Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ystad: Jewel of the Baltic

Today I was blessed with sun, good food and an extremely lovely locale in which to spend my day. I was supposed to go to Ystad to go yarn shopping with my new knitter friends, but one of my new friends was in a car accident yesterday so they weren't able to go. Fortunately, she is in stable condition now!

But since I had bought my train ticket, I decided to still visit Ystad, and am so glad I did. It is an absolutely beautiful town, dating back to the 13th century give or take. I didn't get to enjoy the beaches - it was a brutishly windy and cold day! - but I think this would be a great place to come back to in the summer. Ystad is on southern tip of Sweden, on the edge of the Baltic sea, and you can take a ferry to a Danish island or to Poland (I was tempted but it's a 10 hour journey).


In addition so seeing so many beautiful, old buildings, including the St Maria Church and the St Petri Curch and Monastery, I also enjoyed checking out the sites frequented by the fictional police detective Kurt Wallander from the Henning Mankell books. These books are probably what really cemented my desire to visit Sweden, and Skäne in particular. Wallander lived and worked in Ystad, and there are many specific references to existing locations throughout the town and surrounding area - such as the Intercontinental Hotel, or Fridolf's cafe where he often goes to have a quiet coffee. I stopped at Fridolf's to have a piece of Wallander cake, which is dyed blue the colour of the police uniform.

Wallander's Ystad

I couldn't finish the cake because I'd already had a really tasty pink Danish when I popped into Maria Konditori to seek refuge from the abusive wind! And I tried to have lunch at the Intercontinental, where Wallander often had lunch, but it was closed for the season. So I took a chance and had a delightful and tasty lunch at Store Thor, built in the only surviving medieval town hall cellar. Beer and food were served here as early as the 15th century. I had fish soup, fried bread and mayo (apparently they serve everything with mayo here, which is ok with me), and I paired it with a Skäne Akavit (which was not too great but warmed me up from the inside out).

Winter Danish, Maria's Konditori, Ystad

Store Thor, Ystad

Fish soup, fried bread and mayo, Store Thor, Ystad

What I am starting to appreciate about eating in Sweden, while you do not get table service in the same way as you do in North America (you order and pay like at a cafeteria but you serve yourself except for the main which is delivered to you) is that the price of your meal includes help-yourself items like lingonberry juice, water, light beer, bread, tea and coffee, sometimes salad even. It is very civilized. And the price is the price, no tax or tip. Refreshing.

Today someone who didn't have to say hi to me (like people I buy stuff from who are friendly when they serve me) actually said hi. Actually he said hej which is Swedish for hi.I almost had a heart attack, I was so surprised. It's not that the people here aren't nice, they are just extremely reserved and not at all outgoing or friendly to people they don't know, which makes for a disconcerting experience for me. I feel like I am at a silent retreat. (For the record, I won't EVER be choosing to do that!)

I've been debating (with myself of course) what other destinations to visit...I think Copenhagen tomorrow and maybe Saturday. And maybe Göteborg on Sunday. I expect because of the holiday and Sunday/Monday, I'll have limited opens to do indoor things until next week, so I plan to go to places I can just walk around in. There are a couple more things I can do in Malmö, and I still want to go back to Lund to see Kulturen. Oh, decisions, decisions!



Sar said...

It looks like you're having a lovely time Kelly! I'm fascinated because Chris and I plan to go to Norway this year (dates TBD). I wonder how similar it will be to Sweden. Enjoy!

The Blonde One said...

That piece of cake has some serious icing in the middle! It's almost as thick as the layers.