Welcome to the second in our series highlighting Sweden. If you missed the first one, you can take a look here.
This time, Planeteer Hilda flew off to the Skane region to let you know what you can expect from this glorious country.
I got to go to Sweden recently, to the Skane region and I can't wait to tell you all about it!
Day 1: Travel, food, art and music - jumping straight into Sweden
I arrived at Gatwick airport early on a Thursday morning ready for my adventures in Skane, Sweden. I got to combine my love of travel, food and music as a travel journalist for Planet Nation, and got to enjoy the experience with my faux gay dads aka fellow journalists, Timothy Firmager (blogger at Season’s Eatings) and Ben Abbott.
Thanks to VisitSweden (www.visitswedenlgbt.com) who have been champions of LGBTQ travel to their wonderful country – and also the tourist boards of Malmo (www.malmotown.com) and Skane (www.visitskane.com/en) for taking me on this trip.
Within the blink of an eye, we found ourselves in Copenhagen, Denmark and jumped on a 30 minute train to Malmo, Sweden and were met by a chirpy Anna, from Tourism in Skane. Our first destination was a stunning restaurant right by the water called “Horte Brygga” and were met by Michael, originally from Australia. Needless to say, all of us were charmed by his accent as he told us of the story behind the founders Emma and Martin Sjöstrand, who nurture a small team and have built a reputation in the region amongst farmers - and internationally - for Martin’s cooking. The emphasis of the restaurant is to locally source ingredients, on a seasonal basis. We were presented with gorgeous dishes, including homemade bread and butter, a mixed salad with apples from the region, mackerel, cod, blue and yellow carrots. The interior of the restaurant, although quite cozy in size, is what indeed made it so charming and they even had their very own Vinyl player with an excellent library of music, which I was thoroughly impressed by. After enjoying our first of many “Fikas,” we took our last set of photos and set off to onto our next destination.
About a 30 minute drive away from Horte Brygga, we arrived at Kallagarden, for a tour of their apple orchards. We were met by the owner’s daughter, Helena; who passionately told us of the ins and outs of how operations work at Kallagarden and made us feel right at home on the breath-taking fields. Amongst the many types of fruits they harvest, we got to see the fields where they grow “Frida” and “Aroma.” As we all keenly started picking apples, Helena explained that one has to be gentle when picking the apples so as not to damage the stems or the branch, as well as making sure to identify apples that were split and healing due to frost bites and those that were infected and displayed mold in the bottom. When we got to finally press the apples, we all had to work together to hold the Italian made machine, and make our very own fresh apple juice!
The fact that one of the names of the apples is “Frida,” assuming after the renowned artist, it struck the entire group how empowered women are in Sweden and how they do not stray away from manual labour and the importance of love and respect toward mother nature, reflected by the emphasis on producing organic products.
Next on the itinerary was the magical night’s stay at Drakamollen. Ingalin, the owner, used to be a head hunter and later decided that this would be her calling. Over one of her famous dinners and wine selection, chosen with tender love and care, Ingalin and her team of one other chef, catered to us and several other parties. We learned of her books and how she started her very own publishing company and has not only released her fourth book (all have been widely acclaimed), she now intends to release a book by an author who happens to be her neighbour! As a lover of classical music as well, I was thrilled to hear she intends on putting on another opera festival, but this time Wagner...With that, I went to bed filled with good food and much inspiration.
Day 2 - apples, chocolate, tomatoes, sausages and coffee - food for the heart and soul
The sun crept in and the Autumn weather was absolute bliss when we woke up in Drakamollen on our second day in Skane. Ingalin had several treats for us in store, we got to see the exhibition of two Italian brothers, who collaborated on their “Crossing Boarders” exhibition of Murano glass. We walked around the garden and saw the vegetables that get used for their one of a kind recipes, found in the book Ingalin graciously gave us as a parting gift.
Before setting off to Osterlend Choklat Fabrik, we stopped by a gorgeous outdoor exhibition of apples that Anna snuck in for us as a reminder of how creative Swedes are with their apples! After collecting our snaps, we set off for MORE food, but this time, straight up chocolate, what more could one ask for? The factory, used to be a praline shop, but has developed their sister brand, Svenska Kakaobolaget, which gluttonous me, bought a bar of the entire range. Given that Swedish made chocolate is rare, they impressively source fair-trade beans from Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Peru. The founders made sure to go to the locations and learn everything there is know about how to best manufacture the bean into their delicious chocolate. The entire process was truly fascinating and really inspiring, just hoping they’ll start selling it in the UK, otherwise I will have to do the entire tour all over again!
Next destination? More food! We set off to Angavallen for lunch on their incredible grounds. Whilst we ate lunch, we were tended to by father and son, who were extremely proud of their family business and their organic approach. Once again, my mind was blown at how incredibly detailed and humane their approach was to slaughtering animals.
We were taken around the fields and picked fresh tomatoes to try and even saw black tomatoes, which I never knew existed. The love for the grounds was oozing even in the somewhat cold day. After going back inside, we got to get our hands dirty (pun intended) in the kitchen to make our very own seasoned sausages. The process albeit rather comical, was rather laborious and we all had a good chuckle, particularly myself, as the token androgynous lesbian tourist of the group.
After collecting ourselves from that pretty all-rounded experience, we set off back to the city center of Malmo to meet Eva, representative from Malmo Tourism. Without a moment’s notice, we were right back into city life again for our proper “Swedish fika” for a coffee tasting at Lilla Kafferosteriet. Bruno, the owner was super friendly and we got a tasting of roasts from all all over the world, organic of course, a la Sweden! I lapped up the pastry in front of me, as we set off with Hans Marmen, who was another guide for the evening. We walked around the city center and took in the sights before we headed back to Malmo Live, which was an absolute luxury. Malmo Live not only is a hotel, but also has a Congress and concert hall. After the quickest shower in history, we set off for an exquisite dinner at Johan P, where lobster is their specialty, (although I opted for cod and was not disappointed). With full stomachs and happy hearts we went to sleep buzzing from the energy of the city ready for the day ahead.
Day 3 - farmers markets, cheese, more chocolate, ice cream exhibitions and art - a sensory overload of epic proportions
Of all the days we spent together, this had to be my favourite. We set off bright and early to see the farmers’ market Bondens egen marknad at Drottningtorget and then set off for a cheese tasting. We then set off for a brief fika and got to sample some chocolates at the Malmo ChokladFabrik and it wasn’t even lunch! Eva, sure knew how to keep us busy. We got a Skanwich, which I ate, even though it was filled with all sorts of vegetables I’m supposed to stay away from given my Crohn’s and basically decided then and there I wanted to make the full transition to become a Swede! We then had some INCREDIBLE vegan ice-cream from KOLD, with flavours I’d never even imagined.
Finally, the time had come to visit the Moderna Museet, for basically what turned out to be sensory overload. The lovely Klara, showed us around the exhibition, which was focused on the artist as an entrepreneur. We saw pieces by Swedish greats like Peter Dahl and the underrated Hilma af Klint, and was truly honoured to see “Tete de femme,” by one of my favourites, Picasso. We were then tasked to do self-portraits, which I got entirely too committed to and was exceedingly proud of my final product.
Now, for probably one of the coolest and most nerve-wrecking moments of my life, we all got ourselves prepped and ready to eat dinner at Michelin starred chef Titti Qvarnstrom’s "Bloom In The Park". By the way, just want to inform you, this incredible woman is Sweden’s first Michelin awarded chef - more strong, female role models from Sweden. The restaurant itself, is located by a lake and the interior design is indescribably beautiful, by architect Jonas Lindvall. You could tell that the creation of this restaurant was nurtured in every aspect. The “no menu” concept, for me albeit a little daunting, was at the same time exciting, given how accommodating the Swedes had been regarding my dietary restrictions throughout the trip. We got a special visit from Chef Qvarnstrom herself and I was so star struck, the best thing I thought to ask was where her epic lamp was from! Highlights of the meal included coal bread, wild duck and a smoking cold drink of ginger! Anyways, my menu was given to me via a code which I could look up after online. We got an exclusive invite for a gin & tonic at Embassy of Sagrantinia, where infamous Maitre d’hotel, Igi Vidal greeted us as if we were long lost friends and we were all blown away that this place, although bigger and in the hustle and bustle of the city center, was as much of an oasis as “Bloom In The Park.”
After feeling like true VIPs, we set off to WONK Malmo, a gay bar that reminded me of the Absolut Ice Bar in London with how cool it was, in the hip sort of sense. We danced and enjoyed renowned Swedish house music at it’s finest and for me, it was my goodbye to Eva as I was to set off back to London the next day.
Day 4 - cycling, architecture and fond farewells
We woke up early before the flight, got the bikes (mine was shockingly pink) Eva had arranged for us and cycled up to the sea front. We had been talking for days about whether we would indeed skinny dip in the Ribersborg beach, but in the end decided to take pictures of our gorgeous selves by the beach. We then cycled up to the Turning Torso, which took about 15 minutes. The building is the tallest in Scandinavia - a real show stopper by The Western Harbour itself, but the area is also an award winning ecological housing area. Sad to leave and return my bicycle, we did what we knew best and got the buffet back at the hotel before Tim and Ben walked me to the train station to get the train back to Copenhagen. We gave each other hugs and agreed to meet in London to collect the smoked sausage we made back in Angavallen, but rather than eating it I almost wish I could frame it!
Thank you Naomi and Uwern, for the best trip of my life, can’t wait to fall in love with Malmo all over again.
#SwedenYoureWelcome | #OutInStockholm | #VisitSweden | #VisitStockholm
For more information on Gay and Lesbian Stockholm at any time of year, visit www.visitstockholm.com/en/the-lgbt-guide-to-stockholm/(link is external)
To find out more about gay and lesbian friendly Sweden, check out www.visitswedenlgbt.com
This review was written by Planeteer Hilda, also known as Sofia B.
Find out more about Hilda/Sofia B and her amazing music on her website.