2013.08.12 Denmark Sweden

Summer trip to Denmark and Sweden

End of July we escaped the immense heat here in Korea (we have basically not had any rainy season this year) to travel to the less intense heat of the Scandinavian summer. For the first time in two years I had more than 10 days off from office, so we were looking forward to a more relaxed tour of home than normal.

Last time we flew back to Denmark our trip was cancelled by SAS the day before we were supposed to leave and we were re-booked on Finnair. So now we have learned and book directly with Finnair instead. And Finnair repaid us by upgrading us to Business on the Seoul-Helsinki leg. We could get used to that ... very very comfortable. We almost felt that the flight should have lasted longer than the 8 hours it took !

Straight to Malmø and out for dinner at Sven and Shirley's place. We have been out of sync the last few times that we have been back, so it was good to finally meet up again. And get pampered by Sven and his exquisite cuisine !

Day two (Friday) was booked by Tom and Noelia and so after spending the morning cleaning the apartment and fixing the bikes (an overhaul long overdue) we headed over to their place for a afternoon BBQ. Unlike last year, the weather was fantastic - even too warm at times - and the back yard was quickly turned into our kitchen and dining room.

Noelia with Gabriel

Tom cooking up a feast

Day three started off with a bit of shopping on the pedestrian street downtown. I have a few problems buying shirts in Korea (apparently my arms are too long for my body), so I was keen to see what I could find in a country populated by mutants like myself. We were also on the hunt for a new computer and some electronic goods that didn't have Samsung written all over the. Managed to find a shirt and trousers a few minutes before Paula lost patience (!) - no luck with the electronics although we did get closer to a decision. This was the time of the annual food fair in Malmø, so the pedestrian street was full of food stalls from various parts of the world. Enticing as it may seem, we were hungry for some stable Scandinavian diet - the likes of pickled heering, mackrel in tomato sauce, lever pat'e, Swedish crackers and cheese. The afternoon saw a visit from Vanda- Paula's old school mate from Studieskolen when they were both attending the danish classes (I wonder what their teachers thought of them, because I have never heard so many languages in one sentence as when these two girls get together). Peter had given her the weekend off, so she escaped (?!) to Copenhagen for one day and then Malmø. In Copenhagen she had strayed until her feet blistered, so in Malmø only the absolute necessities were dealt with - ice cream at Dolce Sicilia and Indian at Masala House. I was in bed early with my Norwegian book (rather entertaining) while the girls chatted away half of the night.

At Dolce Sicilia with Vanda

... and at Masala house

.... and at Wayne's Coffee !

Unfortunately Vanda couldn't stay for the Sunday BBQ with our Malmø friends in the afternoon. The trip back to Juelsminde was just too enticing. So goodbye Vanda and hello Tom, Noelia, Heini, Tue and Jackie. The summer BBQ's in our yard are almost tradition now and so far we have always been lucky with the weather - not a given in those parts of the world - and this time it was brilliant again. Good to see them all and of course we ended the afternoon at Dolce Sicilia (again!)

Is that a Chocolate-chilli, Tom ??

Tue, Jackie and Sebastian

Sebastian and Nicolas clicked - trouble ahead!

Monday we did a reprise with the leftovers from the day before, but this time without Tue and Heini who were both working (hehe !!). Then we continued on foot to the beach at Ribban before we were chased indoors (Tom and Noelia's place) by a slight rainfall. More food !

A beach with grass - for sand-haters like Paula

The three girls ... Jackie, Noelia and Paula

And three boys - Tom, Gabriel and me

Paula had bought the kids a come-apart foam carpet - huge success with both parents and kids.

Tuesday we picked up Jackie and went for hot chocolate and sweets at our favourite bakery Hollandia. Yummy ! And then it was off to Copenhagen for Paula and me. We picked up our rental car and drove to Frederiksberg to stay with Rocio and Thure. Thure had all the right plans (i.e. BBQ), but this time the weather wasn't on our side. Come rain come snow - BBQ remains, so we grabbed a parasol and went ahead none the less. As it happened we didn't mind the rain at all. The food was delicious and the beer and the company good so the rest is peripheral. The evening was spent watching old concert videos from our childhood. Paula and Thure knew all the heavy metal which had held up quite well while the music I listened to back then didn't really sound that great anymore !

Wednesday we had a healthy breakfast (my favourite Scandinavian meal) before getting in the car and driving north to Farum. My friend Jesper used to be a full-on hard-core Vesterbro-afficionado (one of the inner parts of Copenhagen) and we never thought he could move from his beloved neighbourhood (he used to joke about needing a passport to visit us in Amager - a few kilometers from the centre of Copenhagen). And look - now he lives in very suburban Farum, two kids, lovely wife (Marie Louise) and bakes his own bread!! Must admit that it is a healthy change for him and it was good to see that he was doing great.

Wednesday was double-booked, so at 5 o'clock we drove 6 km south to Bagsværd where Heidi and Lars have moved in to a beautiful villa 7 months ago. They used to live only a few hundred meters from Jesper, so it seemed fitting that we could still combine our visits to them as we have always done. Heidi and Lars - two kids also, don't know about the bread. But I do know that Lars is being kept busy with the garden, the windows, the insulation in the garage etc. But the effort pays off!

At 9 in the evening we said our goodbyes and drove to Brenderup to stay with my parents.

Here we had a few days settle in and finish our shopping before my sister Inge arrived from Bruxelles. Once the kids were there, it would be a completely different ballgame - so we made sure to enjoy the quiet of my parents house!

A quiet evening at Varbjerg Beach

Inge and her family arrived on the Saturday. Miklos was immediately thrilled to see that we were driving a Ford Fiesta! He's a bit of a car-nerd at the moment and as they had rented a Golf ... well, then the Golf was the worlds best car. Sofie has taking over Miklos' passion for reading. Funny how they go through different phases at different times. Tamas was still jetlagged, as he had recently returned from Taiwan, where they have lived the last 4 years.

This year Inge and Tamas had rented the same cottage as last year. Close to my parents and a short walk from the beach. But unlike last year, we did not need our jackets and hats when walking on the beach or when catching crabs from the jetty. Tamas and I were in almost every second day (actually Tamas was in almost every day but I missed a few). It was cold initially but not too bad once in.

Sunday Paula and I went west to visit Gitte and Peter at their small farm. We found the family-in-law deep in the new artificial lake that was dug out last year. There's always some plan in action at their place. This time we found the garden dug up to make room for a 85 square meter greenhouse. Horses, dogs, cattle were still there. Trees had multiplied and by the sounds of it Gitte has not finished landscaping.

The horses are still there - Miss Fleet and ... ??

Peter and Gitte showing off their kingdom

Buster scouting the weeds for mice

Peter had a fun night by the looks of it!

Ribe on a busy Sunday afternoon

Lovely town

The cathedral

Sunday was another double-booked day, so we continued on to Claus and Sofie's place via an ice cream run to downtown Ribe. We have a lot of friends with kids right now but none has a kids with as good an appetite as Gustav. We were there for about 4 hours and he ate continuously. If there was no food within reach then he would reach out and make a small moaning sound - otherwise he would be dead quiet chewing away. Big boy - hide the food once he starts walking !!

Monday back on Fyn Merete and Jesper come over to Inge's cottage for the day. They are busy as always with their dairy farm but look like they are in balance. They even announced that they hoped to visit us in Korea next year. Will be looking forward to that.

The week passed by with BBQs, lunches, swims etc. Not so much crabbing this year as we didn't have much luck first time and then quickly lost interest. Miklos was much more interested in playing "Wild Horse" - a self invented game where he imitates a rabid horse, I think. Lots of energy that boy.

Dinner at the cottage

Hello Sofie !

My aunt and uncle Karen and Ernst came to visit us at the cottage one day

The family Nielsen - the original one.

Paula with my mom

Sisters Merete and Inge

Friday we went to Egeskov Castle. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Fyn. A small castle holding a very large veteran car and motorcycle museum as well as a big garden with treetop hanging bridges, labyrinths and rose gardens. All very pretty and an easy five hours spent.

Lunch at Egeskov

Pretty little castle

Can you stay still for just one moment, Miklos ??

Look at the airplane over there...

Straight out of a Donald Duck comic

This one is for Grandpa

Paula's favorite (although she said that about many of the cars in there)

Look - no hands!

Miklos and Sofie in the treetops

Hey Tamas - why don't you look surprised??

Finally made it through the labyrinth

Lea saw her chance to get back at me

Came away without injuries

Hey Paula and Miklos - why don't you look a little intelligent ??

No need to let you know the end of this ...

Saturday it was time to go back east again - first stop Copenhagen. We had as always had a good and relaxing time with my parents. Eating, playing backgammon, forgetting work. All that was left was a trip to Peter's allotment/city cottage in Amager. Peter and I used to work together in Malawi - we have both come a long way since then. Two kids, lovely wife and a great getaway (actually permanent getaway as it is their house) right in town.

Pernille and Kaya with Paula

Cosy little place surrounded by other allotments. Very country -like and still right in the city.

Peter and Sally

This time we were able to meet up with my good mate Jakob twice. Not bad considering that he lives in New York and we live in Korea! Once at the high school favorite cafe in Odense and here at the airport. Our planes left in opposite directions only 40 minutes apart - not planned like that.

Paula was keeping track of Ulsan while we were away. Although only gone for 2,5 weeks the compound stayed busy. Some of our friends were moving from one apartment to another when the moving truck turned over. Worse off were some other friends who had their apartment and all belongings go up in smoke.... lucky that we have such a strong community here so they can get on their feet again soon. And lucky that nobody was seriously hurt. The neighbours spent the night at the hospital for smoke inhalation but were otherwise ok.