Lund, a land of cobbled streets, quaint churches and good food.
If you are looking for a holiday with a little of everything — culture, history, peace, a touch of the exotic, fun, sunbathing, exciting evenings — Southern Sweden (Skane) has it all. The first city we visit is Lund. Our entry to Lund from Copenhagen, Denmark, on the famous Oresund Bridge was quite exciting. We have travelled almost five km under the Baltic Sea and then emerged into Sweden — Malmo, and have finally disembarked at the University Town of Lund. I try to pronounce Skane (Skone) the way the Swedes do and am convinced all over again that the word does have something musical about it. Summer is the best time to visit this place.
A large number of people prefer to live in the suburbs of Lund rather than in the town itself as the countryside is refreshingly lush and beautiful. Most of them commute to town daily by cycle, bus or car. Our destination is Sodra Sandby, a village on the outskirts of Lund. The medieval Sandby Village Church, built in 1797, is beautiful. Life in Sandby revolves around the Centrum, the centre of the village/town. The Sandby centrum consists of a huge supermarket — the Coop Nara — two banks, a couple of small “boutiques”, a petrol bank, a second-hand shop and some restaurants including a pizzeria. Summertime in Sandby spells flowers and berries and all the gardens are in their resplendent best with colourful flowers and luscious berries. I can’t resist foraging for berries in my friend’s garden. The taste of fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries lingers on the tongue for hours. We sit in the garden and enjoy the serenity of the place which is occasionally broken by melodious birdsong celebrating summer. The people of the village too celebrate summer — everybody is out walking, jogging, skating, cycling or swimming. The doors and windows are left open to welcome every particle of sunshine into the houses. A lot of respect is shown to pedestrians, to the aged, to dogs and even to ducks!
The Skane council offers a discounted summer pass for bus and train. All we have to do is go online, check the bus number to our destination and board the bus. All bus stops mostly have digital displays, so we are flooded with helpful information wherever we go. We board Bus No.166 to go to Lund and this time around we just stop and stare. The sight of cobbled streets takes me back to my childhood reading days when I tried to visualise such streets. We explore the big central Kostrum Square, where farmers display their fresh produce daily till noon. It is a colourful celebration of all that summer brings. The luscious red strawberries are alluring. We stop and stare at the magnificent Romanesque Lund Cathedral. This turns out to be the highlight of our visit to Lund. This imposing church used to be the seat of religious power in the 12th century. We are awed by the enormous astronomical calendar clock standing tall and magnificent. The clock of the cathedral was made around 1424. This clock plays music (from an organ in the church) twice a day when six wooden figures, representing the three magi and their servants, pass by Mary and Jesus. On top of the clock there are two knights that mark the hours. The upper board of the clock is the astronomical clock. It shows, among other things, the different phases of the Moon and where the Sun sets. The lower board of the clock is a calendar.
Lund University is the country’s largest and second oldest university. It has a large international student population. Most of the people here understand English. The local population too, I notice, is highly international as also the food offered at the various restaurants and kiosks. A large second-hand shop, Erikshjalpen, draws our attention. We are amazed at the display — there are handbags, jackets, stoles, skirts and trousers, crockery, the famous blue pottery items, paintings, books, kitchenware, crafts and out of this world Danish furniture too. All in excellent condition! We are told later that is a country that walks the talk of reducing consumption — they recycle and reuse. We discover that in addition to walking, cycling is another wonderful way to explore Lund and the surrounding villages. We learn some very interesting facts about Lund. It has been praised for its cycling infrastructure. There are 5,000 bike parking spaces in the town, including a multi-storey facility, 160 km of cycle-paths, and 45 per cent of commuters travel by bicycle. There has been no significant increase in car usage for the past 10 years.
There is this timelessness about Lund which has to be experienced to be understood. Skane has plenty to offer the intrepid traveller. Lund is just the beginning.
This article has been corrected for an editing error.