Lifestyle

54 hours and counting

We leave the city to explore the countryside of northern Germany and Denmark in search of the perfect weekend in the new Volvo V60.

WORDS: IAN DICKSON

It takes just under five hours to drive from Hamburg, Germany, to the northern coast of Denmark. It’s a weekend journey that we’re making in the new Volvo V60, the lifestyle estate that’s designed to make the most of every moment.

For us, the duration or the destination isn’t as important as the journey itself, and what that journey represents. This is about escaping the week. Swapping deadlines for downtime. It’s about unwinding, exploring and enjoying.

Leaving the buzz of the city behind requires a shift of mindset, but physically it’s easy – the clear directions displayed in portrait format on the centre display of the V60, as well as on the driver display, help us negotiate the Friday traffic effortlessly. It’s 6pm now, and we’re counting every one of those weekend hours. Our agenda is loose – 54 hours and counting.

Settled into a cruise on the German autobahn, the atmosphere is relaxed yet energised, as we anticipate the weekend ahead. Sometimes the time comes for a burst of power and the T6 petrol engine responds accordingly, especially when I flick the drive mode wheel into Dynamic.

Our car has the optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system, which delivers an audio experience so visceral you can hear every nuance of the music. With our favourite tracks playing, the borderlands between Germany and Denmark slip by in a blur. Next stop, our location for the weekend – a beautiful Scandinavian house on the coast near Saltum, Denmark. Nestled among the sand dunes, with the sea air balancing serotonin levels, this is the perfect place to recharge our batteries after a hectic working week.

We wake to the invigorating sound of waves breaking on the shore – a contrast to the stillness and beautiful milky light of dawn. The area we’re staying in is famous for its light, and artists have been drawn to the area for centuries. In the late 19th Century the Skagen Painters spent every summer here, a group of Scandinavian artists captivated by the translucent blue skies, the interplay of colour and natural light, the sun’s reflections on the water, the endless twilight.

Our early morning walk on the beach with the dogs could be straight out of a P. S. Krøyer painting. More strenuous activities are on the agenda, too, thanks to the exceptional versatility of the V60. With its class-leading load space, flexible layout and the availability of a range of useful accessories, this car is a lifestyle-enabler that makes light work of carrying all kinds of sporting and outdoor equipment.

Stopping on the Denmark coast in the Volvo V60

After a day mixing recreation with relaxation, we gather with friends for a meal. Food is an important aspect of the culture in this part of the world. The New Nordic Cuisine movement, which was pioneered by Danish chefs Claus Meyer and René Redzepi, focuses on the purity and freshness of the produce, and the simplicity of its preparation. That means lots of fresh, seasonal and organic vegetables, delicious fish (you’re never far from the sea in Denmark) and locally reared meat.

After another restorative night’s sleep we continue our exploration of this dramatic coastline, on beautiful driving roads that tightly hug the sea. We put the V60 in Dynamic mode, which sharpens the steering, gears and engine, and enjoy the drive as we soak up the scenery. This is a landscape shaped by sea and wind – and the Danes use it to their advantage. In 2017, 43.6% of Denmark’s electricity came from wind energy. The wind also gives the flat west coast of Denmark its wild character. Even in summer, you need to keep warm, windproof clothes close at hand.

It’s easy to see why Denmark is regularly voted one of the world’s happiest countries. There’s an easy-going attitude to life here; a collective feeling of security and safety that comes from having one of the world’s best societal systems, where there’s an emphasis on work-life balance, job security and healthcare.

All too soon, after cramming as much as we can into the weekend, our 54 hours are almost up. Packing the generous luggage compartment of the V60, we head south back towards Hamburg, a relaxing Spotify playlist syncing with our Sunday evening mood. Conversation soon turns to planning our next adventure into the unknown with the V60.