One of my less developed skills is relaxing on vacation. Time off work I usually use to bustle around, meet friends and look at things. While that is very nice, too, I decided I needed to learn how to do less on vacation – so we went to Otterndorf. Otterndorf is a 7,000-inhabitant-village half an hour from the closest Autobahn exit. It is located next to places called Krempel (“Junk”) and Fickmühlen (“F…mills”) and its own name means “Village of the Otters”. And we had an otterly wonderful time there! Our hotel completely charmed me because it had such a consistent, sophisticated corporate design with a North Sea theme. I hardly wanted to leave the place because just being in its interiors was so lovely. We did leave though to go to the spa opposite the hotel (so many saunas!), and to the sea (being at the sea makes my heart sing), and to the picturesque little town with its half-timbered houses (a middle-aged man passed us in his car while we looked at the town hall and super randomly gave us a thumbs up).
I had taken 300 pages of unread magazines with me and did not read a single page. Instead, I devoted my time to doing North German things I love: eat Wedding Soup (I did not even realize that was North German until he said he never had it before), listen to Northern German Radio and greet people by saying “Moin”. I already long back.
It’s my first day of vacation! It’s a staycation so far but I’ll be travelling soon, too. I started the day with sleep deprivation because as soon as I know I’m free, my inner child seems to be saying, “I’ll stay up reaaaal late” despite the fact that the carpenter was to come at 9 a.m. But not even tiredness could spoil my morning when he fixed my living room doors (now closable!) while I sat at my desk, checking off one item after the other on my to do list without the usual time pressure. I even managed to buy drippers for my flowers, do grocery shopping, go to the post office and pick up a book – all before noon and in the sunshine! There are few things I perceive as luxurious as doing errands in the middle of a week day while everyone else is working. (Or maybe not since the grocery store was rather crowded?!)
I’ve started to try buying books at the little independent book store in my quarter. No offense Amazon, but this is a book store I want to save. Not only do they have really good birthday cards, they also wrap books nicely and today I got a bag that I feel in love with because the brown paper made me feel that I bought my book at the market. Hooray for holidays!
The nature at your finger tips
Maybe it’s because I am not so well-travelled when it comes to nature, but I’ve never found more untouched, beautiful nature as in the Swedish countryside. There were actually no other foot steps where we took our walks, only immaculate snow, high fir trees, and when you lay down in the snow to make snow angels, the sky looked like it would never end.
Swedish cabins often have their own sauna as many countrymen regard a sauna to be a self-evident part of a complete house. No matter how cold you got outside, you can rely on the sauna warming you up. In the dim light of the little hot room you can chat with your friends until talking gets to exhausting because you are so warm. That’s the point where you step outside on your porch and rub yourself with snow.
The family feeling
Many cabins are tiny, so you get close with your cohabitants. It means queues to the bathroom, teamwork while cooking, coordination finding seats at the table and thus generating a large family feeling. I love the idea of a large family, especially when it consists of mature adults that don’t start any fights about parental praise or the remote control. Instead, you enjoy the benefits of family feeling: playing games together, cuddling on the sofa, watching TV together, passing on good books to each other, teaching and learning each other new things and nighttime conversations in the bunk beds.
The little things
A city vacation in an inspiring city can be constant amazement. While that is exciting, it can also be nice every once in a while to be in a place where there is no over-stimulation. In an environment like Sälen, the little things become big and you can enjoy those small adventures. Shopping at Ica becomes a thing, throwing snowballs into the river and watching if they flow with the stream or exploring the little village library – if you live in the big city, these moments can be a pleasant calm counterexperience.
Because there is less to do in the snowy countryside, you can hardly stress about anything, especially if you are not going skiing and thus don’t even have to get to the lifts in time. The only thing to worry about is to take your walk in the three hours when it is really light. As your wear snow pants there, you don’t have to think about what to wear today, either. Your only task is to enjoy the highly increased mysfaktor when you get back into the cabin and peel oranges on the sofa.
Hurra! I’m drowning in stuff to do but in kind of a good way. It’s this phenomenon that most working people know: you get to go on holiday but before you have to work more in order to get everything done. Also, doing laundry before travelling, figuring out how to move to my new place the day I’ll return, saying goodbye to the very nice intern, sending out the briefings to the graphic designer and the event venue agency, these do-not-forget-things…Fine by me, as I love ticking off things off my to-do-list.
In some hours, my flight to Stockholm will leave and I will go on one of my shortest-ever trips to the beautiful city in the north. And that feels quite alright even if it neccesarily speeds up things. It’s only been 7 weeks since I was there last, I still can’t wait to see all the Swedehearts again!.
Packing for this trip is very tricky though as I am flying back to Hamburg and spending a week’s vacation in the other pretty (not-quite-as-) Northern city. As I will carry everything via Stockholm, I need to think twice. Still, never have I looked forward as much to “holidays on Balconia” as Germans call a staycation. I’ll just enjoy the city, sleep in my own bed, declutter (one of my favorite activities next to filing things, no, I am not being ironic) and meet friends. And be with Ingrid. Maybe there will even be a trip to the sea – anything’s possible when you are suddenly so north again!