A slightly flippant remark to my MD when asked what he could do to improve my work experience resulted in a trip with our Finance Manager Jenny, to our other office in… Malmö, Sweden. I could see this was going to be a great chance to build on my working relationship with Jenny and finally get to see where my long-time colleague Gil, lives and works.
Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden with the easiest airport for us to use being in Copenhagen as it is only a short train trip over the Øresund Bridge.
A bacon sandwich and a cuppa at the airport at 6:45 for the 8:45 from Gatwick, just around the corner from our office started the day. After a very quick flight, grabbing our hand luggage and speedy pass through passport control in Copenhagen, we headed down to the train station (via the bar so we could say we’d had a Danish beer in Denmark) to board a train to take us to Malmö.
The first stop on the other side of the bridge involved an identification check of all passengers as we had now passed over in to Sweden. Gil met us at the station and walked us to our hotel where we checked in and dropped off our bags ready to see the city in which Gil lives and works.
The squares and streets that we walked through were busy as it was approaching lunchtime. In the main square – the beautiful main building was covered in scaffolding but cleverly disguised with a cover made to look like the building behind it! We stopped at a restaurant café for a delicious meal of plaice, asparagus and a new potatoes. Interestingly, the restaurant didn’t take cash, at all!
As we wandered through to the next small square there were some wonderful fruit and vegetable stalls. I spotted some bright and tasty lingonberries but was told that they are too sour to eat raw. If you think the UK and politics and understanding who best represents your ethos then you’d be in for a surprise as the next pretty square we walked through had about 13 stalls set out representing political parties for the upcoming Swedish General election. With that many parties it must be hard to get anything other than a coalition government!
From here we headed towards Malmohus Slott (Malmö Castle) via 2 beautiful parks, Kungsparken (Kings park) and Slottstraden. On the way, we saw a beautiful windmill and were surprised by the amount of open water. Further wandering took us to the Sound/coast, another beautiful park and the Turning Torso, a really impressive looking building and where the SwedAPL conferences have taken place in the past.
As we were lucky to have such a warm dry day, Gil’s family then cycled and met us for dinner, where we had a beautiful view out over the sound looking towards the Øresund Bridge and Copenhagen. Jenny tried to pay in cash, but once again, the restaurant only accepted cards. A bit of theme going on here! By now it was then time to head back to our hotel (on a bus, where once again, cash was not accepted).
The next day we met Gil for a traditional hotel buffet style breakfast. All food tastes catered for, I especially enjoyed the Turkish yoghurt served with a lingonberry compote and the Swedish meatballs. Well it had to be done didn’t it!
On the walk to Gil’s office, apart from some of the beautiful buildings in the city, what struck me again was how Malmö had adapted to encourage the many cyclists. It reminded me of Cambridge and many other university towns here in the UK. Examples are separate central lanes in some of the main roads along with a marked off area at the front of traffic lights to give them a right of way and plenty of racks to which to secure a bike.
Gil’s office is situated on the 4th floor in an old traditional style building that used to be the town hall. As such, it has lovely high ceilings with a wide corridor leading to lots of small office spaces. He shares a corridor, kitchen and toilet facilities with other small businesses. We were introduced to one of his office neighbours, a Viking no less, well according to his ancestry at least. On a day to day basis, others drop by just to say hello or to enquire as to whether he will take the traditional proper break for a meal at lunchtime. Local cafés and restaurants provide a quick sit down service or take away for those who want to share their break with other colleagues back at the office.
With enough room in his office to accommodate four good sized desks we plugged in our laptops and managed to get down to some work. Naturally I had client work that needed attending to but I did get the chance to talk about one of our existing apps that needs to be updated and will require a lot of testing. In a blue sky world, we would have plenty of time to come up with new ways of using APL, perhaps for a really useful app that we offer up to the general public, not just one client.
After a quick lunch with Gil over the road from the office followed by an hour or two more work it was time to head back to the airport.
I really enjoyed my time bonding with my work colleagues and taking in the sights and sounds of Malmö. Now all I need is a project to work on directly with Gil so I can go back again, for a longer trip this time!
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