New Friends in New Countries

Motorhoming in Denmark post coronavirus, summer 2020

After our ‘release’ from lockdown in Spain & France and a couple of weeks pet sitting in Belgium, we were ready to head back out in Stevie (our motorhome) and explore this new ‘post covid world’. Scandinavia had been on our list before we even started travelling but would we be able to get there now? Thanks to coronavirus and lockdown, we were already 6 weeks behind our initial plan for being so far north by the beginning of June, to catch the Scandinavian summer.

Lighthouses to see all over Denmark

Callum had briefly visited Norway and Sweden previously for esports tournaments (computer gaming conventions) and had driven to Sweden with a friend on a couple of occasions, so we were pretty confident about that part. We knew it could physically be done. What we were becoming more unsure about was if we would actually be able to enter Denmark or Norway at all. Our plan was to drive from Germany to Denmark, spend two weeks exploring then two weeks in Sweden followed by another two weeks in Norway but that was all looking more and more doubtful as we read about people being turned away at the Danish border and Sweden going in and out of ‘red zone’ classification.

What we could gather was that we needed to be able to prove to the border officials that we were going to be in Denmark for a minimum of 6 days. Most people would prove this by showing a campsite booking or an onward boat ticket to head to Norway, south to Poland or elsewhere. We had neither and we were nervous. We were planning on wild camping our way around Scandinavia, it’s the only way we were going to be able to afford the next six weeks of our travels. Thankfully our new travel friends came to our rescue. We had been in contact with Eva & Malthe from through Instagram, during quarantine in Spain, swapping the latest quarantine news and regulations whilst keeping each others spirits up. Luckily for us they lived in Denmark and were back home right when we needed them! After a phone conversation with the border official (that seemed painfully slow to us, as we waited with baited breath), they were able to vouch for us and reassure the police that we would be spending time with them in the next two weeks, so we were allowed to cross into Denmark. Travel friends are the best!

With Eva, Malthe & Avenger the cat

We usually try to take driving slowly but this was a case of “foot down & just get there”. We drove through four countries in three days to get to Denmark, now it was time to relax and take things slowly. Denmark was just supposed to be a nice step towards our actual goal of Norway, which we had read so much about but “wow!”, what a beautiful place it is! We entered from Flensburg in Germany then headed west along the North Sea coast. Our first stop was Vadehavscentret, a park up on the coast where the sea comes in over the mud flats. Apart from the views, the most impressive part of this place was the wooden pole marking the heights of the highest tidal water- most of them taller than Callum’s 6ft! The rules in Denmark regarding wild camping are quite strict but straight forward, as you might expect. Wild camping isn’t actually legal but you can sleep in your vehicle for one night, if you are too tired to continue your journey and are parked sensibly (not causing an obstruction, blocking any entrances or on private land). That suited us perfectly.

We hadn’t yet dared to take Stevie onto a beach, for fear of getting stuck, but I convinced a trepidatious Callum (& far more sensible than I am) to drive onto the Vejers Autostrand where there were numerous other vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Of course, the mud grip mats went straight under the tyres as soon as we parked, just in case. It was a kind of surreal experience to be allowed to drive and park on the beach and it felt really special, not something we’d ever done before. We dipped our toes in the North Sea, adding to the list of seas & oceans that we’ve been in (I really must add them up some time) and we met the wonderful @rventurefamily. Tom & Liz had just started travelling with their young son Finn, in their motorhome. As always, when we meet fellow travellers, the chat turns to what works or doesn’t work in our vans. What we like and what we’d change. After so long without talking to other ‘travel folk’, it was so nice to once again meet people who just ‘get it’, are friendly and happy to talk to you as if you’ve known them forever. We parted ways but promised to keep in touch & meet up again when we were both in Norway the following month.

On the Autostrand, Denmark

We slowly made our way north up the west coast stopping at Esbjerg and Thorsminde via Lyngvig to see the ‘Men by the Sea’ statues. We had the most delicious ice creams at Hanstholm Mad Bar and saw the Hanstholm Fyr lighthouse, staying the night at a tiny little campsite on the harbour at Vesløs for 100 DK (about €13.42) so we could do laundry. Doing laundry in Scandinavia was going to prove one of the most difficult things to do during our six weeks adventuring. We have found that generally, the poorer the country the better the public laundry facilities. When the population is a bit ‘better off’ they are able to own their own washing machines. Great for them, not so helpful to us.

We moved on to Mosesøen and met some van travellers from France when they parked next to us in the forest. The following day we attempted to do laundry again, but the two laundrettes we found were both closed for holidays. On we went to Skagen, the most northern point of Denmark, which had been recommended to us. We stopped at the lighthouse for a photo but the car park at Skagen was packed and parking, with no amenities, was going to cost us €20! Thanks to park4night we found a better place to spend the night and watched the most magnificent sunset with our latest travel friends, the newly married and completely adorable, Mirko & Nikolene @the_schochs. More about them later…

We’d been saving our budget so far for some activities we had been looking forward to over the next couple of days. Our first stop was the Randers Memphis Mansion; a replica of Elvis’ mansion, Graceland, recommended to us by Claire & Sam from @nextstopevwhere, more travel friends that we hadn’t met yet. Having grown up with Elvis music thanks to my Mum, this was a must for me. The museum is excellent, containing lots of memorabilia telling Elvis’ story from birth, through his rise to fame. The restaurant though, has to be the highlight. It was an expensive day (€82.16) but that was the museum & a huge lunch for both of us and some postcards from the gift shop. You can park up in their car park if you sign up to Definitely worth looking at, it is similar to the France Passion scheme providing unique park ups to their members.

The following day we crossed the Odense bridge and headed to Camp Adventure to climb another treetop tower, our first being the Baumipfelpfad in Bad Wildbad, in southern Germany. There is so much to do at Camp Adventure, especially if you have children with you. A really cool place to explore nature whilst clmbing trees and sliding down zipwires, plan at least a whole day there!

Denmark had so far been really clean and litter free but as we parked at Solrødstrand a litter pick was needed! Coincidentally, the following day we headed to the beach across from the car park and found a great initiative ‘Projekt Ren Strand’: litter picking baskets positioned at the entrance to the beach to encourage visitors to pick up any rubbish from the beach and bin it when they return the baskets on their way out. Brilliant idea! We spend a lovely day at the beach, a totally unexpected hot & sunny beach day in Denmark, even swimming in the Baltic Sea (which was indeed ‘baltic’, but another one for the list!).

Nearing our time in Denmark we headed to meet our friends Eva & Malthe, for the first time in real life. They welcomed us into their home & cooked us a traditional Danish dinner as we swapped travel tales and recommended a visit to Bakken, the oldest amusement park in the world! We had a fantastic evening, again meeting wonderful, kind, like minded people and, thanks to their recommendation, a fun day out at Bakken. The rides are pretty old school so don’t expect anything too advanced but it’s reasonably priced, good, old fashioned fun… we especially loved the water ride!

Finally we could head towards Copenhagen, which Callum had been eager to show me. As you’d expect for a capital city whose main mode of transport is the bicycle, it is fantastic for exploring by bike! There are cycle tracks everywhere, with some places only accessible by bike or foot. We only had one afternoon to explore Copenhagen and saw so much, I wish we’d had longer. I would definitely go back again. It is in fact, one of our favourites, making the list of our Top European Cities from the past year.

We had planned to leave Denmark the following day but recieved a message from the Schochs, Mirko & Nikolene, who we’d met at the beach. They asked if we’d like to join them & Nikolene’s family for brunch the next day, before we left Denmark. Of course, we said “yes”. Again, we were overwhelmed with their generosity & hospitality. They’d put on a full spread of pancakes, bacon, eggs, pastries and assorted drinks to welcome us and to celebrate Mirko’s home country national day, Switzerland. Travel friends really are the best!

We were a little bit sad but it was time to leave Denmark, over the Øresund Bridge. It might have been cheaper to take the ferry to Sweden but I love bridges and this is an exceptionally impressive one! We LOVED Denmark and we highly recommend it to anyone; for a long motorhome exploration or just a weekend trip to Copenhagen, it is well worth the visit!

2 thoughts on “New Friends in New Countries

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