Norway/Sweden – May 2011

Having visited Norway in July 1975 as part of our big overseas trip, we were keen to travel there again, as it held such strong memories for us. We’d loved the countryside for its spectacular scenery and variety, and its wild, rugged and underpopulated feel. We had met our friends Kym and Sue in Oslo and spent a good two weeks travelling around with them, punctuated by breakdowns of our Commer van (a lemon if ever there was one) and the necessity to all fit into one van – cosy! So this time we vowed we’d have a reliable vehicle at least.

Mike and Meg were happy to join us for the adventure, and we had fun fitting the four of us, plus camping gear and lots of food into the relatively small Renault Megane. It was a red letter day when we could reduce the number of duffel bags in the middle of the back seat from two to one! We set off from Kiel and were able to leave some stuff at Emmy’s, or we would never have fitted. Our route took us through Denmark (stopping only for lunch) and up the Swedish coast. By Day 2 we were at Odda, after a wonderful drive across the southern part of the country through green spring countryside, towns, tunnels, forests, past thundering waterfalls and along half frozen lakes, up into snow country and back down to fjord level. This pattern continued as we explored the fjords and coast. The scenery was often awe-inspiring, and we were impressed by the roads with their numerous tunnels, bridges and ferries tying the country together.  We camped when the weather looked OK, and stayed in a Hytte (cabin) when it looked like rain.

As we headed further north from Trondheim it got colder and starker, less spring-like and more like winter. (We certainly beat the rush, tourist-wise!) The Lofoten islands, past the Arctic circle were our northernmost point,and here we were lucky enough to see the midnight sun -a very special moment! We also brought out the down jackets and woolly hats. On our way back south we headed across to the Swedish Baltic coast and visited the famous High Coast or Hoga Kusten (still rising after being weighed down by huge glaciers in the most recent Ice Age) and then inland past lakes and forest back through Denmark (stopping once again for lunch) to Germany.

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Posted on Wednesday November 9th, 2011, tagged with events | comments disabled

Germany – May/June 2011

We’d decided it might be fun to join Mike and Meg for some part of their long bike tour of Europe (but not on  bikes!!), and Norway seemed to be a good place to do some travelling together (also somewhere that wasn’t particularly easy to travel by bike.) So it made sense to go to Germany as well, and catch up with some of our dear relatives and friends that we hadn’t seen for quite a while.

Frankfurt was the obvious place to start, and we spent the  first few days with my lovely cousins Birgit and Uta and their partners, and had a quick catch-up with Emmy and her Mum. The hard part was deciding which route to take as we headed north towards Kiel where we would meet the kids. We stayed off the autobahns and enjoyed wending our way through the beautiful German countryside – fresh and green, with bright yellow fields of canola contrasting with dark forests and blue sky.  So many wind turbines and solar panels on roofs – very impressive. We took in some forests, villages, castles, medieval town centres, magnificent gardens in the city of Kassel and winding river valleys on the way north, camping as we went. In Kiel Emmy looked after us so well, and we spent a few days seeing the sights and getting organised.

Norway and Sweden will be a blog post on their own – watch this space! ……

Three and a half weeks after leaving Kiel, we came back from Norway and Sweden, exhilarated by the beauty of those countries and the rather bracing spring weather we’d encountered there. It was summer in Germany, the green fields were drying out (a bit, nothing like here!) and the weather was warm and the days long. After a couple more sunny days in Kiel, we headed off to Berlin. We spent a week there, superbly looked after by our dear friends Peter and Christel, seeing the sights and visiting Kathy’s aunt. Berlin is such an interesting city – there is always a lot happening and historic buildings everywhere you look, but it’s also pretty and green and full of parkland.The kids joined us there for a few days before we parted ways again.

Pete and I made a quick day trip from Berlin into Poland to visit the town where my Dad was born and grew up. It’s been Polish since 1945, and we weren’t quite sure what sort of a state it would be in. We were pleasantly surprised, in general. Some parts were run-down, but there has been quite a bit of restoration. We found Dad’s old school, the house where he lived and the town centre, and visited a wonderful restored castle just north of the town, before heading back to Germany.

We meandered across the old East Germany, checking out “Saxon Switzerland”, Colditz Castle, the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), Jena and Weimar before visiting two more wonderfully hospitable cousins Jochen and Christjana and their partners, cleaning and giving back our trusty Renault Megane, aka “Asterix” and heading back to Oz, and a few days of jet lag.

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Posted on Sunday November 6th, 2011, tagged with travel | comments disabled