Stretching our legs

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One of the better reasons for driving on holiday? The clock was ticking towards lunchtime. So we simply exited the motorway and found a small village. Driving up a steep road with an astonishing view over the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. We found a small gathering of houses, a small shop and a few hotels – the town of Emmetten.

The mountain air was crisp and clear. There were a few drops of rain in the air. Surrounded by green grass, green trees, mountain peaks and wooden houses, we were far from home. People were friendly. Hotels were still closed, but we found a few bites in the small shop. Got to stretch our feet at a place we’ll probably never see again. And to remember: we sent ourselves a postcard.

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All in a good night’s sleep

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The view from the ferry where we woke up the first night on the road

Travelling with small children this year, we decided to keep the time in the car to a minimum and tried the ‘Autozug’ (car train) in Germany. This meant we put the car on the train, boarded the train and slept our way through Germany. We boarded in Hamburg and got off in Lörrach. Travelling like we did (from Hirtshals, Denmark in the morning) we reckon if not taking the train we would have had three more sleepovers on the way south and used a lot more petrol.

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The hurried and delayed drive through Denmark in pouring rain

We took a ferry from Norway to Hirtshals, Denmark and slept on the ferry. We had planned to have 13-14 hours to drive through Denmark down to Hamburg. This would include a long stop in some park where we could tire out the children and make it a memorable and fun day. Instead, the ferry was severely delayed. We were supposed to reach Hirtshals at 7, instead we left the ferry at 1.30pm (13.30) This meant we had to drive straight down to Hamburg, stopping only for food and the occasional diaper change. Not an ideal start, but we made the best of it.

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Finally at the check-in in Hamburg

We reached Hamburg after dark. We did not have the exact address for the check-in-point for the ‘autozug’ but had an approximate address (which we left for the sat-nav to find) and a small printed street map to find the exact place. We managed to get there quite easily, but I have consider myself to have proper map reading skills and a good sense of direction. There was a small sign on one of the larger roads taking us into what seemed like a mix between a small alley and residential area. So if you’re every there trying to find the place, keep your eyes open!

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Waking up on the train – almost in Lörrach

When we got there we had a wee bit of time to kill. First all four of us, but then Husband had to leave us to get the car onto the train. The setting wasn’t ideal. Two kids who were tired, who had been in the car all day long with very few breaks at a train-station or the lobby of a hotel (the DB (Deutsche Bahn) has an agreement with a hotel connected to the train station) was not much fun. As soon as we got on the train things improved. Son thought it was fun being on a train (for the first time) and Daughter finally had some space where she could move about.

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A short break waiting to enter the station in Lörrach

We had a couchette compartment to ourselves. There were four seats on opposing walls (altogether eight) and above were three foldable beds. The seats also functioned as beds, but were slightly smaller than the foldable ones. Travelling with a baby then became a bit of a challenge. She’s at the age where she finds something to hold on the and stands up if she awakes during the night. The seats were to small to share with a baby all night, and the foldable beds were quite high up, and we were afraid she’d suddenly crawl over her bedmate and end up on the floor. Our solution was to build her a nest on the floor using the blankets and bed linen provided and our bag or suitcase to frame it. It wasn’t ideal, but it functioned well and we all managed to sleep (at least some).

We had breakfast served before reaching Lörrach, quite a good breakfast actually.

It was a good way to travel. We didn’t sleep much, but then again I rarely do in new, unfamiliar places. Economically, as well, the train was the better choice.

Non-native English bloggers, linguistics and hiccups

Not having English as your native language can at times cause a few fun challenges and hiccups. I have a tendency to sometimes mix up homophones, two words that are written differently, but pronounced the same. Especially when writing a short and quick text (for instance a blog post) jeans become genes, plain becomes plane, and the list goes on. I easily spot them reading through the text, but I very rarely do, I hit post before I think, just like I speak before I think. You are most likely to come across a few here on the blog!

 

She didn't die in the spring, nor in the fall, but apparently fell down in the autumn

She didn’t die in the spring, nor in the fall, but apparently fell down in the autumn

A few years ago when I was rather new to blogging I wrote a post on a recipe of some sort including flour. Silly little me managed to swap flour with ‘flower’ resulting in a rather interesting recipe! I would just have smiled at this if it wasn’t for a ping back I got from a blog I had never visited where a girl from New York wrote a post on foreigners (non-native English speakers) blogging in English. My blog was mentioned, and linked to, along with several other blogs where both spelling and grammatical errors flourished. I was a bit hurt. I know my English isn’t perfect, and this blog is, among other things, a place for me to try and improve my language skills. So having someone comment on an error is something I hope I would appreciate, but to have it laughed at in a stranger’s blogpost left me a bit deflated.

but skip the adverbial suffixes...

but skip the adverbial suffixes…

Today I came across a blog where a post had the title ‘Fall / Høst / Tomber’. Chuckling already? Well, you know what fall means, and the British word would be ‘autumn’, ‘høst’ is the norwegian translation, while ‘tomber’ would be ‘to fall down’ in French. An easy mistake to make. Results in a wee chuckle for some of us, and I just had to share it: I found it very cute! However, I figured I had to let this completely unknown person know, but I didn’t want her to feel like I felt. I sent her an e-mail, feeling horrible trying to correct a stranger’s language. I felt my stomach tighten a bit (yes, that’s what linguistics consider a thrill!) and hoped I had stepped on any toes or hurt any feeling. Only a few minutes later she replied, thanking me dearly for letting her know. And for some odd reason that’s been on my mind for the rest of the day. A positive and good little lump of happy feeling nestled deep in my tummy, making me smile a little. Did I actually use my education for something good?

Travelling by car

IMG_3756I have spent many summer on the ‘autobahn’ in Germany, the ‘autostrada’ in Italy and the motorways of countries connecting these two countries to Norway. I was about a year old on my first roadtrip – with a caravan to the Netherlands. When I was three we drove to Spain in an old VW caravelle t3. At five I went to Italy for the first time, then again at seven, and since I’ve been at least ten times.

IMG_3891It’s all about the habit, I assume. But I do love driving to my summer holiday destination. I get to see more, experience more, and I get a sense of how far away I am from home. Life’s more than airports and duty free shops. And the languages change, you can’t go from Norwegian to Italian in a few hours, you have to go through at least Danish and German before reaching the latin languages.

I have tried my best having Husband adopt my preferences for travelling, and he’s been tolerant! We drove to Italy for our honeymoon in 2008. Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy going south, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway on the way north. I loved it, and I think he really learned to like it.

IMG_3751Last year we went to Italy by plane. We rented a car to travel a bit and with that a car seat for Son, then three. After waiting in the heat for a car, then hoping for a good seat for Son, (about which a flirty Scot get my hopes up only to crush them to pieces) I was left with a seat that I would never trust his life with in Norway. Here I was left with no choice on roads on which people drive much faster and more aggressively than I’ve ever witnessed in Norway. Going back this year with two children I wanted a good car, safe seats, and I wanted to drive through Europe to reach my destination. I managed to convince Husband. Now he says he’d like to do it again.

IMG_2256I think my children might be able to get used to this type of travelling as well. Son already is, Daughter not so much. Give me a few more years and they won’t have it any other way.

 

Oh what a wonderful morning

The world rushing by

The wake up call woke me up from my slumber. I didn’t sleep much during the night. There were lights outside my window that came and went and there were unknown sounds and movements that had me sleep with one eye open. Son was sleeping about a metre and a half off the ground and I was terrified a sudden movement would toss him out of the bed and onto the floor. The bed wasn’t to comfortable, but at least the arm rest on my seats didn’t constantly fall down and hit my arm, like in poor Husband’s bed. Beside me on the floor in a small nest of blankets, bed linen and out suitcase slept baby Daughter. She woke to the male voice on the radio wishing us a good morning and informing us about our arrival in Lörrach soon to come.

I tried to wipe the sleepiness off my face and looked over at Husband. He looked about as tired as I felt, wiping his face and eyes, yawning and stretching. Less than a week ago he came home after working nights for 14 days. Poor man was tired. I lifted up Daughter and placed her in the seat next to me. The compartment was warm and she had woken many times during the night to find comfort in being nursed. I fed her again before handing her over to Husband who then had had time to dress himself. Son was still sleeping above us. I dresses and drowsily opened the door to the hallway. As in a daze I walked to the end of the coach the lavatory as my goal. It was busy and I found a place to wait. Resting my head on the window, my arms crossed as if I was still curled up in bed, my gaze shifted from behind my eyelids to outside the coach and into the horizon.

The sun was just starting to show in the distance. Revealing a greyish land covered in lazy colours. A mist hung over small pools of mirror-blank small lakes slowly travelling from in front of the train to behind. The land of yesterday was flat. The land of today had rolling hills. Wine ranks climbing and rolling over hills. Architecture had changed and a hint of Türoler style was present in some of the houses. Feeling the sun reached my window and my face I felt the energy of a new day. My body was slowly recharging.

The conductor was running back and forth to the compartments with paper bags containing rolls, juice and small portions of jam. I notices a tattoo peeking out from under his sleeve. Had I not been happily married, and if I had been more awake, maybe I would have noticed that he spent much of his free time lifting weights and working out. But his broad shoulders under a white shirt and his black trousers left no impression on me whatsoever. However, they did add to the scenery.

I was left waiting just long enough to realize that I was in a new place, somewhere I had never been before and the beauty outside the window promised me new horizons, new sights, memories and experiences.

Roadtripping “summer” 2013

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Roadtripping Denmark in the rain

This year’s summer vacation happened rather late. We left home in the middle of September and went away for about three weeks, not returning before the first days of October. Temperatures at home started to drop the days before we left and the air smelled of autumn. We packed our bathing gear, shorts, t-shirt, summerdresses and short skirts and headed south.

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Roadtripping the flatter parts of Switzerland

Leaving home late at night with only a short drive in front of us to catch a ferry to take us to Denmark over night. Drive through Denmark the next day, get on a train in Hamburg, Germany the next day which, during the night, would take us to the German-Swiss border and the city of Lörrach (still in Germany). We had a three-hour-drive to our first main stop: Cannobio, Italy. We would relax there for four nights before driving four hours to Nice, where we would be accompanied by MiL (Mother in Law) and OBiL (Oldest Brother in Law). France would be our home for a full week. Returning home we planned for two nights on the Italian-Swiss border in the town of Ponte Tresa before taking the same route home as we took going south. A perfect road trip with young children aboard.

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Reaching the Alps in Switzerland

It’s been the perfect summer holiday, and we are very likely to travel similarly in future summers. We do have room for improvement: family holidays have their ups and down and minor hiccups, but all in all we’ve had a wonderful time together. Stories and pictures will follow soon first I have an exam…