Every now and then a bottle of wine is opened in the Heed residence. And sometimes a cool beer is enjoyed when a labourous task has been completed.
The quantities are not great enough to ruin us, but if you peek at the prices at the Swedish wine monopoly, Systembolaget, it may seem a bit steep to pay up 2-300 SEK for a 3L bag-in-box of red wine. In these situations you start to look for alternatives. During my student years I made some vain attempts to ferment my own wine using old rotten fruit in the basement, but despite the high alcohol levels it honestly didn’t make anyone happy.
It kind of makes sense to get exactly the same drinks that you buy at Systembolaget at a lower price in Germany. We got into the car with this intention today to go on a so called fakir trip to the Border Shop in Puttgarten. The first question was – how early should we leave home? We wanted to arrive at the Border Shop as early as possible as to avoid both traffic and queues.
Therefore, we set the alarm to the ungodly 3:00 AM.
From Borås to Puttgarten it’s almost exactly a 500 kilometer drive. We drove across the Öresund Bridge from Malmo to Copenhagen and then down through Denmark to Rodby. On the way there we bought a ticket for the 09:15 ferry on the mobile phone.
We were lucky enough to catch the ferry which left at 8:45. We presented the mobile phone at the ticket counter (hurray for the 2000s) and drove onto the ferry. As the world weary travelers that we are, we immediatly set up a game of RoboRally, the board game and we had just enough time to play an entertaining party during the 45 minutes that the journey lasted.
When we arrived in Germany with the ferry, we rolled the 300 meters up to the Border Shop. For those of you who haven’t been to the Border Shop in Puttgarten I can say that it is like a liquor shop on steroids. A Belgian Blue liquor shop. It’s an old ferry where 3-4 floors have been rebuilt into a shop. The lower deck is full of beer, the next level houses wine, the next again – spirits and the top floor you can find candy, kitchen utensils, detergents and the like.
The guys who work there are clever people. They show all the prices in Danish currency and all comparative prices in Swedish kronor, so it looks like the bottles are almost for free compared to the Swedish stores. You must be in quite bright in maths to find the real bargains. Much of the stuff is sold at half the price compared to Sweden, while some fine whiskeys and wines may even be more expensive than back home!
I made two rounds in the store – one on the wine floor and one on the beer floor.
When the car was fully packed, we were very happy and we started to make our way home again. We were lucky once more on our way home and we managed to catch the ferry and in principle drove straight onboard.
To encourage people to do this kind of crazy day excursions, Scandlines who owns both the ferry and the store has introduced a one-day-shopping ticket. You can join their shopping club (which is free) and then you may buy a day ticket for like 575 Danish kroner. If you return home to Sweden again (ie enter the ferry to Denmark again) within 4 hours, you are refunded DKK 400 in cash on the returning ferry. Those who didn’t join the shopping club will only have 3 hours to shop and will only receive 300 DKK.
We used our 400 Danish to buy lunch at the buffet restaurant on the ferry back home. It tasted good.
At 12:30 we were back in Denmark and at 19:00 we were back in Borås.
All in all, it was a 1000 km trip which took us 16 hours to drive, and we payed 575 DKK (around 700 SEK) for the boat ticket including lunch and 400 SEK to pass the bridge (with BroPass).
The question that remains: Was it worth it?
I bought around 500 cans of beer, 40 bag-in-box of wine and three liters of gin. Overall, I paid 6’115 SEK for this. To make this blog post remotely relevant I looked up the prices of the EXACT same products on Systembolaget’s website. In Sweden, the cost would have been 14’213 kronor. That means that my goods was 57% cheaper in the Border Shop.
The biggest discount was on beer (68%), while wine and spirits are at around half the price if you find the special deals.
One last tip – don’t forget to investigate how much the car may load. EU laws allows you to bring in almost any amount of alcohol through customs these days. What may bring you down is if the car weighs too much. A modern hatchback car will let you load around 4-500 kg including the passengers, so if you bring a few of your friends you are not allowed to buy that much. A box of 24 beer cans typically weighs around 8 kg and a bag-in-box around 3 kg.