Skimming Through Scandinavia / by Kimm Otto


How has it already been just about two months since my first post? I guess time flies when you're living in a van. Now that September is here a few things are brought to my attention. One being that I recently just spent two months traveling Scandinavia and all my site has to show for it is one post about a week worth of hiking in Norway.


Another being that people who don't know me and are reading this have absolutely no idea what this blog is even about. And finally, September reminds me of some of my previous bad habits. Two years ago on September 17th I decided to quit smoking - cold turkey. I'd say I haven't looked back but I'd be a liar. Sometimes I miss it so much. Other times I walk by someone smoking and want to puke. I wish I could channel that kind of commitment into other aspects of my life. Like writing blog entries or completing photography projects...

Day Drunk in Ireland.jpg

Alright. Well. Pointless ramblings aside, perhaps it's time to back track a little and explain a little about myself and my intentions behind starting this project. As some of you may or may not know, my name's Kimm Otto. I started this to share some of the photos, stories and adventures of life on the road with my partner, Kevin Otto. More than anything, I wanted it to be a way for our friends and family back home to follow along while we spend the next year of our lives road tripping Europe. 

Lonely Planet Books - Van Life

A little about us?

Well, Kev and I met almost five years ago and are in our first year of marriage. A lot of people think that this trip is our honeymoon but the truth of the matter is we were planning this long before we decided to tie the knot. We both love traveling and road trips have seemingly been our means to do that. Most notably in some form of van. After only six months of dating we drove straight across Canada and USA in a mini van. Shortly after that we did LA - Edmonton in a 79 VW bus. After that we spent three weeks exploring Maui and Oahu in a rental U-haul van. Of course these are only the big trips. I've lost count of how many Vancouver Island and Edmonton trips we've done. Long story short - we like to travel and we like vans because accommodation is cheap and it allows us so much more freedom to roam.

Norway Van Life

The plan?

Spend a year driving across Europe. We started this journey at the end of May this year in London, England (which means the steering wheel of our van is on the wrong side). It was nice that we started in the English speaking part of Europe. It was also great that Kev's brother and famjam live downtown London. Looking back on the start of this trip, I'm beyond grateful for their hospitality while we overcame our jet lag and got used to our new surroundings. It was also really nice just spending time with family. 

Family Drinks in London

As of now, it's been three months since we landed. So far we've driven over 10,000 miles already and have visited twelve countries - spending most of our time touring the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. Next we begin the long trek down to Greece through the great unknown of Eastern Europe. Our goal is to hopefully make it to Athens by December 21st in order to make our flight back to London for Christmas. 

Van Life Post Cards

Now that the boring basics are covered I can briefly touch base on the past two months in Scandinavia. If you read the last post then you're basically caught up on our Norway experience. Mountains. We climbed a lot of mountains. And it was beautiful. 

Hamnoy Lofoten.jpg
Arctic Surfing Norway.jpg
Hiking Norway.jpg


Senate Square Helsinki.jpg

We were there for two weeks but five of those days were spent lounging in a private cabin up in the Northern alpine forest. Something that was completely necessary after spending a month hiking and freezing our buns off in Norway. We spent another few days trying to figure out where/how to get the oil changed, and then the remaining time was spent sight seeing the cities of Helsinki and Turku. It's always kind of mind boggling to look back at how much time we spend in some places and how little we actually got to see.

Daddy Greens.jpg
Helsinki Art Gallery.jpg

Norway was so ungodly expensive that we almost never went out for food or coffee. To put it into perspective, one can of cheap, crappy beer from the grocery store was $7 Canadian dollars. If you wanted that same beer from a restaurant then you were looking to spend at least $15. So in other words... you just don't drink in Norway unless you're a millionaire.

It was bitter sweet leaving Norway, but crossing over to Finland meant that we were switching back to the Euro. Still a pretty bad exchange rate, but not nearly as bad as the Norwegian Kroner. Beer and coffee shops were an option again. An option we were super thrilled about having again. 

Morning Coffee.jpg

Fast forward a ten hour boat ride across the water to Stockholm, Sweden. 

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden

Our time in Sweden was short lived. Just like Finland. We spent at least two days doing all things Ikea, including the Ikea museum and visiting the very first Ikea. The most notable memory I will take away from Sweden is having a sewing competition with Kevin in the Ikea museum. The result was three very poorly made tote bags. To be completely honest, by the time we made it to Malmo (where the bridge over to Denmark is) we were exhausted and looking forward to relaxing a bit at our friend's house back in Copenhagen. We had some time to kill so we had another library day. Electricity and wifi is a rare combination to have when you live in a van. But it just means that we spend some days just hanging out in many different libraries. Which is also okay, cause just look at how epic some of them are. We also have a pretty wicked collection of library cards from across Scandinavia. Woo. Souvenirs! 

Malmo Library.jpg


About seven years ago Kev made friends while traveling Asia. We're lucky enough that one of those friends lived in Copenhagen AND was kind enough to take in two very tired van people. On two different occasions, at that. Before we headed up to Norway we spent some time with them, exploring their city and being shown some of the amazing traditional Danish food. It's very possible that their generosity and amazing hospitality was what revived us after a tiring two months in the North.

Danish Breakfast

The country of Denmark, in my mind, is completely underrated. I guess it's pretty tough living in the shadow of places like Norway and Iceland. Maybe it's just because we had some very lovely locals showing us around but the city of Copenhagen is probably one of my favourites so far. So clean. So friendly. So beautiful.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark

Thus concludes an incredibly shortened version of our time driving through Scandinavia. One day I will do a blog post with all the photos from my Nikon, but in the mean time I'm more than content with just using some snaps from the Iphone. But that's for another time and another post. Till then, keep it cool fam. 

Kimm. Out.