Never in my life did I think I would make it to two of the three countries included in the most expensive region ever … SCANDANAVIA. Thank goodness I had free accommodation for the majority of these 10 days or else I don't know how I would have done it. Wow … Scandinavia … not going to lie … I thought this would be a place my parents would end up travelling to … not me!!
Two of my closest friends from my Cape Town to Nairobi tour in Africa, lived in Denmark and Sweden and my third close friend Seany (from the UK) decided to join me as I ventured out to find them. Pernille (also known as DD (Danish Dynamite)) lives in Skjern, which is a country town in the far west of Denmark that required Sean and me to catch a train for about six hours out of the capital Copenhagen. But before we went to her place, we decided to investigate a little bit of this capital city via a method of transport I had yet to try … the Segway.
Now Sean had used a Segway before so he was more than confident that he would be fine. I was a little more hesitant, not so much at mastering the technique of balancing your weight (tilting forwards and backwards to accelerate and slow down) but more for the actual appearance of me on this two-wheeled modern-day piece of technology. Usually I am the one to laugh at those lazy tourists who are on the Segways as I feel like it could be used as a substitute for walking therefore adding to the global obesity problem. Well was I wrong or what. Not only are Segways actually sort of fun, but you can cover so much more distance in a short time. You can ride in the bicycle lanes, so you don't need to worry about cars overtaking you or dodging pedestrians on the side walk. Every time you turn a corner there is something new to discover. I'm pretty sure we saw everything important there was to see in Copenhagen in just two hours!! From Princess Mary's house (I mean palace), to the original statue of the Little Mermaid, to the postcard quality street with all the multi-coloured houses, and of course all the Viking ships along the river, Copenhagen really is a beautiful city full of cobblestoned streets and beautiful painted houses, bagel bars with copious amounts of filling choices and some of the most picturesque parks with ponds fitting to match the Danish author and most brilliant fairytale creator Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Ducking" fairy-tale.
Later on that night our friend from Sweden Carolina decided she couldn't wait the five or so days that we planned in advance to see her, so she just hopped on a train and came to have a drink with us. Yes … you read right … Carolina … from SWEDEN … hopped on a train and met Sean and me in DENMARK and was at the train station near our hotel in under an hour. This is madness Europe … If I got on a train for an hour it would get me to see my bestie Georgina down in Cronulla … but not to cross an international border. Not to mention that this train has the option of either driving over a bridge or onto a ferry to be transported across the water. Anyway yes, we were reunited with Carolina for the first time in four months and it was wonderful catching up with her and hearing about her new travel plans to visit another member of our G Adventures tour Christine over in USA at the end of the year. As the night ended we bid farewell to Carolina (well for five days at least) and got ready to catch the train to Skjern the next morning.
Six hours later … we are in Herning. Not Skjern, but the next station along where we were generously picked up by our host DD for the next few days. I think it took us all a good 10 minutes to get over the fact that we were all in Daneland together. We had talked about this back in Botswana over one too many bottles of Jc Le Roux and Savanna Cider but OMG we actually made those drunk dreams come true. The first thing DD said to me was "OMG your hair is f***ing blue" to which I reciprocated "and you've gone platinum blonde" and instantly it was like no time had passed at all.
Sean however had a different story. About a month before this Scandi reunion Sean was involved in a serious bicycle accident involving him and a car in which he sustained some painful injuries and he was still suffering from its after effects. So both my and DD's first words to him were "I'm glad you're alive … Are you alright?!" which was the only thing we could say that exercised light humour but had a very literal meaning. Seany put on a brave face though and always told us he was fine, never hinting a slight inkling of pain or discomfort, however when we realised he had ripped a stitch on a rollercoaster in Legoland, we started to think this trip might have been too much too soon for him. But that's another story … For the time being when we arrived in Skjern, Sean appeared well and our little African crew had a lot to catch up on.
When we pulled up to Pernille's house … I'm sorry … Pernille's PROPERTY I was genuinely excited. She had told me she lived on a farm, but it had been so long since I was on a farm that I had totally forgotten the overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity you can experience from having so much land to roam free in. First we met her dog Bandit. Ahh I'm at my friend's home with her dog - slowly starting to feel nostalgia for my own. Next we met her brand new kitten only a couple of months old. Who can honestly resist snuggling a kitten … I could tell even Sean found it cute! And then next was not your average household pets when I walked into what I thought was her garage and was in fact the barn with stables and three horses. Haha never had I met such friendly horses who let me pat them so much and talk to them in some ridiculous voice that I had no idea where it came from. It's like when adults talk to babies in a silly, over-the-top voice like they are Elmo or someone. Well yeah that was me with these horses. I can see why Courtney Ryan is obsessed with hers. They are such majestic animals.
And all this was before we walked into the front door to her house to meet her lovely welcoming parents. Even Pernille was surprised that they could speak pretty good English as it's obviously not needed to be spoken at the Knudsen's residence unless an Aussie girl and British boy turn up on their door step.
Obviously the main thing we all had in common was travelling, so when Pernille's mum led us into this room that had a wall-sized wallpaper of a world map - I was in awe. Mum - take note … I have been inspired for a wall in my own room at home!! We could easily map out how far away we all lived from each other and how far we had all travelled when we first met each other in South Africa and I actually finally recognised what a miniscule country Denmark is. Haha but as Pernille's father pointed out Denmark also owns Greenland which is actually quite huge (even if the majority of the environment is ice!)
Pernille explained to us how her house was under renovations which made no difference to me as long as I had a piece of floor to sleep on and a bathroom to use … after all we all shared a tent together less than five months ago. But then we were told that her neighbours had been kind enough to lend us their top-of-the-range totally self-sufficient campervan, hooked up to their electricity and we were even given access to their office bathroom which had strong hot water showers and was literally next door to our camper. This was perfect … it just made our "Denmark roadtrip" that more realistic when we were all even sleeping in a caravan (even if it was parked on Pernille's farm!)
We met DD's boyfriend Nicolaj, who was a little quiet at first (actually he just probably couldn't get a word in with me blabbering on about how amazing this was - us being in Denmark and all), but absolutely hilarious when he did speak! I instantly understood why he and Pernille had been going out for five years with their mutual sarcastic and witty sense of humour!
Our days in Skjern were spent picking apples from the apple tree and feeding them to the horses, eating some of the best home-cooking I've eaten yet (thanks to DD's parents) and of course there was that one time where we fulfilled Sean's long-term desire to go to Legoland!!! Shame it ended up sending him home from the "Denmark roadtrip" a little earlier than expected however I think he thinks it was still worth going to. And it was … we had a great day at Legoland. I was genuinely amazed at the detail of everything and could see how much fun it would be for a younger kid who loved building things with Lego as these creations were actually life-size. All I wanted to do was to fly all my little kiddies, who I babysit, over from Australia for a day, and bring them to Legoland and let them run wild (as quite a lot of my working days were spent supervising the construction of many Lego operations).
Anyway the rollercoaster - I actually had no idea that there would be rollercoasters at Legoland but boy was I glad there was! I hadn't been to a theme park for at least five, maybe even ten years and there's nothing I enjoy more than a little adrenaline pumping rollercoaster. Unfortunately the rollercoaster we first chose to ride was a little bit jerky around the corners and not an ideal ride to do for a guy who just had major life-saving surgery less than six weeks ago with stitches still healing. As Sean learned the hard way… he might have to make the adult call of sitting out of the rides for the rest of the day in order to you know… save his life and not make us send him to hospital. It was sad to see the main person who was excited about Legoland have to sit out of everything but he was insistent that we enjoy the rest of the day and not skip anything for him.
The following day we dropped Seany at Billund airport (fairly close to Pernille's place) and sent him back to England. I imagine his mum was quite thrilled to see him as I don't think she approved of this little excursion to Denmark (as her son had given her the anxiety of her life wondering if he would be ok.). However Pernille, Carolina and I were all glad we got to see Seany even if it was brief, it still was nice to be reunited and to reminisce on one of the best holidays we all shared together.
With Sean back in England, Pernille and I headed out on the town, having pre's at her friends place and conveniently being able to walk to the club and back to Nicolaj's to crash at afterwards. Our friend Sumi had asked us to re-create our Livingstone night (dancing on bars, swimming in pools, clubbing in Zambia, etc) which I explained could never be repeated however we did have a fun night out! Videos the next day revealed beer pong was played, the macerena was danced, and the song "I'm Blue" by eiffle 65 was repeatedly played, and, yes that is the reason my hair is currently blue.
A hungover day followed, pretty much not moving off the couch, only to get some nutella toast and to press play to watch "We're the Millers" on TV. I couldn't have felt more at home. I never wanted to leave. I told Pernille's mum that I might never leave. She said I was welcome to stay… I regret not taking her up on that offer but at least I know where I can come and chill out for a couple of weeks if I'm ever back in Denmark! We went bowling in Skjern with Nicolaj and his sister Stine, and ate pizza and watched more movies. I was honestly the most relaxed I had been in so long, just loving living a "normal" sort of life, having friends to hang with, and a bed to sleep in.
The next day we drove to Odense, the second biggest city in Denmark and checked out Hans Christian Andersen's childhood home and museum. To anyone who hasn't heard of this author, you would certainly recognise his fairy-tales - "The Ugly Ducking", "The Princess and the Pea" and "Thumbelina". Quite impressive that he was Danish and you could tell Demark was certainly proud of his success. We parked DD's car on a random, un-metered street in Odense and hopped on the train to Copenhagen, and then to Malmö, Sweden to meet Carolina.
New country … SWEDEN … how exciting!!!
Our time in Sweden was short but busy. We went swimming at 7pm at the beach cause I wanted to see how cold it would be. Surprisingly the water was warmer than the outside temperature. We got ice-cream, stopped in a random part of the countryside to see a sort of grave (apparently for the Vikings) from the stone age (it looked like a mini Stonehenge), walked around Malmö, took pictures in parks, and we also went to the movies and saw "22 Jumpstreet" which is hilarious by the way.
Oh but there was also that time where Carolina had a quick three hour meeting to attend and left Pernille and me at an Irish pub at five in the afternoon. I couldn't tell you what state of mind we were in when Carolina came back to collect us three hours later, but I know it wasn't good. Three bottles of wine were consumed between the two of us and low-and-behold we were off our faces at 8pm. I have vague memories of going to a cheesecake shop afterwards and getting a chai latte (yes because I'm sure that would taste nice after multiple bottles of sauvignon blanc?) and anyway I remember seeing a cheesecake but not eating a cheesecake. Oh wait … No I've found the cheesecake … It's all over my jumper as it's been projectiled out of Pernille's mouth on the bus back to Carolina's place. Haha how old are we? According to DD I made her laugh and she just couldn't swallow it anymore but I don't blame her as the combination of cheesecake and wine (especially for a person who doesn't actually like cheesecake) does certainly give a queasy vibe.
Embarrassingly we stumbled into Carolina's house, heads down with shame, immediate showers and clothes washing to be done, and massive glasses of water to be drunk. What must her family think of these uncontrollable so-called "friends" Carolina had made in Africa. I think we definitely gave her parents a reason to be concerned. Luckily I think Carolina had conveyed our deepest apologies in some Swedish conversation with her family but I definitely thought it was time to return back over the bridge to Denmark. I bid farewell to Carolina for the second time and 30 minutes later we were back in DD's homeland.
Our final 2 days in Copenhagen remained and we were determined to make the most of them. We decided to leave our luggage in lockers at the train station and walk across the road to Tivoli Amusement Park, the second oldest amusement park in the world. We spent six hours trying out every single ride, including the kiddie rides, some two or three times. One of the funniest parts of the day was when we decided to go on the kiddie's version of the "giant drop" - really this ride took you up maybe 10-15 meters and just bounced you up and down but anyway it was time to take our seats. It wasn't embarrassing enough that we appeared to be the only people on this ride but when I went to sit down on one of the middle seats in the row of 4, my ass didn't actually fit. Awkward. I look at Pernille and say maybe I've been eating too many Danish pastries? And the ride attendant comes over to make sure our harnesses are locked up. Of course DD (the skinny one) fits in her seat on the end quite nicely and here I am, barely able to fit one thigh in this seat. The attendant tells me to move over one seat (also a middle seat) which I also don't fit in … me now thinking "I'm not eating for a month" and then I realise that both the middle seats are actually moulded for the size a tiny child and I manage to fit perfectly in the adult sized seat on the end (the one that is the same size as DD is sitting in!) Ahhh thank goodness. It would be a shame to try all the rides but one - hahaha.
Later that night, we found ourselves sitting in the most expensive restaurant in Tivoli, which happened to be Japanese cuisine in a Shinto Temple designed building. I was slightly stressing out as my money situation is tight but Pernille had a friend Tilla, who waitressed at this fine restaurant. She came and sat us down at a cute table outside overlooking the pretty river that was lit up with fairy lights while we listened to a live female singer in the background. How romantic!!! When Tilla came over and asked us what wine we would like to drink … both DD and I hesitantly looked at each other … not more wine! This was after all not even 24 hours after the bus incident. So I asked for a Coke and DD ordered us some water. Ten minutes later Tilla comes back, wearing normal clothes with 3 huge wine glasses and a bottle of white wine. Here we go again …
The chef comes over and introduces himself, the manager comes over and introduces himself and the other waiter comes over and introduces himself and before I know it we are eating the most expensive and fancy sushi on the menu. I'm eating scallops which I've never eaten before but everything is tasting so amazing. A bottle of wine goes down nicely with this deliciously tasty sushi and out comes another one all thanks to Tilla. Time passes and I soon realise that we are the only ones left at the restaurant and in fact the whole of Tivoli Park has gone home leaving us with this wonderful heater, endless glasses of wine and a beautiful backdrop of fairy lights. The chef, manager and other waiter all come and join us for an after-work drink and honestly it was such a nice evening. What a perfect way to spend my second last night - and my final night with DD - in Copenhagen. The chef was actually from Nepal and had a really interesting lifestory as to how he ended up in Copenhagen refusing to speak Danish even after living here for eight years. At one point Tilla challenged him and said that the other chef that works at this restaurants made better desserts and so in he goes and brings out this magnificent chocolate cake with scoops of vanilla icecream. OMG this was honest to god the best chocolate cake I've ever had - DD and I were salivating! So our Nepalese non-Danish speaking chef definitely proved his skills in the dessert section of the menu.
The end of the night rolled around and feeling a little buzzed, reality is starting to hit me and I'm thinking "s***! How much is this all going to cost me?" The most expensive sushi in the most expensive restaurants, with endless bottles of wine plus dessert that was served well after food had stopped being served. It was all covered by Tilla - just when I thought my time in Denmark couldn't have been better! Thankyou Tilla - she even saved us spending money on accommodation that night and let us crash in her room which she was renting! I love this girl! It was kind of funny when we went to get our luggage from the train station at 1am in the morning and realised that the station actually closes and we would have to wait till morning to get it but that all worked out fine!!
All of DD's friends, boyfriend and parents made my trip to Denmark so memorable and enjoyable. It was honestly like being at home with my own friends doing spontaneous activities like going bowling and to the movies, and staying in bars all afternoon just talking and drinking. We had so much fun on this "Denmark Roadtrip" and ended our ten days with a really special memory that was quite painful but neither of us will ever forget when we see it! See you in five years DD!!! I will miss you and already can't wait to see you again!
Catch you on the flipside :)