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.