The Öresund Bridge is actually half bridge half tunnel and the journey along it is quite an experience. The reason they built it this way was to avoid interfering with air traffic from the nearby Copenhagen Airport, to provide a clear channel for ships in all weathers, and to prevent ice floes from blocking the strait. I think I am safe in saying that the tunnel bit on the Danish side is the longest tunnel I have ever driven through, the bridge bit on the Swedish side is the longest bridge I have ever driven over and the 500 kronor toll (about £50) is the most expensive I have ever had to pay. It was worth every krona though, as it significantly reduced the time and distance we had to travel and it was such a spectacular specimen of modern engineering. Apart from the bridge itself, there’s not much to see as you cross. From the bridge you can see the narrow stretch of sea that is Öresund and from the tunnel you can see the walls of the tunnel.
Half Bridge Half Tunnel.
On the northern shore of Öresund our first experience of Sweden was a giant Ikea shop which seemed to dominate the horizon for most of our motorway journey to the outskirts of Malmo. Much as I detest huge shops, I was pleased to see this fine example of Swedishness. People in the twenty first century seem to have a desperate need for huge shops in order to survive, which irritates me, but at least this shop was an iconic representation of the country we were about to visit. Had it been a Tesco or a Walmart or a Poundland I would have demanded a meeting with the British Ambassador in Stockholm and a packet of economy Cornish pasties.
The main reason for my journey to Sweden was to accompany my youngest daughter to her latest seat of learning in Jönköping (pronounced ‘Yurn Shurping’). Having completed the first two years of her degree course in Maastricht in the Netherlands and eaten more pannenkoeken than you could throw a clog at, there came about the need for her to spend the first semester of her final year at a ‘foreign’ university. Sweden, having already hosted this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, amazingly also won the right to host our Rose for four months.
There were, of course, other reasons for travelling to Sweden, the most notable being my desire to rekindle my friendship with Nina Persson, the front woman in the band The Cardigans. I thought it only polite to make the effort to visit her in her own country as she had already visited me at home. Well, to be totally honest it wasn’t quite at home but in a club in Birmingham where I spoke to her briefly in the bar after her wonderful performance with the band A Camp, her semi-solo project at the time.
I was a tad crestfallen that Nina wasn’t there to greet me as our car rolled off the bridge but consoled myself with the thought that, as her hometown was Jönköping, she would be waiting for me there with the kettle on and a huge plate of raw herrings and freshly knäckered knäckebröd to gorge upon.
Yer woman the blonde bird from Abba hails from Jönköping too so I was a bit worried about bumping into her with her horrendously naff music and her 1975 Rear of the Year award. Incidentally, I was interested to discover whilst doing a bit of research that in 1989 and 1990 the Rear of the Year title wasn’t awarded to anybody. I suspect that this was something to do with the war in the Balkans.
Thankfully Agnetha Fältskog wasn’t there at the Swedish frontier post to welcome us and thankfully neither too was Fat Tomas Brolin, Britt Ekland, Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt (he was busy having his arm felt), Sven-Göran Eriksson, Ulrika Jonsson or Jennifer Aniston. Jennifer Aniston isn’t Swedish by the way, I just can’t stand her.