As reported in the Swedish dog magazine Härliga Hund, Bondi and I stopped in the major coastal port of Helsingborg a few years ago for an interview about all things Swedish and dog-ish. I think if my interviewer had sat with me and Gustav through our lunch today she may have reported things less favourably than in 2007.
Having missed the main lunch hour and many of the cafes were full with afternoon coffee-sippers, we picked out a pizza restaurant with outdoor seating on the main shopping thoroughfare. We were asked because of “government regulations” to sit at the end of the outdoor area, and being rather hungry, acquiesced. Munson found a spot to sit down that wasn’t covered with broken glass like much of the ground around us.
|We ordered a couple of pizzas and drinks and they came quickly enough. We were rather surprised that the chicken-based pizza was a 12” pizza sliced in two with a very small piece of grilled chicken sitting in the middle of each slice: probably the least generous topping I’ve ever encountered. While we ate, we had a couple of waiters come out and ask us to move Munson closer to the wall behind us (he was in no one’s way). I kept reiterating that the ground was covered in broken glass, and did their policy mandate that dogs had to put up with this. I was also rather skeptical that this was any policy beyond this place as I recalled seeing plenty of other dogs sitting in and around cafes further up the street. After paying for our frugal meal, I said to the manager that I’d told his staff that there was broken glass all around and that they kept asking my dog to sit in it. It didn’t occur to any of them to clean it up. He went and looked at it, turned to me and shrugged without apology. |
There’s much to love about Sweden, but like Norway it lags way behind most of Europe in dog-friendliness. As in so many such cases – Australia included! – it’s official disapproval that wins over man-in-the-street attitudes.
There were some small changes to the town centre since my last visit. A statue of David which had been removed from the front of the steps to the city park due to offending some of the more prudish had been reinstated after an absence of 80 years; nearby a hotel had been renamed the “Helsing” with its official livery evoking the Van Helsing of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Munson and Gustav were intercepted by a group of girls on mobility scooters, so I took the chance to visit the cheese-shop adjacent and look for some Ossau-Iraty for cheese o’clock. The cheesemonger beamed at my choice and suggested some black cherry jam to go with it, which in hindsight I regret not getting as well.
There is an older Pyreneean connection with the city: two hundred years ago, Jean Bernadotte of Pau, one of Napoleon’s marshals, took to the Swedish throne as Charles XIV John. This succession was partly due to his help with the Swedes in their recent wars with Denmark, Helsingborg being the closest point to the country. It was here that the king-to-be first entered the country.
The city is also famously the headquarters of IKEA and the ubiquitous Ramlösa mineral water is named for one of the city suburbs.