So three days before Christmas, don’t we all decide to visit 3 countries and 5 cities in one day? The itinerary for the day was Visby, then fly to Stockholm, fly to Malmö, visit friends in Lund and Södra Sandby, train to Copenhagen and then fly to Berlin. Just your average day of travelling with small kids!
Although we had an early(ish) start planned for the day, the kids were both up before 7am, which was not ideal, but somehow usually the way it works! We headed down for our last breakfast at the hotel and filled up on eggs, breads, meats and cheeses. Along with a good chat with the hotel receptionist who enjoyed chatting about Australia as she’d backpacked through Oz a number of years ago.
At 9.15am Bjorn arrived to provide taxi services for the kids (in car seats) and Anto and the rest of us caught a regular taxi to the Visby airport. Once we arrived at the airport (which is tiny) we stood around waiting for a while, in a rather long line, for check-in to open. It seems everyone else on the flight was also waiting in the same line. They finally opened the 2 check-in counters about 20 minutes before the fight took off. We did manage to get all our bags weighed and accepted (this flight was limited to 20kg per bag) but had to put them in a very large and precarious pile on the weighing machines.
Once through to the boarding gate we got ushered to the front of the line due to having kids with us (there are occasionally advantages!) and we were ready to board our wind-up plane to Bromma airport in Stockholm. This was a Malmo Aviation flight and it was ‘free seating’. Since we were first on the plane we got to sit wherever we wanted but picked seats up towards the front. To the kids delight, a lady with a cat in a carrier boarded and sat in front of us, with the cat at her feet. Soren was quite excited to have a cat onboard!
The flight from Visby (in Gotland) back to mainland Sweden and Bromma aiport (the city airport rather than the big one, Arlanda, out of the city) was around 40 minutes and pretty uneventful. We did have beautiful clear skies, sun and some lovely views of all the islands off the coast off the mainland. It was pretty awesome to see what it looks like in daylight. Every other time we’ve flown in and out of Stockholm it’s been dark!
We headed to the gate for our next flight. With pre-Christmas travel the not overly huge terminal was packed. Of course, our 30 minute wait for our flight to Malmö turned into almost an hour due to a delayed flight. Since it was standing room only in a terminal filled with over-tired kids (ours included), it was a long wait. Soren finally fell asleep 5 minutes before we had to walk across the tarmac to board…… and the blast of cold air woke him up. Again it was free seating, so we ended up picking seats not too far from the front of the plane.
Our flight to Malmö (in the South of Sweden, not far from Denmark) was again on Malmo Aviation and was scheduled to take an hour. With the delay in taking off, and another slight delay in landing we were almost an hour behind schedule. The flight was again pretty uneventful, although the beautiful weather gave way to grey clouds and rain just as we were landing in Malmö, threatening to ruin our afternoon plans.
Once we finally got off the plane and got to arrivals, we found my friend Rose waiting for us along with her husband David and Annabelle and Evie. Astrid and Soren were very excited to see their new friends again. After our visit to the aquarium the week before, the kids were keen to catch up with the girls again. Of course we had carefully laid plans for the afternoon, and the rain was making them look a bit dicey.
Undeterred, we loaded our many bags into Rose and David’s 2 cars and headed off into the drizzle, with hopes of viewing the Øresund bridge. The Øresund bridge is a double-tracked railway and motorway bridge connecting the southern part of Sweden and Denmark. We flew over the bridge coming into Copenhagen when we arrived in Europe. After 30 odd hours of travel I was way too tired to take photos. When we visited the aquarium during our Denmark week, we couldn’t get a good view of the bridge either. Rose had scoped out some spots on the Sweden side for us to view the bridge, and our plan was to head there and have a picnic lunch she had thoughtfully prepared for us. We loaded up one car with the three girls across the back in their car-seats and Rose and I. The boys went with David and had the other seat for Soren. As we set off from Malmö airport the rain was getting heavier but we hoped to see a little of the country-side. As Rose and I were chatting we realised the rain was pretty much torrential and we could barely see the cars in front of us so there was no chance of seeing bridge. We decided to call off the bridge hunt and head back to their place for our picnic in the dry!
By about 2pm we had arrived in Södra Sandby, where Rose and David live so we could picnic in the warm and dry. We were all pretty hungry after a long day, so tucked into a great inside picnic of home-made pumpkin soups, meats, cheeses, Swedish breads and salad. The kids the had a wonderful time playing with Rose’s dogs and the girls with all the toys.
We decided that now that it was rapidly getting dark it was time to head into Lund and do some exploring. The rain had eased slightly but it was still quite wet so we suited the kids up in their weather proof gear and got ready to head out.
Back into the car, we headed the 10km into the city of Lund to have a bit of an explore. Winter Solstice had been that morning so it was dark pretty early, but we were still determined to see a little more of Sweden. We wandered through the Lund town square, which is very pretty. The kids found the Christmas tree, which we of course we had to inspect (and have a photo with). There was also a big pile of dirty snow left from the snow a few weeks earlier. Of course all the kids had to have a play with that.
We then paid a visit to the Lund Cathedral, which is close to 1,000 years old and quite a beautiful building. It has an astronomical clock, several large organs and a huge crypt which is quite amazing.
We then headed back outside for a bit of a wander and headed back towards the market hall to pick up supplies for our train dinner. We were still pretty full from lunch though so settled on a couple of pastries and decided we’d better head for the train station.
After not sleeping all day (bar 5 minutes before our flight to Malmö) Soren managed to sleep during our wander through the Cathedral and the walk back to the cars. He even slept on transfer to the car seat. Rose and David kindly drove us to the train station and deposited us with all our luggage and directed us to the correct train stop.
We bid our excellent tour guides farewell, and headed very slowly under the weight of all our luggage, to the platform for our train to Copenhagen airport. The train arrived pretty promptly and we jumped on and stored the million bags, only to realise that we had inadvertently landed in first class. Since it wasn’t full, and we couldn’t be bothered moving we took up residence and let the kids crack into the pastries for an early dinner.
The journey from Lund (in Southern Sweden) to Copenhagen airport is meant to take about 35 minutes. All was going well until the train unexpectedly stopped in Malmö for about 15 minutes while confused passengers jumped on and off, and on the train on the adjacent platform that was supposed to also be heading to the airport. By now we were used to everything in Sweden running late and stayed put, eventually we were on our way and heading over the bridge. Sadly you can’t see any of the bridge while on the train. We arrived by 6.15pm, plenty of time to check our bags and grab tickets for our 7.35pm flight to Berlin.
We were again flying Scandinavian airlines and their self-service mantra meant an annoying amount of printing bag tags, weighing and selecting seats. We couldn’t get all 6 of us together, and in their ultimate wisdom the airline seated 4-year-old Astrid on her own, 2 rows from us!
Now finally feeling a little peckish we decided on some quick coffees and raided the snacks in our backpacks supplemented with some fresh clementines Rose had supplied. A bit of an eclectic dinner but we were a bit tired to care. We headed off to our gate and then commenced more waiting, as our flight was delayed…… again…….. seemed to be the story of the day!
We eventually made it on board, and decided to put Mikl in Astrid’s seat so he could have some peace. Exhausted Astrid was asleep before take-off. After being a royal pain in the bum for the previous 2.5 hours due to being over-tired, Soren was excited by the sticker books handed out by the airline and played with it non-stop for the entire hour-long flight. Somehow reversing his previously foul mood!
So, if you haven’t asked by now, why on earth were we flying from Visby to Stockholm to Malmö, training to Copenhagen and then flying to Berlin, rather than say a more direct route? Well, it was actually the easiest and somewhat cheapest way of doing the hop from Gotland to Berlin. If it wasn’t Winter we could have caught a train that went on a ferry (that would have been seriously cool, but sadly not running due to ice), so to avoid over-nighting somewhere or losing a whole day of travel, this was our convoluted plan.
Luckily we had scored a clear night for our descent into Berlin. At about 9pm as we were circling the city we could see many of the Christmas markets all lit up and giant ferris wheels and the TV tower. We would have some excited kids, once they realised all the fun things awaiting! First order of business was getting off the plane and to our accommodation. Astrid did not want to wake up and pretty much had to be carried off the plane (along with all our hand luggage, and Soren). I parked myself near the baggage carousels with her and Soren while the boys waited for the bags and she promptly fell back asleep laying on her backpack. One very tired girl!
Bag collection took almost half an hour but once in possession of all our (mostly now dirty) clothes we headed out to find a taxi. Earlier in the day we decided to get a taxi to the accommodation rather than try to figure out metros and trams late at night while exhausted. Of course there was a long wait for a maxi-cab so we ended up getting two taxis. The kids, Anto and I took one, and Mikl and Alan the other. Our cab driver had some questionable driving skills, but he was quickly over-taken by the Mikl/Alan cab as their driver complained ours was ‘too slow’, as he urged all other drivers on the road to ‘go faster my friend’. They beat us by quite a margin.
Deposited in front our apartment building by 10pm we then stood around in the dark waiting for the airbnb host to come and let us in. Finally he arrived (with apologies, apparently half the world was arriving in Berlin 3 days before Christmas) and we trooped all the luggage up the 4 flights of stairs to our apartment. Soren had fallen asleep in the ergo waiting for us to be let into the apartment. Astrid was back asleep on Mikl and had to be carried up. Both were put into their PJs asleep, definitely tuckered out for the day.
The apartment we had booked in Berlin (in Mitte, 800m from Alexanderplatz) was enormous! Definite comfort for our 5 night stay over Christmas. While the kids slept and I started unpacking, the boys headed out to find some breakfast essentials (and beer) at 11pm. We were all pretty tired after a very big day of travel! The next day we were off on a bike tour around Berlin, so needed to rest up.
Statistics for the 22nd of December 2015 – The morning in Visby (Sweden) started at 5 degrees, Stockholm (Sweden) was 6 degrees, Lund (Sweden) was 7 degrees and raining, Copenhagen (Denmark), well the airport was stinking hot (as usual), Berlin (Germany) was 10 degrees and clear. Total walking for the day was a measly 6.7km – that’s what happens when you spend all day at airports and on planes and trains!