A hop over to Hven

Long, long ago, a.k.a before Ella joined our travelling band, we used to venture to more exotic and rugged places with G Adventures.

Along with G Adventures doing all of the planning and legwork, one of the nice things was meeting some great people along the way, and a few… interesting ones. We seemed to have particularly good luck with the Danes we met, which is part of how we find ourselves in Denmark now.

One of those nice Danes was Tina, also known as Danish Katy. We met Tina when we were travelling through Belize in 2009 and she and Katy hit it off immediately. Though they only spent 10 days together on that trip, they quickly discovered they had much in common. Then years, distance, and the arrival of children got in the way, so we were looking forward to catching up with her.

When Katy reached out about connecting on this trip, Tina suggested that we join her family for a camping trip to the island of Hven.

A quick trip back in time

A 1.5 hour ferry ride from Copenhagen, Hven also happens to be in Sweden giving Ella another country to check off her list (even if this one’s a bit of a technicality, as we’re hanging out with Danes.)

The island is small. The Visit Hven website confusingly describes it as “Hven is only 4.5 km long and 2.4 km wide and about 12km long.” I think the second “length” is the circumference. It features steep cliffs around most of the coast with a large flat plateau of farm land making up the centre.

With few cars, lots of bicycles, and little in the way of commercial activity, it feels a little like a trip back in time. You can buy bread at THE bakery or other items at THE shop.

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A tent you say…

Tina, her husband Ulrik and their two boys Alvar and Esben, met us at the ferry dock once we arrived in Hven. This was a good thing as they had trailers on their bikes and were kind enough to help transport the sleeping bags and tent across the island to the camp site.

We may like adventure travel, but we are not regular campers. Fortunately, with a little guidance from Tina we were able to get our tent set up, much to Ella’s excitement.

Like her parents, Ella may be more into “glamping” than camping

That said, we were hardly roughing it. The camp site offered not just a beautiful location on the sea, they also had running water, a restaurant, a small playground and quite possibly the world’s least forgiving mini golf course.

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As this was Ella’s very first time sleeping in a tent, we weren’t sure if she would ever fall asleep. Sure enough, at first we could hear Ella chattering away from outside the tent but eventually she went quiet and drifted off. A little while later, we all decided it was time for us to join the kids and headed off to our respective tents.

As the sun would be rising directly into our tent, Katy started feeling around in the dark for the sleeping mask she had brought with her. Not able to find it, she eventually looked up to find a certain little person who thought this might be a good idea too.

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An idyllic couple of days

We spent most of our two days on Hven riding our bikes around the island and hanging out at the campsite. For good measure, we threw in a little time at some playgrounds and a barbeque dinner on the beach.

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On the second day we stopped by a vegetarian restaurant on the island called Pumpans (the Pumpkin Cafe). It’s odd they they describe themselves as a vegetarian restaurant because while that may be true, they’re really a pizza place that doesn’t have any meat toppings. The pizza was great though.

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Though Ella and the boys couldn’t speak to each other they still managed to get along and play together. Both Ella and Alvar asking their mum’s at one point or another to ask the other mum to translate something for the other.

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A small taste of Swedish culture

On a visit to the beach we did experience a small quirk of Swedish culture. As we were there we noticed a small group of people standing around in their bathrobes chatting after a swim. Tina explained that this seemed to be common among the Swedes and that Ulrik had been in a smaller Swedish town and noticed people just walking around town in their robes. A bit odd perhaps, but it looked comfy to me.

The island was beautiful and I would certainly recommend a visit if you’re in the area. The only problem we had was constantly putting on and taking off rain gear as the weather changed every 15 minutes. It was very much a weekend where if you didn’t like the weather all you had to do was wait.

It was great catching up with Tina. Hopefully it won’t be another decade or so before we do it again.

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