Sweden’s Manchester

Aiming to arrive in Stockholm before the weekend rush, we decided to drive the 150 miles with a short visit to Norrkoping, Sweden’s Manchester; owing to its old textile industry.

Driving up the E22, carved through all the granite and sandstone rock formed through many periods of glaciation and deglaciation, we arrived on the outskirts of town. Out of interest of its self assigned moniker, we opted to walk into town rather than the extensive woods we were parked in.

Walking through a neighbourhood filled with apartment blocks (flats), which if it was Manchester; you probably wouldn’t, we passed a lanky drunken man retching in the street. We named him Bez.

We finally arrived at the Art Museum. Like the library opposite and the shopping centre beyond that down the high street, the only resemblance to Manchester I could see was a time between 1950 and 1996; architecturally speaking, not exactly the pinnacle years for Manchester.

Continuing down Drottninggatan, the modernist buildings eventually gave way to more visually pleasing turn of the century banks, hotels and the town hall.

Turning left when we reached the Motala river, we found the riverside park and gardens. Lined with a few bistros and overlooked by an impressive old mill, our feelings towards Norrkoping started to improve.

Following the river we passed the Louis de Geer Concert Hall (where Smokie are playing next March) and found Holmengatan, which gates the old industrial area.

An area still being rejuvenated, but currently hosts part of the University, a cinema, gym, museums, bars and of course apartments; all in the old textile and paper mills.

It’s only a small area and still being rejuvenated, but the mix of new buildings and restored old mills kept us busy with the camera for an hour or two. And we now understand why it’s the Manchester of Sweden.

Walking back up the high street, past the art museum and between the apartment blocks; with no sign of Bez, we made it to the van and on to Stockholm.

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