Following the footsteps of famous Danish travellers, Kurt, our ageless and energetic colleague started his roud trip the morning of 17 May 2021 from the Island of Mors, Denmark. With this special section of our webpage you can follow on a daily basis what happened (and what not) to our ‘special envoy’ on his Meeting Europe encounter. Good luck and take care, Kurt!
17 May 2021
I have to stop in Copenhagen. I need to get tested before I go to Sweden and I must show a negative coronatest at the border to Sweden. It is a bit strange. In Denmark I can just show my corona passport and I can go everywhere, restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and even Tivoli here in Copenhagen. I was vaccinated two months ago. With the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine. They use the same in Sweden. But I cannot go to Sweden without a test. We need a European covid passport to make travel easy again!
18 May 2021
I met a man from Latvia at the central station. He only knew a few words in English. He should work with construction and someone would pick him up. He had no phone. I called some people in Latvia for him, but I didn’t get in touch. I had to get a train to Sweden. I left and said good luck. He looked sad and lost.
19 May 2021
I am sitting at a bench in the Swedish spring sun with the view of the magnificient Kalmar castle. I am thinking at the past. On 17 June 1397 Erik was crowned as the king of all the nordic countries. The Kalmar Union as it was called was a masterpiece by his mother, Queen Margrethe I, the de facto ruler. The union lasted untill 1523, and was followed by centuries of war between Sweden and Denmark/Norway. Now we fight in handball, football, icehockey and skiing and some of us are members of the European Union.
20 May 2021
I rented a nice car and drove around the big Swedish island, Øland. It is long and slim. The southern part is Unesco World heritage. The unique landscape is formed by man, beast and nature throughout 5000 years. Today the EU helps to preserve it.
21 May 2021
When I sit on the train or bus I see people from all over the world. 22 precent of the Swedish population has a foreign background and 16 precent is non-western. More than 1 million emigrated from Sweden in the old days, many to the United States. Today Sweden is a sanctuary for refugees from all over the world. During the WWII it was for the Danish jews.
22 May 2021
The Hansa was a trade union between independent cities in northern Europe, especially around the Baltic Sea. Visby at the Island of Gotland was one of the biggest Hansa cities. It traded with fur, fish, grain, silver and salt. The Hansa was dominated by the merchants of German Lubeck, who settled in Visby. A wall was build to protect Visby and there was many churches for the diverse population who lived there at its peak in the 12th century. In many ways EU is a modern child of the Hansa with a common market and easy trade. Today Visby is UNESCO world heritage because of its Hansa past and the impressive medieval city wall.
23 May 2021
Every year in week 27 political parties, unions, employers, interest organizations, NGOs meet in the Park Almedalen in Visby at the island of Gotland. It started in 1968 when Prime Minister Olof Palme during his vacation at Gotland delivered a speach in the park. It is a week for democracy and open society. The idea had spread to my country, Denmark, where every year we have a people’s meeting at the Baltic Island of Bornholm. The corona closed it this year too, but democracy and the open society will fight back. Next year there will be meetings again, hopefully.
24 May 2021
28 February 1986 Prime Minister Olof Palme was murdered in a street in Stockholm after he left the the cinema with his wife Lisbeth. The murder was never solved. The police had a suspect, put him in jail, but could not prove it. I remember it as a big shock. How could it happen in peaceful Sweden. Palme was an outspoken politician against apartheid, the Vietnam war and dictatorships. He loved Gotland and spend his vacations here.
25 May 2021
I stay in an Airbnb the next days. I prefer to stay like this or do couchsurfing. It is a way to get in touch with local people and the local communities. Fisksætra is close to Stockholm and I will go there the next days by train. The centre of Stockholm is only some few stops from here. I prepare my own dinner. I will make a Turkish meatpie, then spaghetti bolognese and a banana as dessert. I will drink light Swedish beer with it.
26 May 2021
It has been a rainy day in Stockholm, hard rain indeed. You need waterproof clothes and an umbrella. One of the charms of the the Baltic Sea macroregion. You can have all seasons the same day. I went to the Swedish Historical Museum. You can follow the interesting history of Sweden from the prehistoric days untill today. In the 16th century Sweden was one of the big powers in Europe. I got shelter from the rain and learned more about Sweden. The entrance was free.
27 May 2021
I walked by the Swedish parliament and the royal castle towards the old town, Gamla Stan, with many restaurants and cafés. I had a coffee and a cake and saw the European flag there and remembered that Sweden joined the EU in 1995 after a very close referendum. Austria and Finland joined the same year. I paid with Swedish kronor.
28 May 2021
I meet a lot of Beggars in the streets, in front of shops and stations and in the metro in Sweden. Most of them are Romas. I never give money to them, only when they play or perform. If you beg in Denmark you will be put in jail for two weeks. It has to be tried in the European Court of Human Rights. I met a nice man from Romania, who played. He had told me about ‘good old days’ during Ceausescu. You couldn’t go to Sweden I said to him.
29 May 2021
I was in the Danish national television about my travel in Europe last summer and this trip too. The hosts were in the studio in Tivoli and I was in my room here in Uppsala. I played a song on my ukulele, so now I have been singing on national tv in prime time. The Santana song, Black Magic Woman. My parents would have been proud of me. They were listening in Heaven.
30 May 2021
I met Richard from Ireland in Uppsala. He was here for an advanced cancer treatment at the University Hospital. One of the few places in the world it can be done. The treatment and the care were excellent. He stayed in a hospital hotel with his wife. Ireland is hit hard by the Covid and it has been difficult to get to Sweden. We talked a long time about our countries, life and doings. We had a nice view of the Botanical Garden.
31 May 2021
I went to Stockholm, where I go by Ferry to the Åland Islands. I needed a Covid-19 test despite I am vaccinated and I have an international corona passport showing it. It was very expensive, 100 euros for 5 minutes work. In Denmark you get it for free.
1 June 2021
Åland (or Ahvenanmaa in Finnish) and its 6700 islands (all with separate names) became independent 100 years ago in June 1921. It is Swedish speaking and wanted to join Sweden. In 1921 it was decided by the new League of Nations that is an autonomous territory of Finland with its own parliament and government. And it was decided it should be demilitarized. I waved the flag for Åland and its 100 years of independence.
2 June 2021
Morning coffee at Åland
3 June 2021
Åland has been and still is a maritime nation. I visited the big sailing ship, the Pommern, built in 1903 and sailed the seven seas. I followed a voyage to Australia in 1936 to bring wheat to England. A trip that lasted 9 months around the world. Now it is a very nice museum. Many of the countries around the Baltic Sea was maritime nations. And still is but the traffic has changed to containers, ferries and cruisers waiting for better times past the covid in the harbour of Mariehamn.
4 June 2021
Åland became a member of the Nordic Council in 1970. The Nordic council is a parliamenty assembly with 87 members elected in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, the Faroe Island and Åland. It started to work in 1952. It promotes coorperation in the Nordic countries, especially in the cultural area. Beside of the Nordic Council there is a Nordic Council of Ministers from the 5 Nordic states. My question: have you ever heard of the Nordic Council?
5 June 2021
I went to Kastelholm Castle by bike. The weather was perfect with a light breeze, but 50 km are a long way for an old Danish man. My legs hurt. The Castle has a long history and many Kings and Queens have been there, even Peter the Great, the Russian Tsar. I met a German, who took care of the old prison, White Beared. She had learned Swedish. There where too many cars at the road. There was a warning against moose crossing the road. I wonder how they got here. Longdistance swimming in the Baltic Sea?
6 June 2021
Tomorrow I leave Åland and go to mainland Finland. It has been a very pleasent visit. The weather like in the Mediterranean. I think I could live here.
7 June 2021
I sailed by ferry through the biggest achipelago in the world. From Mariehamn to Turku, mainland Finland. The Police took me aside and asked me about the purpose of my trip. I showed them a fine letter from Miklos and the European House telling about our project and they let me in. Now I am a happy man having Mexican food in Turku.
I ask people if they have heard about the strategy for the macro-regions. Nobody knows, but when I tell them what it is, they think it is a splendid idea. I talked with Marcus about it here in the airbnb in Turku. He liked it too. He is an unemployed pilot. Laid off because of the corona crises. Now he is painting houses in Turku, but he hopes to be airborne again soon.
9 June 2021
I had lunch in Nomad food&wine. I talked with the owner and chef. He is from Senegal, but was trained as a chef in Italy. He came to Finland some years ago and worked in Italian restaurants. He opened the restaurant two years ago, the dream of his life. Then he was hit by the lockdown. He could not get any support because it was a start up. He survived by making take away food. Now he is ready for a new start. It is modern Italian fusion food with inspiration from all over the world and food made from basic and with local ingredients. It was delicious. Food for a modern nomad like me.
10 June 2021
In the weekend Finland has regional and local elections. I met candidates for the position of Mayor in Turku, the second city of Finland. One wanted to support local business more, one wanted fewer cars and more lanes for bikes in the city. One wanted to get rid of the EU. I asked if they had heard about the strategy for the macro-regions of the Baltic Sea region. They had not, but they tought, it is a splendid idea.
11 June 2021
I met a nice woman at the market square in Helsinki. She sells jewellery. She is Finnish, but lives in Germany. In the winter she makes her jewellery in Germany with stones from Austria. She sells it in the summer in Helsinki. Americans like it, but they are not here, because of the covid. She had a big parasol to protect her against the strong sun. She put it down, when I took the photo.
12 June 2021
I was sitting in a sportsbar in Helsinki, Finland. Denmark against Finland in the European Championship in football. Suddenly the Danish Player Christian Eriksen collapsed and was resuscitated. The Danish team formed a wall of protection. It was very emotional and people cried. It seems Christian will survive. The match was suspended, but will continue later this evening. I will not watch it. I left the sportsbar with a lot of sympathy, when they heard I was Danish.
13 June 2021
One evening two Finns meet. They sit in silence, the first suddenly says, PERKELE, (means devil ), after 5 minutes, the second responds, kyllä, it means yes, after 5 minutes the second says, PERKELE, and on and on it goes all the evening. The Finns are the happiest people in the world.
14 June 2021
I went by bus to Savonlinna in the heart of the Finnish lake district. There are 188.000 lakes in Finland and I am staying in an airbnb by one of them. I had a nice swim. Refreshed with new energy.