Michael Portillo explores Scandinavia, braving one of the world's oldest rollercoasters, sampling a smorgasbord and test driving a vintage Volvo.
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I'm embarking on a new railway adventure that will take me
across the heart of Europe.
I'll be using this -
my Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide, dated 1913, which
opened up an exotic world of foreign travel for the British tourist.
'It told travellers where to go, what to see and how to navigate
'the thousands of miles of tracks crisscrossing the continent.
'Now, a century later,
'I'm using my copy to reveal an era of great optimism and energy,
'where technology, industry, science and the arts were flourishing.'
I want to rediscover that lost Europe that, in 1913, couldn't know
that its way of life would shortly be swept aside by the advent of war.
I'm beginning a new journey through Denmark, Sweden and Norway,
which, until the early 16th century,
were all ruled by a powerful Danish monarchy.
By the time of my guidebook in 1913,
the three were politically separate,
but known collectively as Scandinavia.
The British traveller could now visit
the extreme landscapes of mountains and lakes thanks to the railways.
'At the turn of the 20th century,
'British tourists would have felt a particular connection to
'Scandinavia, thanks to the marriage of the future King Edward VII
'to the Danish Princess Alexandra in 1863.
'Their daughter Maud would go on to become Queen of Norway,
'forging further strong links
'between Britain and these Nordic lands.
'My adventure begins in Denmark's capital Copenhagen, crosses
'the famous Oresund Bridge to Malmo in Sweden,
'then travels north along Sweden's west coast to Gothenburg,
'stopping briefly in Trollhatten
'before heading to Norway's capital Oslo.
'Along the way, I lose my inhibitions in a Swedish sauna...'
On the whole,
I don't take my clothes off with people I don't know.
'..ride one of the world's oldest fairground attractions...'
'..have a Highland fling, Scandinavian style...'
'..and brave a white-knuckle ride
'based on a winter sport invented by Norwegians.'
One of the great experiences of my life.
My first stop is the Danish capital Copenhagen.
My Bradshaw's quips that, "Denmark is a little monarchy,
"formerly more extensive, between the North Sea and the Baltic."
Copenhagen is the economic, political
and cultural centre of Denmark.
It started life in the 11th century as a Viking fishing port.
Surrounded by water and interlaced with canals,
it's a veritable Venice of the North.
It is connected to Stockholm, Hamburg, Berlin
and beyond by the railways.
Copenhagen's main railway station was, in fact,
new at the time of my Bradshaw's guide
but, built as it is out of traditional wooden trusses,
it has the feeling of a Gothic banqueting hall -
perhaps a way of reminding us that the Danish monarchy traces its
origins back more than 1,000 years to the middle of the 10th century.
'According to my guide, Copenhagen is one of the pleasantest
'of the smaller capitals of Europe.'
And 100 years on,
the historic skyline is unspoiled by high-rise buildings.
On leaving the railway station,
travellers would have noticed at once one of the oldest
amusement parks in the world - the Tivoli Gardens.
'Ellen Dahl knows all about it.'
What is the origin of the Tivoli Gardens at Copenhagen?
When Tivoli was founded in 1843, it was a big fashion all over Europe.
So this was the first place in Denmark you could actually
go into the public domain and see people and have fun
and have a meal and see a show and just be out.
Now, if I've got this right, the railway came after Tivoli Gardens.
-It started in 1847, didn't it, the railway?
-That's true, yes.
And the first railway station in Copenhagen was just next to
Tivoli, so just a little more west.
And people would stand inside Tivoli to look out on the railways
and see the trains, because they'd never seen anything like it.
And, vice versa, people would stand in the train station
and look into Tivoli and see all the fun going on in here.
What does Tivoli mean to the people of Copenhagen?
Well, Tivoli is somewhere that everybody has been.
People have very fond memories of Tivoli, so they tend to get
very attached to things that are in Tivoli and they tend to want
to relive childhood memories, actually, when they are here.
I'd like to return to childhood myself,
on the most popular attraction in Tivoli.
Every year, up to 1.3 million thrill-seekers
ride this wooden roller coaster.
Dating from 1914, it is one of the oldest of its kind in the world.
How much has it changed, then, in the last century?
It's extremely authentic.
Of course, things have been maintained
and things have been changed,
in terms of actual boards and rails and things like that,
but the ride is as you would have seen it 100 years ago.
I can't wait any longer.
-Ellen, this will be fun.
-Are you all right?
-Yeah. I like roller coasters.
-Don't stand up.
-Hold your arms inside the carriage, yeah?
-And keep hold of Bradshaw.
Hold on to your book.
The roller coaster is pulled up to the top of the first incline,
the highest point, and then gravity takes over.
You have to put your arms up, yeah?
Oh, my bottom was well off the seat there.
That's what they call air time. That's the fun of it.
'Tivoli is Scandinavia's most popular attraction.
'Over four million visitors a year enjoy the rides.'
-Oh, Ellen, that was brilliant.
-Did you enjoy it?
My bottom was in the air more than it was on the seat.
After that excitement, I'll seek a classic theme park refreshment.
-Hello, Michael. Welcome.
-Thank you, Kjeld.
This looks like a very traditional ice cream salon.
How long has it been going?
It's been going on for more than 100 years. Since 1906.
-Has it been in the family?
-Yes. See the picture up there in the corner?
The small boy over there, that's my granddad, back in 1906.
Kjeld's family have been using the same recipe for waffle cones
for over a century.
Let's see whether I can master the age-old technique.
-OK, here goes.
-Right. So, I lift the waffle.
-And that one.
-I turn this around. I give it a small squirt.
Yes. So far, so good.
The difficult bit is still to come.
A small squeeze.
And now we just wait.
Now is going to be the tricky part.
Give this a little lift.
-You squeezed too hard.
-I squeezed too hard.
Just give it a go. Yeah, like this.
-Perfect. Take it, yeah. Perfect.
-Take it all up.
-Take it all up.
Put my thing in position.
-Make a little fold there.
-Yeah, exactly. Just roll it.
-Make a little fold. Roll.
-Roll, roll, roll.
-We are going to get a hole in the bottom.
That one is a failure.
Yeah, just put it over here and we'll go on to the next one.
-Let's see if the next one is any better. Close that up.
The difficult thing here is to get that fold working just right.
-Nice and easy.
-Nice and easy. And put it down there.
-And put it down there.
This is almost perfect. Almost.
'I had no idea that waffle cone making was such a precision art.'
I hope that was worth it cos my fingers are burning.
-This one is good. This one is a nice shape.
You can make four nice scoops in this one
and there is no hole in it. It's perfect.
You see? No hole in the bottom. That's really important.
That is a beautiful piece of work.
Yeah, it is. It is.
I hope it tastes as good as it looks.
Mm! My visit to Tivoli has given me
a real flavour of an amusement garden, 1913 style.
'In the early 20th century,
'the Tivoli Gardens were a great leveller -
'a place where both rich and poor came to enjoy themselves.'
But elsewhere in Copenhagen,
the social divide was more rigidly observed
and nowhere more so than at the Amalienborg.
These four near-identical palaces are still home
to the Danish royal family.
Around the time of my guide, the connection with
Buckingham Palace naturally drew many British visitors.
Historian Knud Jespersen knows more.
How did it happen, then,
that Princess Alexandra married the British Prince of Wales?
I think that the key person in this process
was Edward's elder sister Vicky,
who was Crown Princess in Prussia and who had taken it upon herself
to find an appropriate spouse for her little brother.
They sent pictures to Edward, who rejected them one after one.
Then she also sent the picture of beautiful Alexandra.
Then he was very pleased with that so some secret meetings were arranged
at different places in Germany,
and it ended up with a wedding in 1863.
The marriage at Windsor took place amid great ceremonial.
The British welcomed Alexandra with a poem
written by Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate,
celebrating the ancient links between the nations.
"Sea-kings' daughter from over the sea, Alexandra!
"Saxon and Norman and Dane are we
"But all of us Danes in our welcome of thee, Alexandra!"
A successful marriage between Alexandra and Edward VII?
I think so. I think Alexandra was a very tolerant woman,
who endured all Edward's affairs.
-Was she popular in Britain?
-I think so.
She had a good social instinct
so she could communicate with
the upper class at court and also with the common people.
Alexandra was the Diana of her day,
and not the only member of her family to grace a European throne.
One brother became the King of Denmark. Another, King of Greece.
And her sister, Dagmar, Empress of Russia.
I'm interested, you know, these two women, Alexandra and Dagmar,
they have both become empresses.
That must have been quite important, politically.
It was because there was a direct connection between
the two great powers of Europe - Great Britain and Russia -
and it showed when the Russian Revolution broke
and the Tsar's family were chased and executed.
And so Dagmar's son, who by then was Tsar, was murdered.
-And other members of the family?
-All of them.
She was the only one that survived.
And only thanks to her evacuation by the British man-of-war,
which was sent to Crimea
on the instigation of Queen, or Empress, Alexandra.
The bond between Alexandra and Dagmar was forged
during a happy childhood.
Growing up together close to the Amalienborg Palace,
the princesses enjoyed stories read to them
by a Danish writer famed across the world.
'Hans Christian Andersen is perhaps Denmark's best-known author.
'His fairy tales are known everywhere,
'and many, such as Thumbelina and The Princess And The Pea,
'have inspired ballets, plays and films.'
The visitor using my Bradshaw's guide
had a brand-new tourist attraction to see
because in 1913 they unveiled a statue to The Little Mermaid,
one of the characters from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
And now tourists will risk life and limb
to get close to this pretty creature and her fishy tale of woe.
More than a million people visit The Little Mermaid each year.
Most know her from the Disney film but, unlike her cartoon counterpart,
this Little Mermaid's story didn't have a happy ending.
-Can you remember the story of The Little Mermaid?
It's a love story about The Little Mermaid
and she's condemned to stay in the water.
She couldn't get out.
Is it a happy story or a sad story?
A sad story.
What did you think of the mermaid? Did you like the statue?
Yes. It's beautiful.
Are you visiting Copenhagen?
Well, I'm local. I live only 3km from this place.
What is the genius of Hans Christian Andersen?
Why was he so successful? Why do we remember him?
I think because he expressed himself through the fairy tales.
He was a very sensitive person
and he had a special life when he was young and so on
and he had to fight for his life. He was born in 1805.
He never married and maybe he never had any relationship with a woman.
The Little Mermaid has a rather sad ending.
Maybe he was projecting his own life in this story as well.
To him, there was no happy ending.
He was happy because he became world famous when he was older
but his personal life was not so happy.
It looks as if he's making a lot of tourists happy today.
The Little Mermaid's appeal is enduring and universal.
But with a train to catch, I must return to the station.
A traveller using a Bradshaw's guide in 1913 would have had to do
the next part of my journey over to Sweden by steamer.
But, even at the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of a bridge
was already a dream, and finally the dream became reality in 1999.
MUSIC: "Hollow Talk" by Choir Of Young Believers
# Echoes start as a cross in you... #
'My journey is taking me across the Oresund Bridge.'
'It's a central feature of the Scandi-noir drama The Bridge.
# Spatial movement which seems to you... #
'In the television series, it brings together detectives from Denmark
'and Sweden to solve a gruesome murder.
'The bridge also allows people to commute
'between Malmo and Copenhagen.'
# Hollow talking and hollow girl. #
-Do you use it very much?
Yeah, because my mother-in-law has a small house in Sweden
and we live in Denmark, so sometimes we go visit the house there.
The bridge is for both trains and cars, is that right?
-That's right, yeah.
-What do you normally do? Train or car?
I suppose you must be very proud of this bridge.
-It's an amazing piece of engineering.
-Yes, it is.
Has it really altered people's lives?
Danes are going more to Malmo in Sweden for shopping
and probably also the Swedes are coming into the city of Copenhagen
for fun and restaurants and so on.
It now takes just 30 minutes,
crossing the ten-mile Oresund Strait,
to travel from Copenhagen to Malmo in Sweden.
We are now passing beneath Swedish soil.
My next stop will be Malmo.
My Bradshaw's tells me the railway station is on the quay
close to the landing place of the steamers from Copenhagen.
In 1917, a bald-headed gentleman might have been seen
passing through that station on his way to Russia.
His journey was to have epic consequences.
'The passenger travelling to his place in history was
'the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
'To find out what he was doing here in Malmo,
'I'm following his footsteps across the bridge
'from the station to the Savoy hotel.
'Over a drink in the bar there,
'guide Jacques Schultze tells me more about Lenin.'
Why have we met in the Savoy Hotel?
Because some people say that he actually spent the night here.
There is a little bit of discussion about this
because the old ledgers are unfortunately missing
so we don't have his signed autograph that he spent the night here
but we are quite certain at the very least
he had a traditional Swedish smorgasbord here.
'Lenin was returning from exile in Zurich to Russia.
'In February 1917, the hardships of the war had led to
'a revolution in Russia and the Tsar had abdicated.
'But for Lenin the revolution was incomplete.
'Only a takeover by his own Bolshevik faction of communists
'would guarantee the transformation of Russia into a people's state.'
Where was Lenin
when the first revolution occurred in Russia at the beginning of 1917?
He was still in Switzerland.
When news reached him of the revolution,
he saw this as his chance to say,
"Speed is of the essence. We have to rescue the revolution."
Of course, Germany was quite interested in this
because the Russians were still fighting
and they saw this as a chance to get the Russians
out of the war by having a proper revolution, so to speak.
'The Germans saw that a second Bolshevik revolution
'would take one enemy out of the war
'so they could concentrate on the Western front.
'They gave Lenin safe passage by train from Switzerland,
'through their own country to Scandinavia,
'from where he could reach Petrograd - now St Petersburg.'
So, how did he make the journey across Germany?
He made it in, some people call it the poisonous germ.
The legend is he was sealed up in a compartment
so he couldn't spread his revolutionary ideas along the way.
It was sealed and the story goes that actually
one part of the compartment, they had a chalk line on the floor
where they had German soldiers on one side watching him
so he wouldn't get up to any, well, funny business.
And the train was sealed in the sense that, of course,
he wasn't allowed out in Germany
-and nobody in Germany was allowed onto the train either.
So, it was like a sealed diplomatic post-box that was sent up
through Germany and Denmark and then over here.
So, what were the consequences
of Lenin's journey from Switzerland, via at the Savoy Hotel in Malmo,
to St Petersburg?
I would say that the final consequence would be
the Russian Revolution, when people think of the Russian Revolution
as the forming of the Soviet state.
So, really, this German plot of sending a poison chalice,
this revolutionary back to Russia was successful
because after the revolution Russia drops out of the war.
Yes, of course.
Early morning has brought me to this beautiful place,
thanks to a reference in my Bradshaw's to the fine pier harbour.
What a place for bracing sea air and possibly something more.
The buildings at the end of the pier are the Kallbadhus sauna,
which was built in 1898.
The owner, Henrik Klamborn,
tells me about a fine Swedish custom that takes place here.
It's quite a tradition, almost quite a cult for the Swedish people,
this matter of bathing.
Yes, this is almost like a religion.
When you have a cold bath and you come from the hot sauna
to the cold water, you feel very good and it's like...
I don't know what you call it in English, but you must do it again.
-It's like a cigarette.
-So the tradition is you go from a very hot sauna into cold water.
-How hot, how cold?
-Between 85 and 95 degrees.
And in the winter, you have -2, -3.
-And you go from one to the other?
Does that kill many people?
No. Not yet, I hope.
-Let's go and have a sauna. Do I put my swimming trunks on?
You don't. When you're in the sauna, you don't have any clothes on at all.
-I'm so sorry.
-Let's give it a go.
Across Scandinavia, families go to saunas together
and seem to have no hang-ups about being naked with the in-laws.
It is natural for them as taking a stroll in the park.
We think of Swedes as being, to put it mildly, pretty relaxed
about nudity, whether it's saunas or Swedish movies or whatever.
Is this true? Is this true?
I don't think Swedes are more...
What do you call it? The nudity and stuff, more than other countries.
But I think the films have been more
giving the wrong idea what Swedes are.
But on the other hand, the fact that you do like saunas -
you say it's a kind of a national religion -
that does mean a lot of people who don't know each other being naked.
Yes, it is.
I have to tell you, that would be very un-British.
On the whole,
I don't take my clothes off with people I don't know.
Saunas have been part of Scandinavian culture
for hundreds of years.
The heat, along with being beaten with birch twigs,
increases blood circulation and the whole experience climaxes
with a plunge into freezing cold snow or water.
Time for me to see how my British stiff upper lip
copes with the experience.
Now for the Scandinavian plunge.
You didn't really think I'd do the full Swedish Monty, did you?
Oh! That is invigorating.
But I'm not sure I'd describe it as addictive.
'Thawed out and properly dressed, I'm ready to continue my travels.'
I'm heading 11 miles north-east to the town of Lund.
It's a ten-minute journey on a line which opened in 1856.
Bradshaw's rather downbeat assessment of my next stop, Lund,
is, "A quiet town, once much more important."
But it does go on to say,
"The Romanesque cathedral, 12th century,
"is regarded as one of the finest in Sweden."
Indeed, it could have gone further and said
it's one of the most historic sites in northern Christendom.
From the 12th century onwards, pilgrims beat a path
to Lund Cathedral and, even today,
it attracts 700,000 visitors each year.
'I'm meeting Anita Larsson to find out more.'
Hello, Michael. Welcome to Lund Cathedral.
Thank you, Anita. It is a stunning building.
What is the significance of this in Christian history?
Well, this was actually the central Christian part of Northern Europe
in the Middle Ages because the Archbishop of Northern Europe
was placed here and therefore this church was built.
-Does it have any relics of saints?
-There are some interesting relics.
For example, some drops of the breast milk of Mary, for example.
-And has it been altered very much?
-It looks very complete from the outside.
There were big restorations in the 1800s.
For example, the western part here with the two towers
were completely new-built in the 1860s and '70s
because the medieval towers were in rather bad condition.
So this is 150 years old
but the eastern part is complete from the 1100s.
One of the finest features of Lund Cathedral
is the Horologium Mirabile Lundense,
which, if my Latin serves me correctly,
translates as the wondrous timepiece of Lund.
Here in front of you, you have this wonderful clock
that is in two sections.
Originally, it was built in the 1420s
but it was restored in the very beginning of the 1900s.
So, this clock from the 15th century with its signs of the Zodiac,
what does this tell us about the knowledge that those people had?
They, of course, had an opinion of the world.
Everyone did not think that the Earth was flat.
There were people knowing, the scientists, of course, that
the Earth was round and this is what you can see in the middle.
So, if you see the screw in the middle up there,
it is a symbol of the Earth,
and around the Earth you have the sun, the moon and the stars.
-So, they're still going round the Earth.
They thought so, actually.
And we are still saying that the sun is rising and setting,
-even if we know it is not so.
Both the clock and my stomach tell me that it's time for lunch.
It's the perfect opportunity to taste local delicacies
at the Saluhallen covered market.
It's very traditional.
You have it on your bread.
I'm going to give you...
-Thank you very, very much.
-Very soft and creamy.
It's mild, but it gives a taste in the back of the mouth
a bit like a cheddar or something. I'll certainly have that.
-And some bread to go with it, please.
If you're going to have a Swedish bread,
I think I recommend the Mellby-kavring.
It's rye bread. It's very traditional in Sweden.
Usually have it for Christmas, put some herring on it.
But it is very nice for a picnic with some cheese as well.
-Thank you so much.
'I'm putting together a smorgasbord,
'and while pickled herring, or gravadlax, are typical components,
'I'd like to include a local Lund delicacy,
'and what better than Lundaknake sausage?'
-This is hot.
-Yes, it's hot. Yes. You normally eat them hot.
Ooh, that's fantastic! Mm! I'll definitely take that on my picnic.
I'll take that one and maybe a couple of others.
That would be very nice. Thank you very much.
'With my picnic packed, I've got a lunch date,
'and I've been told that in the countryside, just outside Lund,
'there's an attraction that will appeal to a railway lover.
'Marina Merle's going to direct my tracks.'
Hi. Nice to meet you.
-What a very nice day for a picnic.
-Yes, very nice.
-So, we're going to cycle on these contraptions.
What is the history of this device?
The device itself was invented in the 1840s,
so the track inspectors could see
if there was anything wrong on the tracks.
And they actually stopped using them when the trains became too fast.
I've never seen this before as a tourist attraction.
Are there many places where these bikes are available?
-It's not that common.
-Well, it's absolutely a first for me.
Um... Do you know a nice spot to go picnicking?
-Yes, three kilometres down the road.
-May I cycle you?
'We're riding along a stretch of disused railway
'between Bjornstorp and Veberod.
'This local line closed in the 1970s.
'Marina's father managed to save some of it and set up the ride
'so that people could enjoy the views and countryside.'
It's fun because this combines cycling
with all the sounds of the railway.
-Going over the track, the duh-duh, duh-duh.
It's very peaceful, even though you're doing an activity.
# That you'll look neat upon the seat of a bicycle made for two. #
I'm not sure that I'm perfectly dressed
for cycling through Sweden on a summer's day!
'That vigorous peddling has worked up my appetite.'
So does anything tell us that this is a typical Lund smorgasbord? Yes!
My Lund sausage tells us that. Anything else?
Well, in that case, it should be this cake. That's very regional.
It's called Spettkaka, and it's very sweet and contains a lot of eggs.
-Mm! And would you care for some crayfish?
We love our crayfish in Sweden. We have crayfish parties every August.
-It's very traditional.
-Look at all that goodness in it!
-Don't try this at home.
-Aargh! I don't even do that!
-I'm going to try sawing into my brick here.
-Oh, good luck!
-It's very dense, that bread.
This is the sort of matter that Einstein used to write about.
Usually, it's not that thickly sliced.
-Mm. Everyone's a critic. Can I offer you some aquavit?
-Marina, thank you so much.
-One of the loveliest smorgasbords I've ever had.
'With my spirits high, I'm ready to catch the Swedish intercity
'that'll take me north along the West Coast Line, or Vastkustbanan.'
I'm on my way now to what the Swedish call Goteborg,
but we call Gothenburg.
And it's a journey of very nearly three hours,
so I'm looking forward to putting my feet up and relaxing.
I'm travelling 163 miles on a line that runs parallel with
the Kattegat strait.
Standing on the mouth of the Gota alv river,
Gothenburg is Sweden's second-largest city.
With the largest port in Scandinavia,
the city was a world leader in shipbuilding.
But the man who founded that industry wasn't a Swede
but a Scot who crossed the North Sea from Dundee in 1826.
Alexander Keiller was one of many Scots
who made Gothenburg their home.
'Professor Klas Linderborg knows more.'
How was this Scotsman received in Gothenburg?
They had been here from the very start.
When the city was founded,
people were invited to move to boom their business to Goteborg.
And there were Dutch people, German and Scotsmen.
The Scottish connection continued for a very long time.
I mean, with a fair wind, you could go to Britain in a week,
-but it took a month to go to Stockholm.
So the sea was joining countries, not separating them.
-And does any Scottish connection continue in Gothenburg?
Actually, we have a branch here
from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
-We were the third in Europe, outside the British Islands...
..to be fully approved by the Scottish Society.
And we actually have a dance tonight...
-..if you would like to join us?
'About 500 miles lie between Scotland and Sweden,
'but some Swedes work hard to keep the bond alive.
'And given the maritime links between the two nations,
'it seems appropriate that the dance should take place aboard a ship,
-Thank you for having me to your dance. Hello.
-Do you know the dance that we're doing this evening?
-Yes, I do.
-What's it called?
-It's called Gothenburg's Welcome.
-Is it an easy dance?
I'm going to make a complete fool of myself!
'I really don't want to show myself up.
'After all, my mother's family is Scottish.'
SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE MUSIC
-Oh, no! I missed it completely!
'I'm not sure they'll invite me back.'
-All the way.
Take my place.
Stick your right hand out.
Well... It goes on.
Well done! Well done!
Guys, a little peace offering.
I'm so sorry that I was so bad at Scottish dancing,
but I'm not bad at Scottish drinking.
-So have a whisky.
From the high seas to the high roads,
Gothenburg is home to perhaps the greatest Swedish icon of all.
Now a global brand, its origin was a technology invented here
for the motor industry in 1907, the self-aligning ball bearing.
The Gothenburg group which produced these ball bearings
registered a new company in 1915,
and when two employees decided to build the first mass-produced
Swedish car, they maintained the ball bearing-inspired name -
the Latin for "I roll", Volvo.
'I'm meeting Soren Nebo from the company's museum to find out more.'
-Soren, how lovely to see you.
-Nice to see you.
-What a beautiful car!
-Isn't it nice?
What would be the idea of a Swedish car?
Why, particularly, a Swedish car?
Well, we're looking at it from the sake of quality at the time
because most of the cars that we had were imports.
This was still a very, you could say, undeveloped country
in terms of roads and transportation.
So they were braking,
they were still quite expensive, also, because predominantly,
American cars that we had in, with the very soft suspension,
and they said, look, we need something more sturdy
and better suited for the market, for the country.
In April 1927, the first Volvo rolled off the production line.
Since then, they produced almost 18 million,
making it one of Sweden's greatest exports.
From the beginning, passenger safety was the priority for the company.
The 3-point seat belt was actually a Volvo invention in 1959.
It was decided to put it in as an open patent so that, you know,
basically, everybody could use it,
not just to keep it to Volvo because it was, you could say,
a breakthrough in terms of traffic and road safety.
What were the other breakthroughs, do you think, in safety?
Already, in 1928, we brought in, you know, bigger headlights
because they realised that, you know, for driving at night time,
we start getting brakes on all four wheels.
At that time, also, whereas the first model only had, you know,
two brakes on it...on the back.
From ball bearing to Volvo, from a tiny acorn grows the mighty oak.
Well, well, well! I've really enjoyed my trip in the car.
Thank you for letting me drive. Thank you so much.
-Thank you, Michael.
'I'm leaving Gothenburg to head north and inland.
'The train line follows the course of the Gota alv river,
'and specifically, the Gota Canal,
'which connects Gothenburg to Stockholm.
'The man behind the canal was the British engineer Thomas Telford.'
He designed a fully navigable waterway
which runs the entire width of Sweden.
My guidebook urges me to
"find time to visit the fine falls of Trollhattan
"and the splendid locks that enable the waterway to bypass the cascade.
"What an opportunity to see the wonders of nature
"and the achievements of man in one place."
According to Bradshaw's, there's a wide gorge,
and within it, a fine succession of rapids.
'But on arrival, I find there's little more than a trickle.
'To find out what happened to the falls,
'I'm meeting Magnus Carlsen from the Olidan Power Station.'
-I'm a bit surprised.
I came with my Bradshaw's guidebook, looking for the falls,
and I find, instead, a power station.
-So was this built after 1913?
-No. The power station was built in 1910.
It was the start of the large electrification of Sweden,
and it was Sweden's first large hydropower plant.
This is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Was it controversial to build the power station here?
I don't think so. It was a push to have the region industrial.
So they looked to the West - the UK and America -
-and wanted to have industrial things, like them.
You Swedish are as lucky as we British are in having lots of water.
Yeah. We have British rain falling down here!
And we gather it in the Lake Vanern.
'British rain and this hydroelectric power station helped to transform
'the country from an agrarian society
'into a modern industrial state.'
Ho-ho! It's absolutely enormous, isn't it?
I had no idea it would be that big.
And that sound is the sound of the water rushing through
the turbines, is it?
It's also the sound of the machinery. They enrage us.
'The water from the falls, described in my Bradshaw's, has been
'diverted to spin these turbines and to generate electricity.
'But Magnus is generously going to release the torrent
'so that I can see the falls in all their natural splendour.'
That is spectacular!
In full flow,
610 cubic metres of water per second course down the falls.
That's more than the contents of 14 Olympic swimming pools every minute.
The electricity generated supplies over 250,000 households.
'After recharging my batteries in Trollhattan,
'it's time to leave Sweden
'and head to my third and final country on this trip, Norway.
'It's one of the world's wealthiest,
'thanks to an abundance of natural resources,
'such as North Sea oil and gas, along with forests and fish.'
I've now passed into Norway.
My Bradshaw's says, "Although the comforts
"and attractions of central Europe
"are not to be expected in Norway, the healthy, hearty
"and good-tempered tourist, the sportsman
"and the admirer of natural beauty, who's willing to bear
"and to forbear, and even occasionally to rough it,
"will be amply rewarded." With a recommendation like that,
I imagine that Norway remained pretty exclusive in 1913.
'Norway was then a young nation.
'Norwegians had voted to dissolve their union with Sweden in 1905.
'Instead of forming a republic, they decided, overwhelmingly,
'to institute their own monarchy.'
Britain's King, Edward VII, used his influence
to secure the Norwegian throne for his son-in-law, Carl,
husband to his daughter, Maud.
'Prince Carl assumed an ancient royal Norwegian name,
'King Harken VII.'
the capital of Norway reverted to the old Norwegian name of Oslo.
This was a country that was new.
This was a country that was independent.
And its artistic outpourings were distinctly modern.
Architects, artists, musicians and writers flourished in this city
that is home to the Nobel prizes.
'But Norway's most famous writer, Henrik Ibsen,
'controversially was rejected by the Nobel judges.'
A poet, playwright and theatre director, Ibsen is the world's
most frequently performed dramatist after Shakespeare.
'His house has been turned into a museum,
'where I'm meeting director Erik Edvardsen.'
Hello, Michael. Welcome in to Ibsen's home.
Thank you, Erik. Good to see you.
What situations do we find in an Ibsen play?
Was this new, what Ibsen was doing?
Ibsen is known for the realism of plays like A Doll's House
and Hedda Gabler.
'As he captured real-life situations,
'he commented on everyday inequalities between men and women.
'Society was changing.
'Women were starting to take control of their lives
'and to demand equality,
'as reflected in Ibsen's strong female characters.'
What about his relationship with his wife?
Well, that was very close and for a long period.
They were married for 50 years.
But she was also one that looked after him,
but she decided that at nine o'clock in the morning,
he had to be in here at the desk and start the day.
If not, he was not free at half past 11,
to walk down to Grand Cafe and take a drink,
which he did every day.
The Grand Cafe was a home from home for Oslo's writers and artists.
Behind me is a mural depicting some of the cultured bourgeoisie
who frequented the Grand Cafe at the end of the 19th century,
beginning of the 20th century.
There is Henrik Ibsen with his distinctive top hat.
And behind me, the somewhat emaciated face,
is the artist Edvard Munch.
Widely imitated, and not just by me,
The Scream is one of the most expensive paintings in the world,
selling recently for nearly 120 million.
Munch created four versions of The Scream,
and one is at Norway's National Museum.
The curator is Maibritt Gulling.
-Thank you very much.
-..to the National Gallery.
The Scream, the first time I have ever seen it for real.
I've seen it reproduced so often. It's smaller than I imagined.
The colours are dirtier than I imagined. But, my goodness!
It remains very, very powerful.
Of course, the face and then the red streaks through the sky.
Why has it become so iconic?
Because of the strength of the central figure,
because it's hard to say exactly what it is.
Is it a male, female figure?
Is it a foetus? Is it a skeleton? A ghost?
So you really can't say for sure.
And that ambiguity is something that, I think,
opens up to so many possible interpretations.
But also, of course, it was very important
because it's a very strong painting about emotion.
Where does Munch stand in the history of painting?
He's one of the classic modernists
and he has achieved that position
because of the way he has made paintings
that really mean something to us because of the motives and the way
they are painted and the strong manner in which they are painted.
And he is often associated with being the first Expressionist painter.
For Edvard Munch, The Scream was "a study of the soul,
"a study of my own self."
He later described the personal anguish behind the painting
and said that "Nature was screaming in my blood."
'But while nature seemed to scream at Munch, for most Norwegians,
'nature means peace and tranquillity.
'Love of the great outdoors
'is ingrained in the national consciousness,
'and Norwegians have a deep affinity with their fjords and mountains.'
This is interesting, in a guidebook written in 1913.
"It's only recently that English people have begun to discover
"that the best of everything in a winter holiday
"is to be found in Norway,
"where winter sports may be enjoyed in a crisp, exhilarating air
"that makes one feel glad to be alive."
And it suggests that I make a visit
to the skiing competition of Holmenkollen,
and so I've jumped to it.
Ski jumping as a sport originated here in Norway.
We think of it as a modern sport,
but in a show of bravado in 1809,
a Norwegian army officer launched himself 9.5m into the air.
Today, the world record stands at 246m,
the equivalent of the length of two and a half football pitches.
And the most striking and modern ski jump in the world
is here at Holmenkollen.
But underneath the ski jump, in the Ski Museum,
there is a piece of British history
which curator Karin Berg wants to show me.
So, Michael, I have something very special for you.
It's, um, a treasure
because these skis, which I have taken out from the showcase,
from the exhibition itself,
is Scott's skis itself.
-That is extraordinary.
-Scott was beaten to the South Pole by a Norwegian.
Ja. It was Roald Amundsen,
and the members of his exposition.
They were the first to plant the Norwegian flag at the South Pole.
What did it mean to Norway to have the first man at the South Pole?
Oh, this question is enormous,
but you must remember that we were a young, new nation
and Roald Amundsen enthused this as gathering the nation together
and spreading out the message
what you really could do with these brown planks,
this means of survival, and he writes about this spreading to the world.
This has to do, Michael, with roots and identity
going back to the Viking period again.
Amundsen said, "Victory awaits him who has everything in order.
"Luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him
"who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time.
"This is called bad luck."
In that sense, Britain's Robert Falcon Scott was unlucky.
His party made it to the South Pole 33 days after Amundsen,
on 17th January, 1912.
Dejected, Scott's party turned back
but were blighted by blizzards, hypothermia and starvation,
and never made it back to base.
The rescue party was led by the Norwegian
who had taught Scott to ski, Trygve Gran.
They found, then, the tent with the three bodies -
Scott, Bowers, Wilson. The two others had died before.
And Trygve Gran and the others made a grave about this.
They took snow masses around the tent
and Trygve Gran, he pointed out,
he put his own skis at the top of the tent
and then he took Scott's skis on his own feet,
so these skis, used by Scott,
has been from Cape Evans to the South Pole and back again.
Tales of such fortitude cannot fail to inspire.
Time to show some true grit of my own.
It's a lovely view and a long way down, and I have a feeling
I'm going to cover the distance between here and there very fast.
At the top of the ski jump, around 60m above the ground,
there is a new white-knuckle experience.
Do many people pull out at this stage?
Actually, we had a five-year-old.
-That's the only one.
-Only a five-year-old. OK.
'If I'm going to keep the British end up, I can't pull out now.'
After all those stories of courage,
I'm afraid this is the nearest I get to heroism.
Hey, Michael, do you have a long tradition for ski jumping in England?
If we do, it's not one that's ever affected me before.
ALL: Two! One!
That was fantastic!
One of the great experiences of my life.
-That was brilliant.
Yeah, I'm glad to be back. What a great experience.
My journey through Scandinavia is nearly at an end,
but I can't leave Norway
without paying homage to the man who brought me here, George Bradshaw.
His vision inspired generations of travellers
to venture into the unknown.
Bradshaw's final destination was Oslo.
While on a tour of Norway, he contracted cholera.
Here lies Mr George Bradshaw,
who died here, September 6th, 1853.
He mapped the railways, he compiled the timetables,
and he published the guidebooks.
They opened Victorians' eyes to the new freedoms that trains gave them.
Edwardians used them to fan out across the continent of Europe.
I want to thank him on behalf of the thousands
who in three different centuries
have enjoyed so much and learned so much by following in his tracks.
Next time, I marvel at Prague's stunning Art Nouveau architecture...
..hear of Britain's influence on German railway history...
Where did the original locomotive come from?
Stephenson Locomotive Works, Newcastle upon Tyne.
-So it was Mr George Stephenson?
-It was George Stephenson's.
..and take on the toughest opponent of my career.
If you're having trouble with a dragon, call a dragon slayer.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Armed with his 1913 railway guide, Michael Portillo explores Scandinavia and discovers the royal roots of early 20th-century British travellers' close dynastic ties with the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway. After braving one of the world's oldest rollercoasters in Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens, Michael takes the train across the Oresund Bridge linking Denmark to Sweden, where he retraces the tracks of a train which carried a revolutionary Russian passenger on an epic voyage.
In Lund, he samples a smorgasbord before having a Highland fling in Gothenburg, where he test-drives a vintage Volvo. Crossing the border again into Norway, Michael discovers how in 1913 this young nation expressed its own distinctively modern identity in plays, paintings and polar exploration.