“Teamwork makes the dream work”
Timothy, Paul (2012). Paul’s stag night.
Group one’s summary will be at the bottom again.
Pic. Our 60s style home in Sweden
So we’ve arrived in Sweden after what feels like whirlwind few days in Ireland and the UK. Kate started work yesterday and Saoirse and I are staying fairly local as I don’t think she wants more driving in the van just yet. We started at Kate’s parent’s house near Leicester and have driven to a town called Kalmar in the East of Sweden (1383km with two ferries). The first day was getting to the ferry which was an overnight sailing. We’d great plans of getting onto the ferry when they started boarding so that we could get Saoirse ready for bed in the cabin early but we didn’t board until nearly 10pm when they’d said 7pm so that went out the window. The ferry was great though and it was the perfect way to do the crossing.
Pic. Saoirse enjoying the view on the Harwich to Hoek Van Holland ferry.
So when we landed in Holland we had a quick rock, paper, scissors to see who was driving first – Kate won/lost depending on how you view the prospect of driving a 3mx6m brick on the wrong side of the road after a poor night’s sleep. First stop Gouda. Home of cheese and… that was enough for us anyway. It was good to start the journey off but not commit to too long a distance before swapping driver’s and letting Saoirse stretch out. One of the most striking things in Holland (and Germany, Denmark and Sweden) are the number of people biking or walking to places in cities – and the lack of traffic on the roads even at what would be considered rush hour times. The infrastructure and attitude of motorists was great to see and shows what could be achieved with some investment and change of attitude/ policy. There was a video on the guardian site recently that spoke about not making helmets compulsory in the UK and using the continent as an example. It’s comparing apples and oranges. If there were protected bike lanes like on the continent more people would be out biking and I (an advocate for wearing helmets) would not feel strange without wearing one. Anyway, rant over 🙂 Gouda was awesome with a beautiful town square and of course we bought some cheese.
Pic. Gouda cheese. Yum!
Pic. More cheese – the blue one is lavender. Tasted better than I’d expected.
So back in the van with the plan to get all the way to Bremen by the end of the day but our camper is not going to be traveling in the outside lane of an autobahn anytime soon so we decided to cut the drive short and camp in Osnabruck. Unfortunately, we hadn’t checked our gas bottles before leaving as the company installing the system was to fill them. So, instead of a cooked pasta dinner we had cheese and crackers. Even though I’d made dinner I offered to do the wash up this time. After Saoirse stayed up the night before for the ferry, she decided that there was too much going on when she was asleep so reckoned that shifting her bed time from 7pm to 10pm would be awesome. Awesome isn’t the word Kate and I used. We even uttered the R word, “Routine”, but quickly back-pedaled and decided our ‘take it as it comes’ approach was worth sticking with.
Pic. Saoirse enjoying her new bed time and hanging out with Mom and Dad.
Off to Bremen the following day and a stop at a motorhome parking ground. Bremen is a great city to spend some time in so while we had thought that we’d drive further, we decided to stay the night and have an explore. There’s a lovely square with some very impressive buildings dating back hundreds of years and the old part of town with its little laneways, cafes and shops was perfect for a walk around. We ate some schnitzel, drank a hefe and swam in the river to cool off before heading back to our motorhome. I thought ducking under the water and popping up to surprise Saoirse would be funny but a swamp monster popping out of the murky river water was terrifying. Poor girl, we won’t be repeating that anytime soon!
Pic. Impressive building in the centre of Bremen
Pic. Cooling off with a hefe… and water for the bubs
Pic. Shops in the old part of town
As our first day had taken us two days we decided we needed to make up some ground and made our way to a small coastal town in Denmark called Praesto via a short ferry from Germany. We were able to park the motorhome up on the marina and get water and electricity. Really peaceful and we brought the average age of the camp area down by a decade or so. Saoirse loved the attention.
Pic. Praesto – our stop for the night
After a run, dip in the sea, playground stop and touristy walk we were back in the van and Sweden bound. We were looking forward to getting the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo over the sea. A very impressive feat of engineering. We then spent a few hours walking around Malmo before hoping into the van and finding another motorhome stop for the night. We kept the fishing village theme going as we were keen on a fish dinner. This day was our 6 year wedding anniversary and we had a delicious fish meal out with Saoirse.
Pic. Our 6th year wedding anniversary dinner
Onward to Kalmar and our home for the next four weeks. I’ll fill you in on here once we’re settled in and have a look around the place.
At least one person was a fan of getting a few tips from us camper-vanning novices so here some of the things we picked up on the way over.
1. The campercontact app. It shows you places to park for the night and service points. These overnight stops are a fraction of the price of campgrounds. https://www.campercontact.com/en
Also worth looking at are the motorhome stops books that some countries such as France, the UK and Sweden have. http://www.go-motorhoming-and-campervanning.com/touring-europe-with-a-campervan-or-motorhome.shtml
2. While I’m on the subject of apps, a quick shout out to Patrick Davey for suggesting OSMAnd – offline maps are priceless when your phone has decided it won’t roam anymore. We would’ve been lost (literally) without it. Also, having a nav person in the passenger seat meant the driver could concentrate on the road in front of them – great teamwork. https://osmand.net/
3. When you’re traveling with a kid a playground is a playground wherever you go and Saoirse certainly appreciated the swings, slides and crawling around the place. Also, breaking up the journey was good for her and us.
Pic. Saoirse (and Kate) enjoyed the playgrounds along the road.
4. With the travel, Saoirse’s sleep pattern went out of whack. I don’t know if this is a tip as every kid is different – hence why I haven’t read any parenting books, but I suppose just working as a team as parents helped as Saoirse was sleeping while we were driving so there was plenty of sleep deprivation to add to our jet lag.
Pic. Go the F**K to sleep. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_the_Fuck_to_Sleep
OK, group one. We are now in Sweden having driven 1,300+km and taken two ferries. The motorhome is great and we’ve stopped off in some interesting places such as Gouda, Bremen and Malmo. Saoirse managed the driving well with regular playground stops. Kate has started work and I’ll give an update on Sweden once we’re here for a while.