Travelblog about life and death, gratefulness and places
In this blog post, I share our journey through two weeks of late summer 2020. I take you to some nature-sights of Denmark, write about experiencing Shakespeare with children, share the meaningfulness of board games, celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, and share how it feels to visit parents. I reflect upon the life of change, the nomadic choice, how it affects us, and how it makes sense.
Travelblogging versus life
Sharing on Sundays, Oh my God! Days fly by. All the things I want to do, all the things just happening. I want to carve out more time for studying and reflecting, yet I mostly want to live, to do, to engage, to work, to converse, to enjoy.
Sharing on Sundays is a very good habit. It takes me back to the values, to the focus, to the joy. We have been thinking about education and travel style a lot these two weeks. We have been sightseeing in our own country, visiting people, enjoying family relations and friendships, working and planning, and we have been so busy it was simply impossible for me to write. I need to process, and even though the writing is processing, sometimes I need to do inner work first.
Here we are: I will share the reflections and experiences of two weeks, and it will be amazing. To do it, I need you, my readers, to travel along for the ride of the calendar, the when, where, and with who – to get to the learning, the meaningfulness, and the takeaways of the past two weeks.
We have visited several nature sights this past week. It is funny how some are UNESCO sight, and others are just sight, yet it is all God’s Creation, and when we let ourselves loose it always has something special to offer.
We have been in the small assembly of trees on our friend’s field just 500 meters from the house, and it was magic. Beautiful. Silent. Green. With deer and frogs and mosquitos, mushrooms, moss, the smell of mud and leaves, and fresh wind.
We went to a man-made city forest in Brøndby close to my sister’s house with a big dog forest and walked orderly pathways and off-track yet orderly city forest, found sticks and studied trees, met other people and their dogs, and ran home when the rain started. A very Danish, very beautiful experience, shared with my sister and her lovely children.
I went for a walk by a lake, and the beauty was breathtaking. The key is to just get out there, go for a walk, love it.
And we all went to the UNESCO sight Stevns Klint with the half church hanging over the cliff, the extremes of blue and white, the fossils on the shore, and the birds flying in and out. It is truly beautiful and worth visiting over and over. We really like it. We climbed the rocks to get to the far end of the beach, and we walked the path to go back, picking herbs and zig-zagging between wedding photoshoots. UNESCO sights are rarely empty, especially not on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Another beautiful nature experience was going out to see the full moon rise from the ocean. With suninfo.dk we find the right spots with the right angle for the moon to appear from the horizon and the right timing to see it. It is always worth it, as it is simply very special to see the moonrise. This time, though, we had to face the fact of clouds and just enjoy the fading light, the water, and the silence. We met a few dogs and looked at hunting birds but never saw the moon.
At Kronborg in Elsinore in Denmark, north of Copenhagen, they show live Hamlet on location every summer. This year we took out a full day in order to experience the whole thing. The play is extremely well staged at the real castle, well played. The language is a modern version in English for the tourists and maybe in respect for Mister Shakespeare.
I have written about art before. It can not be stated too often, though, how important it is to dive into the art and to educate ourselves in order to experience art. Art gives us a transcendent experience and makes us richer in important ways. Art can speak about the unspeakable and explain the unexplainable, and our nuanced human psychology and intelligence are ready for this nourishment, this very important element of life – we do not need all of the analysis, the background, the academic “full understanding” of the work, we mostly need to enlight our souls by experiencing it, allowing it to move us, to take it in and let it do its own work, trusting life itself.
Of course, we love the academic “full understanding” as well. Why not have it all?
With Mister Shakespeare, first of all, we need to recognize the stories as universally interesting and to just not be intimidated by the whole fuzz about it. Just take it in and love it.
We had a great and even greater day at Kronborg. If you ever visit Denmark in the summer, please go. It is awesome.
A bit of Sweden and the Baltic Sea
As it was my first fathers’ birthday on August 30th, we went to visit. My father lives in Sweden just by the coast, and it was a beautiful day to go see him. He has health issues and is rarely available, so we were grateful to get this afternoon together. His wife, my second mother, was, of course, also happy to see us. It is so precious the time we get with loved ones.
My father lives in an old town on the coast, an old fisherman’s town. His surroundings are beautiful, with his nature garden, the view, the coastline, and the Baltic Sea itself. We enjoyed the sunshine, the sunset, the fresh air, the birthday cake, and each other. As we see each other so rarely, I am grateful for every second we get and for being able to give my children an afternoon with their remaining grandparents.
I always wish I could get more of this, so the memory is bittersweet. We have love and gratefulness, and we feel pain. We have to embrace the complexity of life.
One of my favorite places in Copenhagen is Assistens. It is a graveyard and a park at the same time, a historical site, and the place I can visit the graves of my first mother, my grandmother, and my cousin’s baby. I used to live in the neighborhood and use Assistens as my local park, wondering about life, enjoying the trees, and visiting the graves of famous writers, philosophers, and artists.
This year, we celebrated a birthday with some dear friends in the park, right between my grandmother's and my mother’s grave. Life is interesting. And a week later, we came back to plant something on my mother’s grave, as it was very empty. As my siblings decided to bury my second father somewhere else, it was even more empty. No one looking after the plants, so everything was dead, plus the stone with room for one more – that will never come. So sad.
It is peculiar, the fact it makes any sense, but it does. On a Sunday, we went to buy plants and then to her grave to honor her life by making sure something would grow there all winter and spring. The children (mine and my sisters) had painted some stories to put on the grave. We said a little prayer and shed some tears, and left hand in hand.
As we walked, a small, soft feather fell, and I caught it. I know it was my mother sending her love. I put it to my cheek for a second, felt grateful, and never spoke of it. Before now.
Oh – man! So much is happening in just two weeks in our home country!
On the 25th of August, we had been married for 13 years and celebrated by going for a city walk in our hometown. The town is celebrating the anniversary of H.C. Ørsted, who discovered electromagnetism, so we went to see the exhibition in the Round Tower built by one of our greatest kings as an observatory (and church tower) for Tycho Brahe, a great astronomer from the 16th century. We love this tower, it is extremely beautiful, and we love exhibitions on art, science, and history, and we were so grateful for this particular one, as the people working in the exhibition were so excited to explain everything, and everything was very interesting.
So much we did not know before. For Danish readers, I highly recommend reading about this man and his life. One peculiar thing is his invention of 2000 Danish words; some never existed before, and some he made a Danish version of a word normally only used in Latin, German, or French.
We also went to the great bookshop, where I spent the last cash my first mother gave me before she died – on books for my children, and to the huge boardgame-shop where we could spend hours and hours (and we did) exploring the world of games with the highly competent people working there, it is a pleasure to research new options and old classics.
Fjord and Daddy took a scooter to the corner of the city where we had decided to enjoy a vegan cake to celebrate, and all of the rest of us walked really fast, a bit frustrated, as we are Danes and Danes bike – I miss my bike. But we are ex-pat Danes, tourists in our own town, and it felt a bit strange. But okay. If we can walk in all of the other cities, we can walk in Copenhagen too.
Now, we live with friends in Denmark; we have a good crowd to play games with. Ina’s family stars three children, ages 14, 7, and 5, so in all, we count six children and four adults. We have been playing strategic games, word games, quiz games, adventure games, classic games, new games, and exit games, card games, and ancient games.
I never wrote a single post on games, and I should have written under the full corona lockdown in Spain. It would have been the right thing to do, but I did not have the personal power to do it, as the whole COVID thing took me down very hard.
So here you get the short version
During the lockdown, I became a gamer. Board gamer. Basically, I realized the reason I did not like to play games, was that I did and do not like to fight my children to win.
During the lockdown, we were lucky enough to live with another family as they were trapped and not able to travel home to Latvia. This family became our close friends, and they are happy gamers. They had a lot of great games with them, many cooperative games and many interesting games with less competition and more strategy. It was a great learning experience, and I really found the joy of playing games.
So, now we invest a lot of time playing games. It takes valuable time to connect, and it is always a great challenge for the brain (as games that do not present a challenge never get played). So we get to be alive on many levels when we play, and we get to do core value stuff: Togetherness, learning and growing, enjoying and sharing.
Playing board games is not just something you do if you are bored and it is raining. Boardgames have a whole world of an interesting and loving, and meaningful life to offer.
Traveling with games
The nomad lifestyle presents the challenge of not owning too much stuff as we move all the time. Playing games contrasts with this as board games take up a lot of space. We have become masters of cramming loads of games into smaller spaces and are always careful with the big ones. It is always a matter of priority, and we travel with a LOT of games and a LOT of books.
But not a lot compared to how much we would have if we had had a house. Living as a nomad makes you think about it more frequently. So our stash is always updated and relevant to the current situation.
A life of change
Right now, we live in a house with friends, and the stack of games is enormous. I have learned we do not need to find a one size fits all solution to life. Nomadic life, even more than a life with a base, has so many stages, options, situations, and contexts. We need to adjust, we need to get ready for the new and let go of the old. The transition can be complicated, but this life of change is exactly what we were aiming for, and we have now – after two years – learned it is just amazing to allow for things to change, even the amount of physical stuff.
When we started the nomadic lifestyle, we thought we would pack our life into a bus and live from that. But the reality is the bus is too narrow. Life offers more situations, and we embrace them all. We bought the VW Multivan because we needed a car when my mother died last year, and we learned the moving-in-with-strangers style. Another great way of nomadic life is living with friends and family. We have learned living with other people is an amazing way of getting close to people we love, and we would not want it any other way. My children explicitly say they do not want their own house because that would make us not stay with friends and family.
So, our travel style changes with the seasons, the options, and the mood. We sometimes live in the small green VW, sometimes we live in the big red bus, we sometimes move in with people we do not know, and we sometimes move in with friends and family. All of the “strangers” we moved in with earlier is now on the list of friends, and we love to come back and re-visit. Now we plan on a tiny home in Denmark, as we see it will be needed with a base here on the long run and a van with a size between the bus and the VW. Bus too big, VW too small.
Learning all the time.
Changing all the time.
Living all the time.
- Cecilie Conrad
Thank you for reading the blog. I write to share our experiences and perspective and would love to hear yours. Please comment in whatever way feels right to you: Facebook-comment, personal e-mail, text message, or whatever you like. It brings a lot of joy when we hear from readers. Thank you, and may the sun shine on your path.
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