Tag Archives: sweden
December 15, 2011

The fiction & reality of Kurt Wallander’s Ystad






It’s a cold wet evening late in November.


High winds of 40-50 mph from across the Baltic sea are buffeting our face.

The wildly swaying Christmas lights on the bare branches jangle the nerves further.

For protection all we have is a poncho.

I am in the company of super sleuth- blogger mates Chris Richardson, Abigail King, Monica Stott and Ruth Haffenden.

We are hunched together in front of the Ystad Tourism Office like penguins trying to keep warm.


I have to admit in this kind of weather, forget a poncho: nothing can save our skins.


The narrow cobbled medieval streets of Ystad ( pronounced Ee-star) with its charming half timbered houses  are deserted.

The scene is perfectly set for a date with death- that’s how bleak it feels.


So its apt that we are on a tour of Ystad’s most famous and intrepid detective- Kurt Wallander.

For a town with a population of 20000, Ystad enjoys an inproportionate rate of crime in the Wallander novels.

Obsession with death seems to be a national hobby:  Sweden has spawned a succession of successful crime novelists all of which have gone on to gain worldwide fame.

The Swedish crime novella starting with the Martin Beck series in 1965, then came Henning Mankell’s Wallander and more recently the Steig Larsson’s novels which have made onto the big screen recently.

In Sweden, crime is big business.

In reality, there is a sobering reassurance for me- with a homicide rate of only one per 100,000 residents,  Sweden is probably one of the safest places to visit on holiday

A kind, enthusiastic guide from Ystad Tourism Board is helping us brave the elements and guide us across Kurt’s famous haunts.

Even on a squalid night like this, there is a eerie charm of walking the streets of Ystad.

Old wooden buildings, charming courtyards and narrow winding streams- Ystad is very quaint.


Xmas time- Highstreet of Ystad


Lit up with Christmas decorations, the high street has a picture postcard quality.


Dressed for the fest: Ystad shopkeepers compete for the best looking shopfront


Local shopkeepers compete with each other for the best dressed shopfronts.


In between we are presented with titbits of Wallander trivia- scenes from the movies jump out at you as you walk around.

We walk along Mariagarten where Wallander lives.

Stumble upon the Hotel Continental where he would have his dinner and breakfast occasionally.

We come across the cafes and restaurants that Wallander frequents- Fridolfs Konditori on St Knuts Torg.

Broderna M: His favourite pizzeria.


St Maria's Church


Our evening tour ends at the 3th century church Maria Kyrka, where the tradition of a night watchman guarding the church tower is carried on to the present day.

The current resident bugler: Roland Borg blows his horn at 15-minute intervals ( till 3am!) from all four sides of the tower from 9:15pm.


Walking the dog : Long sandy beach of Ystad


Come morning and we are greeted by the clearest winter blue sky you could imagine.

Perfect morning for going to the beach then.

I go for a ramble along Ystad long sandy beaches- white sand, stretching for miles – its stunning. My friend, staunch beach bum Isabelle Kenis would have approved of this beach.

It’s deserted. Something quite sad and melancholy about an empty beach.

I can only imagine how nice it must be in spring, summer.


Later we go for a tour of the Cineteket: the town’s flourishing film studio where both the Swedish and BBC series ( Starring Kenneth Branagh) have been filmed.

Housed in former army barracks , I was given a guided tour of the Cinetek film museum, where you can see all the props used in the films including Wallander’s flat and the police station.

It’s been a short trip but very enjoyable. I’d like to come back here in Spring or even Autumn.


Fiction and reality always differ.

Still, there is a thrill of discovering all the familiar landmarks for your own eyes.

Create your own vision.

As dour and bleak as Ystad maybe in the Wallander novels, the reality is a pleasant surprise.


The essentials


Contrary to popular belief, visit to Ystad is not expensive thanks to packages available from the Ystad tourism board and emergence of Ryanair’s new route to Malmo.

A Wallander Break including accommodation, dinner and refreshments in well-known Wallander settings startsfrom SEK 810 (approximately £75) per person, per night.

Check into one of the Wallander hotels in Ystad; Hotel Sekelgården, Hotel Continental, Hotel Ystads Saltsjöbad or an apartment on Mariagatan; enjoy good food at the restaurants and cafés frequented by Wallander, then visit Cineteket, an interactive film museum with artefacts from the series.


Getting there and away


The easiest way to get to Skåne is with flights to Malmo – available from Ryanair To book a Wallander tour or break visit www.skane.com.

For more information about Sweden visit www.visitsweden.com


Last but not least….thank you!

The trip to Skane was courtesy of sponsors  Visit Sweden UK  and Four bgb

Big thank you to Ruth Haffenden for looking after me and being the perfect host and also to my blogger friends Chris Richardson, Abigail King and Monica Stott- working with you, spending time in your company is always a pleasure and fun.


Disclaimer:  All the views expressed here are mine, unbiased and 120% my own.

November 28, 2011

Fika, Pepparakor + Karamell : Sweet on Sweden





It’s always a memorable trip or holiday if you get the chance to experience a place through the eyes of the local.


First Day of Advent in Sweden at a local supperclub



My recent long weekend in the region of Skane in Southern Sweden was one such inspiring holiday where the locals welcomed me with open arms and gave me a taste of ‘home.’


It gets even more exciting when locals invited you to experience their place through your stomach with the help of their unique, foodie customs.

Even better if its sweet given my Bengali roots in Kolkata where we are renowned for our sweet tooths…. ( and being diabetics)



Fika - wow!!



‘Fika‘ was one such awesome ‘sweet Swedish’ instuition that I experienced on arrival at Ystad.
Fika is both a Swedish verb and noun (pronounced “fee-ka”) that roughly means “to drink coffee/tea” usually accompanied by something sweet (source- wikipedia).


The Swedish tradition involves inviting friends and colleagues for coffee along with deliciously baked goods- how good is that?

Friends/colleagues were present- Chris Richardson The Aussie Nomad, Abigail King from Inside the Travel Lab, Monica Stott from Gap Daemon and last but not least Ruth Haffenden from Four bgb.
Our kind hosts, Ystad Saltsjobad treated us to a Fika which involved some delicious Princess Cake- not too sweet, just perfect

This was complemented by different flavoured fruit teas with exotic names like Sweet Love- apparently tea drinking is all the craze and it’s popularity is on the rise in Sweden.



'Like kids in a candy shop' - Chris and Ruth



‘Like a kid in a candy shop’



My food tour of Skane with the locals continued with a ‘karamell’ making masterclass at Sveas in Malmo.

Having enjoyed perfect winters day with blue skies in Ystad the day before , seeing the gloomy grey morning sky in Malmo cpuld have been a real mood spoiler……until I walked into Sveas , a candy store!


It was like stepping into a time machine walking into Sveas.

I had that instant hit of happiness.

Of being transported back to my childhood, surrounded by all that wonderful multicoloured candy.

I couldn’t help feeling happy and being again that ‘kid in the candy store.’
In owner Henrik Lindquist we had a very enthusiastic guide who showed us how he hand makes hard candy.

Boiling a mixture of sugar with water, touch of vinegar ( weird but trust me you can’t taste it in the final product) and special peppermint liquid, he then spread out the syrupy dough onto a special baking mat , aerating it -folding, refolding it into a nice consistent thick stringy white mass before adding the red food colouring, again refolding.

That’s when the fun began: before the temperature cooled and dough stiffens, me and my fellow travel blogger friends started creating our own custom shaped candy-all with differing, hilarious results.


So...what do you think of my karamell making skills? Out of 10...? :)


Judge for yourself- what do you think? ;)


#VisitSkane and eat some delicious Pepparkakor at the Xmas Markets


No sweet safari of Swedish food is complete without Pepparkakor.

I discovered it at a supperclub in Malmo.

The supperclub is an ubercool intiative by the Malmo Tourism Board where local foodies allow tourists into their homes and treat them to some wonderful authentic Swedish cuisine ‘homemade’

Tourists can learn all the cool places to see, eat in Malmo where the locals go- locals gets to interact and meet people from all corners of the world. A win win for everyone involved.

It was the first day advent in Sweden that we went for the supperclub at our host ‘Mia’s house.


Despite being a secular society this is a very strongly followed tradition in Sweden.

To mark the day, Mia and pretty much everywhere we visited in Ystad, Lund and Malmo locals had decorated their windows with electric candles.

Popular choice being a heart shaped arrangement.

In the kitchen, on this day Swedes bake and eat Pepperkakor-gingerbread cookies.


Taste of Swedish Xmas: Pepparkakor with some creamy blue cheese- yum!



After sampling some of the delicious cookies , I was encouraged to try the cookies with the unusual accompaniment of some sharp blue cream cheese.

It tasted wow.

Pepperkakor was my taste of Swedish Christmas -festive happiness and sweetness rolled into one biscuit.



I was in Skane as a guest of the Swedish Tourism Board.

Click here if want to find out more about the Malmo Supperclub intiative

Plus also if you want to make Pepparkakor at home and have your own taste of a Swedish Xmas, here is an ace Pepparakakor recipe