A majority of my friends in Sweden live down south in Malmö, so it was a no-brainer when it came time for me to decide which city I wanted to spend my birthday in. I didn’t get a chance to explore the last time I was in town and I wasn’t going to let that happen again.

The weatherman must have given me sunshine as a birthday present. I know I have been mentioning perfect weather a lot in my other posts, but this has been by far the best I have experienced since being in Europe. Maybe it is because I was dressed for the occasion in my summer clothes and flip flops, or maybe it was because of my close proximity to the best beaches in Sweden…but at an 80° F high and 65° F low, I was in heaven. Was this really Sweden? It felt like I was back in southern California, which is the only other place I’d rather be in the world for my birthday, so it became Malmöfornia for the few days I spent in town.

If Stockholm is too much, and Gothenburg is too little, than Malmö is just right. It is where I fit in the most. In keeping with the Malmöfornia theme, the incredible weather, which I do realize is subject to change once fall rolls in, is not the only similarity these two parts of the world share. I also found Malmöans to be very similar to southern Californians in that they are very laid back, friendly and open-minded. Much more so than the people I have met in Stockholm and Gothenburg (not that those people don’t exist in these cities, it has just my observation so far). They pride themselves on being a city of 164 nations and 100 languages and a stroll through the colorful Möllevången neighborhood gives testament. I never saw any of these back in America…

Malmö is only 35 minutes away from Copenhagen making it easy to squeeze in a “two nation vacation”. If one could do Copenhagen in four hours, then Malmö can be done in one. There are a few historical sights to see in the center but, in my opinion, the most interesting area is Västra Hamnen, or the harbor district. It is here where they have spent the last decade or so “reclaiming” the waterfront and turning what was once industrial factories and shipyards into high-class, contemporary neighborhoods. The most famous addition is the 54-story Turning Torso designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It is the highest building in Scandinavia and the second-highest residential structure in Europe.

Malmö may not have as much to see as Stockholm or Gothenburg, but its youthful and unpretentious vibe has made it my favorite out of all three cities and I can’t wait to go back. For now, the job search must go on in Stockholm…