Visiting R 96 10

This post is part of a bigger trip I made through Scandinavia with focus on Norway.

At the border

I was arriving in Sweden during the Corona pandemic. The borders were open. However, one had to have either a current test or proof of being vaccinated/recovered. Which means I thought this might be the most important part when reaching the border guards. Well, no.

Some brick houses in the background, white ferry on the right side, entrance to the harbor in the front
Arriving at Ystad by ferry

The questions I got (in that order):

  • Do I have anything to declare?
    Sweden is not part of the European Union and there are restrictions especially for alcohol and cigarettes. No issues for me, the only thing I had with me was a very small bottle of red wine and a very small bottle of sparkling wine. Easy answer. No.
  • Do I travel alone?
    Ok, didn’t expect this question. Yes, I do. I mean, there is no one sitting here besides me.
  • Where do I want to go?
    Ahm, what again was the English name for it? Started with the German name, something he obviously couldn’t work with. I think I also tried North Cape. Got a little tricky as the border guard didn’t know what I was talking about. So, going up North as much as I can? Kind of worked as an answer.
  • Do I really travel alone?
    Yes, still. Really.

He still wasn’t happy with my answer. Have you ever been to the border of the US? When they start to ask you where you want to go and this is the moment where you basically forget all your English, where you wanted to go, and almost your name? It started to feel a little bit like it here. Didn’t expect that.

I could only convince him by offering to take a look into the camper van. He did that by opening the door on the passenger’s side and trying to get a look. I don’t think you can see much more from that angle than before. For whatever reason it worked for him enough so I could pass. Means, the most important question was if I was really traveling alone. That seems to be more suspicious than I thought.

Ignoring literature

Ystad is a very nice little city. It has a pretty church, an old monastery, cute little houses, to name a few things to visit.

White building with ornaments, church tower in the background, red bigger building on the right, cobble stone place
At the “stortorget”, the main market place
Red brick building, garden in the front
Parts of the old monastery

However, it is very famous for hosting Kurt Wallander, the fictional police inspector created by Henning Mankell. I didn’t read any of the books, I didn’t watch the movies. Just didn’t feel like it. Therefore, similar to my experiences in Girona, I walked around without knowing any of the important places. And guess what, even without that Ystad is very lovely to visit.

Pond on the lower left, frame houses in the background, red brick building on the right
The old wash pond at the monastery

So, if you happen to see a lot of fuzz about an area just because of some popular movie or book, you can typically enjoy it without it as well.

Churching of women

When visiting St. Mary’s Church in Ystad I found a bench at the back of the room. It was meant for mothers to sit. I came to know that something like “Churching of women” exists. As the name indicates it could be interpreted as a blessing given to mothers after childbirth. This would be somehow a nice tradition. Anyone who has every given birth knows that it is something extraordinary powerful (and painful without meds).

Green, closed bench with a small door, for approximately 3 people
The special bench for women

However, in this church (like other churches) at that time idea for this bench was more about a ceremonial rite to be performed in order to restore ritual purity. At least this is what the documentation in the church revealed. Women were considered to be “unclean” after giving birth. To be even more precise: giving birth to a girl was making women double as much “unclean” as giving birth to a boy. They had to sit for 40 days/80 days on this bench before being allowed to mingle again with the others in church and sit on the normal benches.

Giving women the chance to rest after giving birth, not making them going back to work right away. Yes. This is really helpful. Marking them as unclean (similar to when they are having their period) doesn’t help.

You could argue that this all helped to avoid spreading diseases (as for example in this article) to consider body fluids as unclean. On the other hand, having somebody sitting on a specific bench for 80 days, just because she gave birth to a girl, doesn’t sound very much like health protection to me.

Some travel tips (from 2021)

  • If you are a Wallander fan make sure you visit the tourist information to get a map with all special Wallander locations.
  • If you travel by camper van/ motor home there is a big parking spot outside the city. I had no issues finding a parking spot there and it was not too far to walk. (55.422463331050665, 13.840458406978893)
  • I got cash from an ATM machine in Ystad and didn’t use it throughout my whole stay in Sweden. Cards are just a lot more common for payment. When you grab cash then make sure it is just a small amount for backup. Unless you like to take foreign money home, of course.

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