Sunday, February 12, 2006

Impressions of Malmö

My wife and I just spent 25 hours in Malmö, third city of Sweden and home to three bands that I have recommended in the right-hand column.

Malmö is flat and undifferentiated, with none of the open water and vantage points I'm used to from Stockholm. Being only an occasional visitor, I have two spots where I keep returning. One is the town museum, housed in the old fort. The other is the Möllevångstorget square, centre of immigrant culture and exotic cuisine. Go to Krua Thai for Thai food and to Asien for Vietnamese! Far better and cheaper than anything you'll find in Stockholm. And don't miss the Al-Basha baklawa bakery. These establishments cater to the local exile communities, and so are used to demanding and knowledgeable customers.

Möllevångstorget is marred by a sculpture from 1930 where nude muscular men are straining to lift a huge boulder embossed with a smoke-belching industrial motif, while nude women are sort of patting their backs to encourage them. I can appreciate the pro-worker sentiment, but I really feel there would have been less leaden ways to express it.

To see good art and craftwork from the 15th century onward, go to the museum. Very impressive collections. They also have local archaeology, town history, some Mediterranean and Chinese antiquities and natural history.

The city has some great early 20th century brick architecture, for instance the water tower at Södervärn. This phallic structure looks like a nazi space ship, particulary with facade lighting after dark, and is affectionately known as Virgin's Longing.

But avoid the budget motel where we stayed, abject member of the Formule 1 franchise. It is indeed cheap, but looks like a chunk sawed out of a Baltic passenger ferry. Utterly depressing place, staffed by crew-cut Russians who give the place a whiff of the Gulag.

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