Stockholm, Kalmar, Oeland, Karlskrona, Swedish beaches.
After Vasteras and the auto madness, we went to Stockholm, for the beaches, after Stockholm we travelled down the Swedish coast, hit a lot more beaches, met with Janna and Mladen from Kapija Theatre, then took the bridge over to Denmark where we met Jesper and Brett in and around Copenhagen, finally travelled to the northern most point of Denmark and the windy beach there, and all these tourists, then and it was intuition that led me to check out Thornby Beach, a fine beach behind dunes, we come when sun sets, the boys play by the water, we stay another morning and afternoon, and this is what I contemplate and write down while I keep an eye on my boys Daniel and David going up and down the dunes, back to the water and so forth, they play with the boogie-board that I bought, the North Sea is pretty cold; I am not going in, the van is parked on the beach, faces the ocean. Is cool here! I put a chair out, write and watch my boys in the waves.
So back in Vasteras...
In Vasteras (see previous page) with all the mad men and cars around I confined my boys, Daniel and David to the van, "watch from here and stay here!" That worked initially; me taking photos, them inside, accepting their fate. But eventually they took their routes, climbed outside the van and ran about the place, eventually they escaped to the top of the van, running around in circles, dancing, trampling and crushing the roof window, no pleading from my side would get them down till eventually police comes, I had a lot of explaining to do and really only the threat to take them away in the police car convinced them to come back down - finally.
They frowned a bit, it was a hot day; they had been playing in the lake earlier, on coming back David had run into a bicycle not paying attention, the woman was standing still, David’s enormous blue/purple eye I would only realise in the days to come; he did not cry, these boys are resilient, never cry much, pain is not an issue.
Enough is enough in Vasteras, after 24 hours of American cars and there was a huge party about to kick off but maybe not for us; kind the wrong venue for my boys. From Vasteras we got to Stockholm that summer night on a Friday and where I drove into town was a park to my right with lots of people on the lawn, I parked and we found late comfort at the Boulebar; a beer for me and lemonade for Daniel and David, a second beer for me while they go after the Pétanque balls. There was a lake or the sea near-by and this was what we needed as temps would hover around 30°C in the days to come. Now we certainly had escaped the northern North.
We stayed 3 days in Stockholm (wiki), this is the weekend of the final matches of the World Cup in South Africa, I didn’t even know who played, I had not seen a single match. Stockholm seemed secretive; with many islands, hidden corners and beaches on a wide spread archipelago, the lakes and rivers blend over into only slightly salty seawater. Only once we made it into town, took the underground. The sun cruelly beat down on us, I tried to keep the boys hydrated, have them keep their hats on; it was too hot for an extended city tour, so back to the beach till late afternoon till they almost fell over, then food, then sleep, evenings to the playground. These were our days in Stockholm.
Monday came, the 12th of July and early morning some armed securitas guys (really just parking wardens) told me rudely to move my car, I could not pack up as swiftly as they wanted with twin boys aged 3.5, the guy got all exited, this idiot and was only 8 in the morning, on a hot Monday. I realised that I could not park just anywhere here, actually was not allowed to drive either, life has become complicated, all Stockholm is a toll tax area; so we drove illegally through Stockholm, out to the East as far as we got, to island after island, it was in Djurö where we spent another afternoon on the beach.
That evening we crossed back through Stockholm, illegally again, stayed on the highway, at Norrköping we turned south, the boys exhausted slept nearly all the way to Kalmar. Next morning over to Öland island to discover real camper and caravan land, nice, just this is camper and caravan high season. So again to the first beach, then pasta, then the Gettlinge stones, a Viking stone ship, burial ground (wiki), later the Långe Jan Lighthouse and its bird watching site. Afternoon came and we kept driving without knowing for what, late in the day we passed Borgholm, I was still looking for the other beach or whatever, instead found a nice playground that caters to the children of the caravanning folk, it held us till the very late hour, so glad for my boys. They found what they were looking for. We slept back in Kalmar.
Morning we drove on to Karlskrona, the town seemed nice and cosy, a cathedral and a piazza, the heat thought made us look for the beach. Blue water is all around Karlskrona; a natural port is embedded in a rocky archipelago. My GPS showed me the Polish beaches a mere 200 km away across the Baltic Sea; Karlskrona links up by ferry with Gdynia, where we had been 2 months ago, we had put in almost 12,000 km on the road since then; we could have had it easier. Late afternoon we wandered around town, there was something about this town I liked, though people sat there at 6 and ate dinner in "Toscana" and "Monte Christo" restaurants. Ate dinner at 6? That Mediterranean feeling that was being sold would not surface with me! We left, that place might as well be so dead at 8, left for the beach we had been earlier. The sun set in front of us, the boys went to play, I cooked, the young from town gathered in groups for the dusk and sunset experience and a drink. I had mine. The boys kept running larger circles, always close to the water, on the pier, so I kept running between the food on the stove and the sea to bring them back from time to time.
We headed further west along the southern Swedish coast. In Abbekås is Teater Kapija of Janna and Mladan. I have been in contact with Janna ever since they performed on the Festival au Desert in Mali, Jan 2006. Their latest production is Her Majesty’s Voice, a Rock Show! Fantastic, the voice and simplicity of a PJ Harvey; it has been long since I heard something so refreshing live. We stayed two days; the start of a friendship! The boys enjoyed it too.
The boys love the place too.
In the meantime here on Tronby Beach the boys relocated from the beach to the dunes, I turn my chair round, they take their boogie board up and down the dunes. They started going far recently, so independent, just 3.5 years old; when will I have to put down my note book and look for them I wonder? They disappear, then resurface behind another dune. There is this thing they usually strip themselves of their inflatable armbands and hats and I don’t want to go looking for all the stuff in the dunes. But there they come back and bring along their Schwimmflügel as we say in German (wings for swimming), hats too still on. Lucky for once!
After those splendid days at Teater Kapija we took the bridge over the Öresund straight, entered Denmark and met with Jesper and Brett in and north of Copenhagen for another two days of exceptional treats, we also saw Kronborg, Hamlet’s Elsinore castle in Helsingør (wiki) on the way back to Copenhagen.
I have to say that meeting people and talk for the first time in two months and at first I could not believe it in Abbekås with Janna and Mladan that speaking something meaningful had become a challenge, not just 3 year olds' stuff. Words wouldn’t come easy at all. Soon though they sprawled; I had something to say and a proper conversation actually felt good.
Also in Copenhagen we finally had left behind the Nordics and the prohibition, Denmark’s metropolis is full of drinkers and bars, fast food and good Italian pizza to take away, the boys and I enjoyed two on the lawn of the Royal Park. Copenhagen in summer saw hundreds lie down on the grass in the garden, a student Dixieland quartet coolly jazzed away, the blond girls laid stretched out on the lawn around them. My boys did their big rounds. I would have been so easy to close my eyes, in the shade of a big tree.
Later we took a walk to New Havn, the Copenhagen old harbour where the tourist boats shine in nice colours, even later we walked it all back to the van, the boys slept deeply while I was still cruising central Copenhagen. I make them walk so many miles a day; their legs have become strong; they have become good climbers and runners, amazingly fit after almost 3 months of daddy’s summer adventure treatments.
In the meantime on Tornby Beach, Daniel and David have been back in the sea and out, sit on the chair, shiver under the beach towel, the instructions are to remain seated get warmed up by the sun, I serve them half an apple each, of an apple they now eat all and everything, even the inner bits. They’re happy, engage themselves in endless talks, soon they receive a second half of an apple each.
We came here to Thornby beach first through Jelling, the stones (wiki) that mark Christianities spread to the north around 960. Then it was Arhus, a pretty little old town set around canals with terraces of restaurants along the waterways, cafes and bars in the alleys of the old town; I am still proud of a late civilised eating at the outdoors terrace of McDonalds, with the boys it is always McDonalds. But that evening the boys were seated so nicely; were so hungry. In the morning we pushed forward via touristy yellow Skagen to the most northern cape of Denmark, the highest of the high seasons in Camper and Caravan Country wanted to make me cry. The boys didn’t mind, had a tremendous time in pretty lousy, hazy, cold conditions. We walked some 3 kilometres all along the beach to the end, their jeans got completely wet and sandy, sand inside their underwear, what a hippie mess, but they loved it.
Intuition or good luck diverts us eventually to Tornby Strand. It is cool here as everyone is parked on the wide beach. On the very same evening of the same hazy day on the cape we are surprised by an orange sunset; the boy’s excitement drives them back into the sea at 9 p.m.
So after this red sunset, here we are again back this morning, parked on the beach, facing the ocean, lunchtime has arrived in the meantime. The boys are back in the ocean apples in hand; play with the board, the apples fall many times in the sand, I have taught them to wash off the sand in the salty ocean. I also taught them to clean their noses in the sea, runny noses ever since Stockholm, since we started going regularly to the beaches. I have an early Tuborg and think of preparing lunch, risotto to change away from pasta?
The wind picks up, turnes a bit off shore, I confiscate the board. The risotto is soon skipped for simpler pasta, again and again the same thing. But again and again I run between the van and the sea today; keep my boys from floating out onto the ocean in their inflatable armbands. Soon they eat the enormous amount of a proper full plate, cut well into my ration of two large plates, after lunch I treat them to a tiny piece of chocolate, which I managed to buy secretly. After another half an hour in the water they sleep so quickly.
This evening we carry on to the west and eventually south, along the coast of Denmark, the dunes of Thy National Park are covered with reeds, moss and flowers, the former haze turns to clouds, the drizzle starts, I tell my boys to look out for deer. Our direction now is definitely south, home, but I already have a grand detour on my mind.
So it is on the fab trek! And this is the end of the Scandinavian and Finland and Northern tour with my twin boys Daniel and David.
Next morning is the 22nd of July, with some on and off periods I have been 6 years on the road.