Rosie’s Scanditour Postscript: Memories

Our trip to Scandinavia despite its ending was a wonderful experience with lots of beautiful places visited and people met. Here’s a few pictures to share with you.

Wild flowers

(More) Trees

Lakes

Doors

Buildings

Food

Drink

Statues

Friends

Wood

Museum

Textiles

Forests

Rucksack

And we made the local press …. look for the Leicester shirts!

And finally our Hosts, Ros and Sir O. Thank you for looking after us and giving us such great memories.

Rosie’s Scanditour Part 6: The Arctic Incident

July 13: FRIDAY!!!!

Not having the sun disappear day or night is amazing on one level but brings with it a few problems; not sleeping interestingly is not one of them. The first is you forget what time it is and end up staying up until 2 and 3 in the morning with Dubber and Sir O Morris dancing ( yes a few drinks had been had) or playing Skipbo.

The second is you take so many photos of trees because the light is so beautiful. It’s like having a continual sunset for hours.

Anyway Dubber wasn’t feeling too good this morning, all that late night Morris dancing or so we thought. Took some ibuprofen and seemed ok. We took a trip to Kemijaarvi to buy provisions and then came back to chill, because in such a beautiful setting and when it’s so hot (32 degrees, in the Arctic Circle remember) that’s all you feel like doing. Well no you take a sauna don’t you.

Now the Finns love their sauna and so Sir O was frantic for us to participate. I wasn’t too sure in this heat but the men went off for theirs.

The Finnish sauna is an important part of their culture being healthy and sociable. Usually involving little or no clothing it is a great way to relax – even in 32 degree heat. The boys were very brave and went in the lake a couple of times between saunas.

Followed by a beer…

Meanwhile us girls chill inside where there are no mosquitoes with our own beer.

Dinner followed, Sir O style, but during dinner Dubber wasn’t feeling well. Feeling unwell became struggling for breath and whilst trying to keep him calm, Sir O had already phoned for an ambulance. Twenty minutes later, bearing in mind we are in the middle of nowhere in the Arctic Circle in 32 degree heat, the paramedics arrived and very calmly dealt with Dubber. He had had an irritable cough for a few days, could he have cracked ribs.

Dubber ended up having a night in the local cottage hospital 25kms away with the very nice paramedic being on call through the night. It felt very strange leaving him there, particularly as very few staff had any English and were definitely of Russian descent, Russia being 30kms away.

July 14-16: new monia as opposed to old

The following morning we get to the hospital to be told he has pneumonia. Antibiotics administered we take him back to the cottage for rest and recuperation before we travel back to Oulu. It was worrying times.

I have to say Aviva, our travel insurers were very helpful from the word go. There was always someone on the end of the phone giving advice. The initial advice from doctors back in Oulu was that Dubber couldn’t travel and needed to rest and see how the antibiotics worked.

In the end we had an extra week with Ros and Oskari (see next post); Dubber made three visits to a clinic in town to get more antibiotics and blood tests or certificates for the insurers. Several phone calls and emails each day with the insurers and eventually we flew back on the day we planned to arrive home. Our car insurers brought Rosie back home, but only after Sir O moved her around on the drive. Oh he looks so pleased with himself. He finally got to drive Rosie.

Unfortunately we missed out on the return trip in Rosie. She did us proud doing 1500 miles and we would have enjoyed the car train to Helsinki and the Baltic Cruise but they will have to be done another day. We were duly recompensed by Aviva, who I would highly recommend and Rosie came back with Rick to be met by our visitors to England – you’ve guessed it, Ros and Sir Oskari (we were sunning it in Dorset).

And Dubber – he’s getting over the pneumonia and we’ve enjoyed a weekend away in Rosie since getting back. And we are already thinking of next year’s epic trip.

Rosie’s Scanditour Part 5: I spy with my little eye, something beginning with T!

July 10: Making ourselves at home

Holiday photos always have to start with the Haynes feet. So job done. Rosie gets a rest and so do we. Sir O and Ros have really done a lovely job in making their home together. And it’s not long before Sir O has his work gear on. Sorry forgot to get a photo.

We do a bit of food shopping whilst Dubber has a rest. Have to say thought it was a bit of man flu but it’s not shifting, not helped by the heat at 28 degrees. I love going around supermarkets whilst on holiday and seeing all the different things. Have to say there’s rather a lot of American brands but I did find some Moomintrolls.

Back at home we are served, as we are going to be for the next couple of weeks, by Sir O’s fantastic cooking, ably assisted by sous chef Ros.

Oh and we are so far north now that the sun really doesn’t go to bed.

July 11: It’s coming home, It’s coming home, football’s coming home….

Today is an important day because England are playing Croatia in the World Cup Semi-final. We have a day to chill and the live-in chefs prepare a barbecue. We are to be joined by Ros’ friends Tim (from Leicester) and Timo who we met last time we were in Finland, which we reckon was about 10-11 years ago.

Anyway we are fed and watered and ready for the match. Tim’s even got his Leicester shirt on. Unfortunately we were not pleased with the outcome but we are very proud of what the boys achieved and enjoyed another evening with friends.

July 12: off to the woods we go

Next day we say goodbye to Rosie, pictured here with ‘Rucksack’ and head off north in Bertie Beamer, later to be known as Dirty Beamer because he collected so much dust after this trip that he changed colour!

Now this bit of the trip comes with a health warning if you dislike trees. There’s going to be a lot of them. I’ve checked my photos and there’s about 500, photos that is not trees – there’s about several million at the last count. Oh you want to see them all? Ok then, here’s a few for starters.

We have about a four hour drive up to ‘the cottage’. Now all Finns have cottages, places away from where they live, in the woods, usually by a lake and they go whatever the weather, to be with nature and as I’ve been reading Sisu. More of that later.

We are headed north on what becomes a very straight road, with, yes you’ve guessed it more trees. But the further north we go and the more remote it becomes we have to be on reindeer watch. The problem is you see things ahead that are not trees, shout reindeer and then it turns out to be something else, so we had bridge reindeer, skid mark reindeer, stone reindeer and cyclist reindeer. But eventually Dubber gets the photo we wanted.

They literally walk where they please and at a pace they please and if it’s hot like today they come out of the woods to get away from mosquitoes and sunbathe.

On the way we stop at an outlet for a well known Finnish brand called Pentik. Well I was in heaven wasn’t I. Might have bought a couple of things 🙄. Boys didn’t seem interested.

Anyway whilst there for a spot of lunch we also visited their little museum about life in traditional Finnish houses. Lovely photo opportunities.

Anyway time to move on and into the Arctic Circle

and a little further on we reach the cottage. Wow!

Just look at the view. What a beautiful place. I will leave you with some pictures. Words can’t explain as well.

Well someone has to 😃

Rosie’s Scanditour Part 4: Hei Finland

July 7th: Naantali

….so we arrive off the ferry in Naantali, Finland and take the five minute drive to the campsite where we are met by two smiling faces, one of which is jumping around with excitement as if England has won the World Cup. (It might yet happen!)

Ros and Sir O are here to join us on our trip up to their home in Oulu. We are breaking the trip up with a couple of campsites. The first is here in Naantali.

Sir O and Dubber do the necessaries to book us in and then some very precise rules start kicking in.

Vehicles and tents should be 4m from the next vehicle and tent. Having found our pitch, parked and set up the awning, we find the pitch isn’t big enough on one side to be 4m away from the vehicle parked next to us. Even if we turn the vehicle any other way, it still won’t fit and the rule applies across the campsite (and the rest of them in Finland -fire regulations apparently). The problem was made more difficult because Rosie is right hand drive so the sliding door is on the left, the opposite of everyone else.

We need the awning as that’s where Sir O and Ros are going to sleep and we booked Rosie in with the awning before we arrived, measurements and all.

THEN the campsite police arrived. Yes literally. We couldn’t set up unless we were 4m apart, even though a very nice German family in a T25 next to us were happy for us to be up close. International relations went on for 20 minutes and then a solution was found. We could put the awning up on another pitch, the other side of the campsite at no extra charge. Defeated the object of camping together but we went along with it.

Anyway there was a football match to watch.

With light refreshments we watched World Cup football on Sir O’s small tablet screen and then settled for the night in our separate quarters

July 8th: onwards north

Next morning we enjoyed a quick breakfast and then walked to the old town. We didn’t realise we were on the doorstep of a beautiful town by the sea.

Naantali (pronounced like naan bread plus the latter half of italy) is a lovely place. The old town has beautiful buildings with lovely carvings.

We enjoy a coffee before getting in the van to drive north. Dubber’s looking relaxed.

We drive a bit further north to a place called Rauma, a world heritage site. The buildings here have historical significance and have very beautiful carvings. Whilst there we go for lunch in a lovely building which is obviously very old.

and there was an interesting sign inside for the loos …. so true.

Fed and watered we drive north on tree-lined roads to our next stop, Vaasa. Yes a similar name to the ship we saw in Stockholm,

We camp on an island off the mainland city of Vaasa. The 4m rule still applies but there is loads of space to set up camp.

The setting is beautiful. Surrounded by water and trees, and as the sun dips (not sets) it is even more beautiful.

July 9: boat trip to a pub

Because the driving is lengthy and it’s quite hot we decide to stay here for two days. Next morning we go into Vaasa by taxi to catch a boat for a trip around the islands to the ‘pub’ as Sir O puts it. It’s lovely out on deck with the breeze and spray.

The boat journeys through the waterways where the water apparently is a greater balance of fresh water than sea, so wildlife flourishes. We eventually stop at an island, Kuusisaari, that literally just has a cafe/pub on it. Salmon and potato soup (staple lunchtime meal) with rye bread and a beer. Very satisfying and lovely view.

We return to the mainland Vaasa and wander the town for a while and have a drink to cool us down. There is some interesting architecture in this town which feels quite modern. Also gives me chance to enter a Marimekko store. Lots of lovely things to be tempted by.

Back at camp Sir O has taken responsibility for dinner and uses the wood burning grill on the campsite to make the first of many splendid meals. He’s an excellent chef.

After dinner Sir O had spotted something of interest…

…so we took the opportunity to play Skipbo and sample the local beer. The music was very good too. Rucksack fancied a game of crazy golf.

July 10: We made it!

Next morning we have a leisurely pack up after breakfast and it’s another glorious day. We continue north and we play I-spy something beginning with T. Not difficult to answer because Finland has miles and miles of forest. While we drive we have to be on reindeer watch and there could be the odd elk.

Ominously Dubber is developing a cold so the last stage of the journey is very sneezy. After a couple or three hours we arrive in Oulu to Ros and Sir O’s house on Raatteentie. And rest!

We made it.

Rosie’s Scanditour Part 3: The Bridge

Day 5: July 5th Linkoping, 🇸🇪We have another very long drive the three of us. 253 miles today at fairly slow speeds. Scandinavian roads are generally good for Rosie because there is an acceptance of slower speeds. Ok the trip takes longer but we can take it easy and Rosie is doing so well.

The day begins with ‘The Bridge’. The Øresund Bridge was made famous by the Swedish drama ‘The Bridge’ which Dubber and I have really enjoyed. We watched the last ever episode a couple of days before we left. The programme’s titles show this bridge which links the cities of Copenhagen and Malmo. The theme music played is called ‘Hollow Talk‘ and I tried to attach it to the video but neither will load so a picture will have to suffice.

Once on the Swedish side we bypass Malmo and start the long journey up to Linköping. We are taking it steady and to be honest there isn’t much traffic. Ooh there’s a Swedish Ikea!

We soon are amongst very few cars. Green flat farmland soon becomes rolling hills. The style of farmhouses and barns is very reminiscent of those we’ve seen in the countryside of New York State and apart from the Swedish road signs you wouldn’t know otherwise.

Rosie is doing so well. I’m amazed at our little van. Even more amazed at Dubber for driving, but we are due a break so we stop at a service station, this time with a Swedish shop and an Elk Park. Obviously a tourist destination as a bus load arrived when we got there.

We had a wander round the store, bought some postcards, filled up with fuel and continued steadily north. We found the campsite, Nordic Camping & Resort near Linköping, really easily. The site was sparsely filled although there were quite a few motor homes and quite a green site. Facilities were basic so to eat out we either had to drive into Linköping, 6kms away or walk into the locality.

We did the latter using Google maps and found ourselves in an estate which had two fairly dodgy restaurants. We chose the pizza with a Swedish beer but to be honest the Thai might have been a better option. After a quick wander to the supermarket we returned to Rosie for some games of Skipbo and I won!! As a postscript here we had several emails from Nordic Camping that we hadn’t pre-paid but we had so there were several emails back and forward with evidence we had. Probably the worst part of the trip to date but we did see some lovely Swedish houses.

Day 6: July 6th Stockholm

On the way to the next campsite we take a minor detour to Stockholm. I had had recommendations from an acquaintance who had worked there often, how best to spend a couple of hours and we headed for a museum.

We had researched a park and ride on the north of the city so that we were on the right side for going further north still. At first we couldn’t see how it worked and then saw a public transport bus stop. When the bus arrived the driver informed us we needed to have bought a ticket before boarding and most shops sold them. Now this was quite strange because there wasn’t a shop, this was a park and ride and it didn’t explain how it worked on the website. However we had the loveliest of drivers who said in perfect English not to worry. He would take us for free and we could buy a single ticket back from the Visitor Information near the museum. As we arrived he told us exactly where to go and wished us a good trip.

We loved what little we saw of Stockholm. We went to the Visitor Information first bought our ticket back to park and ride and a couple of postcards. We decided to have lunch and sat by the river with a sandwich and a cooling drink before going to the Vasa Museum.

This 17th Century ship was requested by the then monarch Gustav Adolf to build the biggest and best. It was lavishly carved and in August 1628 it had its maiden voyage. Sadly a thousand metres into the voyage the ship capsized and sank. 333 years later in 1956 the ship was found and salvaged and luckily mostly intact. It is breathtaking when you walk in and there’s plenty of side exhibitions to see. Well worth the visit.

We left for an ice cream and the bus and headed for Kapellskar, an hour away. Kapellskar Camping. This was a lovely site and only a few minutes away from the next ferry. However there was poor WiFi reception so we missed out on football and Dubber won at Skipbo.

We are so far north now it really is light so much later.

Day 7: July 7th ‘We’re nearly there!’

We are up and off early because we have a ferry to catch. First some pictures of wildflowers including these wild orchids.

We make good time and after a little bit of confused queuing we were pretty much boarded on time.

As we went through ticketing it just happened to be mentioned brunch and dinner were included. Wow! We hadn’t realised that so we found ourselves a table and had a lovely brunch. You could tell who the Russian truck drivers were. I’ve never seen such big plates of food. We headed off to find our cabin. Time for ‘rucksack’ to make an appearance.

We showered and wandered around the ship until we could sit and watch F1 qualifying…. however the important football match was due whilst on board the ship.

Yes England were playing Sweden in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Yes we were on a Swedish ship with some Swedish passengers but in actual fact most were Russian truck drivers or Finns returning home. There were a few Romanies too, the women dressed in interesting lampshade skirts.

Suddenly all the TVs went off and we thought we weren’t going to be able to watch it and then it came on. We sat with a Swede for the match and almost gave a little hip hip hooray at the end. It didn’t seem appropriate to chant ‘It’s coming home’.

Eight hours beyond Kapellskar we arrived in Naantali Finland ……..

Rosie’s Scanditour Part 2: Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen

Day 4 July 4th Copenhagen

Dubber gets a day off from all that driving and we get a bus into the city of Copenhagen. At the bus stop we worked out we needed to buy a bus ticket online which we did but it can take 20 minutes to arrive to your phone and the bus was due. Another half hour wait if we missed it but the online ticket came by text just as the bus arrived. And the driver just accepted me flashing the phone at him. Could have been anything! On the phone!

We arrived in the Central Square and wandered to Nyhavn, the famous area with canals and beautiful coloured buildings. It is beautiful.

The day was another scorcher so we went for a coffee so we could sit under the umbrella. The canal side here is full of restaurants with tables and chairs under big umbrellas and awnings like you get in most continental cities. But the backdrop of the colourful buildings make it so welcoming.

After the coffee we decided to take a boat ride and chose the hour long route because the boats are open and it was very hot. It’s great seeing a city from the water.

First we journeyed up the canal and then we were in open water. The mixture of old and new buildings is amazing. New Danish design is simple and appropriate for its setting. And then there’s the Little Mermaid celebrating the Hans Christian Anderson story of the same name, modelling a seated pose for the crowds.

As you can see she faces the land so we didn’t see much of her, and she’s not very big.

Copenhagen is a busy city down by the water, particularly on the side where the restaurants are. After the boat ride we needed lunch and chose the Scandinavian Open sandwich otherwise known as smorgasbord (various spellings dependent on which Scandinavian country you’re in). It was delicious with the traditional drink of beer (his and hers again – Dubber goes blonde, I love dunkel.

After lunch we walked around the centre and visited the Harrods equivalent, Magasin in a beautiful building, with lots of lovely Danish style design. Time was moving on and it was still very hot so we had an ice cream. Being in Scandinavia what else should I have but homemade liquorice ice cream. Why have I not had this before. Amazing! Dubber had vanilla!

We had a lovely evening, cooked food by the van and got out the Skipbo. It’s definitely light later here ….. and Dubber won.

Rosie’s Scanditour Part 1 – The whim becomes reality

And so the adventure begins.

Meeting Rosie our campervan was a tenuous one on my part as I didn’t do Camping. But this little 30 year old VW is an absolute hero with what she achieves on this trip and has completely entered my heart. Let me tell you why.

It started as a whim as many things do. Our friends Ros and Oskari live in Oulu, Finland and they have been visiting us once or twice a year for a number of years. We have loved sharing time with them and seeing England through Oskari’s eyes as he’s a real Anglophile; now known as Sir Oskari particularly when he wears his dapper outfits!

Last year when they were over we were chatting about travels and that it was about time we visited them, when in a wine-induced moment I suggested we could travel to Finland in the van. ‘Could’ became ‘maybe’ which became ‘shall we?’ which became ‘we are coming, Ros’. After hysterical responses from Ros we started planning.

The first thing was to look at dates in our busy schedule (retirement is way too busy) agree them with Ros and Sir Oskari, then plan routes, ferries and the all important distance, which we think is about 2500 miles of driving – eek! But Dubber is happy to go.

Before we go everything is booked and paid for; ferries (Scandinavia has a lot of water and islands), campsites (they do it so well on the continent) and money – I hadn’t realised Sweden and Denmark weren’t in the Eurozone.

A final check over and a bit of fettling and fantastic work by Rosie’s favourite mechanic Richard and a new spare tyre from Richard’s dad and we’re ready to go.

Day 1 July 1st (183 miles)

We travel from home to Harwich to get the Scandilines ferry. It’s a bit of a trek from our house because it’s on the eastern sticky out bit of England ie Suffolk/Essex. We make good time and got straight aboard the ferry in time for an overnight journey to the Hook of Holland.

There was time for a drink, to watch the Grand Prix highlights and a beautiful sunset before retiring to our cabin for bed.

Always book a cabin if the journey is more than three or four hours and we booked through Direct Ferries for the whole trip. And more on the rucksack later.

Day 2 July 2nd (262 miles)

The wake up call begins with gentle music and ends with a very loud voice telling you breakfast is ready. OK we are awake, have a quick shower and breakfast ready for disembarking.

Immediately we have ‘Sat Nag’ on and Bill expertly drives on the right (even though it’s wrong) side of the road. The roads from Amsterdam north to Bremen are busy and it’s quite a trek. There are lots of lorries and caravans that have to be negotiated on mostly dual carriageways, where the right lane averages at 50mph and the outside lane 90+. Rosie can manage 60-65mph easily but being pestered by a BMW up your back anytime you try and overtake something is intimidating.

Of course because Rosie is an old lady and only has old fashioned air conditioning (windows) it’s hot work in the van and we found that it was too noisy having both windows open with Dubber’s Tinnitus. Good job we bought the little fan. It kept Dubber cooler.

Poor Dubber is very tired when we finally arrive at Hanse Camping near Bremen.

The campsite is lovely. The facilities are the best I’ve ever seen on a campsite ie large, clean and plenty of them for showers and toilets and kitchens. Dubber did well in his choice as he did with all the sites. In the Community building was an interesting statue which is the symbol for Bremen known after ‘The Four Musicians’, a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.

We decided once we had set up to go investigate the nearby lake and possibly the bar. Sunhats on our heads because it really was a beautiful day we wandered along the track to the lake, took a right turn towards the water and realised we were on a nudist beach and did a quick about turn back to the main track. What is it about Northern Europeans always wanting to be naked? Anyway more on that later.

We found the lake and beautiful it was. Time for beer back at the little restaurant which did lovely food so we went back later for dinner and to watch the footie. Have I mentioned we are on holiday during the World Cup. So there is some scheduling to be had through the holiday.

After sitting outside for pre-dinner drinks and dinner itself, we went inside to watch the football with Johann and Brigitte who were Dutch. I congratulated them on Verstappen’s F1 win which had happened earlier in the day. Football and travel became the conversation, drinks were bought and Belgium won which made the couple sat behind us very happy.

Time for Skipbo and a drink before bed – well that was the plan until Dubber knocked his red wine all over me and the cards and my white wine had to be used to compensate for the stains on me, the cards and Rosie. Goodnight Dubber 🙄

Day 3 July 3rd (164 miles)

We enjoyed sitting in the sunshine for breakfast and it is already warm.

As you can see ‘Rucksack’ has made an appearance. My dear friend Pauline bought it for Dubber for his birthday and I’m taking a picture of it everywhere we go and sending it to her.

We pack up and make the drive north to Puttgarden. Along the way we are in the usual routine of driving for a couple of hours then stopping at a rest area come service station which I have to say all through Europe are excellent. The ones in the Netherlands tend to have fresh bakeries and the German ones a very broad choice of food.

We arrive at the Puttgarden Ferry Terminal and see signs for the Scandishop. I had visions of lovely Scandinavian gifts and interesting food – no it’s a floating booze shop. So that’s why Sir Oskari called it a booze cruise. Danes and Swedes were filling their cars and trailers full of crates and I do mean crates of booze. The shop had four floors dedicated to beer, wine and spirits. Through the wine there were tasting bottles or boxes so you can try before you buy. If you’re not careful you’d be drunk before you got on the ferry which was only a 45 minute sail to Rødbyhavn. We bought a his and hers box of wine and left it at that.

On arrival in our third country, Denmark, at Rødbyhavn we then drove the short journey through beautiful farmland to our campsite Charlottenlund Fort just outside Copenhagen where we planned to stay for a couple of nights so up went the awning.

This is a really unusual, small and very friendly site. Set in the grounds of a fort dating back to Napoleonic times, it is close to the beach, a very nice restaurant and a bus ride away from Copenhagen.

After a quick homemade supper we went across to the community kitchen with a TV, kicked the kids off the TV to watch England v. Columbia, except the station showing the match was blocked. Dubber and fellow Brits all tried to get it to work to no avail so we resorted to my phone on WiFi thanks to SkyGo. Hilarious really all of us sat around my little phone propped up against a plant pot, but it suffices to appease the panic that had set in earlier when the TV wouldn’t work. England won of course and we all went to bed happy.

We are liking this place.

Lessons learnt so far or general advice.

1. Always book a cabin on a ferry if the journey is more than three or four hours.

2. Don’t worry if there’s a BMW up your back when you’re in a classic vehicle.

3. Make sure Dubber is playing Skipbo on a level table and the wine isn’t where he can knock it over.

4. Germans really do like being naked.

5. Rosie is amazing.