When in Sweden

I watched in awe as semi-trailer trucks and cars drove onto the ferry without hesitation. My host mom, Marie-Therese, had explained that the ferry from Denmark to Sweden served as a “highway” of sorts, but I hadn’t expected it to be anything like this. It was massive.

When I expressed surprise, my roommate Anne just shrugged. “I’m from Seattle,” she said nonchalantly. “We use ferries a lot.”

Clearly, rural Pennsylvania is missing out. The ferry had multiple floors and cafés. My fellow American travelers and I settled into bright orange seats, reminiscent of 1970s design. When the ferry left, we watched Denmark’s coastline disappear into the fog. A mere 20 minutes later, we arrived in Helsingborg, Sweden, which to be honest, looked a lot like Denmark.

The majority of our day was spent walking along the coastline. I loved being so close to the sea. You could taste salt, feel the crunch of shells beneath your boots. Sea glass dotted the shore and I pocketed three worn, smooth pieces.

The end goal of the stroll along the sea was to make it to the Sofiero Castle. We walked in that direction for quite some time until realizing that Google Maps had given us the time for driving, not walking. We decided the castle would have to wait for another day.

Motivated by hunger and the need to warm our hands, we broke for lunch. Our group of seven DIS students split into two smaller groups of three and four.

Heidi, Anne, Grace and I decided to eat at a beachfront restaurant serving traditional Swedish-style dishes. The waitress translated the menu for us and we immediately devoured the complimentary basket of bread. Our main meals, beef for me and Swedish meatballs for the others, were easily the best we’ve eaten out so far. I ate everything I could without licking the plate clean.

The rest of the day was spent wandering the streets in Helsingborg. We marveled at the shops and cozy cafés. Highlights included the defensive watchtower, Kärnan, and the gothic St. Mary church. Both were rich in history and intricate details. (Take note Americans, the world was not birthed in 1776.)

On the ferry ride back, I felt my eyes fluttering closed. Our day trip to Sweden was fun, but I welcomed the idea of returning to Denmark. There is comfort in knowing you have a place to come back to. When we docked I couldn’t help but think, “It’s good to be back on home soil.”

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