My first serious trip to foreign countries was in August 1967. We – Köngen Folkdance Group – visited our partner groups in Sweden.
Side comment: This was the year, when Sweden switched driving from left hand to right hand side. We still drove left, but everywhere we found the preparations for the change.
On the trip we stayed in Hamburg for one day, including an evening vistit of the well known Sankt Pauly entertainment area.
The day after, we headed towards Travemünde with a short stop in Lübeck. In Travemünde we entered a ferry boat to Helsingborg/Sweden. Our first night in Sweden was in Halmstad in a vandrarhem ( kind of a youth hostel ). The first stay with a partner group then was in Varberg, from were we also visited Göteborg.
Some days later we drove to Karlstad at the lake Vännern, one of the biggest lakes in Europe. The group had a home of their own – directly at the lake. We could not only sleep there, we also had the opportuniuty of a dance fest in the hall of the home together with our friends. As one of our activities there, we had the chance of visiting the coffee roasting plant of Löfberg – still today known for Löfberg Lila coffee brand ( you get it at IKEA nowadays ).
Next visit was Älvdalen, in the very north of Sweden, nearly at the polar circle. Though we stayed at hosts, we once had a dance fest again at hut in the woods, where we danced outside, and took the chance to look for bears ( we were much to loud, and did of course not see a single one ). This night was my first experience with nordic light, with no real darkness even at midnight. It did not allow us to be aware of the time when dancing.
From Älvdalen along the Österdalälv, via Mora and the lake Siljan – partially via boat, we had a chance to visit Rättvik – the Spelmans festival – very impressive, if you listen to hundreds of violinists playing (more or less) synchroniously. Near Rättvik was and still is the ability of a very long summer sledding track.
From Rättivik next station was Falun, were we took the opportunities to visit the Falun copper mine – today cultural world heritage. The copper from this mine, besides the main usage as metal, was used to create the so called “rett färg” – red colour, which you still find at tradinional Swedish homes. The copper mine is also mentioned in Selma Lagerlöf’s famous book Nils Holgersson.
From Falun through Gävle and Uppsala to Stockholm.
We were located at a YMCA hostel just above the – 1967 – new tunelbana station at Slussen. In the morning we awoke very early from the metro trains’ noise.
After a big banquet on the day of our arrival with the Stockholm major, visits of the Vasa viking boat, the Royal castle at Gamla Stan,
including changing of the guards were following. One day we spent with a tour to the “Schären”, an area of about nearly 25.000 small islands in the forefront of Stockholm, before reaching the open baltic sea.
The event that was related to our group and our hosts was a dancing performance at the traditional buildings open-.air museum “Skansen”.
From Stockholm the trip continued to Nyköping. On this trip I had my personal special experience :
A police car stopped our bus, and brought the message, that one suitcase has been left back at the place where we entered the bus. Cars of our hosts followed after 1/2 hour and brought a suitcase -MINE.
From the one night stay at Nyköping – the last one with hosting groups, we continued back to Helsingborg, with the ferry to Helsingör, down through Jütland / Denmark, with a short stop through northern Germany back to our home village.
The experiences I made during this trip – seeing new, unknown areas – as well as meeting foreign people more or less immediatelly convinced me of travelling beeing a target of my life.