This is it. My new hometown, still strange and peculiar to call it though. In August 2021 I was sitting in a moving truck next to my son and my man, driving over the bridge with all our belongings and memories from our former Hamburg-life. Heading to our new house, located in Vejle, a Danish city with 60.000 inhabitants, in the southeast of Jutland, at the head of Vejle Fjord.
From millions to thousands
We left Hamburg to start a new life, away from crowded streets, insane traffic and little space. It is exciting to actually live here now, in an idyllic intersection of rivers, valleys and forested hills. I am still falling for you, Vejle. So pretty, exciting and welcoming.
Anyhow, I have to unpack my small-town-me after two decades of living in big cities. Let's see, how this goes.
Into the unknown
Taking a detour always leads to new understanding. Not only by discovering a new surrounding – like I am doing every day since we moved to Denmark – but also in life.
It became kind of my motto of life in my early twenties, to be open for detours. They are leading you to your goal, anyway. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the countless ways of building a life and the fear of taking the wrong path. I still feel that way constantly. Nevertheless, I keep going.
So glad I found this place full of art, culture and design. The Spinderihallerne in the city center became one of my favorite locations in Vejle. Working, zipping a coffee, writing, attending a workshop organized by the commune, singing with Martina Griffiths or simply meeting up with my international friends.
While everyday life is getting more and more settled in our new hometown, it was time to plant our first terrace plants. Can't wait to see their roots starting to grow – just like mine.
Friendships from a distance
While my bracelet from my dear friend Barbara, given as a goodbye-gift, is slowly losing its color, our connection is still on.
It is hard starting over without my friends and family nearby. I miss them keenly in my everyday life. But I am grateful that we still share our lives and always will.
Isn't that great? I had to share this picture of a subway train in Copenhagen. I have never seen that in Germany.
The Danes take care of their bikes
I can easily adapt to that way of life. I am trying to take the most distances by bike. Even Vejle is very hilly – yes, it is possible in flat Denmark – and I don't have an e-bike yet.
I have to continue celebrating the bicycle culture in Denmark. Was it a stress test on a daily basis to take the bike with a toddler through Hamburg's streets, it is such a relief to bike in Vejle.
In my part of the city, there are bicycle paths connecting the entire residential area so you don't have to conquer streets or drive in front of a car that can't wait to overtake you.
There is one thing I really miss in Vejle: a vibrant international and inspirational bookstore. I can spend hours between the shelves.
So it was like heaven for me when I discovered Boghallen in Copenhagen during a work trip. I can't leave any bookstore without buying at least one book, so I spend a lot in that store.
I hope I will be able to read danish books any time soon. So if you have a recommendation for a Danish must-read, let me know.
I found a new hobby. Maybe even the Danish trick for happiness – at least during the dark grey winter season. It is called winter bathing and gives you a high kick of endorphins.
Want to know more about this crazy danish thing and my first time dipping into the freezing cold Vejle Fjord? Then click here and listen to my podcast episode about winter bathing for Whatthedenmark.
Free my mind
I love that. Being surrounded by nature calms me down. After almost half a year in Vejle, I can say that I don't regret leaving the big city.
Embracing my small-town-me, I wear my rubber boots with pride. But still I am celebrating my urban-me by exploring Danish design, architecture and fashion.
The biggest difference and value: I can breathe.
Moving to Denmark was huge. It is still a journey and I am still figuring out so many things.
I am still searching my path here. Which is exciting, overwhelming, frightening, powerful and thrilling.
The language feels like an obstacle yet but at least one I can overcome.
We feel more and more settled in.
There is a lot that I cherish about the Danish culture. The unlocked doors, the fenceless properties, the school system, the fearless approach of digitalization...
I am looking forward to sharing more of that with you.