A hymn to Skåne

Arriving in Skåne (Sweden’s southernmost province) from Stockholm feels almost like arriving in a different country. The Swedish language sounds very different (heavy Scanian dialect called Skånska), the pace is different (slow motion), the landscape is different (rolling hills and plains lacking extensive forest cover), the buildings are different (much more stone than wood) and the air feels different (at least compared to central Stockholm). So, basically everything feels different in this place, which is located 600 km to the southwest of Stockholm and which once, a long, long time ago, belonged to Denmark.

But of course some of the inhabitants, a long time ago, did not want to belong to Sweden and fought a fierce guerrilla war against the new Swedish authorities in the eastern and northern part of Skåne. These areas are much more exiting, not because of the guerrilla war and the traces of it, which are still left and are tourist attractions, but because the forests finally become more frequent, the population density decreases and the dialect is even more incomprehensible.

Skånes topography is heavily shaped by the ice sheets, which were growing and waning during the last glacial cycle. The last big ice sheet, which was several hundred to thousand metres thick in the south, left numerous traces testifying to its advance and retreat: thick unsorted glacial sediments; larger boulders; extensive sandy and gravelly delta deposits; large depressions which, when the ice had melted, turned into lakes, which gradually become overgrown and turned into peat lands. For a glacial geologist, Skåne is thus a fun place, much more fun than Stockholm. Also, for fossil hunters, Skåne is much more of a paradise than Stockholm – the limestones in the province contain even traces of dinosaurs! And of course, there are also the oldest rocks, granites and gneisses, which are billions of years old!

For gourmets, Skåne is heaven. Many excellent restaurants and many farms selling local produce. Food is important in this part of Sweden, and an integral part of the life.

Skåne also has one of Sweden’s oldest universities, Lund University, located in the small town of Lund, where about 80,000 people live year round, but where the population swells to over 100,000 when the university term starts. Lund also seems to live a life of its own, proud to be Scandinavia’s largest and most successful university town on one side, but pure backwater on the other side, and with a distinct air of countryside over it. But the place is expanding, and who knows what will happen then. Skåne has of course many more towns and cities. For example, Malmö the gateway to the continent, Helsingborg, the home of Henke Larsson, Ystad where Wallander is chasing criminals, …

Skåne, especially its eastern part, is very popular among people from Stockholm, who can afford the expensive old houses close to the beach. It is very pretty,  I must admit, and very picturesque with the small villages, the green fields, the white stone houses and the blue Baltic Sea. As such, the notion of leaving for Skåne for the weekend, leaves a kind of dreamy look in the eyes of those Stockholmers, who wished they would be able to also visit the beautiful country of Skåne, taste its delicious food and wander through the old streets of its old towns.

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