A different travel year
2020 has been a weird year for most people and definitely a year that no one will forget.
With daily news about corona cases, quarantine guidelines and travel restrictions, sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the good things that happened this year.
Because we actually did experience many wonderful things in 2020.
Our year started out with lots of animals in New Zealand and it’s ending with beautiful beaches in Sardinia, Italy.
Looking back, 2020 has been far from the year we had planned but we are healthy and our family and friends are healthy which is all that really matters…
Also, in 2020 a big, big project of ours was finally ready for the world to see (although in a different way than we had hoped for) and after 7.5 years in our apartment in Copenhagen, we are officially homeless (in a good way). We’ll explain more later.
We even managed to sneak in some adventures in this chaotic year both before and during the pandemic – always adhering to the local rules and regulations, of course.
Here’s where we’ve been and what we have been up to in 2020.
Table of contents
- New Zealand: vanlife, house sitting and alpacas
- A month in a Polynesian paradise
- Back to the Island of Gods
- Laid-back vibes at the Gili Islands
- Exploring Lombok
- From Bali to Denmark
- A cancelled film premiere
- Bye bye to our apartment in Copenhagen
- Four months in Sweden
- Gorgeous lakes and mountains in Germany
- Skiing in Austria
- The Dolomites: one of our favourite areas in Italy
- A mild winter in Sardinia
- Next year
New Zealand: vanlife, house sitting and alpacas
In fact, we celebrated New Years in the coolest way possible: with a dog, five cats, four horses and 15 alpacas (we house sitted for a very nice vegan lady).
We stayed in the country until the end of January (three months in total) exploring alpine landscapes, snow capped mountains, turquoise lakes and much more.
We loved all the fun and unique adventures New Zealand had in store for us and already dream of coming back again.
A month in a Polynesian paradise
We stayed in the Polynesian paradise for a month (oh yes!) and we also visited the smaller neighbouring island Aitutaki which is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The Cook Islands is all about sunshine, incredible waters, fresh fruits in abundance and happy people. It’s just as wonderful as you can imagine.
Back to the Island of Gods
Last year, we spent two months in Bali (and a month in Sumatra) and this year we wanted to come back to this amazing island full of volcanoes, waterfalls, temples, vegan cafés and the kindest people ever.
Indonesia has a special place in our hearts and it felt good to be back. We especially loved staying in Canggu and being able to visit some of our favourite vegan eateries again!
We only stayed in Canggu for a couple of days as we also wanted to visit the Gili Islands and Lombok this time around (and then return to Bali again after that).
Laid-back vibes at the Gili Islands
The three small islands between Bali and Lombok are called the Gili Islands.
The first one, Gili Trawangan, is known as the party island and we actually only sailed there to get another boat to Gili Meno (the middle island) which is a lot smaller and way more quiet and laid-back.
We spent two days on the island enjoying the slow-paced lifestyle, snorkeling in the clear and plentiful waters, relaxing on the beach and meeting cute turtle babies at a turtle sanctuary.
After Gili Meno, we spent two days at Gili Air biking around the small island, lounging by the pool and eating lots of yummy food.
We visited the Gili Islands at the end of February/beginning of March and at this time we had heard a lot about Covid-19 in the news but it still seemed like a faraway thing only existing in China and Italy. On the boat to the Gili Islands we got our temperatures checked and we knew then that the global situation had escalated – even though the full scale of the pandemic wouldn’t hit us for the next two weeks.
We were pleasantly surprised by Lombok.
The island is big (almost as big as Bali) so we only experienced a small part of it, but wow, people were so friendly and we stayed at some really beautiful places.
And it’s way less touristy than ever-popular Bali.
We spent two days by Senggigi Beach and about a week in Kuta from where we sampled our way through the many delicious vegan options in the town and went on day trips to gorgeous islands and beaches.
From Bali to Denmark
After some “vacation days”, we went back to Bali again where we continued the digital nomad lifestyle we love so much: working on our laptops whenever we want, eating lots of smoothie bowls and cheap Indonesian food, walking on the beach at sunset and exploring the island on a day trip once in a while.
In Bali, everything was like it used to be and it was only when we went online and read about the coronavirus that we really felt the seriousness of the situation.
We followed the news closely but figured that we could still stay safely in Bali until our original flight back home.
However, two days before our flight was supposed to leave from Bali it got cancelled. We discovered the cancellation by pure coincidence (which was unsettling to say the least!).
If flight schedules could change like that overnight, we worried that we might get stuck in Indonesia. We didn’t want that so we made a quick decision to find an alternative route back to Denmark.
We left for the airport after just two hours of intense research and booking.
Not going to lie – it was pretty stressful and there might have been crying and lots of conflicting and confused feelings involved but we made it home to Denmark safely (and very tired) after a long trip.
A cancelled film premiere
So, the reasons why we had planned to travel to Copenhagen in March in the first place were:
1. Attending the world premiere of our documentary film and…
2. Selling our apartment.
Our documentary film Shade Grown Coffee (which is about producing coffee in a sustainable way that’s better for both people, animals and the planet) was supposed to be screened in front of lots of people (and friends and family) at the film festival CPH:DOX.
Unfortunately, our world premiere got cancelled due to Covid-19 regulations about a week in advance.
It’s a film we had been working on for the past 4-5 years so yeah, that really sucked…
The good news is that the film is just as important and informative today as it was at its premiere – and you can watch it online!
If you want to know more about coffee and sustainability (which we definitely believe you should), Shade Grown Coffee can be rented or bought on Vimeo here.
Bye bye to our apartment in Copenhagen
As mentioned, the second reason for travelling back to Copenhagen was to sell our apartment.
Or to be more precise, we had to pack up all of our stuff and move it as we technically already sold the apartment back in January.
We bought it together in 2012 when we were 20 years old, Alex had a full-time job and Victoria studied and had a part-time job.
In other words, we had our life in Copenhagen and it was amazing having a big, central apartment.
Of course, back then we didn’t even imagine that we could be living as digital nomads, working online, travelling full-time and chasing our dreams in the world.
We have spent very little time in Copenhagen since 2017 and selling our place now felt like the right thing to do.
Four months in Sweden
After spending April and May in Copenhagen, we decided to move to Scania (or Skåne in Swedish) from June to October. Scania is a province in the southern part of Sweden, very close to Copenhagen.
It was cheaper renting a place there and we found a nice house by a lake in the countryside close to forests and nature trails.
The options for outdoor activities like hiking and biking were just perfect there.
Sweden also felt like the obvious choice as we could easily visit friends and family in Denmark but still get the feeling of being on a little getaway.
Fun fact: Alex speaks Swedish fluently as his father is from Sweden.
You can read even more about why we moved to Scania, Sweden for the summer here.
Gorgeous lakes and mountains in Germany
After four months in Sweden, it seemed like the corona situation in Europe was getting better and we felt comfortable travelling again.
The idea was to travel through Germany and Austria in autumn to end up hibernating in (much warmer) Italy.
We had originally planned to arrive in Germany on the 2nd of October, but at the last minute the German government decided that people from Denmark crossing the border after the 1st of October should go into quarantine.
However, if we arrived before October, we could just show a negative Covid-19 test, so we left Sweden in a hurry and made it to Germany on the 30th of September.
It was our first time visiting Germany together and we were blown away by the incredible nature. We especially loved the areas around Garmisch-Partenkirchen where we saw Lake Eibsee (the most beautiful lake!), Germany’s tallest mountain and lots of other cool Bavarian sceneries.
Skiing in Austria
In Austria, we spent the first three days surrounded by mountains and snow at Hotel Sonnenburg – an amazing resort (with delicious vegan dishes) in Vorarlberg.
A big reason for us to visit Austria in October was that it’s actually possible to go skiing this early in the year (October).
Neither of us are skiers – the last time each of us tried skiing was about 20 years ago! But we really wanted to try it again and it was possible at the Stubai Glacier in Stubai Valley.
We had perfect weather conditions and an awesome ski instructor. It was so much fun!
In Stubai Valley, we also hiked and used the cable cars to explore the many other delightful mountain landscapes.
We ended our time in Austria with a few days in Innsbruck – a picturesque city by a river with colourful buildings, cool museums, the Nordkette funicular, great vegan eateries and, of course, a beautiful mountainous backdrop.
And from Innsbruck, Alex even made it back to Stubai Glacier twice to practice his new skiing skills.
The Dolomites: one of our favourite areas in Italy
We love the Dolomites.
The crisp air. The green alpine meadows. The unbelievable lakes. And what has to be some of the most stunning mountain vistas in the world.
We have spent quite a bit of time in Northern Italy and once again it felt special.
It was our first time in Italy with autumn colours and it was so beautiful to see the golden hues of yellows and red in stark contrast to the jagged edges of the mountains.
Moving up in altitude, we were also lucky to see quite a bit of early snow at the Puez-Geisler/Puez-Odle nature park and on the plateau of Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi.
We stayed at a little organic farm near Chiusa/Klausen with chickens, rabbits, two cows and the cutest kittens. As we had our own apartment with a kitchen, we once again felt at home in the Dolomites.
Alex had brought his bikes and toured the famous four passes of the Sella Ronda on his road bike.
Autumn provides pristine conditions for biking in the Dolomites as the roads are nearly empty, the skies are clear and the temperatures are pleasant. And those mountains just look so damn good.
You’ve got to love long climbs and long descents but if you do, biking (or running or hiking…) here is absolute heaven.
So is simply chasing jaw dropping views in the region.
We got lucky with a perfect day at Pragser Wildsee/Lago di Braies which is one of the highlights of the Dolomites. We knew it would be pretty but holy moly was it pretty. It really does look like those viral photos.
Visiting the Church of St. John (Chiesetta di San Giovanni) in Val di Funes was also a highlight. Again: few to no tourists. Amazing views. And we met a cute, curious cat.
There’s so much to do in the Dolomites. We will return!
A mild winter in Sardinia
It’s no secret that we (well, mostly Victoria) aren’t crazy about dark and cold winter days so the “end goal” of this trip was always to get to the southern part of Italy and spend the winter months here.
While it’s not as hot as some places in Southeast Asia or New Zealand where we’ve spent the winter for the last couple of years, it’s definitely much warmer than being in Denmark.
We have rented a house with a big terrace in a small town in South Sardinia known as Chia.
It’s close to several beaches and many beautiful trails in the surrounding hills. There’s absolutely no hustle or bustle. The only thing we can hear most days are the sheep walking around with bells around their necks.
In other words: Just the kind of place we were hoping for.
It has been a delight to go on long walks wearing t-shirts, eat breakfast outside and lay in the sun reading in November and December – in Europe! We even went swimming a few times.
There are ample opportunities for nice walks and a plethora of options for Alex’ running, road biking and mountain biking craze.
Sardinia has been the perfect winter escape for us.
So far, we have rented this house until the end of January.
After that, we haven’t made any plans yet. One of the things we’ve learned from 2020 is that it’s kind of difficult to make travel plans during a pandemic. So we’ll wait and see.
What about you?
Did you manage to have any nice adventures – in your own country or abroad – in this crazy year? Do you have any plans for 2021?
Let us know in the comments. We would love to know.
Thanks for reading this far and we wish you all the very best in the coming year!