I went to Sweden with Eldrik, who's been there about a million times; this was only my fifth trip. We met at Stansted on a Friday evening, and flew to Copenhagen. A quick trip across the Øresund took us to Malmö.
This was my third visit to Malmö, after two earlier trips on hot sunny summer weekends. We walked from the train station to a hostel in the south of the city, past locations which we recognised from "Lilya 4-ever", the most depressing film I've ever seen.
We didn't plan to spend much time in Malmö. In the winter there was nothing to keep us here once we'd had a quick look at the Turning Torso, the tallest building in Scandinavia. We walked out to Västra Hamnen to see it spiralling up into the low clouds, then headed to the station for the short trip to Lund.
We got told off on the train from Malmö to Lund. We hadn't realised we were sitting in the quiet carriage and talked until we were instructed not to. "Förlåt", we said, and sat in silence until Lund.
We stayed in a hostel in a train carriage by the station in Lund. I've travelled on so many night trains that I was conditioned into expecting it to rock about constantly, so I swerved erratically around to compensate for the non-existent motion as I walked down the corridors.
In the evening we went out to a club called Sargasso. It was a Friday night but it never really got going. Every club I'd been to before in Sweden had been fantastic, so it was a bit of a shame that we picked a bad one here, but then in a university town, nothing much goes on when the students aren't around.
The next day, the skies were clear and the air was cold. We decided to head north, to Helsingborg.
We'd originally planned to head straight for Halmstad, but we randomly decided we might as well stop off in Helsingborg to see what it was like. The town was being battered by violent winds when we arrived, and we mostly stayed inside cafes to avoid dying of exposure.
When we got to the station, we found that the next train to Halmstad wasn't for another hour and a half. We decided that as it was only a couple of miles away, we might as well pop over to Denmark while we were here, and so we got on a ferry heading across the sound in the howling gales. Once we'd docked, we had about twenty minutes to spare for a quick walk around town, before we had to get on the ferry back over to Sweden.
We saw the sun setting over Denmark across the water. We arrived in Halmstad after dark, with our main aim being to check out the night life. But before we could do that, we needed somewhere to stay. My guide book said there was a place 4km out of town, towards the E6 motorway, so we headed out in that direction. We walked, and walked, and walked. My feet began to hurt. We walked on, and I started cursing Eldrik for travelling with a ridiculous wheely suitcase thing instead of an obviously more practical backpack. The constant rumbling got a bit tiring after a few kilometres, and eventually he started wheeling on the grass.
After about an hour, we began to think that we weren't in the right place. The hostel was supposedly on Växjögatan, and Eldrik grabbed a passer-by to practise his Swedish on. I could just about follow the gist of the conversation, and it went something like "Excuse me. Do you know if Växjögatan is near here?" "Växjögatan? I've never heard of it" "Um.. ok. Do you know of any hostels near here?" "Nope"
So we had definitely gone wrong. We were near a huge shopping centre, and there was a fast food place open, so we boosted morale by eating dirty burgers, then got a bus back into town to reconsider our options. Plan B was to check prices at hotels in town, but they were way beyond our means. We then moved onto Plan C, which was to skip Halmstad and head on to Gothenburg. We headed for the station, only to find that the next train wasn't for almost two hours. So we quickly put together Plan D: we found a map of the town at the train station, and it appeared that my guide book had sent us out of town on the wrong road. We would head down what we thought now was the right road, and if we hadn't found the hostel within 45 minutes, we'd get out of this place and head on. So off we went out of town again, and this time after about half an hour we found what we were looking for, the Hostel Laxen.
Once we'd recovered from our explorations, we got a bus back into town, and went out. After a few hours in the town centre I decided to head home. There were no night buses out in our direction, so I walked another three miles back out to the Laxen. In the morning, we walked back in, again, and headed north. We'd walked thirteen miles during our stay in Halmstad.
Early the next morning we headed north again, to Gothenburg. Five years earlier the city had been covered in thick snow. Now, it was just cold. We walked through the centre, just about remembering where we were going, and eventually found our way via Haga Nygata to the hostel we'd stayed in last time. We headed up to Skansen Kronan for some views.
We'd been hoping for a good night out in Gothenburg, but it was a Sunday and the only place that looked lively was charging 100SEK to get in. So we had a quiet evening. Compared to the first time I'd been here, it was far warmer, and it was nice to walk around without feeling exhausted by cold. Canals that had been frozen solid last time were liquid now, and parks that had been buried by snow were grassy.