Denmark, Sweden

Volvo, Mark Knopfler, and East German adventures… part four

Thanks to having missed our early morning taxi appointment that we were never informed we had, our Monday morning got off on the wrong foot.  When we got to Volvo’s visitor’s center, we could see a sign that welcomed us as one of a group of people there to get new cars.  According to the sign, everyone was from the USA, although I saw one name that had an umlaut and looked German or Swedish, one that was obviously Italian, and at least two others that were Hispanic/Latino.  Strange that a country so clearly full of immigrants is having so many of these recent problems with immigration.

Welcome to new car payments!  Yea!

Anyway, after we dropped off our bags and Bill handed over paperwork and German license plates for the new car, we had lunch in the visitor’s center.  Bill had salmon, and I had Swedish meatballs with lingonberries.

Volvo style salmon.


Just like at IKEA.

I had a chance to check out the small Volvo gift shop, too.  You can buy everything from jackets with logos on them to models of your favorite Volvos.  Alas, they only had XC 90 models; there weren’t any XC 40s or XC 60s.

If you’re really a Volvo fan, you can buy a model for your desk.

They even had a toy car for your kids… but  it had no seatbelts!  We heard on the tour that every car has a little Volvo in it, since Nils Bohlin, an engineer at Volvo, invented three point seatbelts.  The company gave away the patent for free for the good of everyone.

Old Volvo.  According to Wen, the Chinese tour guide, Volvo means “I roll” in Swedish.

Ha ha ha… Volvo style “Members Only” jacket…  

Just like the factory.

Later, were met by a tiny Chinese woman who was tasked with handling our factory tour.  The woman, whose name was “Wen” (or at least that’s what it sounded like her name was), spoke heavily accented, but otherwise excellent, English.  She took everyone’s cameras and cell phones, as photos are not allowed on the factory tour.  I happened to have an iPhone, iPad, and digital camera on me, which got locked in a drawer with everyone else’s electronics.

We were loaded up in a “train” like vehicle that had plastic curtains that could be dropped down for protection against wind or sparks.  Then, after we donned plastic safety glasses, the vehicle drove us through parts of Volvo’s vast factory, which Wen told us is larger than Vatican City and Monaco.  I’m not sure if she meant the factory was larger separately, or together.  It was impressively huge, though.

On our tour, we learned that Volvo cars are mostly made by robots.  I’m sure that’s how most cars are made today.  It was impressive to see the robots work, as well as the cleanliness and relative quiet of the factory.  I was also glad to see that the employees appeared to be reasonably happy.  Some of them waved and had real smiles on their faces.

I didn’t know this before Monday, but Volvo is actually owned by a Chinese company.  I knew it was once owned by Ford, but Ford sold it when it took a loss.  So, since 2010, a quintessentially Swedish company has been owned by a company that is decidedly not Swedish.  As we were picking up our new SUV, we were told that prior to the 2020 models, our car’s make was produced in China.  However, the Gothenburg plant now makes XC 60s.  We saw more than a few of them being made in the factory.  Our car was made there maybe a couple of weeks ago.

This was what I was there to see…  our new car.  And no, the one in this photo isn’t it.

The tour was interesting, although I was very ready to see our new wheels.  After we picked up our electronics, Bill and I were met by a charming, handsome, and very personable Swedish guy who showed us all of the cool stuff featured on our new car.  It took about an hour for him to demonstrate the many different ways the seats can be adjusted, opening the trunk by waving a foot under the car, and programming the iPad like control panel on the dashboard.  He even helped me pair my iPhone with the car’s infotainment system.

Learning new tricks.  This car doesn’t even have a paper based owner’s manual, nor do you put a key in any ignition.  You simply have the key on you and it starts up with the push of a button.

There s/he is!  Since it’s Bill’s car, I’ll let him decide the gender.  He says it’s a male.  Whatever it is, it’s a pleasure to ride in the 2020 XC 60.  Bill loves driving it, too.

Once we were checked out on the new car, Bill and I set off for our next destination, Copenhagen.  It took about four hours to get there and involved a 20 minute ferry ride from Sweden to Denmark.

One last look at Gothia Towers as we made our way south.


This was our first time driving in Sweden.  It was mostly a nice drive, although I couldn’t help but notice our industrial it looked.  I was expecting prettier views as we made our way southward. The new car has a place for a SIM card to go, so pretty soon I’ll have a hot spot in the car.  However, for the time being, I used Gig Sky again and amused myself reading the news, Facebook, and playing games.  I can’t believe how much “smarter” the new car is compared to our 2006 Toyota.  I remember thinking the Toyota was “smart” back in 2006.  Makes me wonder what I’ll think of our next vehicle… in the 2030s?

Our first ferry ride.  It cost 55 euros.

Approaching Helginsborg, Denmark…

Where you wait… they have restaurants and duty free shops on the ferries.  We only had time for a drink and a pee.


Welcome to Denmark!

From the ferry, it was maybe another hour or so to get to Copenhagen.  I had wanted to stay downtown, so it would be easy to walk around, but I was also concerned about adequate parking facilities.  I rented a room at the Adina Apartment Hotel in Copenhagen, an Australian chain that has sprung up in Europe and offers pretty good facilities for families.  We stayed in one in Berlin, when Bill’s mom visited us in December 2017.  Since it was just the two of us, and only for a night, I got us a studio apartment.  It was small, but basically comfortable.  Here are a few photos.

There is parking right outside this hotel, but it’s off limits to Adina guests.  Instead, you can book the huge parking garage just around the corner.  This hotel is close to the train, which will get you into Copenhagen proper.  We decided we were too tired to mess with that and stayed in.  Maybe if we’d made the earlier group, we would have walked around Copenhagen.  We have been there before, anyway, even if it was ten years ago.


They do have room service, but you can also use the microwave and fridge.  There is a restaurant on site.


Decent shower.  Nice head.


Sofa and bland art on the walls… but there’s also a little balcony for smokers and/or fresh air.


The restaurant has a full bar and beers on tap.

Mmm…  “The Chubby” was interestingly named.

I had a steak with Bernaise sauce.  It was okay.

Bill had fish and chips.  We ate a lot of fish and chips on this trip.

Time for bed.


The Adina Hotel worked fine for a night.  If I were going to be there longer than a night, I think I’d go for the one bedroom apartment.  The studio was a bit cramped, even for just two people.  I wish we’d gotten in earlier, so we could have walked around Copenhagen.  Unfortunately, we just don’t have the same stamina we used to have.

But I did get to enjoy some danishes in Denmark.


We checked out after breakfast and were soon on our way to our next stop, Rostock, Germany.


Now we’re in Rostock…

What a cool town this is!!!  Literally, it’s cool here, but it’s also figuratively cool.  Rostock has a lot of fascinating architecture, and it’s right by the Baltic Sea.  We had a pleasant drive through Denmark’s countryside before we took an almost two hour ferry ride across the Baltic Sea to get back to German soil.  We left the Adina Apartment Hotel in Copenhagen bright an early and made it to Rostock in time for check in at the Radisson Blu.

I think I’m going to have to explore Denmark more.  I had been to Copenhagen before last night’s visit– we stopped there ten years ago on a cruise, but I had never seen any other parts of the country.  It’s really pretty, and the ferry is exciting, if not kind of crowded and expensive.

The new car is awesome and continues to surprise us by how smart it is.  I look forward to writing up this trip, because I have a feeling some people would love a series on buying a Volvo via military sales from Germany.  Suffice to say, the experience has mostly been a real pleasure.

So… just a few more days until I write up this trip in detail.

Helpful apps

Honey made my latest hotel booking a little sweeter…

Sign up for some honey!

A big shoutout goes to my friend, Stephanie, who turned me on to “Honey“, an app that automatically finds coupons for you.  Although lately, I’m not a frugal as I used to be, I’m always up for saving money, especially when it’s easy.  Honey, a browser extension, is always looking for deals on your behalf.  I found this out yesterday, as I was searching for a hotel room in Leipzig.

On July 4th, we will be traveling to the east German city to catch Mark Knopfler in concert on the 5th.  I’ve been wanting to see Mark Knopfler for years.  Even though he’s also playing in Mannheim, which is a lot closer to where we currently live, and Stuttgart, which is near where we used to live, I chose to get tickets in Leipzig, because we’ve never been there.  Ever since we visited Dresden back in 2008, I’ve been wanting to explore more of what used to be East Germany.

July 7th, the day we’re coming home, is Bill’s birthday.  I figured, since we usually do fun stuff for my birthday, this year, we’d do something nice for Bill’s.  Although I was closely eyeing the Leipzig Adina Hotel, which is part of a great chain of apartment hotels and is a lot cheaper than the ritzy Hotel Steigenberger, the truth is, I like overpriced luxury digs.  I’ve stayed in a lot of inexpensive lodgings in my lifetime, so when I can splurge, I do.  We stayed in an Adina hotel in Berlin and liked it, particularly because Bill’s mom was with us.  The super clean apartment allowed her to have her own bathroom and bedroom.  But this time, it’s just Bill and me, and we don’t need a kitchenette, laundry facilities, or other apartment stuff.

I booked us at the Hotel Steigenberger, cringing a little at the price.  But then, just as I was about to pay, Honey went into action.  It found me a coupon that ended up shaving about $71 off the price of the room!  And better yet, I didn’t have to do a thing to get that discount.  In fact, I had completely forgotten about Honey and would have missed out on that coupon if it hadn’t worked automatically.  Also, looking at Honey’s official site, I see that they have “Honey Travel“, which is a site available only to Honey members.  One can use Honey Travel to browse deals and collect “keys”, which can be used to save money on future travel.

I didn’t use Honey Travel yesterday, because I didn’t know about it.  I can see how it will be useful, though, when I plan future trips.  I can use the dedicated site to compare hotels and find deals.  The site appears to compare prices at the major travel Web sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and  I already collect points on Expedia and am a “Genius”, so I’m not sure how often I’ll also use Honey Travel.  It depends on if it allows “double dipping”.

Still, even though I didn’t use Honey Travel, Honey saved me money– about 10% off’s rate.  And every time I save money with Honey, I get Honey Gold, which I can eventually trade in for gift cards at stores like Amazon, Macy’s, and Target.  I already use other sites, like, for collecting points that can be turned into gift cards.  When I was in the States, I also used, which was good for a little pocket cash and the occasional freebie.  Honey appears to be somewhat similar to MyPoints, only you don’t have to remember to click through any links.

Anyway… I just wanted to share the news and the wealth.  I’ll be sure to keep using Honey for all of my online shopping, which is pretty much the majority of it these days.  God knows, I can use a little more cash for my travels!