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In search of Hygge during our bicycle tour

Hygge is a danish term that refers to coziness and finding joy in small, simple things. Stefanie read the book "Lykke - The Danish Way to Happiness" in the first lockdown in 2020, which explains the concept of Hygge. The book has left a strong impression for her and reminds her to find happiness in the small things. But how do we find these little moments of joy on our bike trip? In this blog we tell you what makes our hearts beat faster and our eyes twinkle. Little gestures, beautiful encounters, special moments ... In short, those things in life that make us really happy.

Loving our Surly Bridge Clubs!
Many Hygge moments await us in Denmark!

A little gesture to spend on the road

April 11, 2022 - Before we cross the border into Denmark, we stop at the Lidl in Flensburg. Shopping is just a little bit cheaper in Germany so we stock up on nuts, pasta, wraps and cereal bars... Way too much because Niels' panniers weighs too much. While Niels is shopping, a man stops by Stefanie. He is interested in what we are doing and wishes us good luck. Five minutes later he returns and puts a bill of 5 euros in Stefanie's hands. She refuses to take it, but the man insists. She is surprised because this generosity feels strange to her. We spend the last euros on delicious chocolate Easter eggs. Every time we open a chocolate, Stefanie thinks back to the generosity of the unknown man.

The first moments in a new country

Arriving in a new country is always special and makes our hearts beat a little bit faster. New surroundings, new habits, new people and new adventures... The prospect of this is something we are always looking forward to. During our first day in Denmark, a local man accompanies us to a shelter next to a church. Without being asked, he interrupts his bike ride towards his home and guides us for 5km to this nice sleeping place . We know how precious 'time' is in this modern society and are still surprised when someone, who has never even seen us before, wants to share a piece of their time it with us. Keeping your eyes open and trying to experience this consciously is a good tip. All those moments suddenly become experiences not to be forgotten easily.

De eerste momenten in Denemarken - Hygge
We enjoy the West Coast in Denmark

Any material can serve!

We had underestimated the cold in the shelters, it is still freezing at night and we do not sleep very well. When something like this happens at home, you simply go to a store and buy what you need. During a cycling trip it works a little differently, because not everything is within a stone's throw and we try to watch our budget as closely as possible. When we start our search for some extra insulation in a local store, Tom overhears our conversation and has a solution for us. We accompany him to his home, cut up two oversized insulation mats and jump back on the bikes, laughing. "We look like two mules," we say to each other. How grateful we are to have made this brief stop. Some free material that has given us many hours of extra sleep and warmth!

Spontaneous encounters are the most Hygge of all

Meeting people is one of the biggest reasons we embarked on this adventure on a bicycle. We are interested in stories, new cultures and special moments. Meanwhile, we have already learned that we can sometimes be more assertive and that there is nothing wrong at all with talking to people ourselves. "Can we pitch our tent in your garden? Do you have some water for us? Can we have a look at how you live here?" At least once a day, some of these questions come in handy. We ourselves do not see this as some kind of invasion of privacy or disturbing people, we believe that the people who want to help us offer a good vision, one that we ourselves always try to carry. Help each other and keep your eyes open for opportunities, the path becomes so much more beautiful!

For example, during a visit to the supermarket, we get to talk to Lars, a man in his seventies who comes across as very funny and witty. He is curious about what we do and who we are. Niels senses that all three of us are quickly very comfortable with each other and out of the blue asks, "Could you possibly help us with a place to sleep at your house?" As witty as Lars is, he still hadn't seen this coming. He thinks about it for a few seconds and then says: "What the hell, people already hurt each other enough with the war and everything, the world would be a lot nicer if we all spread a little more love. My wife is going to be angry, but you'll see that in a minute." Two hours later we are sitting freshly washed at the table with Lars and Karin, his wife, who gives us a very warm welcome. We eat croquettes, drink a nice glass of wine and chat about the things that really matter in life. Fulfilled we crawl into bed in the late evening, before closing our eyes we say to each other - "This is Hygge!"

We are not the only cyclists on the road

Thy National Park in Denmark is a beautiful nature park and all Hygge by itself. Cycling between coast and forests, nice gravel roads and lots of peace and quiet. When we left this area, we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of many other cyclists, peace and quiet suddenly gone! When the 20th group passes us, we suddenly notice that they all have a placard with a number on their bikes. Without knowing it, we suddenly found ourselves in a gravel bike contest. The participants could choose between distances of 130, 220 or 400km, wow!

Even though they were the ones who flew by, we were the ones that received encouragement from their side. After about 30km we arrived at a nice cafe which also turned out to be a supply station for the race. Unlike the rest, we take our time for a coffee and got to talk to Solveiga. She was there from Copenhagen to support her friend and take a short vacation. She is very kind and offers us a delicious quinoa dish. We had many interesting conversations (about life in Ghent and Copenhagen, each other's lifestyle, friends and much more). Stefanie was impressed with her fork (off all things) which seemed to be very old. We chatted for 2 hours, got a lot of cereal bars and bananas from the race organisation, and enjoyed the sunshine. When Solveiga left, she donated the fork to us, "Now you will always think of this encounter while eating."

Hygge is mainly in the little things

The above examples are very imaginative and happen to you more than you'd think during a cycling adventure (or any other adventure). Nevertheless, we would like to give a few more small examples of moments that are typically Hygge for us:

  • Waking up after a cold night with the sun on your face

  • Staying in a ho(s)tel or BnB after camping several nights in a row. Does this include a hot shower? Even better!

  • One of your favorite songs suddenly playing through the speakers while you are shopping in the supermarket.

  • First feeling like you paid too much for a campsite, but then realizing that there is a nice room where your favorite movie is also playing (Harry Potter for the win!).

  • Tail wind, very Hygge!

  • Thinking you've run out of snacks, but finding that last piece of chocolate just before bed time.

  • A deer appearing in the distance.

  • A full field of rapeseed flowers in bloom.

  • Receiving a message from your best friends just on the day you've been thinking about them a lot.

  • That free ice cream you get from the ice cream truck driver.

  • That perfect sunset at the end of the day.

  • All the encouragements along the way.

  • And much, much more!

The Danish seem to have mastered this Hygge quite well. We do our best, but often still have to be conscious of this. It is a view on life that we think would benefit everyone, it makes you appreciate the small, human things.

Are you Hygge in your daily life? Give that cyclist or hiker you meet along the road some encouragements, or that colleague who is having a hard time a pat on the back. Small gestures make a world of difference! Tell us about your Hygge moments. Just thinking about it will put a smile on your face, trust us.

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