What is it to create a world out of nothing? With your own raw hands, and in a country that is not yours. “If you build it, they will come” is the line from the classic 1989 American film, Field of Dreams in which a corn farmer in Iowa, Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice asking him to build a baseball field in his cornfield. Ray sacrifices all his savings to build one, and guess what, they do come.
Years passed since I watched that movie, and the memory of it faded away as I got caught up with life. Overwhelmed by all the practicalities, I waved off the movie as a sweet, but unworkable dream. That was till I met Lars and Anna Norrman last month.
Given the current pandemic, I had shelved plans to discover far-off exotic places. Instead, I scouted for local charms and unexplored destinations. That’s when I started studying the southern coast of Denmark, which I had never explored despite living next to it for the past 12 years. This region is fast gaining traction in the tourist circles because of Stevens Klint, a Unesco World Heritage Geological Site that contains evidence of the impact of the Chicxulub asteroid that crashed into Earth some 65 million years ago. However, what caught my attention was the place where I spent the nights. It’s a boutique bed and breakfast place run by the Norrmans that I stumbled across on the way.
The Norrmans are from Sweden. Anna is an interior designer, and Lars was once an insurance agent. They left their flourishing careers to start this charming design-decorated B&B in the middle of nowhere in Denmark. An orangerie leads the way to the eight uniquely designed rooms. "Each room looks different, and you may find it difficult to find a straight line anywhere,” explained Lars while walking us to our rooms, “I built the rooms myself and Anna decorated them. Took us over six months.” The rooms were furnished with items and furniture that the couple had picked from their travels. But how did you know you will get people to discover this place? What if it had not worked out? Why leave your job? My logical mind was countering all these questions. But then I saw the expression on Lars’ face and it reminded me of Ray Kinsella.
Have we not all had dreams of quitting our day job to travel around the world? We mostly see these influencers, who travel and capture and monetise their travel via social media. Here, the Norrmans have found an alternative model. They open the B&B for six months, and save enough to travel the rest of the year. Not only does the revenue from the property fund their travels, but also the Norrmans collect items from their travels that add more uniqueness to their property. They sell these items in a boutique, which is a part of the property, thus creating an additional revenue stream.
I moonlight as a travel writer, perched on the cusp of deciding whether to leave my corporate job and jump headlong into travel writing. So far, I never had the courage, but meeting Anna and Lars and after spending time at the property they had built to fuel their travels has certainly given me one more gentle nudge.