På tsjekkiske veier. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Photo: Pål Stagnes

On European roads

The car is packed with the most necessary (and unnecessary), and the guys are ready to enter Europe.

Departure from Norway
We drive the straight road out of Norway, but first I go to Gardermoen to pick up Ivan André, who comes by plane from Trondhiem. From Gardermoen, the E6 goes to Svinesund and across the new Svinesund bridge, and with suddenly we are abroad. We make a short stop at Svinesund and make the first necessary purchases of sweets and drinks. Liquid is important and we bunk up a couple of bottles of mineral water so that we can fill up the refrigerator.

Sweden is not the country we are planning to stay the longest in, and we therefore continue our journey towards the great abroad. Next stop is Helsingborg where we will take a ferry to Helsingør in Denmark.

Fra Helsingborg i Sverige reiser ved med HH-Ferries til Helsingør i Danmark. Foto: Pål Stagnes
From Helsingborg in Sweeden we travel with HH-Ferries to Helsignør in Demark. Photo: Pål Stagnes

Denmark
We arrive in Helsingør and are thus in Denmark. It begins to be late and we choose to drive to Copenhagen and aim to find a hotel in the city. We check in at the DGI City Hotel and get ready for a small walk in Copenhagen. We soon discover that our hotel is not far from well-known Istedgade, and as curious tourists we must check out the street we’ve heard about home in Norway.

In Istedgade there is a lot of shops with sex toys for all kind of fetishes. It was a lot of fun to see, but as good gentlemen from the cold north we fail to shop in these stores.

The next morning we leave Copenhagen and head for Rødbyhavn where we will take the ferry to Puttgarden.

Al Porto in Heiligenhafen has the world’s best pizza. Photo: Pål Stagnes

Germany
The first stop in Germany is Heiligenhafen, a small and cozy village with the world’s best pizza restaurant, Al Porto.

I have been to Heiligenhafen on a few occasions earlier and Al Porto is the place I return to. It was extra pleasant to be recognized by Suzanna, especially considering that it was four years since last time I visited. And it was no less enjoyable that she picked up Giovanni, the owner of the place, so he greeted us.

From Heiligenhafen the trip went to Berlin, Germany’s capital. We arrive in Berlin late at night and found quite easy a nice hotel. We enter the former Meieri Bolle which is now rebuilt to Sorat Hotel Spree-Bogen, a first class hotel.

The Germans are a courteous and friendly people, and we notice that at breakfast the next morning. As simple Norwegians we are used to pouring coffee and tea ourselves, but not in this hotel. With the cups in our hands we chase on the nearest tea or coffee maker and found it. Here we meet one of the breakfast hosts who wonder if we want coffee or tea. Somewhat obvious where we stand with each of our cups in hand. He brews both coffee and tea to us and we got it served at the table. The hotel could also offer a large, good and varied breakfast buffet.

After check-out from the hotel we take a small trip around Berlin to have a small sightseeing. The capital of Germany is a city full of history and there is much to look at while walking in the area around the Reichstag building. Berlin is a great city, and I would like to visit again, but then I’ll have some more time so the city can be explored properly.

Riksdagsbygningen i Berlin. Foto: Pål Stagnes
Parliament building in Berlin. Photo: Pål Stagnes
Berlin offers many exciting photo objects, and for a hobby photographer like me, the camera was heavily used. Photo: Ivan André Buvik


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poland
After our round trip in Berlin, we set the course for Poland, closer to Krakow where we plan to stay overnight before heading to Auschwitz. After we passed the border at Cottbus, it is clear that we have entered a former East Bloc country. It’s a bit grieving and sad in a way, and it’s not going to be put under a chair that Ivan André did not like anything in Poland. Our stay in the country was therefore short-lived. We stayed in Krakow and the day after we drove to Oświęcim, the place better known as Auschwitz.

Auschwitz
Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide and the Holocaust all over the world. The camp was established by the Nazis in 1940, close to the city of Oświęcim, which, similar to parts of Poland, was occupied by Germans during World War II. The name of the city Oświęcim was changed to Auschwitz, which also became the name of the camp.

In the following years the camp was expanded and consisted of three main parts; Auschwitz I, as we visited, Auschwitz II-Birkenau and Auschwitz III-Monowitz. It also had 40 sub-camps. At first, there were poles who were imprisoned and who died in the camp. Eventually, Soviet war veterans, gypsies and prisoners from other nationalities were also detained in the camp.

The gate at Auschwitz with the well-known Arbeit Mach Frei – Work makes you free – for most it didn’t. Photo: Pål Stagnes

From 1942, the camp became one of the largest sites of mass destruction in history, especially aimed at the European Jews, this as part of Hitler’s plan for the extinction of the Jewish people. The majority of Jewish men, women and children deported to Auschwitz were sent to the gas chambers immediately after arrival. By the end of the war, in an attempt to conceal the traces of the crime committed, the SS began to tear down the gas chambers, crematories and other buildings as well as to burn documents.

Prisoners who were able to march were evacuated further into the third reich. The captives left back in the camp were released by the soldiers of the Red Army on January 27, 1945. On July 2, 1946, the Polish Parliament established the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in the area of ​​the Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps. The area was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

We leave Auschwitz with a great respect for history, and George Santayana’s words “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again” gets a stronger meaning.

Power fences were set up around the camp to prevent the prisoners from escaping. Photo: Pål Stagnes

From Oświęcim and Auschwitz, the journey goes to Slovakia and Bratislava continues, at least that is what we thought. Only after about three hours, we are on the right track after driving in all directions on the Polish countryside.

We planned to stay in Bratislava, but all hotels were full and we had nothing to do but continue. We drove through the night until we arrived in Vienna.

Around Vienna there are many horse rides suitable for sightseeing. Photo: Pål Stagnes

Austria
After arriving in Austria we discover that it practices the same policy as in Switzerland regarding payment on highways, and at 4 in the morning there are few places to pay highway tax. Therefore, we had to drive on the roads which are not tax-levied, which gives us an opportunity to see a little more of the country.

On the way to Vienna, there will be a lot of crooked driving since all signs that point towards Vienna will take us on the highway. But we are slowly coming to Vienna, or perhaps not so slowly anyway. In any case, I can not stop or swing away from an already bullied deer that is in the way. It will be an expensive experience when the car is going to the workshop next time since I’ve broken one of the fastenings to the exhaust system.

We can safely say that we have fallen in love with Vienna. A truly beautiful city which had earned more than the day we had at your disposal. The city is full of beautiful structures. This combined with nice people and a warm atmosphere makes this a city I want to return to. And it is impossible to spend a long weekend in Vienna since there are cheap flights from Oslo.

We discover that the days goes fast…
Something has happened to the calendar. The days go a lot faster than what we thought. We are now so far south that the only possibility of returning to Norway is to take some proper driving sessions. The home road is through in Bratislava, as we want to see the city during the day as well. We conclude that the city was so much more cozy at night when we were there last time than it does now during the daytime. It is possible that Vienna has made us picky.

We heads north and drives on Slovak country roads. Slovakia seems to be a cozy country, which we should explore more on a later occasion. Something tells me we have too little vacation. It may be time to fight for both the sixth holiday week and the seventh, eighth and ninth as well…

We spend the night at hotels in Göttingen and feel like we have got closer to home.

The German city of Celle has preserved much of the old buildings, which gives the city a real character. Photo: Pål Stagnes

Celle
A short distance from the autobahn lies the German city of Celle. The city is definitely worth visiting. The city has preserved many of the old buildings, making the city a place worth visiting.

The idea was originally that we just had to swing around and see the place at full speed since we had been advised that we just had to go. The short stop lasted for hours, which unfortunately is all we had at your disposal. We put the city on our “here I want to back-list”.

The final leg
From Celle, the route goes further north, across Puttgarden – Rødbyhavn, through Denmark. We leave Denmark the same place as we landed a few days earlier, in Helsingør, where we take a ferry to Helsingborg. In Helsingborg we are entering the last hotel for this time.

From Helsingborg it is straight way home. We pass Svinesund and follow the E6 towards Oslo. In Oslo we take a short stop at my house before continuing on the E6. At Dombås we split. Ivan André takes the train north towards Trondheim at 4 in the morning. I drive towards Åndalsnes and arrive one and a half hours later. I land on the couch and fall asleep while my head is on the way to the pillow.

Map
The map below shows our route.

(Red is us travelling together, blue is Ivan André alone, and green is Pål alone).

Map from the Univesity of Texas at Austin. Travel route is based on GPS data.
Day 1 Ivan André drives fra Brønnøysund to Trondheim.
Day 2 Ivan André travels by plane from Trondheim to Oslo where we teams up. The trip goes to Copenhagen.
Day 3 Copenhagen – Berlin
Day 4 Berlin – Krakow
Day 5 Krakow – Vienna
Day 6 Vienna – Prague
Day 7 Prague – Göttingen
Day 8 Göttingen – Helsingborg
Day 9 Helsingborg – Dombås.
At Dombås Ivan André continues to Trondheim by train, and further with car to Brønnøysund, while I drives to Åndalsnes.