I’ve mentioned this before – there are few things in life I hate most than hot weather. I would much rather move to northern Europe than tropical islands given the option. Feeling the crisp air brush against my cheeks while I venture on yet another leisurely stroll is one of my favorite things, ever, perhaps even more so than cats or chocolate. And that’s saying something.
Traveling in the fall has plenty of upsides: fewer crowds, lower prices, not to mention, as you’re about to see, the beautiful scenery. I think that qualifies for a win-win.
So when I told people I was embarking on a grand tour of Scandinavia and Benelux by train in the dead of October, they all pretty much asked the same question:
-“But isn’t going to be freezing?”
To which I replied “Yes!” frantically, clapping my hands to demonstrate how happy that made me. Having just returned from a scorching weekend in Barcelona (think 40+ Celcius) and a two-week road trip around Provence, nothing sounded more heavenly to me than Scandinavia. Especially in the fall. Especially by myself.
Norway was kind of like starting a meal with dessert, or starting a play with the grand finale. It was spec-ta-cu-lah. I really thought of myself as more of a city girl, but trust me when I say that few other places in the world have made me feel more at peace with myself than the Norwegian countryside.
Boarding the Flam train was definitely the highlight of my Norway trip — although, to be honest, I loved every minute I spent in the country. Seeing the flora change before my eyes as we got higher and higher in altitude was living proof of just how incredible nature is. Especially in Norway.
Although Norway didn’t disappoint, I was mostly excited for Sweden. I’d been longing to see what the Swedish hype was all about, both in terms of design, food and attitude. The countryside of Sweden actually reminded me of the forests back at home in Canada, and that alone made my journey that much more special.
October was well underway when I finally got around to cross the Øresund strait and enter Denmark. The days were noticeably shorter, and the weather, well, not nearly as cooperative as it had been during the first leg of my trip. But that didn’t stop me — what would fall in Scandinavia be without drinking massive amounts of coffee while sitting on a terrace, covered in a blanket?
This sight actually surprised me, in more ways than one: not only is Tivoli Park even more beautiful at night, it’s also one of the few places I’ve seen in Europe that celebrates Halloween and extensively decorates with all things pumpkins, witches, and leaves. Quite a magical and highly unexpected sight!
Scandinavians, as I learned during my trip, kind of have a thing for coziness, in the best sense of the word. Being comfortable in their environment, both physically in spiritually, is of utmost importance to them, so much so the Swedes have a word for it: gemytlig. It means a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, sense of belonging, coziness and leisure, and they achieve it by adding blankets to outdoor chairs, lighting candles whenever possible and drinking/eating flavorful treats.
Such is the spirit of Scandinavia. And frankly, I can’t see anything wrong with that.