Through Europe to Scotland, part 1

At the end of last year, we got a wonderful task to take care of: moving my daughter and her husband and their cats to Scotland. That truly felt like a big gift for the darkest time of winter. Driving through Western Europe in a camper van was sure enough an interesting task. In this blog, I will at least start the story of our trip.

The planning of the trip was by no means precise, we just chose a route that would be the easiest and fastest way to travel to England with the cats.

We started the trip on Sunday, January 7th towards Tampere in a terrible -32 degrees Celsius (-25,6 Fahrenheit) cold weather. On Monday, January 8th we packed the van in Tampere and drove to Turku and took the night ferry to Stockholm. From Stockholm, we continued the journey towards Copenhagen, where we had the intention to spend the night. Sunny winter weather accompanied us towards southern Sweden.

Sweden doesn’t have such luxuries as we have in Finland, i.e. nice ABC or Neste gas station stops, so as vegetarians you often have to resort to vegetarian burgers from the fast food chains. The same problem followed us throughout our route. The only wonderful stop we had was on the shore of beautiful Vättern in Gränna candy cane (polkagris) village. There we had wonderful salad portions and really good coffee. The village was quiet, but you could still feel the pulsating life under the silence, which was already starting to prepare for the big summer season and thousands of tourists. I can warmly recommend the beautiful coastal route Ödeshög-Gränna to everyone traveling around there. Along it, old oak trees greet travelers with their gallant hundred-year-old beings, while you slowly drive along the coastal road of a large lake. We willingly left the red-striped candy cane sweets of the village for the summer vacationers and our journey continued to Copenhagen set on the navigator.

We chose to drive to Denmark taking the big bridge. To cross the Öresund strait, it’s worth buying an online ticket, then you can cross the bridge based on your license plate number, and therefore you don’t have to stop and pay on the way. It was already dark when we drove over the 7-kilometer-long Juutinrauma bridge, so it was easy for those with a fear of high altitudes. The bridge has a height of more than 200 meters and it connects Sweden’s Malmö and Denmark’s capital.

In Copenhagen, we stayed in a clean hotel, which had a parking space in the yard for our big van. Fortunately, all the arrangements, payments, and reservations went very well throughout the trip, because my daughter is a trained tour guide and that’s why everything went smoothly even though all overnight stays and other reservations were always taken care of on the same day.

From Denmark, we took a ferry from Rödby to Puttgard in Germany and that was also very easy. After that we drove a wild, multi-lane highway past Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen in Germany, taking a turn for a while to the Netherlands and from there to Belgium, all the way to Antwerp, where we finally spent the night. This part of the trip was by no means beautiful to look at, so we drove along the highways as fast as our van allowed. Windmills dotted the landscape on all sides, which were allowed to be located only a couple dozen meters away from the houses. Even in the “backyard” of the hotel, there was a large windmill producing electricity. This second day of our trip was the longest, as we drove more than eight hundred kilometers.

On the morning of January 11th we took a slower drive to Dunkirk and from there we boarded a ship whose destination was Dover, England. From there we could take it in a more relaxed way as luckily we would already be in the British Isles and customs and other formalities would be left behind.