Friday, August 21, 2009

European Tour 2009 part 3: Øresund loop


Day 3
27 July 2009
København - Hovedstaden - Denmark

100. Anchor near my hotel.

101. What the hell? I can believe a chintzy Irish bar - those are all over the place - but a chintzy Boston Irish bar? With Patriots logos all over the place? I though all Danes were supposed to be Falcons fans? Seriously, WTF is this shit?

102. Humlaebak, y'all. This didn't come out so well due to distance and the dirty train window, but below the main town name on the station sign is the unexplained legend "Louisiana". It makes sense if you know about the modern art museum with the same name, but otherwise, is a complete wtf.

Helsingør - Hovedstaden - Denmark

103. Japan Whisky. When Grant's is just too high-class.

This was just the tip of the iceberg; it seems like every third store in Helsingør is a liquor store specializing in distilled spirits. Some of this is the tourist trade, but some of it - probably most of it - is Swedish tax dodgers. I feel like I'm in Nashua, about to cross back home.

104. City hall.

105. An old side street, with a ton of overgrowing greenery.

106. Half-timbered building.

107. More of the same on an adjoining street. The places I've been in Germany have this history of having been largely burned down in the years 1943-1945, so this kind of medieval construction is missing.

108. Old brick building housing a bar and strip club.

109. Medieval alley.

After this series I got a shirt that did, in fact turn out to be worth the $78 that I dropped on it, serving well throughout the non-metalling parts of this trip, and hunted up some refreshments before hitting the ferry.

Helsingør - Helsingborg passage, Øresund

110. Farewell, Norf--, Denmark!

111. Kronborg from the sea.

112. The Aurora crossing the other way, with a container ship in the background.

113. Moderate seas even with the crossing wakes all over the place.

Apologies for the hydrography, but I may need this later.

114. Drawing closer to Sweden.

115. It was probably fate that brought me across on the Tycho Brahe.

116. Looping wakes. The ferries do an oblate course through the minimal-distance track so that boats in different directions don't hit each other.

117. Coming in to Helsingborg.

118. Seawall encircling the harborage.

119. Up into town from the dock.

120. Hard strand north of the seawall. It would be very easy to launch from here and cross over to land north of Kronborg while staying out of the ferry track.

Helsingborg - Skåne - Sweden

121. North toward the city hall.

122. Either a castle of the Radisson entrance - maybe both. Wiki says this entrance leads to Kärnan, which in that case I'm sorry I missed.

123. Opposite the above, looking back into the harbor. Shades of Wenceslas in Prague.

124. Old brick-and-timber house.

125. Another one down a sidestreet.

126. A fountain dedicated to Tycho Brahe. (The real one.)

127. Inspired graffiti or Potemkin surveillance?

128. A shot into the Olympia Stadium - go Milk Cows!

129. Neat private houses across from the stadium take 1.

130. Take 2.

131. Take 3.

132. FITBA IS SRS BSNS. Near this was a pole with a sticker on it agitating for a supporters' rights group; "no football without fans", etc, promoting among other things (probably lower ticket prices and the like) that aren't cognates in Svensk, the legalization of fireworks. Maybe it's just me, but while flares in the terraces look cool on TV, it's not nearly as cool to go to a game and get set on fire by some drunken dip with a Roman candle.

133. RKP (Communist) poster advertising an anti-EU demo.

There was a LOT of AFA and communist stickering and postering all over the non-tourist parts of Helsingborg. I'm not sure how "left" this town is relative to the rest of Sweden for the second, but as for the first, you don't generally get anti-Nazi propaganda in places where there are no Nazis. No rightist flyers around, but plenty of antibodies in the bloodstream, as it were.

134. Despite the above, a prominent eagle....installed in 1907, so it's just here to mess with you.

135. The Gustavus Adolfus church behind a neat fountain. There are now a fair number of immigrants in this area, and in the plaza around the church you can see an open-air produce market. Old and new, and coronaries for Lou Dobbs fans.

136. Up a street to a neat building.

Shortly after this, I finally changed some of my spare kroner (DK) into krona (SE) and got set up to move on to Malmö. Just short of 2 1/2 hours in Helsingborg, all of it on my feet, nearly all of it effectively broke, as I didn't change getting off the boat in the hope of getting to an ATM. Of the two that I found, one was broken and the other wouldn't take my card. Oh well. Additionally, in the process of looking for the stadium, I missed my targets by half a mile (north of the stadium and south of the train station) both times. More exercise, and more stuff seen, but all in all a little less than necessary.

Final note: there is a large cemetery next to the Helsingborg hospital. There is a lot of parking lot in between the building and the cemetery wall, but that still can't be encouraging to any patients who happen to look out the window.

En route to Malmö, the last corner of the square that I intend to go around today. I don't have a ton of time in Scandinavia, but this is important, as Malmö keeps getting painted as a ground zero in the supposed "clash of civilizations".

Wikitravel refers to Malmö diplomatically as the "Chicago of Sweden". Other, less polite sources cut the bullshit and just say Malmöstan. The implication is the same (Chicago as a tough town has always been about the Other, first Italian, then black, as a violent criminal): immigrants have taken over Malmö and made it into a slum. I'm going to see exactly where the fact stops and the hysteria starts on this axis. Some of it may be real; you stick a lot of poor, marginalized people with few opportunities together, and you're going to get crime. Most of it probably isn't; just xenophobia and volkserhetzung. Some of it is also probably self-inflicted: Malmö is a pretty large city, and people coming in to that city from less-populated areas may not be aware of the basics - not to talk shit on people because they're different anywhere they might be listening. It's pretty basic, but it's not inborn by any means.

One way or another, Malmö is a ground zero. While it probably isn't Swat, the fact that it's acquired this kind of reputation indicates that Sweden is lagging at integrating its immigrant population.

You cannot have a permanent ethnic underclass forever. Revolution lies that way. The only alternatives for Europe at present are to enhance the opportunities for their new populations and integrate them into the mainstream, accepting that the mainstream is going to change to accomodate them, or send them all the hell home. The second is impossible and really would entail total social collapse at this point; that leaves integration, and while Helsingborg was a lot more diverse than its Danish counterpart and more integrated, at least, than what I'd seen of København, we'll see how things are down the city by the bridge.

A related note: while I was setting up to head out of my hotel this morning, some little German kids were messing around with the foosball table in the lobby, which had white plastic pegs for one team and black plastic pegs for the other. One of them said to the other, "hier spielen die Deutschen gegen die Afrikaner", and it struck me that this may be a problem. Not that kids identify white pegs with white people and black pegs with black people - human-shaped pegs in multi-racial societies, that's going to happen. But the way that the definitions are cut: not "weissen gegen schwarzen", but "Deutschen gegen Afrikaner". To be German, one must be white, and anyone black is an African, regardless of where they've grown up, what their cultural influences are, and what their primary language is. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but you would not, I think, hear American kids setting up the sides the same way.

I was at least right on the booze front: no alcoholic products in the Swedish convenience stores in the train station, while the Danish side has a typical selection for, say, Germany - one that I'm a hell of a lot more comfortable with, personally.

Malmö - Skåne - Sweden

137. On the roof of a warehouse by the station. FUBIK DILDO? What does it even mean? Does it even matter?

138. View from the landward side of the train station, part 1.

139. Part 2.

140. A suspicious banner that smart folks have righteously scribbled on. (Enhanced to show commentary.)

141. View over one of the inlets.

142. This way to København....

143. An odd little statue in a park along the inlets.

144. Donerturm. Ok, it's really called the Turning Torso, but it looks a lot like the donerspiess highrise depicted in Erkan & Stefan's Krass Buch, making its presence in a city allegedly overrun with immigrants pure lulz.

145. Back street in Malmö.

146. Square in Malmö. I think this is the Little Square, ringed by cafes and resturants.

147. Old apothecary building in the main (Big) square.

148. City hall? on the main square.

149. Equestrian statue, same square.

So, Malmöstan? Malmöbad? Hell no. While I didn't get down to the immigrant district, the other sections of the city are far from overrun with "swarthy thugs" or whatnot. No different from any other city; if you don't go looking for "the hood", "the hood" doesn't generally come looking for you. That said, this in itself is evidence of a problem. There was more ethnic diversity visible on the streets and more hijabs per capita in Helsingborg, and given the demographics involved, this is definite evidence of ghettoization, more than expected given my initial touch in Sweden.

For the short term, Malmö is not being taken over by foreigners. If that were the case, there'd be no way that the only kebab stand in the tourist district could get away with frozen pre-chipped kebab. You can get better in the frickin train station in København. But as long as those foreigners are socially walled in, the social problems in their areas will remain.
Someday, I hope to get back here, see more of the city, and get a proper kebab - and see not only Henke and Ali but also Fatima and Astrid playing fitba in these squares, Sweden moving into the future, even if it's different from the past.

150. Ok, so there's one crazy Arab street barker in Malmö. This guy was busking shirts, allegedly to get back to København. C'est vrai? Dinnae matter. Beware of unreal things.

151. Minimum qualification met. Apparently O'Leary's (see top) is a multinational chain; these taps are in the Malmö franchise. I did not get a Sam Adams, but did slug back a Carlsberg while watching the current U19 Euro championship and gawping at the massive amounts of Ray Bourque/Bruins/Pats/Celtics/Sox memorabilia. There was a bunch of Swedish fitba and hockey stuff as well, but if you looked at the back wall instead of the front, you'd think you were on Causeway Street.

Malmö-København passage, Øresund

152. Wind farm at sea. You say "eyesore", I say "sustainable future". Every coastal town should have a bank of these out to sea, and tidal generators around the bases.

153. Illustrating the difficulty of getting a good picture. There were a couple others like this, but this one was the one with the most actual content as opposed to just blurs from the ironwork holding up the car bridge above the train.

154. Container ship southbound.

155. A more normal sea shot, after getting back on land.

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