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.

The Xmas Card

Photo by Danish photographer Rene Asmussen –

Anna sat down to write on the multi coloured Christmas card she had spent over an hour selecting in the David Jones Xmas section. Baby animals jumping around the well known portly man in his red suit filled the front of the card. Anna was sure her new grandson would love it. Her first grandchild.

‘Dear Jacob’, Anna started, imagining her daughter reading out the words to the young baby who’s age was still being counted in weeks and days.

Anna wanted the card to be special. It was going to be Jacob’s first Christmas. She would much prefer to be there, to hold him tight and whisper ‘Merry Christmas my little one’ into his ear, but it was not to be this time.

She stared at the blank inside of the card. The words did not flow. Instead, wet giant silent tears formed and trickled down her cheek. Images of Jacob from the many photos and videos her daughter Lilly had sent rolled in front of her eyes. This tiny human that she had yet to meet in person had already taken up a massive chunk of her heart. He was not her own baby, but the feelings she felt for him seemed as strong as her feelings were for Lilly. It had taken Anna by surprise, and memories of holding her own babies had come flooding back. She longed to hold this baby, but it was too dangerous to travel just yet with the pandemic still raging.

She wiped her cheek and pushed the chair back, making it almost fall over. The heat in her chest spread like wildfire across her body, causing knots in her throat and redness in her cheeks. 

Damn flushes. Not now!!

Anna couldn’t control the tears or the hot flush, and raced to the bathroom, stripped down naked into the shower of welcoming cool water. While the tears flowed down her cheeks the tightness in her chest and throat eased. The roughness of the towel drying her body felt comforting.

She walked back into the kitchen and made herself a cool drink from the fresh mint leaves and soda, then pulled out the old family photo album.

Pictures of happy faces over the years, sleeping babies, birthday parties and picnics. And many Christmas’s; silver and gold adorned trees, tables laded with turkey and glazed ham, steaming pudding full of rich marinated fruit and warm creamy custard. 

Christmas in so many locations, most years in their old red brick home. But also the occasional Christmas spent abroad in the cold northern winter with snow and darkness outside, and smells of vanilla cookies, roast pork and pine needles inside. Other times with friends up north in the blistering heat, everyone in swimmers in the backyard under the tarp thrown over the Hills-hoist, and the kids playing with their water guns soaking wet and laughing.

So many memories in the photo album, but also in Anna’s heart and she knew in her children’s heart. No Christmas had ever been a sad event for the little ones, even if the adults had had their own problems to deal with. For the kids, every Christmas had always meant good times and lots of presents. 

Jacob would have many more Christmas days, and Anna knew she would celebrate with him one day. His parents would be with him this year. It would be their new little family Christmas. Their time to start their very own mesh of old and new family traditions filling albums of happy memories.

Anna sat down to write.

Dear Jacob,

You don’t know me yet, but you will soon. I am your Grandma from Sydney, where our Christmas is in summer, and the sun shines almost every day. We will meet one day, and I will read Australian books to you, and show you pictures from your mum’s homeland. Maybe one day you can visit me, and I can take you to places I am sure you will love; giant beaches and bays, shady bush lands with enormous trees reaching right up to the clouds, and so many wonderful animals that will make you squeal with delight.

Till we meet my love, I welcome you to life, and hope you have a wonderful blessed Christmas with your very own mum and dad.

Love Grandma xxx

It’s a Small World

‘It’s a small world!’.

How many times have you said that in your life? I know I have many times. That was until 2020.

The world hasn’t changed in size. Just feels that way. With the global pandemic we are no longer free flying birds, hopping on planes and zipping to the other side of the world in a day. Travel restrictions and limited planes have slowed it all down, in fact almost to a grinding halt. The cold reality of distance has crept into our anxious minds; distance between us and our loved one’s overseas.

It feels like when I first came to Australia many years ago in my early twenties. I left my family behind in Denmark to start a new life down-under with my love and soon to be husband. We were young and money was tight. Trips back to visit my Danish family then were rare. Each time I worried that Australia would not let me in. I loved living in Australia, so different to the cold winters of the north.

I never imagined there would come a day when Australia would not let me out. That the world would not be free to travel. That I could not visit my family in Denmark and my daughter in the US whenever I wanted to. But that is our new normal. For now. For how long? The uncertainty is sometimes worse than the restriction itself.

It makes the tough times we are finding ourselves in tougher by not being with people we love. It’s natural to want to have family close by. To want them safe and to feel safe ourselves. To hold them tight and be with them in person. FaceTime and the internet is a blessing but it can never beat seeing their smiles and hugging them tight. 

I cannot wait to do that. One day. Soon. 

When the world is small again.

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