirely with wind energy. Of course wind is a very volatile thing and very much depends on good days; normally wind power provides about 40% of Denmark energy, but this figure is growing constantly with the construction of new farms.

15. Øresund Bridge. The trains use its lower level, with girders obscuring much of the view. The bridge, 7.8 km long (not including a 4 km tunnel completing the crossing), is the longest bridge in Europe. An artificial island named Peberholm (Dan. Pepper Island; as there already was a natural Saltholm (Salt Island) nearby) was created for transition between tunnel and bridge sections. Denmark and Sweden were easily reachable from each other even before the bridge (with ferries), but after the construction of the bridge in 2000 they really became one integrated region, with trips increasing many times over. It became possible for Swedes to work in Denmark, commuting daily over the bridge. And vice versa, the Danes started buying homes in Malmö, Sweden being a significantly cheaper country than Denmark. Øresund Crossing cost a staggering €4 billion to build, and the toll is quite high for cars (which is why we chose to use a train), but there are huge discounts for regular commuters. Too bad we couldn’t take a picture of the bridge from outside.

When I spent a week in Finnish Lapland a few months later, I remember seeing Bron/Broen (The Bridge, in Swedish/Danish) series on TV, a gloomy and depressing crime drama which apparently started with the discovery of a body exactly in the middle of Øresund Bridge. It seemed interesting enough, but it was in Swedish and the subtitles were in Finnish, so I had to settle on The Big Bang Theory reruns.

16. Back in Malmö. Sweden seems awfully understandable and familiar after Denmark (and Finland seems awfully understandable and familiar after Sweden). We went to the parking lot to put our suitcases back in the trunk. You can spot our Sandero in this picture if you’re attentive enough.

17. Then we went to see a bit of Malmö (and to have some dinner).

18. Walking past Malmö Central Station. Malmö is an old city, dating from the 13th century, and the center of Scania region (the very south of Sweden, basically; and yes, Scania truck brand gets its name from it), which used to belong to Denmark until 1658. By the end of the 20th century, it became somewhat of a backwater place, with lots of its old factories and shipyards shutting down. Øresund Bridge really breathed some life into Malmö. Population is 320,000 Malmö proper, 690,000 metropolitan area.

19. The Central Station.

20. Malmö seems to have a reputation of a somewhat boring city. It actually seemed rather cool and modern to me. It has the tallest building in Scandinavia, although I missed it; the highrise buildings in this picture are Malmö Live, an event centre/office buildings/housing.

21. Stortorget (Swed. Major Square), the central square of Malmö, featuring a statue of Carl X Gustaf (1622-1660), the guy who annexed Scania to Sweden. Apart from Scania, the Treaty of Roskilde (1658) also permantently ceded provinces of Halland, Blekinge and Bohuslän to Sweden, basically confirming Sweden as the most powerful Scandinavian state.

22. Malmö City Hall.

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25. Södergatan (Swed. Southern Street), a shopping street.

26. St. Peter Church, with a huge spire which didn’t fit in any pictures.

27. Inside the church. I’m not a religious person and I don’t often enter any churches, even on trips. Nordic Lutheran churches seem to be quite cool with visitors though (and don’t have any rules against taking pictures).

28. What are these signs in gold on green under the icons? The only one I can make sense of is Alpha and Omega in the middle.

29. Walking back to the parking lot. Central Malmö has a few channels; this one is Östra Hamnkanalen (Swed. Eastern Harbour Channel).

30. About to drive off again! Our car got quite dirty with smashed insects already. Most of them were from two days ago, when we arrived to Malmö after sunset.

31. The road from Malmö to Gothenburg and on to Norway is called E6. The entire length of E6 in Sweden has been converted to motorway (the last section, close to Norwegian border, has been converted literally weeks before our trip, although we didn’t need it anyway), so driving is easy and fairly boring. The distance was about 400 km.

32. E6 passes by the city of Helsingborg, which has a ferry crossing to the Danish city of Helsingör, mostly known as the setting of Hamlet. Neither of these cities is related to Helsinki in Finland, of course.

33. The next province (län, actually) north after Scania is called Halland. It doesn’t seem to be particularly noteworthy, but for some reason it has road signs of a somewhat different design, and 120 km/h speed limit as compared to 110 km/h on motorways in the rest of the Sweden.

34. Some tunnels on E6.

35. Roadworks. The transition to the oncoming lane is so smooth and clearly marked it almost makes you puke.

36. Right before Gothenburg there was a traffic jam due to more roadworks (see the red sign next to the green car). Spent about 15 minutes there.

37. Passing Gothenburg or maybe just its suburbs. Gothenburg and Stockholm are two Swedish cities that implement “road congestion tax”. For Stockholm it is basically a toll to enter its central districts, but Gothenburg goes as far as charging even for bypassing the city on E6 motorway (which goes through some interchanges and tunnels in the middle of the city). All vehicles are subject to this toll, including foreign ones; I think you have to register somewhere online an advance (otherwise you’ll eventually get a letter still asking you to pay). Lucky for us, July is a free month both in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Nordic people very commonly take a long vacation in July, and cities supposedly are much less congested.

The apartment buildings in this picture look fairly similar to classic Russian Khrushchyovkas, mass built in 1960s and 1970s. Sweden actually had its own massive affordable residential construction project, the Million Programme, which, as it name suggests, built about a million apartments and houses, and provided subsidized loans to low-income Swedes. The majority of dwellings built in Million Programme were actually one-family homes; Khruschyovka-style blocks were not that common.

38. Gothenburg passed by, approaching Uddevalla Bridge (Uddevallabron), a 1.7 km cable-stayed bridge over a deep sound near the town of Uddevalla.

39. We left the motorway after someplace called Munkedal. From there it was 25 km or so remaining on Roads 162, 171, and 174.

40. And here we are, Smögen Camping! Not actually in the town of Smögen (which is on an island), but rather in nearby Kungshamn on the mainland. Kungshamn means pretty much King’s Landing, which was a cool bonus for me as A Song of Ice and Fire fan.

41. There were four room blocks at this camping site (of course there also were lots of motorhomes and such). They were called Räkan (Shrimp), Kräftan (Crayfish?), Krabban (Crab), and one more I don’t remember. We got a room in Räkan. It was very minimal, just two bunk beds, a closet, and a toilet. For some reason there was a toilet and a bathroom sink but no shower (there was a shared shower in the room block).

42. The camping is located close to the strait separating Smögen and Kungshamn. You can see the town of Kungshamn in the distance. The industrial building to the left is actually pretty important. It is the Abba Seafood factory where they make Kalles Kaviar caviar spread. Very nice stuff for sandwiches, we occasionally get it in Finnish supermarkets. There is a huge artificial cavern under this factory where they keep barrels of caviar.

43. Some more views after sunset.

44. After enjoying the views, we drank some of that beer from Visit Carlsberg, and went to bed. We were to spend the following two full days here on Bohuslän shore. To be continued.

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