It was with some excitement that we started our rental car on a late Saturday evening and began our journey from Munich towards Copenhagen. As a family it was, in fact, almost two years since we were all gathered in our old hometown.
Before we even got so far as to leave from home, we had rented a car that could take us all the way through the 4500 kilometers that awaited us during the entire two-week trip through Scandinavia. Initially we just wanted a small and simple car, but when you rent a car in Germany you can often upgrade yourself for very little extra money. This way you can leave the garage in a car usually driven by the “upper middle-class” - at least in Scandinavia. After quite a bit of waiting by the service desk we were even offered an upgrade to a Mercedes SLK. Lovely! - if it wasn’t for the fact that this car will only seat two people. And as we are traveling in a small group of three, we had to decline the offer and go for a Mercedes A180. Almost brand new. As we do have a special bond with Munich we had actually hoped for a BMW118 or the like. But none of these were available. So the Mercedes was our only option. I quickly got rather fond of it, but Alexandra did not think it had much of that “raw power” that she likes. Thus - for the rest of the holiday - she would only drive when I specifically did not want to.
We prefer to drive at night when we are either going to Denmark from Munich or vice versa. The german highways are often busy highways and if you happen to be out of luck you may end up sitting in a traffic jam for hours. When driving through the night we mostly avoid any disturbances at all and apart from a small detour around Bremen we traveled the 1150 kilometers in due time. We could have saved us a few kilometers by going by ferry from Puttgarden to Rødby, but we are not really “ferry-people” and prefer bridges instead of the ferries with their expensive coffee and dry cheese-sandwiches. We arrived around 0930 Sunday morning at Lisa's and Kim's house in Birkerød, just north of Copenhagen. Anton had been sleeping during the night and was fairly fit. Alexandra and I had only slept very little and felt bombed. But after a small nap in the chairs under the apple-trees in the garden we both felt a lot better.
Lisa and Kim had kindly opened up their home to us while they were going on holiday. Thus we got our “defacto” debut as “house-sitters”, which means that you live for free in other peoples house, and take care of whatever daily business is needed: flowers, mailbox, pets, garden or whatever. We did our very best to keep the potted plants on the terrace and inside the house alive in the +30 degrees celsius, and really enjoyed just hanging out inside and outside in the garden.
We used the house as our base for trips over the next days. Copenhagen was our first stop. To be honest I have not really been missing our old home-base very much. But it was nice to see all the familiar places again. It was nice to walk through Tivoli, have an ice-cream and sit on a bench to just watch people walking by. Just like we always did back then, when we lived in Copenhagen. We strolled down Islands Brygge (and had yet another ice-cream!) and Anton played for about an hour on his old favourite playground, where he could still remember all the little corners and hideaways! We also had time to meet with Tyler, Jen, Allan, Anja, Simone and Rasmus. Good friends that we see way too little. But then it is all the more fun when we finally succeed!
The good thing about staying in Lisa’s and Kim’s house was that we could really just relax and we did spend about a day or so, just doing absolutely nothing. Just lying on the couch and chilling outside in the garden without any specific plans. Enjoying life!
After four days of house-sitting we took the ferry from Helsingør (Yes, Hamlet’s Elsinore!) to Helsingborg in Sweden, where we started our drive towards Norway. Up through the regions of Skåne, Halland, Västra Götaland and Värmland and finally entering Norway by the little border town of Charlottenberg. From here it was just another 100 kilometers to our final destination in Våler, where parts of my family have been living for the past 50 years. We made an overnight stop in Gothenburg. We did not have any specific expectations to the second largest city in Sweden, apart from the fact that it was supposed to be very beautiful. It has a university, an old church, a nice harbour with atmosphere, canals and a pedestrian shopping street. It was oddly deserted which may have had something to do with the temperatures of +30 degrees celsius. This is indeed quite a heatwave around here! Phew! And yes, we enjoyed another ice-cream! We did not have nearly enough time to really explore Gothenburg, but the things we saw all made us want to come back for more someday!
We drove further up along the swedish country roads (containing their fair share of automatic speed cameras!) and we saw Sweden from its most beautiful side. When the sun is shining, when the fields are yellow and full of crops, and when the characteristic red wooden houses greet you from everywhere, you simply cannot help smiling and feeling good. Sweden is the very essence of “feel good”. Sweden is “down to earth”! Sweden is irresistible!