Marco and I got married in Denmark on the 9th of January 2015. Besides the expected wedding excitement, I was also thrilled to be visiting Scandinavia at long last, even if it was only for a long weekend in the middle of winter. I had always dreamed of travelling far north, beyond the German border and into the beautiful Nordic countries.
I feel compelled to write about motivations for travel and “obligatory sightseeing” after coming across several scathing TripAdvisor reviews of the statue of Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid) in Copenhagen. The majority of reviews expressed disappointment, and some even anger, at their expectations not being met by such a “famous” sight.
Sitting here in snowy Germany, in the dark at 4:30 pm, it’s hard to believe that we had three weeks of sunny summer bliss at the beginning of December! Marco and I flew home to Cape Town for a holiday and my best friend’s wedding, and the weeks simply flew by, leaving us breathless. We had a fantastic (albeit chaotic) time – here are a few of my favourite places and some of the highlights of our stay:
Two weeks ago, I got my second tattoo. It reads, “Fernweh”, which is a German word that translates literally as “far-sickness”. It’s hard to explain in English, but it’s similar to wanderlust – an intense longing and an ache for far-off places, and the feeling of belonging to a place you’ve never been. It’s also very similar to the Swedish resfeber – the irritability and longing that one feels when life feels stagnant without travel and fresh, novel experiences.
It’s kind of somewhere between the enjoyment of wanderlust and the pain of withdrawal from travel – a drive and NEED to wander and see new things.
The desire to travel lives deep within me – I feel it in my blood. I want to travel the world, and breathe the air of new places.
Some call this intense desire wanderlust or fernweh (German, literally “far-sickness”), others call it the “travel bug”, but I prefer to call it by another foreign word that fully captures my deep love, and desperate need, for travel.
I prefer to think of my bittersweet affliction as resfeber – Swedish, literal translation “travel fever”. Resfeber is a kind of restlessness, an anxious discontentment that builds up within you if you haven’t travelled in a while. It can literally feel like a sickness, burning away inside you like a fever. The more you travel, the worse the fever becomes. At first, you feel sated, but upon returning home, it burns brighter than ever. Therein lies the beauty of resfeber – you can feed your fever, but it never truly goes away. For those of us who have resfeber, travel isn’t just about “ticking boxes”, buying souvenirs, or taking selfies in front of famous sights. It is about those things, and so very much more.