Swedish councillors Åsa Karlsson Björkmarker and Bo Frank, from Växjö in southern Sweden, were on their way back to the Ibis hotel where they were staying in Dunkirk after having attended an energy conference in the French town, when they accidentally got on the wrong bus.
“We got on a bus that went to the wrong Ibis hotel and that Ibis hotel was in Belgium,” Björkmarker, who represents the centre-left Social Democrats, told The Local on Friday after their unfortunate tale went viral.
Not being familiar with the area, it took a while for the two politicians to realise that they were going in the wrong direction. When they eventually did, they were surprised, but tried to remain calm.
“Mostly it was some form of 'wait a second, where are we going?',” said Björkmarker.
But the obstacles did not end there for her and Frank, of the centre-right Moderate Party.
“We had some trouble with the language too since the driver only spoke French and neither of us was especially good at French, I can tell you,” she added.
“We did not succeed in explaining our situation.”
It was not until they contacted a representative from the group that had organized the trip to the confererence, who could translate to French, that they managed to resolve the situation.
Hours later, they were able to return back to their hotel at around midnight. And Björkmarker says she is able to laugh at their unexpected European road trip.
“It happens. But it is always a little bit funnier when you cross the border in some way. It's so clear that it went wrong,” she said.
“It's a fun anecdote, that's how we see it.”
Björkmarker and Frank are in good company. Two Swedish tourists hit global headlines back in 2009 when they tried to visit Italian seaside town Capri but ended up in industrial Carpi on the opposite end of Italy after a GPS blunder.
Article by Emma Lidman