Malmö, Sweden (Part One)
From Copenhagen we crossed a 17 km tunnel/bridge to enter Sweden, with the ubiquitous water-based wind farms our only scenery. Then it was a short drive to Malmö, our first destination. We parked about two kilometres out of town and, after only becoming slightly lost, made our way to the centre. Malmö provided a clear introduction to just how expensive Scandinavia would be. Even in McDonald's, our haven of free stuff, we were required to pay 50 cents to use the toilet. It was the same in the shopping centre. Not convenient when we didn't have any loose change on us. Danny managed to find a cafe that offered free toilets to customers, but the cost of the drink (when we didn't really want one) didn't work out in our favour.
Danny hit the Form/Design Centre (he is fascinated by Swedish design) while I wandered around town, managing to find free Wi-Fi (I didn't think it would be possible). We caught up again in the early afternoon and walked through Kungsparken, a park complete with canals and a windmill, before deciding that Malmö was not the most exciting place to hang out. So it was back to the car for a late lunch.
Danny was keen to park near the beach for the night, not far from the town centre. We followed directions to a caravan park near the water then parked a little way inland, opposite a park with free public toilets (they did exist!). The beach was packed so we spent the rest of the day relaxing in the park, enjoying the downtime.
After dinner we found another car park, right on the water, with several other caravans and campervans. From here we sat mesmerised by the sunset, which seemed to last forever - being this far north it went on for about an hour and a half. There was a gentle, cool breeze coming off the water, which slightly assisted in decreasing the internal temperature inside our van. The only downside was a campervan that arrived late and let his generator run most of the night, ruining the serenity for everyone.
We woke to the sound of a car pulling up nearby, then someone knocking on a campervan/caravan close to ours. Next we hear, "Police, open up". I was too scared to look out the window to see what was wrong, but I had a feeling it was because they weren't parked in the parking bay the correct way. That didn't bode well for us, as we were also currently taking up about four spaces (not that the car park was anywhere near full at 7:30 a.m.). There were no knocks on our door so we silently laid in bed, not daring to move, for about half an hour. When we finally got up and looked out our window we saw every other caravan being attached to their cars, slowly making their way out of the car park in front of the police. One caravan was being towed by a tow truck. As no one said anything to us, we took our time getting ready and left long after everyone else.
We stopped about a kilometre down the road to use to the free public toilets at the park. Getting back in the car and turning the key we heard that dreaded sound again – nothing. The car didn't want to start. No matter what we tried nothing worked. It was odd as we had just driven it five minutes earlier. We walked to the caravan park down the road and asked about mechanics or tow trucks. Of course luck wasn't on our side. Today happened to be yet another public holiday, so calling anyone would cost us a fortune. We decided to see if we could flag another vehicle down to help jump start us.
With the size of our van we knew we needed a fairly large car to solve our problem. We only managed to stop three cars in an hour, and none could successfully get the motor going. The last guy who assisted us said he didn't think it was our battery (which was only three months old) but our starter motor that was playing up. At that stage we gave up looking for a jump start and decided to wait the day out before calling a tow truck tomorrow.
Using Garmin, we located a repair centre 1.5 km away and walked over there to check it out. A mechanic happened to be working and we asked about bringing the car in tomorrow. He said we would have to check with the boss in the morning but he gave us the number of a tow truck anyway. The rest of the day we spent buying some groceries (UHT milk exists again), relaxing in the park opposite our non-functioning car, and sitting in the cafe at the caravan park (mainly to use their internet and electricity). It turned out to be a great place to break down, especially with toilets, a source of water, internet and power all within short walking distance. This was the only positive we could find in the situation.
At night we experienced a theatrical thunderstorm, which seemed to last for hours. We could see the lightning outside the window, and the thunder sounded as though it was right overhead - it shook the whole car with every clap. Unfortunately the air became humid, but we couldn't keep the windows open because of the rain. It was not the most comfortable night's sleep.