One of the things about living in Europe is that due to the small size of some of the countries, it’s possible to leave one country, drive all the way through another, and then into a third country all in one day. That’s what we did on Saturday.
We wanted to get as early a start as possible, so Daniel and I got up at 4:45am. Hans wanted to hit the road at 5:30, although we ended up leaving closer to six. He drove the three of us through the pitch black of the early Autumn morning to the Scandlines ferry terminal in Helsingborg. It took about two hours to get there, and the sun was just rising as we arrived at about eight. Daniel paid for our return ticket to Puttgarden, Germany, and we drove our rented pickup truck onto the ferry. This was a very short crossing, only about 15 minutes, barely enough time to use the bathroom and browse the tax free shops. I only had time to purchase two bags of Halloween candy.
We got back in the truck, drove into Helsingor, Denmark, and continued on our way. Daniel took the wheel for this leg of the journey, where we passed through very flat but beautiful Danish countryside, with its endless fields of yellow rapeseed blossoms destined to be made into cooking oil. In another two hours we arrived at a second ferry terminal. Once again we drove onto the ferry, but since this was a longer crossing we had the time to do a little duty free shopping. Hans bought some red wine, which seemed rather foolish because after 45 minutes, we arrived at Puttgarden and the enormous border shop contained in a barge floating in the harbor.
It was about the size of an Ikea, four stories high, with a different type of alcoholic beverage on each floor. We started with the wine floor and began filling up our three shopping carts. Daniel and I bought forty boxes of wine equivalent to 125 bottles. Each box was at least a third, and in some cases a quarter, of what we would have paid for similar wine in Sweden. This is how you recoup the cost of the trip itself.
After we paid for our wine, we pushed our carts out to the truck and loaded it up with our combined eighty boxes. Then we headed back into the shop to fill up on beer and liquor. Everything was half the price you would pay at Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, so we stocked up on bottles for the pub in our house (the only “real” pub in Alvesta) and for Christmas and New Years. The boys are experienced border shoppers; we packed all the bottles in boxes we found in the shop, and cushioned them with pieces of cardboard for the drive home.
At this point it was about three in the afternoon, and it was time to head home. We drove our booze-laden truck onto the ferry and then, at last, we were able to relax and eat some lunch. Five hours later we arrived back in Alvesta, unloaded all our boxes and crates and bottles, and stashed them temporarily in the garage.
So now I can say I’ve been to Germany. Well, at least to a very small part of it.