A Travellerspoint blog

Our last border crossing......

...back into the UK

So I'm finally home. My last day was in Belgium where I stayed at the home of a good friend just outside Antwerp. It was the last stop of 7 weeks and I was really looking forward to soon getting my clothes from a drawer in the mornings rather than out of a bag.

There have been so many incredible highs, but it's the real world and there have been a couple of lows, but luckily less than a handful which over 7 weeks is probably better than UK life. Stockholm was the hardest leg of the trip, but I think that just confirms that I'm a country girl at heart.

On the other hand, crossing the Arctic Circle, the cabins over the sea, sitting in the sunshine in southern Norway, the fjords, playing in the snow in September, eating blueberries from the bushes in Swedish forests, well, the list is endless, but needless to say there are more than enough fantastic memories to keep me going for a very long time.

On my last morning I was sitting at breakfast looking through photos on my camera and tears came to my eyes. Every now and again it hits me as to what I've actually achieved, on my own, and I'm pretty damned proud of myself. There was nothing that I failed to arrange or bring from the UK and despite all the different places we stayed, I didn't lose anything (much to Barnaby's amazement, as after experiencing just 2 moves, he couldn't believe that things didn't get left behind) and I didn't over spend tooooo much :-)

Most importantly, I can honestly say that there isn't a single "if only...." from the whole trip. It's true that I never got Lexi in a kayak and I didn't climb Galdhopiggen, but there were reasons for this and choices I made so I'm returning home with no regrets about anything I missed or didn't do.

What I did do is travel 4,600 miles, spent over 100 hours driving, 32 hours on 18 ferries and stayed in 26 different places.

We've stayed in tents, huts, cabins on stilts, youth hostels, a cruise ship, manor house, pilgrims retreat, hotels and motels. We've stayed at ski resorts, on working farms, in cities and fields and finally in a very comfortable house in Belgium....phew, I am glad to be home, but what a truly fantastic time I've had.

It was exactly what I had hoped for, a trip of a lifetime.

Posted by Val G 11:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

E-mail address

Just a quick note to say my Grosbout e-mail address is down, so if anyone is trying to write to me, please use Lexibaune@gmail.com
Thanks

Posted by Val G 18:17 Comments (0)

I love this place.....

rain 8 °C

I'm currently sitting under the awning of a restaurant in Copenhagen. It's raining but I'm wrapped up snug with a blanket, heater overhead and scrumptious lobster soup in my tummy, happy as Larry.

I spent the beginning of the week in Sweden, the island of Gotland to be precise. The main town is the walled town of Visby which is simply beautiful, tiny cobbled streets, medieval houses, rose covered wall, ornamental gardens and little independent shops. All this is within a pretty much intact surrounding wall with parts of it going back 900 years.

I did my part to support local commerce, as one day walking into town discovered that the heel on one of my trusty boots had collapsed. Yes the boots were made for walking, but I really have been doing a lot of walking and so they've earnt their retirement. I came across a small shoe shop and not only found a replacement pair of boots, but another pair that I just couldn't resist and so left the shop with my wallet a lot lighter, but my feet a lot happier.

We left Gotland on the ferry and it was then Lexi's turn to be happy, as instead of 3 hours in her cage in the car for the ferry crossing, she was allowed up into the lounge and so took full advantage and slept in a very un-ladylike fashion, whilst stretching out to enjoy her freedom.

Our accommodation that night was one of the occasions when we had a choice of 1, but a great choice that turned out to be. It was a B&B in a large manor house. As it was otherwise empty of guests we had the run of the entire top floor of the house and then in the morning I ate breakfast under a chandelier in the main dining room, quite a difference to the yoghurt breakfast in my tent of 6 weeks ago.

Yesterday we arrived in Copenhagen and I loved the city straight away, although driving in the centre is quite daunting as cars are definitely outnumbered by the cyclists who appear to travel in packs and whizz at you from all directions.

Last night I was looking in the window of a fantastic and huge looking food hall and 2 gentlemen commented that I was like the little girl in the story that presses her nose to the window of the sweet shop, since then I grin to myself every time I look in the window of a shop or restaurant I can't enter, but think of the money it has saved me.....

Posted by Val G 07:55 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

An unfortunate incident....

sunny 10 °C

Stockholm is a beautiful city, but for various reasons known only to them, I didn't find it to be a particularly tourist friendly one (let alone pet friendly) which is a shame as this is Sweden's capital.

Anyway, the first whole day there I learnt about an island that is pretty much just all park, so headed there with Lexi for a long walk and when heading back towards the ferry walked past the Spirit Museum and noticed it had a coffee shop.The museum wouldn't let me in with Lexi because of their licensing laws (!) but the cafe welcomed us both with open arms, and their friendly faces were more than welcome so in we went. The manager was really helpful, giving me a list of coffee shops and restaurants across the city that he knew to be dog friendly, another customer came along and joined me as I had my second coffee and had also succumbed to the most enormous meringue you can imagine, complete with gooey soft centre that was like marshmallow .....simply delicious. Anyway, after putting the world to rights, we eventually said our goodbyes and Lexi and I set off to another island (Stockholm is made up of about 12 different islands.) This one is the old town and had cobbled narrow streets and resembles a mixture of Paris and Venice, but obviously much smaller. Sadly it is also a tourist trap and after an hour I left. Assisted by the lack of places that had outside seating and those that did, either still wouldn't allow Lexi or were bars and you guessed it, I just wanted a coffee.

I soon confirmed my initial thoughts that cities are not for travelling through with a dog, I felt like a pariah and a lonely one at that, give me a mountain to climb any day! Luckily I remembered that I had been given some dog friendly recommendations so off we went across the city to another island and indeed found a fabulous coffee shop that not only were happy to let Lexi lay by my feet, but did the most amazing food and drinks. I must confess I succumbed to a hot chocolate with my food and boy did they do it well :-)

The next day I decided to give up life as a tourist and just take the day off, so we went back to the parkland island and then the Spirit Museum for another coffee and a friendly face.

When Lexi was a puppy she was stung by a wasp and just recently seems to have remembered this and only last week when a wasp landed on her back, she came rushing to me literally trembling. So you can only imagine her reaction when yesterday, as we sauntered back from our walk, not only did she disturb a sleepy wasp, but it was in a really bad mood. It stung all over her head, with the bridge of her nose, her mouth, eyes, cheeks and mouth taking the brunt of it. The poor thing didn't know what to do with herself. Luckily we were reasonably close to the hotel so I hurried back to check on line that I could give her Piriton. By this time her face was starting to swell up like the elephant man and she was quite clearly in distress, I gave her a Piriton and then curled up on the rug with her, her head snuggled tight into me until the tablet kicked in and she eventually fell asleep. Well, I had wanted a quiet day :-)

Posted by Val G 02:56 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

And the Landy heads south......

overcast 14 °C

The last couple of days have basically been spent covering the miles down through northern Sweden to Stockholm and today was less than a 4 hour journey so I was feeling quietly confident we'd be at our hotel for shortly after 3pm check-in....oh what a foolish girl.

I covered 400km in no time, but the last 6km, 2hours!!  When my hotel eventually came into sight on my satnav, that was it, I dumped the Landy at the next available kerb and got out.  Land rovers were never designed for commuting and mine hates stop start traffic at the best of times, my left foot was getting cramp with all the gear changes and the Landy was starting to refuse to go into first, and then I had the issue of how to explain to a dog that it's the traffic, road works and lane closures and I'm really sorry she's been stuck in her cage for 2 hours longer than planned :-( I very nearly pulled the Landy up onto the side reservation at one point and just left it, to come back after dark when the traffic would have cleared. I'm actually impressed with myself that I got within walking distance of the hotel before jumping ship.

The good news is that the hotel is as luxurious as I had hoped, there was even a fleece rug for Lexi and a dog bowl waiting for her in our room.  Unfortunately the lovely lounge and bar area won't allow her, which is actually unusual for a hotel that takes dogs, but the lovely guy at reception that recognised a bedraggled traveller when I arrived, offered to take Lexi for me and she is currently being spoilt rotten behind reception.

This is actually my 'city break' from my travels and I have to say I am starting to feel a little weary. I haven't had a good nights sleep since before I left, nothing to do with the accommodation, just age (!) Sleeping arrangements and things on my mind.  Yes, the mad Scandinavian traveller does have things on her mind, in fact I'm fantasising about a long week-end away, where someone else takes all responsibility for everything, food, hotel the lot and after all my driving, to get there by magic carpet would be great :-) 

You see each night you go home for dinner, or maybe to friends and at the end of the evening go to bed, well it's very different for me because where I'm staying depends on whether I have to get my cooking stuff out of the car, just my kettle and hot drink things, or sometimes nothing at all, but then I always need food to cook and have to keep it cold, even just a packet of cheese. In the north that was simple, just leave it in the cool box in the car with the lid propped open (believe me it was more than cold enough) and sometimes the cooking appliances have been so ancient or dubious I just open another packet of Pringles and a beer instead. Then there's accommodation, the most important thing, it can't be booked too far in advance as now I'm not camping, deposits are often required and plans change. Finding somewhere in the first place that will take dogs always cuts my options, then those that come within budget and the list can become a choice of one. I have to say that now I'm generally booking the next accommodation as soon as I arrive somewhere and on many occasions I haven't had that nights accommodation sorted in the morning.  I suppose it's just the responsibility that comes along with the trip, that is all part of the trip, but it does make it more of a journey, albeit a fantastic and unforgettable one, than a holiday.

Oh dear, I'm definitely sounding jaded aren't I, well I'm here for 3 nights and I'm sure my little break and my first glass of my favourite Pinot Grigio in front of me will ease things and a stroll around the old town of Stockholm tomorrow will do wonders to refresh me, oh yes, and I mustn't forget to book Mondays cabin for Goteland......

Posted by Val G 12:19 Archived in Sweden Comments (1)

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