27.04.02 - 30.04.02:
On this page, we (will) describe our experiences in Denmark.
Apart from the travelogue for this country
you will also find a number of links to useful sites,
ranging from general information to embassy homepages.
Written by: Dorrit
It all started in Bunde, a lovely small village at the Dutch-German border. On April 15, 2002 we left from there to the first country of our trip: Denmark.
On our first night in Denmark we halted in Højer, a village that seemed completely abandoned, so we parked the van in front of an old mill in the village center and went to bed early, still a bit touched by our leave-taking from home.
For breakfast the next morning, we drove to the westcoast of the Danish peninsula Jutland and found a beautiful place to stop directly at the beach. After a stroll over the totally deserted beach, we drove on to Ribe, a very cute medieval town with lovely half-timbered houses and a huge cathedral. Afterwards we continued our journey to Billund, where we wanted to have a look at the famous Legoland.
Legoland normally costs DKK 160 (EUR25) per person, but is free after 17:30, since the main attractions as roller coaster are switched off.
Since we weren't interested in that part of the park, but only wanted to see the miniature cities made of lego anyway, we went in for free.
After another night of "wild-camping" (this is actually not allowed in Denmark, but we soon found out that if you park in small villages, nobody bothers you), we went to Århus, the second largest city of Denmark after Copenhagen. First we went to "Møsgård", a museum about prehistoric and viking times situated in a castle. Upon arriving we had to conclude that "castle" was a bit overdone, it was more like a villa, but the gardens were quite pretty.
The museum was very large and contained among others a human sacrifice from 100 b.C. that was found in a well and was still intact. His skin had turned completely black and his hair bright red from the peat ground, but otherwise it was still intact. Strange idea the guy died 2100 years ago...
In the mean time it was already 17:30 and we still wanted to visit the center of Århus, where we wanted to visit "Den gamle By" or "the old town".
"Den gamle by" is really something special: from everywhere in Denmark they broke down the oldest and most beautiful medieval timbered houses and rebuilt them stone-by-stone in this village. The interior of the houses was authentic as well, so we made loads of pictures.
The next morning we were woken up by a Danish fool, who - how useful - was raking the gravel path we were standing on. So we were up early that morning.
We had breakfast in front of Rosenholm castle, which we wanted to visit afterwards. However, the castle didn't open until May, so like real Japanese tourist we made a picture and went on to our next stop: Ebeltoft.
On our way there we were surprised to see some megalithic graves standing unattended in the middle of some fields. In Holland, someone would instantly put a fence around it and charge an entrance fee! We parked the van along the roadside and walked straight through the fields to take a closer look. They weren't enormous, but it is still impressive how people back then were able to lift those enormous stones without any technical help.
Ebeltoft, according to our travel guide the oldest town in Denmark (founded in 1301), was indeed very pretty with loads of medieval timbered houses, a bit like "Den gamle by", but then original. We parked the van at the border of the town and walked over the beach to the little harbour, where the "oldest still existing war-ship in the world", the Jylland-fregat (1860), lies.
We asked in the bakery for the Danish " Teebrød" that was recommended to us as we left for Denmark, but they had never heard of that. Instead we got the typical Danish pastry with the misleading name "Wienerbrød" (Vienna bread), which was delicious as well so we didn't really care what it was called...
From Ebeltoft it wasn't very far to our next stop: Mariager. Mariager is yet another age-old village full of beautiful medieval houses, which lies at the end of a beautiful fjord. We spent the afternoon lazing around the harbour, walked a bit, sat in the sun for a while, played around with the camera etc. And had a relaxed day.
Towards the end of the afternoon we headed for Hobro, to see a viking fortress that was found there. According to our travel guide it was supposed to be very special. Since it was already 18:30 by the time we arrived there, it had already closed, but there was no gate to stop us so we decide to be bold and just walk on. The fortress consisted of a round earthen wall with no more than a grass field inside where there must have been viking houses some thousand years ago. You have to bring a lot of phantasy to imagine it though.
Some miles down the road there also was a rebuilt viking village, which was also close but which we had a quick glance at as well.
After having "done" Hobro this way, we drove on to the "Himmerland"-county: a "barren landscape consisting of marshes and heath" it was written in our travel guide. We drove the whole way through Himmerland to the national park of Rebild, but didn't see much difference with the rest of Jutland: a hilly landscape full of grass and corn fields, here and there some acres of woodland and some farms. It looks a bit like Yorkshire, but "barren" is not really the first word that springs to my mind when looking around this area....
In Rebild we managed to get a map of the national park, so we put on our walking shoes and went for a nice long walk. This time, our travel guide had said nothing too much about the park: we walked through beautiful heath and foresthills towards "Troldeskov" or troll forest: a forest full of bizar shaped beech trees. Apparently, these deformations are due to the cold; according to the brochure of the park this was the most northern place in Europe where beeches could still be found. We also walked around a small lake with water as black as ink. The signs around it said this was caused by the peat grounds around it, if I understood correctly (my Danish is a bit rusty ;o)
That night we found out that the place we chose to sleep was directly next to a military training: loads of army trucks were hidden under camouflage nets and heaps of soldiers were running around fully armed... I don't think there was a safer place to sleep.
The next morning we had a delicious cup of coffee with Danish pastry (which I can recommend!) on the terrace of the local bakery. It was the first terrace we sat on since Heidelberg, which is quite an achievement for us terrace-veterans! Although it was only 15 degrees and we still wear sweaters and jackets, the locals run around in sleeveless navelshirts. Surprised they don't get pneumonia!
Next quest was the search for a vacuumpump. From the moment we left there was a funny, irregular tick in the motor and Coen suspected it was the vacuumpump. In Ringe (just under Odense) we found a nice VW-technician who told us to take out the vacuumpump (which enforces the brakes), test if the tick was still there and then build it back in. This cost us the rest of the afternoon, but (knock on wood) the tick has not returned yet. There is still another funny sound, but we can have a look at that in Sweden.
More or less reassured we headed for Sjaelland (Sealand), 'cause after two days without sightseeing we started to get withdrawal symptoms... To get to Sealand we had to cross the great belt bridge (approx. 20 kilometres from Nyborg (Fyn) to Forsør (Sjælland)) which costed us no less than DKK 240 = EUR 35!.
The main goal for the next day was Roskilde, which was the capital of Denmark until the second half of the Middle Ages. We started with visiting the Roskilde Dom, a beautiful church containing the tombs of all Danish kings and queens. Since we wanted to eat fish that night we walked from the Dom to the harbour of Roskilde. Unfortunately there were no fish shops there, but what they did have was a open-air museum of viking ships, where approx. 20 replicas of all sorts of viking ships could be seen.
From Roskilde we continued to Fredensborg castle (the royal palace, some miles north of Hillerød) and decided to go on to Hillerød and visit Frederiksborg castle (the former royal palace) the next morning.
Fredensborg is the "summer residence" of the Danish queen (Margarete II) and is unfortunately only open to the public in July. However, it does have a nice public garden, so we decide might as well have a look at it. We parked right in front of the castle, just outside the gate and first went to see the castle (from the outside), before heading for the gardens. The guards look just like the ones in London, red suits, tapdance shoes and high fur hats. And just like in the UK they don't give any sign of life if you ask them a question. We thought of asking one of them "excuse me, what does your president look like?" like a real superficial tourist,
but decided we shouldn't be so arrogant, since we didn't know whether Denmark had a king or a queen ourselves until only a few days ago.
We were just about to walk into the gardens, when the guards actually started moving and a whole peleton of soldiers came marching out. They halted exactly next to us and - as one man - turned towards us waving their guns and klicking their heels. For one moment we thought they were the firing squad going to execute us, but it soon became clear they were only there because the queen just came out of her castle. We quickly dug out our telelens and like real papparazi made some pictures: queen on the staircase, queen in expensive antique Daimler... some people have all the luck! Afterwards we heard she had a date with Johannes Rau, him and his wife were probably the other couple we saw... I hope not, because then we had to be ashamed of ourselves: we have been living in Germany for about five years, we should at least recognize its president, shouldn't we?
After the queen had left there was little action to be had at the castle, so we had our walk in the garden after all. When we returned we discussed what to do: camp in front of the castle or not? There were loads of policemen about, so the chance of being sent away was pretty high: wild camping is still forbidden in Denmark and the queen's backyard is probably no exception but hey, no risk no fun!
The next morning we were woken up by the morning parade of the queen's guards, so we weren't sent away after all. We agreed we had had neighbours of lesser descent in the past and with some feelings of regret return to Hillerød. In the center of Hillerød, in the middle of a big lake lies Frederiksborg castle, until some centuries ago the humble home of the Danish royals.
According to Lonely planet the castle was built in "Dutch renaissance style" and indeed it had some similarities with the Dutch castles of the 17th century, with its round towers and richly decorated fronts...
Inside the rooms were left just as they must have been in the 17th and 18th century, especially the knights hall and the bed- and livingrooms of the kings and queens. All very decadent with loads of gold and silver everywhere, a bit like Versailles in Paris. After having been there for 5 hours we both had had more than enough and left for our last stop in Denmark: Copenhagen.
We met up with Torsten, Biljana, Signe and Peter in the Hardrockcafé because that was easy to find, but after the first beer we quickly left for a real Danish bar called "the mouse and the elefant". Here they had a huge plastic elefant head hanging from the wall. If you pulled one of the teeth, beer would come out of the trunk of the elefant. Very original. The beer was twice as expensive as in Germany, but since it was quite heavy (it was called "Starkøl"), we were quite pissed (and the next morning quite ill) for a mere EUR 30. Afterwards we heard the Elefantbeer was quite infamous, so beware! All in all we had a fantastic evening!
We slept until 13:00 the next day, then I woke up from a strange ticking sound. Upon closer examination this turned out to be raindrops falling down from the ceiling: the roof was leaking!
Damn, we only just started! The problem was that the roof box was fixed to the roof with screws. Although we had secured it with a waterproof silicon rim, it had been raining so hard that the whole rim was standing under water and somehow the water had found its way in…After parking the van in a different place (where it no longer stood on a slope and the water could run down from the back of the roof) the dripping stopped, but we wanted to find a solution for it that afternoon anyway.
But first we dragged ourselves and our headaches (we were still very hung-over!) to Torsten's house and managed to get ourselves back to life with loads of coffee and a very long shower..
In the mean time it was 15:30, most of the day had passed and we still needed to find a solution for the roof that day, since the next day was Sunday. Unfortunately, the only thing we managed to find was this orange building foam, which evaporates when exposed to sunlight. Hmm, maybe not the best solution for the roof, but since there was no other alternative, we put it on the roof and covered it with tape… need to have a look at that in Sweden as well, because we are both very unsatisfied with this solution!
By then, the aspirin started to work and we were up to a major sightseeing-walk through Copenhagen. Torsten and Biljana showed us all the needtohaveseens of Copenhagen, some of which they hadn't seen themselves yet either. Seen loads of castles and a nice old citadel, then walked on to the harbour and of course didn't miss the little Mermaid. We walked back via Ny Havn, the picturesque old harbour street in the city centre.
We had agreed with Signe and Peter to meet up for breakfast at Torsten and Biljana's place at 9:30, so we had a delicious breakfast with all kind of Danish specialities. We went to town immediately after that, since Torsten and Signe had loads of things they wanted to show us. We started in Christianshavn, where the free state of Christiania is situated. Until the 70s this was army territory, but after the Danish army had left the place, a group of hippies took it over and created their own "state". Ever since, many Danish governments have tried to get them out of there, but somehow they are still there and are now tolerated. Upon entering the village, you instantly walk into "Pusherstreet", where market stalls only sell one thing: Hash. Enormous blocks of stuff just lie there on the counter for everyone to see, even for us Dutch a bit unusual! However, the further you walked away from this street, the more "normal" it got: many people had built their houses in an ecological way, one even built his around a tree, looked very unusual..
Next to Christiania there was a 17th century church with a 90 metres high cupper tower you could climb. We were told you had a magnificent view over Copenhagen from there, so I tucked away my fear of heights and went up. The first 70 metres were via narrow wooden staircases inside the building, but the last 20 metres were via an open staircase around the outside (!) of the tower. Since there was a lot of wind you had to be really careful, at every corner you turned, the wind came from another angle. Quite scary that was. But the view was indeed magnificent, so even I can recommend it, provided you haven't got a bad heart.
We recovered from this enervating experience in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum (many antique statues and quite a number of French impressionists in a beautiful neo-classical building), after which we visited a 17th century Dutch village near Copenhagen. It was very cute and posessed, according to Signe, the only dyke in Denmark. Typical... On our way back we admired Signe's new home (she moved from Heidelberg back to Copenhagen that very week) and had a very relaxing night at Torsten and Biljana's place, drinking a Tuborg beer, eating a pizza and watching "Keeping up Appearances" on BBC… first time since and last time in a long period that we watched TV!
Monday and Tuesday we went to SAP Denmark to update our website, but this was a lot more work than we thought. Both days I typed my fingers blue and tried to recognize the hyrogliphs in my written diary. Unfortunately, I had been quite short in the beginning so in the end I had to dig it up from my memory after all. See above for the result.
Torsten had told us that Biljana had prepared us a farewell meal, which turned out to be the original Danish "Smørrebrød", richly filled bread with shrimps, grilled meat, salad etc. etc. It was really delicious.
All in all we had a great time in Denmark, esp. in Copenhagen. Since the latter was mainly due to our friends there, we would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the great time we had with them. Thanx!
||Our top 5: