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Tags - Sweden
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An attempt to conquer a fear of flying leads to an interesting trip to Sweden
“How much do you reckon it'll cost to cross the Öresund Toll Bridge?” I wondered
“Why don't you Google it?” said Ann.
We had booked seats on an SAS flight to Copenhagen. From there we planned to hire a car and drive across the Öresund to Sweden. You used to have to cross the 16 kilometre wide Öresund strait by ferry but, a few years ago they opened a new tunnel and road bridge, and now you could drive across.
The first part is a tunnel under the sea from Copenhagen to an artificial island out in the strait. And then from there a long and slender bridge snakes up and over the remaining stretch of water, and then finally down into Sweden. It is an impressive piece of engineering and the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe.
Ann, my wife, had never flown before – she had a fear of flying. But she was determined to beat her phobia, and had finally agreed to give flying a go. To lessen the ordeal we chose a short flight on a decent airline and, to provide some incentive to go through with it, we chose a place she particularly wanted to go to.
That place was Ystad, an old mediaeval town on the southern coast of Sweden, which is the setting for the Wallander detective stories written by Swedish author, Henning Mankell. We hadn't read the books but we had seen both the Swedish tv series and the award-winning BBC tv series, starring Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. Wallander is a crusty, middle-aged detective from Ystad who has his own way of doing things, but is a bit vulnerable.
The programmes had been filmed on location in and around Ystad and gave tantalizing glimpses of the picturesque town and the strikingly tranquil countryside around it. We both thought that, one day, we would like to go there, not because we were particularly Wallander 'anoraks', but because the place looked so appealing.
Copenhagen was the nearest airport which, since the building of the Öresund Toll Bridge, was only an hour's drive away from Ystad.
I Googled 'Öresund Toll Bridge' to find out what the toll would be and read the first entry:-
“Öresund Toll Bridge – the famous new sex position in Sweden” Oops!
Apparently the bridge's undulating logo was the inspiration for this “new sex position”! And it was being used to promote a well known chain of clothes shops in Sweden. Trust those Swedes!
Surprisingly the website also gave information about the tolls – for an ordinary car it was about £32, which I suppose is about what you might expect to pay for a ferry crossing.
Unfortunately, when the day finally came, things didn't go too smoothly for Ann's first flight. It was a stiflingly hot day in Manchester and, after boarding the plane, our flight was delayed on the runway for ¾ hour. The upside to this was that it was a relief when we finally took-off. With steely determination Ann remained calm. She looked out of the window only once - for a split second - and spent the rest of the flight staring at her knees and clasping my hand. It reminded me of the times when she was in labour and practically broke every bone in my hand.
Then, unfortunately, half way through the flight the captain announced that parts of Copenhagen Airport had been shut down due to a severe storm over Denmark. However, he was still going to attempt to land in a remote part of the airport - to enable people to catch their connecting flights. Ann continued to look at her knees and grasped my hand even harder.
After a bumpy landing in a very wet and windy Copenhagen (role reversal with Manchester!) we stumbled out of the plane, down the steps, and into the buses waiting for us on the tarmac. This was followed by a minor panic in the baggage reclaim hall when it looked like my bag had gone astray. But it eventually turned up and we picked up our car, drove across the very sexy Öresund Toll Bridge in a howling gale, and an hour later we were in Ystad.
I was proud of Ann but she was quite shaken by the flight and really needed time to get over it. Even though she loved Ystad and the return flight was uneventful, flying wasn't a happy experience for her and she has not flown since.
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Steve, you had me turning this way and that throughout this tale. I was only just getting past how ably paired the words Wallander and anorak were when you sprung the sex position thang! Marvellous! I'm surprised you managed the typing after all that desparate hand grasping but I guess you've had time to recover. Cheers for the giggle, DrG
Thanks Dr G. I see what you mean about 'Wallander anorak' – sounds like an item of specialist gear that would stand you in good stead in the Antarctic.
Poor Ann! I hope she tries it one more time... otherwise, trains and boats are even better ;-)Interesting to hear about the bridge, Steve, thanks for that.
I've only seen this bridge/tunnel from an aeroplane window and I can't imagine what the sex position might be. Surely it must involve some risk of drowning. Great story despite being an unfortunate first flight for Ann. I was quite nervous about flying the first few times I did it, but about 300 flights later, I hardly even notice I'm in the air any more. Keep on doing it and eventually it just gets boring (flying, I mean).
Thanks Liz and David. This trip was two years ago so I'm not sure if Ann will pluck up enough courage to try flying again soon. I don't push the idea, for fear it might be counter productive, but I do drop hints from time to time. But, she has always had a very strong desire to visit Canada - so I think that will be her incentive to try flying again someday. We'll see.
With regard to the sex position things become clearer by looking at the logo rather than the bridge itself, but you have to try hard to think like a Swede! For more information - on the bridge, the logo, and the sex position - see http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/57 .
Another gem from you, Steve. A lovely and intriguing read. I do hope you can persuade Ann back on a plane
Ah Steve, what a lovely description of your wife's terror! Clearly, this looks like another fine mess you'd got her into. That said, I can share her dislike of Copenhagen airports, or arrivals into, since the only time I went there (for a lovely trip with Uni mates many years ago), the weather was truly horrific!
The bridge is definately a "must see". I think a lot of architecture, particularly bridges, is sexy - Millau being the perfect example! (I'm sure the Vasco Da Gama Bridge would rate too but the times I've crossed it the fog was so thick, you couldnt see the water, never mind the view!)
Ystad sounds like a glorious place and well worth a visit at some point further down my lengthy list.
Thanks Lyn and Pam.
If I get Ann back on a plane I'll write a follow-up experience about it.
Pam, with regard to your comment about a souvenir I have on my mantelpiece, it was bought on this trip. It's from Smygehuk – the Swedish Land's End – which is just along the coast from Ystad. (there's a separate photo of it somewhere in that 'souvenir' gallery). Apologies for not getting back to you sooner – I was pre-occupied with other things back in June.
Very amusing and my curiosity of the sex position made me click on the bridge link to see for myself. :-) Meraid
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