On the road again – Denmark/Germany

August 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

We are hustlin’ our way through Germany! Skjalg had enough energy last night to get us all the way to Hamburg. On the drive up to Oslo, he and Kaja stayed at a decent motel about 60 km outside of Hamburg. Since Skjalg was feeling good and we were making good time, we decided to make that same motel our goal for the night. It wasn’t the nicest place I’ve ever stayed in, but it was clean and had a fresh, comfy bed. Breakfast was included in the fee and we were pleasantly surprised at the options available.

On our way out of Sweden yesterday afternoon, we stopped at a really nice rest stop. It felt like we were camping in a meadow in the Swedish countryside, even though the road was only several hundred meters away (about half a mile). We split a chicken salad and lay on the picnic benches or a few minutes to soak up a little bit of sun. After living in Norway for three years, I’ve picked up the characteristic sun-worshipping tendency of Scandinavians. When I first moved to Norway, I was so intrigued by Norwegians love for the sun. I remember one occasion specifically: when I was on my way down to the island of Tjøme (where I lived with my Aunt Vibeke for the first six weeks that I lived in Norway). The trip from Oslo to Tjøme is about two hours long and I spent most of the time surveying the Norwegian countryside. As it was March, and snow blanketed the ground, I expected most Norwegians to spend their time inside. It was a sunny day, and warmer than most, but definitely not “summer” weather. And yet, as we continued down the main road, I saw Norwegians sitting in lawn chairs in the middle of their snow covered patios and balconies. One man had even cleared a little circle in the snow and was sitting with his shirt off. Coming from Los Angeles – where I can really only remember it raining three or four times – I didn’t understand this “sun-worshipping”. Let’s just say that three winters in Norway has changed my mind; now I close my eyes and bask in the fleeting warmth of the sun along with the rest of them.

We’ve been good about stopping and taking breaks. It’s amazing how much of a difference five minutes of fresh air and stretching makes when driving for a long time. Driving in Germany is beyond stressful: drivers are either aggressive and impatient or leisurely and stubborn. Out of all the countries we are going through, the majority of the trip will be spent traveling through Germany. It’s a beautiful country, with plenty of fields, small farms and small towns. There are hundreds of rest stops and gas stations along the way. When Skjalg first told me that you had to pay every time you go to the bathroom, I was a little irritated. I figured it was just a way to squeeze money out of people – that is, until I saw what that small amount of money paid for. The majority of bathrooms (run by a company called Sanifair) were pristine clean, with colorful neon lights and no-touch sensors for everything. It was a treat after some of the bathrooms we experienced in Sweden and Denmark (the worst being in Malmø, where I even had to tuck my pants in my socks before going in).

Our packed cooler is working well. Aside from water, Red Bull, pretzels, and the chicken salad we ate in Sweden, all of our meals have been covered by food we packed for the trip. We had both hoped to avoid drinking energy drinks on the road, but that was vetoed pretty early in the trip. I haven’t fallen asleep once so far. I think it’s a combination of excitement, stress about moving to a new country, and not wanting to leave Skjalg “alone” on the road. I’m enjoying the views and experiencing travel in a whole new way. This trip is really giving me an appreciation for the size of the different countries. We flew through Denmark in only about four or five hours! My favorite part was definitely driving across the bridge that connects Sweden and Denmark.

Crossing the bridge from Sweden to Denmark at sunset – perfect timing

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