Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen

We dragged ourselves away from the marina with the promise of another of the world’s great bridges. This time the Great Belt Bridge, linking Fyn to Zealand, really two bridges linked in the middle – the box girder bridge is 4 miles long, followed by the suspension bridge which is just over 5 miles.

It is one of the most incredible structures we have been on, which is just as well as the toll was a wee bit more than planned. We are under the 6 metres for the cheapest class, but the lady spotted the bikes on the back which pushed us over and another £12 so £35, still worth it though if you are bridge addicts like us.

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Great Belt Bridge

We pulled off at yet another marina and were really impressed as they did meals on wheels – a delicious pasta and a tasty curry were both delivered – gratis :). Or maybe it was the very kind, Tracy and Dave from Deal (small world syndrome – Tracy knows my god-daughter). A very entertaining evening with them and Thomas and Lisa from Sweden, putting the world gently to rights and swapping tales of places been and seen.

Much as we thought of staying to see if more leftovers were coming our way we moved on to Copenhagen. Not on our list to see, but there is a campsite in the city centre, plus we needed to drive through the city to get to Sweden so why not.

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A city of giant Lego

We started our tour around the city with the river bus – excited like two giddy kippers we were. Running from side to side taking photos, whilst the backs of my legs turned redder by the second, its been baking weather all week. Just £2.50 each for the complete river bus tour up and down the city which lasted just over an hour.

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Iain synced with the river bus perfectly 🙂

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Danish David!

The next day we headed for the old town and time to tick off some of the must see and do. The Little Mermaid, obviously, along with a couple of hundred cruise boat tours. I will join with the general consensus of every person there “it’s loads smaller than you think it will be”.  The brave and the good climb down onto the rocks to get a photo, if not any photo will include the “selfie sticks” of a couple of hundred tourists.

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She needs no tag – beautiful 

The main must do had to be having a Carlsberg on Nyhaven in the old town. Nyhaven is the iconic Danish view, the old harbour buildings are painted in Tobermory colours, the canal runs through the centre and is lined with stunning house-boats and the quays are lined with restaurants and bars. It is without a doubt a massive tourist trap but it’s none the worse for it, postcard pretty and the place to catch the massive canal ferries that take from 120+ on trips around the city.

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For us, one of the camera shutter moments of life when nothing could be more perfect was our beer at Nyhavn- the scenery, the sunshine, the cold beer – ok the price of £4 for a half pint maybe could have been improved upon but it was ‘probably the best beer in the world’ that we will have 🙂

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Carlsberg on  Nyhaven

There must be enough to see and do to spend a week in Copenhagen and we only briefly touched the on most of it. The Royal Palaces, the churches, the canals and rivers all deserve a few days. We both loved Frederiks church, known as the Marble church it’s rococo architecture forms the focal point of the Frederikstadn district. Inside hundreds of people were sat in the pews in silence, looking upwards to the 31 metres span domed ceiling, the largest dome in Scandinavia and possibly one of the most beautifully painted.

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The Marble Church

We did have lunch in the old city, our top tip if you are going to try the Famous Royal Smushi cafe as we did – eat well before you go! The tiniest, one forkful of ‘smushi’ each and one bottle of coke between us was £14. Tasty but didn’t touch the sides – it’s not a cheap city even if it is one of the most beautiful.

Our last stop was the Amalienborg, winter home of the Danish Royal family. Not just one but four identical palaces facing each other around a courtyard. Not sure how the Royal’s go about flitting from one to the other with a million tourists wandering through, not gated off like most palaces you could wander right up to the front doors. Each palace was guarded by a lone sentry, a hot and unhappy looking four fellas who suffered many. many photos being taken – mine included.

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Smile it’s another tourist camera

With the city temperature gauges showing 34 / 94 degrees it was too hot to do much more and we gave in by mid afternoon. Back at camp we met up with some fellow travellers -known to us as the Woolly Wanderers. Shaun and Jude, plus three adorable poodles have been traveling around Europe for a year too and we have followed their blog weekly, brilliant to meet up at last and discuss the many highs of a year out in a motorhome, including hearing about their exploits travelling through Russia a few months ago. A great evening to finish up wonderful couple of weeks in Denmark – next stop Sweden.

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 Nyhavn – again

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Submarines – like No.7 buses

After the beautiful bleakness of Jutland it was a noticeable change in landscape on Funen (Fyn), Denmark’s garden island, being the middle of the three Danish regions or the ‘middle child’ of Denmark, best known for Odense and Hans Christian Andersen. Lots of wheat and barley fields, poppies and cornflowers around the edges of the fields it certainly earns it’s garden tag.

We crossed over from Jutland on the bridge at Middlefart (no way we were going there without mentioning it – childish but made us laugh 🙂 ).

We are now in prime holiday season – yet still everyone and everywhere seems very laid back. Holiday crowds don’t seem to exist so far, we hear Copenhagen will be busy but all along the coasts its been very quiet, the odd motorhome here and there, plenty of yachts along the coasts but very few cars – all good then.

Once on Fyn, Faaborg was our town of choice to visit, mainly because it has a marina, which equals a cheap stopover.  We hadn’t researched the town so were unsure what to expect, we needn’t have worried a typical Danish town, colourful houses lining paved roads. My favourite was the house with the boot hanging off the wall, no signs of it being a shop but would guess it was a boot makers in years gone by.

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Faaborg boot-makers, once upon a time?

Originally a  merchant’s town, the western gate at Vestergade was built around 1400 and is the only one, which has survived in Denmark.  The town was just a few minutes walk from the marina so we ambled away an afternoon around the shops.  Whilst there are very few empty shops there also seems to be very few shoppers around – the Danes like the outdoor life so we are guessing they are out and about on the water or in the countryside rather than in town.

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The last 15th century town gate in Denmark

Having visited Plokstine missile base in Lithuania and been on  a submarine in Holland I thought all my Christmas’s had come at once (not) when we found out there was a Cold War museum with more missile bases, nuclear bunkers and another submarine on the island of Langelands! As Iain is a sucker for some Cold War history we agreed to divert South and spend a day at Langeland Fort. At least another excuse for another incredible bridge,  this time a short one to a mini island called Sio, then the full 771 metres, 26 metres above the sea over to the island.

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Langeland Bridge

The fort is right on the Southern tip of the island, built in 1953 it was turned into a museum in 1997 when danger from the cold war was deemed over. The whole experience is one for kids (big and small) to clamber over and on massive naval guns, a decommissioned minesweeper, a submarine, two  MIG-23 air-planes and for those wanting the thrill of riding in a armoured personnel carrier the queues were forming to don a protective hat and career across a field for 10 minutes for £10. The submarine was way to hectic, kids were thundering around, that definitely makes you realise how cramped conditions were for people living on them.

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The main objective of the fort was to delay an attacking Soviet sea force and give NATO flights time to arrive. After touring the base and all the bunkers and fire power the final analysis showed that the most likely outcome of a Soviet attack was the fort would be rendered inoperative almost immediately – supposedly Soviet attack plans included dropping a tactical nuclear bomb on the fort.

For a few Kroner it was a cracking afternoon out, the museum even offered for us to stay for free overnight in their car-park. Had we done so it would have been probably the only time we had camped outside the Berlin Wall – a large section of the (imported original) wall is used as a boundary.

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the Berlin Wall in Denmark

The weather man seems to have got lucky with forecasts, we have had sunshine since Sunday. With this is mind we agreed to find somewhere to park up for a few days and enjoy some sun, the idea of traipsing through cities or tourist attractions seemed like too much hard work in the heat. We happened across Dagelokke, yet again another harbour but this one is a tiddler. A few houses, 20-30 boats, a cafe and all the facilities we need for a few days. Our friendly harbour master has offered us a free night if we stay for a few days, so we may take him up on that.

We treated ourselves to chips for tea from the harbour take-away last night and sat out on the wooden benches watching the world go by – as is often the case the best times are those with a bag of chips in hand!:) .

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Dagelokke harbour

Just up the road is the amazing Tranekaer Castle, built in the 13th century and seemingly as famous for the fact that one of the counts had over 100 illegitimate children as the castle itself. According to our harbour-master Queen Margrethe II stays at the castle several times a year, we are keeping an eye out just in case. It was too hot today to do much so we cycled to Lohals first thing for a wander around the village and then found the Queen’s bakers, so of course Iain treated himself to some royal cakes as it would have been rude not to! It’s now officially too hot to move and due to get hotter every day til Sunday, here comes summer :).

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Tranekaer Castle

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 ‘Bakeri’ with warrant to the Danish Queen and Welsh Iain 🙂

The hunt for Danish bacon continues

Looking at our trusty atlas we both agreed the Ringkobing Fjord seemed unmissable, over 30 km long (but less than 2 metres deep across the whole fjord) with a causeway separating it from the sea.  A few miles further on Nissum Fjord, slightly shorter but still only separated from the sea by a sliver of land, so two fjords for the price of one both on what appeared spectacular causeways.  We have to be honest and say, it looked better on the map!

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Ringkobing causeway

It is a brilliant road but somewhat wider than we thought. To our left we had a view of the san-dunes to our right if we squinted we could see the fjords. It was worth the effort, plenty of parking spots that allow you to climb over the dunes onto the pure white North Sea sand and possibly some of the best beach houses we have seen from cutesy wooden beach shacks to enormous Saxon houses built around small courtyards.

Despite it being the end of June and what we thought would be busy holiday season there was a serious lack of holidaymakers. Those we did see were pretty much all German. Without exaggeration two out of three of every registration plates we saw were (car and motorhome)  German.

It could have been the gale force winds putting all but the hardy off but we were told that high season starts next week and they are expecting an influx of visitors.  We braved the winds for a spell on the beach, spent an hour pebble collecting, had a good sand-blasting then we returned to the van and avoided that side of the dunes for the rest of the day.

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Danish shack style

We broke the causeway driving with a stop in Ringkobing town, parking up on the marina overnight.  The harbour had one craft stall selling hides and authentic Norse wear to motorhomers and sailors alike – we are proud to say we resisted, even if Iain did look rather fetching in a moose hat.

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Ringkobing town square

We wandered around town for a few hours, pretty much your average tourist town, lots of cafes, some decent shops and a rather strange church where the tower is wider at the top than at the bottom.

We were disappointed not to find Danish Bacon anywhere, we thought Denmark would be rife with bacon butties. Instead the local speciality is called a “sausage wagon”, to us a big hot dog, there are stands in every town and village but humble bacon butty is nowhere to be found. Whilst we continue the hunt for bacon Iain is single handedly maintaining current national production levels of the Danish pastry, consuming them at every opportunity.

On the edge of the marina was the “The survival of the fattest” statue, previously displayed in Copenhagen at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference next to the famous Little Mermaid. Denoting the fat of the West on the shoulders of the underfed Africa, its new home overlooks a chip shop and ice-cream parlour – unsure if they thought of that when deciding where to place it?

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“Survival of the Fattest”

Due to the jaunt up the fjords we ended up further North in Jutland than we planned so we called a halt at Gyldendal.  A small marina, a couple of houses and an ice-cream shop was the sum total of the hamlet. Very like being in the Hebrides in terms of scenery and weather (we didn’t have rain we had torrents), our view looked over a misty fjord where the occasional sailing boat past, other than that not a soul around. Behind the marina were wooden structures about 3 ft high, looking a bit like shoe boxes with a gap at the front. These are for people to sleep in, walkers, cyclists etc can just climb in with a sleeping bag and kip out of the elements. Outside each one was a fire pit, bench and water supply – cracking idea for camping on a budget.

The main tourist attraction in the area was the castle, the best preserved medieval castle in Denmark. Built in 1521, it has not one but two moats, and a lively bunch of volunteers dressed in period costumes and wandering around making coins, baking pancakes, weaving etc.  Inside the castle it’s access all areas, from the cellars – where the only lighting is candles burning on tables – right up into the rafters where boarding allows you to walk through the roof spaces.  Outside the the herb and rose gardens were beautifully restored to mimic a medicinal medieval garden.

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Spottrup Castle

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We decided to make a dash South East towards Aarhus this afternoon, as we did the Gods of rain decided to show us we hadn’t seen anything yet and it came down in bucket loads, We are now just to the South of Aarhus at the farm of the lovely Jorgen, who has a small area for motorhomes to park on the edge of his yard. He tells us tonight its going to be thunder storms and heavier rain – how it gets heavier we don’t know – on the upside we have fried eggs and 26 /82 degrees forecast for the next week so we should (we hope) be moaning about it being too hot by about Wednesday! 🙂

Denmark – claims to fame roll in

Our stay in Germany was brief, we intend to explore more after Scandinavia. Onwards and upwards to Denmark, where we were pretty sure they had converted to the Euro, until we arrived and saw the prices in Kroner. After searching out a bank and drawing out funds we found out most places accept the Euro too, prices nearly everywhere are shown in both currencies.

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Our first stop was just a few km over the border, Mogeltonder – surely worth visiting just to say the name! A tiny village with just over 800 residents, including one very special one; Prince Joachim of Denmark, the 2nd son of the present Danish monarch, has his private home in the village (sadly he wasn’t home!).

It’s also a popular destination for tourists, “Slotsgaden” (The Castle Street) is the main street and is covered with paving-stones, flanked with lime trees and every house has a thatched roof and roses growing over the doors and walls. Several tea shops and a couple of gift type antique shops, the only thing missing were the tourists – on a sunny Monday morning just us and two Italian motorhomes.

The village church was more like a cathedral, one of the biggest churches in Jutland. Elaborately decorated with enclosed wooden pews, painted wooden panels covering the walls and a fresco covering the ceiling. The church has two claims to fame – the oldest church organ in Denmark and that Prince Joachim celebrated his second marriage there a few years ago.

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Mogeltonder – main street

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Our first taste of Denmark

We stopped off for our first few nights at the town of Ribe – where the Danish claims to fame continued to roll out thick and fast. Ribe’s being the oldest town not only in Denmark but in Scandinavia.  The town hall dates back to 1496 but the town itself was established in the 8th century.  More cobbled streets, houses leaning at angles that defy gravity and a vibrant shopping area full of all things Scandinavian – bright, colourful, fun and you never knew you needed it til you saw it – type stuff such as cups with a slot on the side to hold a biscuit, weeny deckchairs that are just big enough to rest your neck on etc etc.

Every evening the Night Watchman wanders the town, singing an alert to the residents that its time for bed. This takes place at 8pm then again at 10pm, apparently very popular with the tourists but wouldn’t think its a great deal of fun for the locals.

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Ribe – shopping area with cathedral in the background

On our second evening at Ribe entertainment was provided by a German in an Arto motorhome, driving on to what was clearly sand – and sinking. The more he tried to get out the deeper he sank, what started as an inch or so was, an hour later over half way up his tyres. Could have cried for them, if it had been us would have cried! Everyone on the campsite knew a better way to get him out, and each way sunk him more. After two hours a small tractor managed to tow him away – we will from now be checking the firmness of all ground before parking, still having palpitations thinking it could have been us!

Denmark is all about the islands – Funen in the middle, Zealand next to Sweden and a further 404 of them scattered around the coast. We are currently on Jutland, which is attached to mainland Europe but has a large contingent of islands all the way along its coast. We popped over the 10 km causeway to Romo, claim to fame being the southern most Danish island after the previous holder of that accolade sank in 1999! We high-tailed it out in case history was due to repeat itself anytime soon.

Many of the islands have causeways but at Fano they go one better. When the tide prevents driving over the 10 km causeway they operate a sea-tractor bus. Basically a tractor pulling a double decker bus type contraption over its axels in sea water. It must be a popular route for tourists, only 40 people live on the island and yet there were five sea-tractors parked up at the boarding point. The top deck is open to the elements, with a gale blowing ice cold winds no-one was hardy enough to sit outside, saying that even on the enclosed lower deck people looked freezing.

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Fano public transport

As we drove through Esbjerg it was slightly strange to see a road sign for “England”, we guess its a hangover from the days when a ferry service existed. We didn’t linger in the town, instead our aim was to see the “Men at Sea”, a 30 ft (9 metre) high monument consisting of four, white concrete, seated males facing out to sea.  We parked up for an hour in the car-park overlooking the statues along with a  number of others, only jumping out briefly to take photos during lulls in the storm force winds.

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Men at Sea – Svend Wiig Hansen.

We ambled up the coast searching out somewhere to stay, it seems there are two types of campsite here, the first wants to charge more than the cost of the national debt of a small nation, the second priced in-line with what a sane person might want to pay. We aren’t ones for the bigger sites, we did try one today and the guy just kept adding numbers until a night was over what we want to spend for 3 nights. We drove on and within a few miles came across a small farm cafe with a camping sign,they charged us less than half the price of the first site 🙂 we do love a bargain so pitched up with the ponies for the night :).