I have always loved travelling, visiting family and familiar places as well as exploring new destinations. The excitement mixed with a little nervous energy, part of my makeup, but never enough to make me not want to travel.

That is till Covid hit and turned our lives upside down. Then travel all of a sudden seemed the scariest thing in the world.

In Australia, where I live, we remained relatively Covid free in the beginning of the pandemic when so many countries suffered a huge loss of lives. As an island, we had the ‘luxury’ to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. But our ‘freedom’ from Covid came at a loss. It virtually meant no travel in or out of Australia for a long time. Even our state borders closed and in Sydney our lock downs meant the government restricted us to only travel within a 10 km radius from home. Indeed, a strange time. Then vaccines came, and we slowly opened up, followed by the new variant Omicron. Lockdown and working from home again. All the changes over the last two years have been totally exhausting.

This post will not be about Covid and what we went through, but I know the experience influenced me as a person. To finally book this trip and hop on a long plane trip across to Denmark was a huge step for me. Totally out of my comfort zone. But the prospect of seeing my family again got me across the line. My last trip to Denmark was Xmas 2017, almost 5 years ago. If Covid taught me one thing, it’s that none of us know what’s around the corner. I did not want to defer my trip to the following year and maybe live to regret it. 

So my flight got booked and here I am. At my sister’s place recovering from a bit of jet lag and a body that aches like I just took part in a marathon. But otherwise thrilled to be here. 

Let’s take a few steps back to when my trip started in Sydney. 

My flight was an evening flight, so I hoped it would help me have a good sleep. I had the day off, so less stress getting sorted and packed. But the day dragged. Excitement and stress raced through my body, taking turns in being the dominant runner.

I hopped in an Uber late afternoon and made my way to the airport. It wasn’t too busy and the baggage check-in progressed relatively easy. They had assigned me a window seat despite preference for being an aisle. With a fully booked plane and it was impossible to change it. Already a bit concerned about having to wear a face masks for the long flight the window seat added to my stress. Claustrophobic tendencies and being locked in a window seat have in the past brought on the unwelcome panic. So I book aisle seats. This time there was no way out of it. I had a fourteen hour flight in front of me squashed into a window seat. I had to accept it and told myself I could deal with it but also knew claustrophobia could come on out of the blue and often makes no sense to the normal mind. Strangely enough, part of me also found this challenge empowering. Resolute on not letting it bother me I focused on the benefits of a  better view out of the plane. 

The plane, a big comfortable A380, sported plenty of seat room and I settled in next to a young couple. A surprising calm settled in me. The plane ran late by an hour because of an ill passenger needing to off board the plane. For a short moment I wondered if it the traveller had Covid, but I soon persuaded myself  to not let my mind take me down that path.

As we took off, the view across Sydney mesmerised me. Lights shone like diamonds everywhere and the roads slid across the city like giant lit up snakes. A beautiful sight that I would not have enjoyed from an aisle seat.

The face mask didn’t really bother me. I wear a very comfortable reusable mask from Airinum with KN95 filters. But for the first time I had to wear it for 24 hours straight. I can report even after 24 hours I had no issues. Many did though. Some passengers, even though it was compulsary to wear the mask, would ‘forget’ when getting up after finishing their meals, or wear them under their noses or chins. A common sight in everyday life that always makes me wonder. Are they just plain stupid, rebellious of nature or just don’t care for others? But we are all different I guess, and do what we are capable of in life. The Covid pandemic has affected us all and each of us have had to make choices that we could live with and stay both physically and mentally strong throughout this strange time. For me wearing a mask was such a simple thing to do not only avoid catching Covid but more so a way to avoid spreading it to someone more vulnerable.

Because of the initial delay in take off from Sydney, we arrived late in Dubei, which meant a very short layover. Just enough time to do a quick pit stop at the bathroom, then walk the long trek to the gate. Why are gates always on opposite ends of an airport? Do they do that to make us passengers walk more? Good exercise after sitting, I guess.

Next leg, a six hour flight to Copenhagen. My destination getting closer and hearing the Danish language from the captain announcing the flight journey made me smile under the mask. Going back to my birth land again filled me with content and happiness. The older I get, the more I connect to Denmark and to its people and rituals. It means more to me. When we age life slows down and with less responsibility of career and family life, we gain time to dig deep and think about our true feelings. What we are about. I love that about getting older. Perhaps there is some truth about the saying ‘You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl’.

I finally arrived on Danish soil and the sound of the Danish language could be heard all around me. Clouds covered the sky and a little cool breeze greeted me but the constant walking from the plane through customs, picking up luggage, hopping on train to Copenhagen central station kept me warm. I felt exhausted. I had plans to get a local sim card at the station and enjoy my first hot dog. A Danish delicacy I normally must have as soon as I land. But tiredness took over and the hot dog got the flick.

I just wanted to catch the first train across to Jutland, where my sister would pick me up. I got my ticket and headed to the platform. A three hour fast train trip with one train switch. I could manage that. So you would think, right? But nope, my tired body and brain, after two hours on the train the switch proved too hard. I got myself on a train heading at great speed back towards Copenhagen. I almost cried when I found out. So this girl got herself off at the next station, again up and down stairs with heavy luggage, work out which platform would get me on a train back to the station I had come from, so I could get on the correct train. An extra hour to the already long trip I did not need.

But the error meant I got to meet a lovely Danish woman, a connection I would never have experienced. Her husband was very ill after a blood clot, unable to function and speak. She would regularly do the long train trip to visit him. A very sad story, but her positive outlook amazed me. My little trip error shrunk next to her problem. 

I finally arrived at Herning station at 7pm greeted by my sister’s beaming face on the platform. 30 minutes later, after a shower and fresh clothes, I sat down to enjoy a scrumptious dinner of smorrebrod with my sister, brother and sister-in-law. We chatted and laughed till long into the evening. My heart overflowed. I was home. 

Despite the stressful decision to go and the long trip from Sydney, I am proud I did it and absolutely worth it. This photo says it all.

Positive Thought 17/1/2019

Today’s positive…this morning I chatted to my sister in Denmark, excited about her first grandchild due in three weeks, as well as my daughter in San Fransisco, excited about her wedding in September. 2019 is shaping up to be a big year!

Positive Thought 13/10/2018

Today’s positive…seeing new flower buds forming on the orchid my sister gave me, when she was visiting earlier this year. Living in Denmark her visits to Sydney are rare, but always treasured. Seeing her orchid about to bloom makes me feel like she is still here. The presence of loved ones can be felt in many interesting ways.

Positive Thought 2/7/2018

Today’s positive….Wordpress sent me a note to congratulate me on six years with WP. Reminded me that I actually set up my first WP blog as a journal on my first trip back to Denmark after 17 years here in Australia. It was just for me and girls to read.

I’ve just been reading some of the post. So pleased I have it as it was a special trip; it reconnected me with my family and the country I grew up in. And best of all it paved the way to more trips since.

Sharing this short post I wrote as I travelled across the countryside by train on the way to my hometown. I was so excited and overwhelmed.

***We are speeding through the Danish country side and while Im taking in the scenery passing in front if my eyes Ive got a myriad of emotions speeding through my body. The rolling mass of greenery, pine trees, willows and farmland splattered with cute little farmhouses with steep rooves to combat the winter snow, fields of flowers whose names Ive long forgotten but still awakes a dormant memory cell. This is the first time Ive experienced Denmark in the summertime since I was 21 and the images before me brings me right back. It is beautiful it is green and lush the sky is both blue and grey. It is summer in Denmark!***

Return To The Dark

I lived in the darkness of the northern winters for 20 years and yet returning to it feels both strange and comforting.

Having lived in Australia with its sunny skies for a lifetime now it blows my mind to see the sun not rise till 9 o’clock in the morning and then only grace us with its presence till mid-afternoon. By 4pm it is pitch black again and another 17 hours of darkness starts again.

I spent all of my childhood in Denmark and the long dark winter evenings certainly encourages a lot more reading and opportunities to “hygge” with family and friends. Hygge is this unique Danish word for spending cozy time with loved ones. It often involves good food, drinks, candles and warm heating. Basically, ​people connecting and enjoying each others company. No direct translation is available as its such a Scandinavian term. It’s part of our unique culture and something I miss.

But I must also admit after 6-8 months of cold grey days and long dark nights it can become really depressing. The term winter blues is absolutely real. I remember longing for tropical sunny places during those long winters. When spring and summer finally arrive​ everyone feels a sense of euphoria. Life truly feels like it starts again when the first signs of spring flowers emerge out of the cold soil. Tiny white winter flowers were the first I remember being the initial sign even if they were often poking out of the snow on the ground. A strong feeling of renewed energy and life comes over everyone both humans​s and animals. Again something you only truly experience in a climate of cold winter darkness.

In Australia where I live now, the seasons are too similar to really produce that sense of new life and energy. During our winters we may complain about the cold reaching “freezing” around 15C and the days getting shorter because we return from work in the dark. But its nothing compared to the cold north. Everything is relative to our normal environment and we all adjust accordingly.
Still, being back here for Christmas for the first time in over 20 years, in spite of the grey skies and the dark nights, it also feels strangely nurturing and comforting living in this darkness. It was such a big part of me for a long time and brings a lot of memories back on both a conscience and sub-conscience​ level. This return to the dark nights is reaching something deep in my core, a connection to my childhood and my parents who have long passed. A connection to what was part of me for maybe a relatively short time but a very important part of my life, a part that shaped the person I am today. I feel both a longing to be part of it again and a sense of loathing.

Being here in December is probably the best time if you have to experience this darkness. The Christmas lights are everywhere and so mesmerizingly​​y beautiful. The Danes seem to have both an overwhelming and understated way of displaying their Christmas joy. Unlike other countries, the lights are not flashing and multicoloured​,​, but just a plain light lighting up the trees and gardens. Walking the streets is a joy with lights and candles in every window. It looks classy and beautiful rather than crass and flashy.

I guess because of the extreme differences in Christmas celebrations in my old country and in Australia I am truly looking forward to spending it with my Danish family in this cold dark country. This to me is Christmas. Even after living longer in Australia than I ever did in Denmark it still does not truly feel like Christmas when it’s​ sunny and hot outside. The novelty of Christmas on the beach and BBQ’s in the backyards has certainly been enjoyed many times, but I think as long as I live itwill not​t feel like real Christmas to me unless its dark and cold outside.

Christmas is steeped in tradition and has so much magic for children. Maybe we all revert back to longing for how we spent Christmas as children. Or is the white Christmas in the dark something stronger.
I wonder ………..Would love your comments on this.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not I wish you all a wonderful and safe time filled with love and joy. May the writing come easy.​

Dreaming Of a White Xmas

The day has finally come.

In another hour I will be bound for Copenhagen. The cold north for a, fingers crossed, white Christmas.

We have been planning it for over 6 months and trust me coordinating time off, flights,​train trips​, ​and accommodation​ for 3 people living in 3 different places has been a challenge. But we are all on our way. On different flights, but all meeting up in Copenhagen for the rest of our 3-hour​ train trip to spend Christmas with our family in Denmark.

I still can’t believe it is actually happening. This is the first time in over 20 years that we have all been together for Christmas. My sister and brother and their family and me and my girls. It’s​ a Christmas miracle.

Last time I traveled​ to Denmark with my girls, I spent most of the 30-hour​ flight with my 3-year-old​ on my lap. She is now 26! My oldest was about 6 or 7 and too excited to sleep. Until we finally landed in Copenhagen. Knowing we had finally arrived in Denmark she relaxed and fell into a coma style sleep. We still had a 2-hour​ wait in Copenhagen before boarding a short flight to my​​ hometown​. If you have ever tried to wake up a comatose​ child with a toddler on your hip and 3 backpacks on your back​,​, you know what​ I am talking about.

This time will be easier. For starters, ​they are much older and flying on different flights!

But back​ to being excited! It really hit me this afternoon when I finished work and headed home to get ready for my trip. It became real then. Both my daughters were on their way and I was the last to board on my plane here from Sydney. I am leaving Sydney in a heatwave and will be arriving in ​freezing cold Denmark. It was almost impossible to think of winter coats, boots, ​and scarves in our sweltering​ heat. Time will tell if I have packed the right gear.

My sister will be picking us all up from the train station when we arrive around 7pm. She has planned a nice supper of Danish smorrebrod,​ fancy open sandwiched, and my brother and his wife will join us. They are all equally excited to finally see my daughters as well. They have seen me a few times over the last few years, always in the ​summertime​. But this time we could all make it and everyone is​ filled with anticipation.

I feel so lucky to finally be able to organize​ this. Its been a long time coming.

Just​ goes to show,​ if you want something bad enough and keep working towards it, anything is possible.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday time and safe entry into 2018. Thank​ you​ for your continued support and for following and commenting on my posts.

Keep dreaming big.