5 Countries in 5 Weeks
Earlier this year, we spent a couple of months travelling through France and Spain promoting spending family time in the outdoors, via caravanning and motorhoming, making our bookings through The Caravan Club.
This time, we decided to take a different direction into Europe and spend five weeks heading into central and northern Europe, stopping at various campsites and places of interest in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – yep that’s five countries in five weeks! The schedule is hectic; staying at 20 different sites and moving on every one or two days. We’ll be clocking up a few miles in the Eldiss AutoQuest 180 so it will be interesting to see how the fuel economy goes.
Week One in the Netherlands
Our first week was spent in the Netherlands. We set off from Hull on 25th July and arrived in Rotterdam the following morning after a calm ferry crossing. Arriving in the early hours meant that we had a full day in our first country. Rather than head up towards Amsterdam and Delft, as we have on previous visits, we turned right and towards a cluster of islands south of Rotterdam.
Our second day in Holland was at the nearby Oosterschelde National Park, located to the south. It is the largest national park (a coastal park with flood defences) in the Netherlands and offers many cycling and walking routes on which to explore the surrounding area.
One of the reasons for booking the Beekse Bergen sites was its proximity to Efteling theme park. Ella’s birthday always falls during the summer holidays and more often than not we are away. This year is no different. Since we knew we were going to be in the Netherlands at the end of July, we planned our stops so that we would be near Efteling theme park on the big day.
Nearing the end of our first week of five, we left the Netherlands and crossed the border into Germany. We will be back though, in about 4 weeks time.
Week Two – Germany
The start of our second week coincides with arriving in our second country: Germany. Having cross the border, we drove to Rieste in eastern Germany to our next stop, a five star campsite called Alfsee.
Our second stop in Germany was on the other side of the country so, yep it meant a long drive literally all the way across from East to West. We had planned to break the journey up by staying at a Stellplatz but the one we chose ended up being a car park near a busy road (not quite the romantic, picturesque spot we had hoped!) so we drove the extra miles and got to our site earlier than planned. It was a long journey but worth it in the end.
So, our second stay was actually in Potsdam, a historical region not far from the capital.
The area is covered in lakes and is famous for its association with Prussian kings who resided here in the late 19th century.
Memories of Berlin
Our stay in Germany is coming to an end as we have only one more stop before we reach Denmark. In the last seven days we’ve learnt a lot about some of Germany’s important historical events and used seven different means of transport to get about: water ski, bike, tram, train, feet, canoe and of course our trusty Elddis Autoquest!
Week 3 – Germany to Denmark
Our third week began in Germany but ended in Denmark!
At the start of the week we were staying at Wulfener Hals campsite on an island in Northern Germany linked to the mainland by bridge. The site is positioned in the south of the island at the end of a peninsular with views over the Baltic sea. Although it felt quite remote there was lots to do.
Tim headed out on the water and loved it! I jumped on a board as well and the girls spent a few hours learning the ropes – two future windsurfers in the making!
It was then time to go to our third country – Denmark – a country that none of us had ever visited before and not surprisingly we felt excited at the prospect. We only had two stops planned – one in the middle of Jutland, the main Danish peninsular, and the other at the far top of the country. More long drives!
Our first Danish stop was at Riis Feriepark. Riis is a small village which does not necessarily have much significance but it is close to a very well-known attraction…Legoland, which is one the biggest and most popular tourist attractions in this area.
No we didn’t go.
By the end of the week, we had travelled from northern Germany to northern Denmark. We stayed at a campsite called Rabjerg Mile camping. It got its name from the migrating sand dune called Rabjerg Mile, only a few miles away. We walked to the sand dune. It was an impressive sight even under grey skies and heavy drizzle.
Week 4 – Sweden and Norway
Our fourth week of five was spent in Sweden and Norway.
The following day we went exploring Gothenburg. With a one day travelcard each (for adults) we were able to hop on trams, buses and ferries allowing us to get about the city easily. The girls became our tour guides for the day and took to a couple of well-known sights. We also explored the Gothenburg archipeligo by the public ferry.
On our second day in Gothenburg we went to the Universeum, as family museum based in the popular Liseberg park (not far from where the amusement rides are located) before driving up the coast to our next stop, Hafsten, a site on a peninsular, surrounded by the sea. The sea was sheltered by the surrounding landscape and looked and felt like a lake when there was little or no wind. It was saltwater though and affected by the tide.
We had a relaxing couple of days on the Swedish coast, swimming in the site pool and in the sea, running in the woods and admiring the gorgeous views that surrounded us.
Fifth county: Norway
The following day was one of the most beautiful and dramatic drives of our trip. We drove out of the city and into the Norwegian countryside, along roads that were bordered by lakes, reflecting rocky hillside covered in tall pine trees. Stopping to stretch our legs on the six hour journey didn’t involve finding a nasty service station but a picturesque view point over water where you are encouraged to stop for a swim!
So, after four weeks, we had managed to reach our fifth country and fell in love with Norway and its beautiful landscape. With so little time here, we felt frustrated to leave and will definitely return one day to see more of what is an impressive country.
Week 5 – the return journey
We are now beginning the return journey. Having spent four weeks travelling through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, we frustratingly have to turn the motorhome around and head south again.
It was an early start to the day since we had to leave our last site in Norway at half past five in order to drive to the ferry port in Kristiansand by half past seven (an hour before the scheduled departure).
The trip over the Baltic sea was short; we were on the twin-hull speed ferry and arrived in Hirtshals, northern Denmark, mid morning. After stopping off for food and fuel (much cheaper than in Norway) we drove to our campsite for the night, not far away.
Our last couple of days in Denmark were spent in a site called Hvidbjerg Strand – a luxurious site in Blavand. Included in the cost of our stay was access to a swimming pool, indoor play centre and spa. The site was five star and felt extremely luxurious. Not surprisingly we filled our time with what was on offer at the site as well as visits to the picturesque beach nearby. The two days here flew by and the girls certainly didn’t want to leave.
Our final stop was in the historical city of Utrecht. The main reason for this stop was to catch up with a Dutch friend and her family. It had been many years since we, as adults, had met up and the children hadn’t met each other before. We all clicked and got on like a house on fire. We had a wonderful 24 hours, swimming at a lake, hiring a boat and exploring the canals and wandering around the city of Utrecht.
Before we knew it, time had run out and we had to make our way to Rotterdam for the ferry.
We arrived in good time and were hoping to get on the ferry in plenty of time to enjoy the facilities. For some reason, we were the last ones on! We watched as the cars, vans and lorries all drove on ahead of us and began to worry as the car deck looked increasingly full. Finally, we were asked to reverse down the ramp and on to the boat, squeezing on amongst the lorries. This meant that the following morning, we were the first ones off and drove quickly out of the port ahead of all the other passengers.
Our Five Countries in Five Weeks tour has come to an end. We’ve seen some stunning sights, learnt some fascinating facts, met some fantastic people and experienced life in five wonderful European countries. Travelling around in our motorhome meant that we were able to pick a route that took in many different places. It was a lot of driving but we certainly saw a lot!