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We often travel to Denmark to visit family and friends. Usually we go by car or we fly. So far, this has always been the cheapest way for us. Train fare has really never been a realistic option.
Train tickets are expensive in Europe. In fact, they are so expensive that I have often been asking myself how they even sell anything! But they do, because usually the trains are filled - during the holidays they are more than packed - and I also realise that when it comes to commuting between cities, trains are the best option. After all, commuter discounts are available.
But as a holiday transportation option it has never been an attractive option to us. But then we literally stumbled upon a great offer from Deutsche Bahn (DB) and we decided to go. Children under 14 years are free when they travel with parents or grandparents, so this was in fact not expensive at all!
What a fabulous summer we are having here in Munich this year! As I write these lines we have 33 degrees Celsius right outside on our balcony. A few months ago we bought a huge BBQ. Gas driven. Unfortunately we are not allowed to use coal right here where we live. Nevertheless, we have more or less cooked and lived permanently outside since I brought the huge stainless steel monster home from the DIY-Store and with some laborious effort managed to assemble it correctly. There is a special feeling about cooking out in the open. Together with an old IKEA trolley the BBQ now make our state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen. As opposed to the “inside” kitchen where normally Alexandra rules, I am in charge of the outdoor facilities. Alexandra is - however - allowed to cut vegetables and such. But I handle the turning of the steaks and sausages.
It has become routine for us to drive back and forth between Munich and Denmark. Whether we are going to visit family in Jutland or friends in the Copenhagen area. Car rental in Denmark is expensive way beyond what is reasonable, so it is not a real option to fly and then rent a car locally. Instead we rent our car in Munich and spend about 12 hours on the highway in order to get there. This way we have the car available AND we save quite a bit of money. This works for us, and the trip - although it takes so many hours - is actually not so bad. We take turns driving and it has become a good tradition to leave Munich a few hours before midnight, in order to arrive mid-morning the next day. A bit tired, sure, but nothing that a good afternoon nap cannot fix!
The advantages of driving at night are many. Less traffic. Less traffic jams. And less trucks. That is… this is how it usually is. This time we went right into a snow storm and icy roads. I believe we greeted EVERY truck on the European continent! And I believe we saw EVERY current road-work throughout Germany. But finally, after 13 hours we arrived at my family’s summerhouse in Djursland, Jutland. With a somewhat sore bum and tired eyes. Anton, on the contrary, was absolutely rested and awake after a good nights sleep in his seat. He is used to long drives and he loves it! This is pretty convenient!
Denmark seems to have quite a nice reputation abroad. A place many people dream of visiting. And throughout the years the Danes have in fact made some positive impressions - internationally seen. Hans Christian Andersen was Danish. Kronborg - the castle where William Shakespeare’s drama about Hamlet took place - lies in Helsinore (Helsingør) Denmark. The Little Mermaid sits on a stone in the harbour of Copenhagen. And then there are a few industrial success stories like Bang & Olufsen (Luxury electronics), LEGO and Mærsk Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world. When it comes to sports the Danes can also play a larger role. Soccer and handball seems to be national-sports whenever the national teams qualify for something big. Denmark even won the European Soccer Championship once. Back in 1992, but as they won over their German neighbours, they make sure those glory days are never forgotten!
The year 2014 was no more than a few days old as we arrived in the US capital. I have always wanted to go there. It is one of the absolute “power centers” of the world, with everything that comes of politicians, lawyers, journalists etc. But aside from that it is actually a quite beautiful city. Even though our expectations were high already, we were indeed very pleasantly surprised. The White House should - of course - be on the top of any visitors list. This is where most of the important decisions are made!
It is exactly two years ago since we got the idea to travel around the world. It was right after a nice summer holiday in north-western Jutland that we realized that a radical change in our life was needed. And what better way to celebrate the “anniversary” than to return to north-western Jutland?
In the days prior to our arrival in Norway the national police forces had been increasing the level of security to the highest in many, many years, because they had reason to believe that an act of terror was imminent. The norwegians are, understandably, slightly nervous after the terrorist Breivik shot and killed a large group of politically active people on the island of Utøya a few years back. This time a group of Syrian fundamentalists were about to enter the country with harmful intentions. Everywhere in the medias we heard about closed borders and were informed that we would have to wait for many hours to get into Norway.
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.