From left to right :- Chris, Steve and myself.
We had been planning a trip to Norway for well over a year, so it was slightly disappointing that we didn’t quite make it, we did get as far as Northern Denmark though!
Kind of like being dumped by Kylie Minogue only to be asked out on a date by Danni Minogue five minutes later Denmark was definitely not a disappointment.
Chris, Steve and myself had been having planning meetings in the pub (or excuses to go drinking as my Mrs calls them) for well over a year and had decided that although Norway was the target we really couldn’t go wrong if we fell short and ended up spending time in any of the countries nearby, which is what eventually happened.
But let’s start at the beginning, finishing work at 2 pm on Thursday 5th July, Chris and myself work in the same office so left for the 5 minute drive to pick Steve up (with a quick detour to pick up some samosas and onion bhajis from a fantastic shop here in Leicester) and head down to Dover.
We had looked at different ways of getting over to Europe such as Harwich to the Hook of Holland or the Eurostar but decided on DFDS Ferries Dover to Dunkirk partly down to cost but also down to frequency of ferries and the option of a flexi-ticket. We booked on as a car (2.20m x 6m) which cost us £223 although this included £12 per person each way for the premium lounge. The great thing about the flexi-ticket is it allows you to travel 3 days either side of your booked time which means the drive down to Dover was far less stressful knowing that if you missed your booked ticket you could just get the next ferry, I heartily recommend buying one.
Once on the ferry we made our way up to the premier lounge, it was the first time I had paid for this but I think it will become a permanent fixture on any future crossings. For your £12 you get Danish pastries, unlimited tea/coffee, fruit, biscuits, cans of pop, mineral water and much more as well as comfortable chairs, free Wi-Fi and charging points for your phones.
The Premium lounge.
We were luckily enough to be sailing as the sun set which was a lovely sight.
Sunset on the Channel.
Once safely across the channel we were booked into Ypres campsite and arrived just after midnight so got the van set up, sat and had one beer and then got our heads down.
I’ve spoken about Ypres on here numerous times so I won’t repeat myself, safe to say it is one of my favourite places to visit, I also on my last journey here found a wonderful restaurant which does amazing food, inhetkleinstadhuis which is the first building after the Flanders fields museum, it’s easy to miss as it is tucked right into the corner, if you are thinking of visiting Ypres the campsite is a must to stay at and the restaurant is a must to eat in, it’s best to book as they do get busy, especially just after the last post finishes. I can recommend the steak, it’s amazing.
We spent all day Friday visiting Tyne Cot, Hill 62 and German cemetery made it back in time to watch The Last Post, I must be into double figures now for seeing this but it still has the same effect on me as it did the first time.
We had time after the last post for a couple of beers in my favourite pub in the world. Ypra Inn I’m not sure if it’s the location, the choice of drinks or the friendly staff or all of these things but I love the place.
The Ypra Inn, Menin Gate, Ypres.
So Saturday morning rolled around and we filled the van up with Diesel and headed for Puttgarden in Germany where we were planning to catch the ferry to Rødbyhavn in Denmark.
We knew we wouldn’t get there in one day so agreed to drive until around 5pm and then look for somewhere to stay, I’d done this when travelling down to France for the Euros in 2016 and never struggled to find anywhere with space but as we keyed local campsites into the satnav we chose the one at the top of the list and headed there. Let’s just say we didn’t get the warmest of welcomes and were left under no illusion that they didn’t have space for us. So we tried the second one on the list and I’ve got to admit as the satnav took us into a little town and then progressively smaller and narrower streets I wondered firstly if there could be a campsite at the end of the track and secondly what it would be like, I needn’t have worried about either.
Camping Erlengrund sits approximately 25 miles West of Hannover in Germany and what welcomed us weary travellers on our arrival was a beautiful campsite and a lovely lady that brought us out cold Veltins beer and Currywurst and chips, what could be better at the end of a long days driving!
One of the locals asked where we were from and when I said Leicester he shook my hand and said “Ah Leicester City, congratulations”, a strange occurrence that I still haven’t got used to since we won the league!
A warm welcome at Camping Erlengrund
I’m not sure what the VW art meant on the menu?
We got back to the van, set up for the night and settled in for what had now become the customary crossword before bedtime!
Sunday morning saw us rise fairly early and as a Red Kite flew above us we packed the van up and prepared for another long day of driving, at this point we were still aiming for Puttgarden and the ferry to Denmark but things were going to change today as we came to realise we had a choice to make.
We had 2 choices as far as we could see, we could still aim for Norway, but this would mean a lot of driving and not very much time actually in Norway, or we could stay in Denmark and have a good 4 or 5 days sightseeing and a lot less driving, there was only really one logical choice after all this was supposed to be a holiday not just 8 days of driving! So we consulted the map and after a couple of minutes discussion decided to head for Ribe on the West coast of Denmark, so Ribe was keyed into the satnav and off we went!
You need to keep your strength up when map reading.
Much more to come but I hope you enjoyed the first part, you can follow me on twitter @simmo_1977 and Instagram Simmo482
Any questions please feel free to email me at VWT4trips@gmail.com