Sweden, here we come! This year’s company outing took the SR Travel team to Denmark and Sweden. Once a year the team of SR Travel go on a short holiday together to get to know each other better and strengthen the team spirit. We are Christopher Georg and Matthias Maschler. Christopher works as a Web Developer at SR Travel developing online travel related services. Matthias works for SR Travel in IT and handles service requests and the further development of IT tools.
The adventure began at the headquarters of SR Travel in Gießen at around lunchtime. Our journey took us along the motorway to Hamburg, where we welcomed further colleagues based there on board. Early in the evening we reached the ferry in Travemünde, from where the crossing to Trelleborg in Sweden began. On board the ferry “Nils Holgersson” (named after the children’s novel by Selma Lagerlöf) we were greeted with a festive dinner. After a lovely get-together in the restaurant of the ferry, we went to bed a little earlier than usual, as the alarms for the next day were already set to 5:10 am 🙁 Even our cabins with magnificent sea views couldn’t sugar-coat that time. After a short but very relaxing night, the breakfast buffet awaited us. At this hour in the morning and in this season we sadly couldn’t fully appreciate the lovely ocean view…But the selection of food was plentiful and the coffee was delicious.
We left the ferry on board our coach and drove from Trelleborg to Ystad. On the way we passed through idyllic Swedish villages and enjoyed the rising sun over the Baltic Sea. All fans of the thriller series Wallander and Swedish film art had the opportunity to visit the largest and most famous film studios in the country. For more than a decade, Ystad Studios has been home to the filming of the popular Wallander series. After a presentation by the studio supervisor, our group set out to explore the reconstructed film sets. We dressed up with props and made ourselves comfortable in the different sets.
With these wonderful impressions we left Ystad and headed towards Malmö. But before hoping back on the bus we took the opportunity for a walk (about 20 minutes) and visited the “Stonehenge” of Sweden. Marvelling at the ancient site and the beautiful view of the sea easily compensated for the endeavour we had to endure. On the way back to the coach we strolled along the harbour of Kåseberga. On the road leading from the port towards Kåseberga we discovered the road sign “ales väg”. We freely translated it into “Alles weg” (all gone) and used it as a funny photo opportunity.
Ales Stenar in Kåseberga is the largest surviving ship setting in Sweden and one of the most popular attractions in Skåne. The 1400-year-old monument stands on a plateau above the cliffs near the picturesque fishing village, about 20 kilometres southeast of Ystad, and is often referred to as the Swedish Stonehenge.
We continued our drive to Malmö. With 300,000 inhabitants, it is the third largest town in Sweden. During a guided tour with a knowledgeable tour guide we learned about the history of the town. There were several warlike conflicts between Sweden and Denmark in Malmö , which led to both countries trying to occupy the town.
The inhabitants are particularly proud of the two successful football clubs Malmö FF (men) and FC Rosengård (women), who regularly win championships. This pride can be seen on the Amirals Bridge, where the railings are decorated with footballs. From a distance you can already make out the most famous building in the city, the Turning Torso. At 190 metres, this building is the highest in Northern Europe. It got its name from the architect’s idea of making the building look like a twisted torso. All in all, the tower is twisted by 90 degrees, which, among other things, led to the need for custom-made windows that however cannot be opened.
We explored the promenade on foot and admired the view of the Turning Torso and the 8 kilometre long Öresund Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden. Afterwards we went back to our bus to travel into the town centre. We were told the history of the town square and looked in wonder at the oldest buildings in the city, which are just a hop skip and a jump away from modern designer houses. This mix of tradition and modernism impressively demonstrates the transformation the town has undergone over the years. On foot, we explored the town centre with the old pharmacy and many small shops, cafes and bakeries. Literally every corner was picture perfect and easily captured the special charm of Malmö.
Did you know that IKEA, known as Sweden’s largest company, has its headquarters in the Netherlands and not in Sweden?
Now to our personal highlight: the brewery tour of Malmö Brewing. After a short walk we reached the impressive building of the brewery. At the entrance gate we were greeted by the master brewer and invited into the brewery. In a short presentation, we received background information on the history of the building and the art of brewing. Already in around 1800, a brewery was established here. However, it had to close due to the emergence of foreign and longer-lasting lager beer and the competitive pressure. For a long time a chocolate factory took over the premises but later moved into a larger space. The current owners rescued the building from ruin and renovated it to the way it is today.
During a tour of the building, the brewing process and the systems used for it were explained excellently. The brewery, which is rather small by today’s standards, produces around 60,000 litres a year. This is divided into eight craft beers and a cider. Why do we mention a single cider? Because we come from Hesse and cider is very popular with us, but is largely unknown in other states. As such a tour is quite exhausting – we had to go up and down the stairs three times – we enjoyed a tasting and some delicious food at a large wooden table afterwards. The atmosphere was wonderful and we spent a lovely evening in the brewery. Then our bus driver took us to the hotel, where we had a peaceful night’s sleep.
Finally we had a lie-in…
…well at least until quarter past 7. But after the early start on the ferry this seemed like a luxury. 🙂
The breakfast buffet offered everything the heart desires, with freshly made smoothies being the icing on the cake. Strengthened, we made our way to Denmark. We had already admired the Örseund Bridge from afar. That day we crossed it and “marched upon the Danes in old tradition”.
Um, no…thankfully, there has been peace between the two countries since 1814 and so we began a peaceful sightseeing tour of Copenhagen. Our experienced tour guide and colleague leisurely told us various details about this particular bridge. The Danish border officials however were not quite as relaxed during the routine bus check. But after a brief identity check, our journey continued into the town centre.
“Freetown Christiana” is very controversial but nonetheless popular among tourists and it was the first destination of our Copenhagen tour. We’d already read about many rumours and half-truths in the run-up to the trip. Most of them turned out to be wrong. But let’s start at the beginning: The idea behind Christiania is one of an urban environment with all its advantages and disadvantages.
The territory of Christiania, which was originally used to protect the country against invaders from Sweden and therefore has former defence structures, became too small for this purpose with the increasing growth of the city. That’s why the military decided to settle elsewhere and vacate the existing buildings. These vacant halls and houses were looted in the following years and later illegally occupied. This was tolerated by the town administration in parts, but also unsuccessfully fought against several times. Later, there was an agreement between the two sides. Currently there are about 800 inhabitants, who live mostly self-sufficient in a form of community. Their social rules largely differ from the ones we know. You have to decide for yourself, what you make of it. The opinions within our team at least were controversial. The visit definitely sheds some light on new perspectives that are rarely seen in Europe. Our recommendation: Go there with a guide that can explain the history and circumstances a little!
After visiting Christiania we walked to the pier of Nyhavn. On the way there we admired the Church of Our Savivour in Christianshavn with its special stairway on the outside. Once we arrived at the jetty, we saw the typically picture perfect canals with small ships and colourful buildings all around. On board, the history of these buildings and the port were explained. In the cold and unfortunately wet weather we were all rather happy that the seats were sheltered.
Just in case anybody was still feeling to warm, we next went to the Ice Bar to cool down a little more. Almost the entire bar was made from ice and was cooled down to minus 200 degrees. I may be exaggerating a little here 😉 But the first few seconds certainly felt that way. After a short time however you get used to the cold and can admire the special decor and atmosphere.
After enjoying a cold drink (what else) and a short stay, we headed for the market hall Torvehallerne. As we were very hungry we searched for the nearest dining opportunities on our own account. In our case we went for the “typical Danish” burger. We wanted to find delicious food typical of Denmark. On a full stomach we then tackled the shops in the town centre in small groups. Mostly this meant visiting the Lego and Disney store and various souvenir shops.
The name “LEGO” is originally an abbreviation of the Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. In total, over 320 billion Lego bricks have been sold so far – that means on average every person in the world has about 56 Lego bricks.
With beautiful and impressive memories we left Copenhagen to head home on our coach. We crossed the imposing Öresund Bridge a second time. But this time the port of Trelleborg was our destination, as our ferry Nils Holgersson left from there. Back on board we went to the dining room, where a similarly opulent buffet as before was awaiting us. The atmosphere was wonderful, as it had been the past few days, so some colleagues decided to end the evening in the bar after dinner. Setting the alarm for the next morning was slightly better than on the outward journey, as we had an hour more time to check out and thus leave the ferry.
After a restful night on the “high sea” we were looking forward to breakfast, but were also a little sad to be touching German soil so very soon again. After arriving in Germany we took our colleagues from the SR Travel branch in Hamburg home first and then tackled the approximately 440 kilometres back to Gießen. Even though the traffic was almost the same as before, the drive home felt a lot shorter than the drive up north. This was probably due to the anticipation and excitement of what would await us the coming days. In conclusion, it was a fantastic trip to two towns with friendly people, great buildings and many moments, which we will surely like to reminisce about in future.
The Swedes will remember the SRT team for a long time – or is it the other way around? Either way, so be it.
It was “Latscho”! That’s Gießen slang for “It was great”.