Home is on the horizon

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The setting sun as we leave Denmark. On the ferry going home

August is here again, and so am I. The past five weeks I’ve spent only a few nights at home. I was planning to write an ‘I’m home’-post, but I’ve left again. I’m close to home though, and it’s good, it’s good to be (close to) home again.

We started with a few days with bestemor and bestefar, my husband’s parents in the south of Norway. Then early one morning we took the ferry to Denmark, over to Hirtshals and the same day drove to Hamburg. In Hamburg we took the train to Munich, the Autozug, before we drove via Austria to Italy.

We had four stays in Italy: first we spent two nights at Ai Casoni, an ‘agroturismo’ near Treviso; second, we spent a week in Cavallino, just north of Venice; third was a hotel in Tuscany along with mormor and morfar (my parents), two of my brothers and their girlfriends; fourth and last was a short week by the Lago sea. We had one more stop in the very south of Germany, before taking the train back to Hamburg and then the ferry from Denmark.

The journey has been amazing; memorable, fun, and exhausting. The children have been wonderful and they have seen and learned much. We spent just about four weeks abroad and we have and still are visiting family before and after our roadtrip. Pictures and more bragging to come. This summer has been absolutely wonderful!

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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.

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.