XC90 Europe pickup

I really hadn't planned on buying a second Volvo at this time. Really I hadn't. But I got talking with Bob Kennedy at University Volvo in Charlotte, NC. Sure enough we worked out a fantastic price on a new '07 Volvo XC90 V8. The car was pre-built and ready for Over Seas Deliver (OSD). She's been sitting at the factory waiting for a home, hence the reason I got the smoking hot price.

So time to go again. For those who don't know, I'm born and raised in Norway, so heading back over is a fairly regular trip for me, but picking up a brand new car and driving it around certainly adds a lot adventure.

Last time we drove to Germany and ended up in Paris. This time we stayed in Scandinavia exclusively, albeit we did go to all three countries (Norway, Sweden and Denmark for those who are geographically challenged- no Finland and Iceland are not officially part of Scandinavia).

This time Becky and I actually flew seperately. I traveled with Sonja on the 2 SAS tickets that Volvo provides. Becky came a few days later on my United frequent flier miles (shame on United for making me use 100,000 miles for a shity basic economy tickets - man the US airline industry sucks and are treating even loyal customers poorly - I won't forget that United!). So Sonja and I arrive 3 days before Becky and Olivia. Once again Volvo puts us up at the excellent SAS Radisson Hotel in Goteborg. Just like 3 years earlier we make the same basic walk around town trying to shake off jetlag for as many hours as possible.

I think I feel asleep 4 times while watching Adam Sandler's The Longest Yard on TV. At 10PM I figure I have put up a valient enough fight to try to get into rhythm and Sonja and I both are asleep in 10 seconds. Of course I still wake up at 2:30 and end up watching a very bad movie with Armand Assante. I believe it was called Consquences. Take it OFF your shortlist of Must-Sees.

But now for the fun part. We have an excellent breakfast before we are picked up by Volvo for the 15 minute drive to the factory. Car looks great in all of its shiny newness. Just look at the pictures.

Here is a short video of the car coming out of the delivery door Click here to view

After the complementary meatball lunch (did someone drop the salt shaker in the meatballs - I don't remember needing to drink a pitcher of water to compensate on the previous trip) we go the Volvo Museum. Personal highlight was seeing the P1800 used by Simon Templar in the 60's TV show The Saint (with Roger Moore).

Off to Denmark! It's about a 3 hour drive from Goteborg down to the Oresund Bridge and onwards to Copenhagen. My TomTom 920T is on the windshield. Weather is clearing up. Tank is full. The Cook County sheriff department and a bunch of Nazi's are not chasing us. Nor are we on a mission from God. But we are on an excellent adventure. As most things in Europe nothing is seemingly a bargain. The Oresund Bridge cost a little over $50 each way to cross.

The TomTom does an excellent job, in fact, the coverage is more comprehensive in Europe. It shows you your speed vs the speed limit and a really cool feature, it warns you when you get near one of those damn speed camera's (which are all over Norway). The GPS points Sonja and me directly to our hotel in central Copenhagen (5 minutes from Tivoli Gardens). We stayed at the Ascot Hotel. Nice and old with the usual buffet-style breakfast. Room was tiny though.

Next day the weather is great. We spend a wonderful day at Tivoli Gardens. Sonja loved it. It was about this time I find out that Wells Fargo decided to shut down my bank card thinking it was being used in a fradulent manner. I guess being outside of the US is an automatic red flag; even Scandinavia. What a huge pain in the ass. In all my travels I've never had this happen. I made sure Wells Fargo was well aware of this when I got back to the US. What is even more strange is that Becky's card (yes, same account) was valid the whole time. I actually ended up using my corporate American Express card to get back to Sweden on the Oresund Bridge.

We relax at the expensive airport hotel in Goteborg that night since Olivia and Becky are coming the following afternoon. I get caught up on the Olympics and enjoy hanging-out with Sonja. In the morning it is just raining beyond belief. It was like driving through a bathroom shower. Becky does smile in a big way when I pull up with the XC90 (which I had just spent $160 dollars to fill up at $9.48/US gallon or 13.15/ liter of Svensk kroner). No wonder most XC90's in Europe have the diesel engine, which also explains why people kept asking me about the truck.

So Becky and Olivia arrive in torrential rain as we drive to Norway. We're heading to Moss where we will take the ferry to Horten. By the time we arrive in Moss the weather is actually decent. No rain. From Horten we drive southwards to Fevik where our rental house is.

At 11:30 at night we arrive to the surprise of my sleeping father. A really spectularly restored 100 year old house. Dark hardwoods and stone are used thoughtout for flooring (the flooring is all heated which is pretty common in Norway). The view over Fevik was wonderful (see panaromic stich picture). We spend the week in Fevik. Weather was mixed, but generally speaking good. We spend one afternoon in one my favorite coastal towns - Grimstad. Sonja will get mad at me for telling this story, but that's my prerogative as a parent. Sonja is standing near the edge of the dock looking over the ocean when she somehow loses her balance and takes a header into the ocean right next to a docked boat. It was probably a 5 foot drop. I immediately drop my car keys and wallet and I'm just about to jump in when Sonja comes back up and manages to swim over to some steps. She is not happy.

Over the next few days we drive down to Southern Norway's largest city - Kristiansand - and also spend time motor boating around the Fevik area. A good chunk of time is also spent at the beach near the house. We then find out about a really nice beach near Fevik. By this time, however, we are almost ready to leave for Oslo, but we do get to spend a warm and sunny afternoon swimming in the ocean at this beach (the sand was awesome!). Sonja especially loved it. Olivia liked the water but she seems to be afraid to walk on sand. That's a new one to me.

We drive to Enebakk where a lot of my relatives live (Enebakk is about 30 minutes outside of Oslo). Uncle Jacob just happens to be having a big party for his 85th. The party is at my 2nd cousin's Kristine's spectular house/property. What a place to live. Right on the lake. Becky gets to spend a lot of time talking with everyone, especially my 1st cousin Bjorg (who along with her husband Tor might just visit the Seattle area next year). It was a really cool party. Everyone enjoyed themselves even though Sonja got stung by a wasp (this was her 3rd [!!] bee sting on this trip). I also managed to get stung once.

We spend the next day walking around Oslo and enjoy watching the changing of the guard at the royal palace (King Harald and Queen Sonja, by the way, were in China for the Olympics). It was also a lot of fun watching Norway take the gold in rowing that evening. Later in the afternoon we drive to my mother's grave and also stop by the house I lived in.

Time to wrap up the trip. About 3 hours later we are back in Goteborg and back to the expensive airport hotel. Becky and Olivia have an early morning flight to London - San Francisco - Seattle. After dropping them off I go back to the hotel and sleep through breakfast. I'm a little pissed, but now I need to hurry and get over the Volvo factory to drop off the car. Sonja and I do just that and we are quickly transported by Volvo to the airport 40 km's away (in a Volvo taxi of course). After the short 35 minute flight we're back in Copenhagen and we get on the big Airbus A340 for the 9.4 hour flight to Seattle. Sonja watches Horten Hears a Who for the 4th time while I decide to watch Run Fat Boy Run and 21. Both are excellent. Since I'm a big Simon Peg fan I especially enjoy Run Fat Boy.

We are reunited at Seatac Airport and drive back to Sammamish. Excellent trip with some strange happenings (credit cards situation, 4 bee stings between Sonja and me, and Sonja falling into the ocean).

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