Some years ago, I accepted it was unlikely I’d do much more – if any – in the way of international travel. Then my mother decided she’d like to relocate to the USA… but let’s put that aside for the moment.
I lived overseas for my first two decades, and travelled a fair bit during those years – yet I’ve seen little of the UK, despite living here for the remaining (many) decades. That fact certainly formed part of my decision to forego international travel, but another important part of the decision is that travelling has become more drudge than fun with the passing of the years, and the increasing of aches & pains. Travelling light no longer seems to be an option, and even when I do, it involves way more stuff than it did before. The result is somewhere has to be really appealing. So… where is?
Himself’s Scandinavian friend recently sold his city centre apartment and bought an out of town house on a fjord. Even before he’d moved in, Himself & I received a phone call and a “when are you coming to stay?” demand. I found myself saying “as soon as it’s possible to travel safely” and I wasn’t being polite at all.
The sum total of my time in Scandinavia was a brief trip ashore in Esbjerg, Denmark when I was 21 and had the opportunity to crew on a sailing schooner. I remember little about the town itself, except for the beautiful Copenhagen glass glistening in the shop windows at night as I rolled along the pavements (yes, you do roll after a week sailing at sea). Sadly, there was no time to shop and no place to store something so fragile and expensive in my locker that trip.
But, Copenhagen glass aside, there’s much about Scandinavia which appeals. I’ve a yearning to visit the vast array of islands in the Stockholm Archipelago, I’d love to learn first-hand about the national differences between the countries, to experience how they celebrate midsummer, the Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition of gifting books – when it’s not required to put them to one side, rather you’re actively expected to snuggle up and read them immediately. I long to find out what makes the Danes the happiest people in the world, to indulge in hygge, and lagom, and friluftsliv (time spent in the open air), to experience life with people whose country provides further education not just freely, but also encourages foreign travel by funding their student’s choice to undertake higher education in other countries (Norway in case you didn’t know), the design ethos of living in homes furnished simply, with quality products – designed to be beautiful and to last a lifetime. I could go on and on…
Of course, there are drawbacks – it’s expensive being a big one. But when you have a system of government which puts support and quality of life for its citizens at its centre – things don’t come cheap. It’s cold too. Himself assures me that it’s a dry cold, not soggy and slushy like we have here in the UK. Everyone drives on snow tyres, the roads and pavements are properly prepared, and having the right footwear is simply the norm. Still… I’m not good with cold.
But there are yet more pros: there’s space – and a lot of it. It’s not crowded like this island of ours, so traffic isn’t a problem. And as a photographer, there’d be the gorgeous light and colours of the Lofoten Islands, the majesty of the fjords, and the graphic brutality of Iceland – all right on your doorstep.
Is there a destination somewhere out there calling to you? Where are you dreaming of going when we can travel once more?
© Debra Carey, 2021