On the Trails of Wallander

Hey dear world out there,

After having “survived” my first ever proposal deadline for ESO at the end of March, I got the strong urge to actually write something non-science for a change. This reminded me that I haven’t done this in quite a while, and that it is about time to tell you about a wonderful trip to Ystad and its surroundings that I was able to discover during Christmas since travelling to Switzerland was not an option.

Back in January 2020 when I accepted the offer to do my PhD in this wonderful country called Sweden in a little town called Lund, my grandma started talking about a Swedish crime book series where a police officer Wallander based in Ystad solved crimes happening in and around the city. As I love reading books, I started diving into the world Henning Mankell had created for his readers, solving mysterious cases with his protagonist Kurt Wallander. I enjoyed reading these stories so much that I couldn’t wait to actually visit this place and find some of the spots mentioned in the books.

During the first Swiss “lockdown” I started watching some of the Wallander films making me even more keen on finally visiting this place. I got the chance to do so over Christmas last year and want to share with you some of the discoveries I made and stories I got told.

Have fun!

– Bibi

YstadFilm world [1]

Since 2004, Film i Skåne has been running Ystad Studios – when the old anti-aircraft hangars at the regimental area in Ystad were converted into a film studio. A number of films and TV series have been shot and the studio has hosted both the TV series The Bridge and Wallander (both on Netflix, btw! I only started watching Wallander (it’s in Swedish), but I already finished Bron (The Bridge) and I absolutely recommend it to any crime lover out there).

In spring 2018, the Ystad Studios Visitor Center opened – an experience centre for film where the municipality of Ystad and Film i Skåne are offering to gasp a look behind the scene. Sadly, the Visitor Center was closed during Christmas, and I am really looking forward to go there at some other point and check it out.

Ystad Film Studios – Sadly we could not go inside, but I will certainly go back and do so, once this is possible.

Ystad – Wallander is present EVERYWHERE

Not unlike other acting places, Ystad makes sure to remind the visitor of Wallander’s presence every now and then. Having seen some of the films, some of the places felt very familiar, such as the building Villa Frida that was used as the police station, but in reality is just a “normal” building [2]. The brick house has charm and definitely spreads a little “Nordic” feeling, and while for some people it is just a normal house somewhere in Ystad, for me it looked like the only police station I want to see from the inside 😉

Villa Frida – a normal brick house used as the police station in Wallander films.

Just this morning I continued reading one of the Wallander books (Sidetracked – Villospår in the original), in which the third body is found at the station in Ystad which brings me to my next location I want to show you.

The picture I took was from the backside of the train station, so not where all the trains arrive and depart, but on the side where one is very close to the sea. The station is the terminal station of two railway lines [3]: the Ystad line (Ystadbanan) and the Österlen line (Österlenbanan). From Ystad you can also travel to Malmö which is probably the city you have heard of before. It will take you approximately 45 minutes to travel between Ystad and Malmö and every now and then, you can catch a glance of the southern Swedish coastline.

Ystad Station – Train station in Ystad. Also this building spreads a lot of nordic charm in my opinion. I like brick houses, I guess!

Whenever you go for a walk in Ystad, you will find new places where Wallander catches your eye. Sometimes it is a small coffee shop somewhere hidden in a street without much traffic, or a restaurant where Wallander is known to have gone for a meal. It’s these little details that will probably always bring a smile to Wallander fans’ faces, but others won’t really notice at all. I particularly enjoyed just strolling through the streets, remembering Wallander moments. For example, when we were walking along Mariagatan, I found myself trying to figure out which house Wallander might live in…

Wallander Café – a little coffee shop somewhere in Ystad.
Restaurang Le Cardinal – Wallander’s go to restaurant.

Ystad the southern Swedish coastline

Besides all these Wallander places in and around the city, Ystad also holds another wonder. Growing up in Switzerland, I never had that direct access to the sea in my own country, but I always loved it when my holidays took me to the sea with family and friends.

The fresh breeze, the sound of the waves and the smell of salt in the air are a little bit of perfection for me and although we were only in Ystad for a few days, the holiday feeling caught up with me pretty quickly. Long walks by the sea promptly made me forget that it was winter and really not that warm. Despite the cold, I took off my gloves from time to time and took a few photos of this wonderful place. After all, it’s not every day that you’re by the sea!

Strand houses – all the way along the coastline, people have these little beach houses with their most necessary item to spend a day at the beach. These are just a few, but the further we walked the more narrowly packed houses there were. The houses showed a big diversity in style, sizes, maintenance status and colours.
By the sea – In my opinion, this picture shows a little part of a perfect world. Yes, the weather could’ve been better, or the temperature could’ve been higher, but the sand beach combined with the sound of the incoming waves, and the cold wind made it very special.
Just another sea picture – Just another wonderful little place. Imagine sitting on these stones in summer, feeling the wind in your hair and listening to the sound of the waves. Magical!

Kåseberga / Ales Stenar – The Stonehenge of Sweden

As a last place for today, I want to take you on a stroll a bit away from Ystad. Also because of me reading Wallander books, I had heard about Ales Stenar (Ale’s stones) where Kurt Wallander enjoys going to free his mind.

The weather played along much better when we hiked up Kåseberga hill to see the Stonehenge of Sweden. Ales Stenar is a megalithic monument in the shape of a stone ship, oval in outline and 67 m long. The monument was probably created about 1,400 years ago and consists of 59 stones, with the two stones at each end being larger.

At the “entrance” to Ales Stenar, one can find an information board where the visitors can find out more about the purpose of Ales Stenar which is highly disputed. It could be a solar calendar as well as to track the lunar cycles, but it could also be some sort of grave monument or a cult centre.

Ales Stenar – with a view of the sea
At the foot of the hill on which Ales Stenar is situated, there is a small harbour. I was told that there was (maybe still is?) a little fish restaurant in this harbour. I will make sure to check it out, if I get the chance to go back!

If you really made it until here: Thank you so much for reading this! I really hope you enjoyed it. Even though this also sort of serves like a little diary for myself, I very much enjoy sharing these experiences with people. So if you have questions or want to add a comment, feel free! I am interested in your thoughts! Have you been to Ystad? Do you want to go there?

On that note, once again, a big thank you for putting up with me. I’ll have another post up my sleeve very soon! I hope you will enjoy it.

With hugs from Sweden,

– Bibi


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