We spent one night in Germany before crossing the border and visited the quayside town of Flensborg. Flensborg is the last town before crossing into Denmark. Nothing remarkable about it other than to mention across the main town street were cables full of shoes hanging from their laces. We have no idea why people would do this, most shoes appear to be trainers, the laces had been tied and then thrown over the cable leaving them just hanging there.
So finally new territory for us as we crossed the border into Denmark. Our first impressions were pretty underwhelming. The countryside and houses appear very English and the only main difference were the town direction road signs. The weather too was very grey and drizzly which didn’t help. Everywhere looked a bit flat and quite frankly boring, lets hope it gets better.
According to our guide book, in 2013 the people of Denmark were declared to be the happiest in the world. Well they all seem friendly and relaxed, everywhere is spotless and no graffiti on walls, no sign of road rage either.
The shape of Denmark has been described as a plate that has been dropped and smashed into many pieces with over 400 islands. Crossing the border from Germany we were in the region of Southern Jutland. The Jutland region is the only part of Denmark that is attached to the mainland.
We stayed at several campsites initially all with sea views and all were well presented with facilities spotlessly clean. They all operate a card system, so to take a shower you use a credit card which has been charged to your account, if you use too much water you get charged extra. They are very eco conscious and don’t want you wasting water. They also like cutting their lawns, everywhere we went the grass was always beautifully mown and often we would wake up to the sound of a sit on lawn mower close by.
We managed a few cycling trips around the local villages and hamlets, we passed many picture postcard cottages, many of them thatched and noted the ridges are finished off with plaited wooden battens. Being late spring, we enjoyed the heady scent of Lavender, May and Dog Rose. A contradiction to the many road signs containing the word Fart.
Our first major town was a visit to Ribe. Described as one of the prettiest towns in the country, we expected it to be spoilt by tourism. However, we were pleasantly surprised. It was a quiet town and had one or two tourist attractions, but generally unspoilt. The centre of the town is dominated by the large cathedral with a bell tower. We were able to climb the 400 odd steps to the top of the tower passing the bells along the way. As we got to the huge bell, it rang out, the noise deafening us for a second, as it was 12 noon we realised we had another 11 to go!!
We treated ourselves to our first Danish pastries with a coffee, absolutely delicious and a few more would follow over the next few days. The town had lots of timber framed and thatched buildings with one of the oldest being a pub. A flea market was also in full flow and it was good to see the Danes have as much unwanted tack as us. We could see why it was classed as one of the prettiest towns in the country.
Our next tourist attraction was the famous Egeskov Slot. To get there we had to cross a bridge to to the island of Funen, (Fyn in Danish), it is the second largest island in Denmark. It has many attractions including Odense, where Hans Christian Anderson was born and Egeskov Slot, a spectacular castle.
The castle is like visiting Beaulieu Motor Museum and a National Trust Gardens but on a smaller scale. The castle is quite magnificent with its moat and beautiful gardens. Alongside that are Thatched buildings containing motor museums. The Count decided that while the women could amuse themselves walking around the gardens, their husbands would not get bored if they had the motor museums to wander about in. We went in the house itself which was worth a look around. The best part being the huge dolls house dominating one of the rooms. We had chosen a Saturday to visit and it was also a glorious day so the castle and grounds were quite busy but not overwhelmingly so. The motor museum had a good selection of cars, motorbikes, a few planes and even a few camper vans. Lunch consisted of a shrimp and egg Smorrebrod (open sandwich served on rugbrod - unleavened rye bread). It was a good day out.
We had been recommended to visit the island of Mon, which was not originally in the plan, but decided to go as it has some fine chalk cliffs, in fact the only cliffs in the whole of the flat landscape of Denmark. We firstly had to cross one of the only two toll bridges in Denmark at a cost of about £36 (one way) to the island of Zealand, this is where you will find Copenhagen and then onto Mon by crossing another smaller bridge. Our campsite was at Mons Klint which was cycling distance to the cliffs. A lovely campsite with a pond in the centre and even a veg patch where they invited you to pick some veg and in return do a bit of weeding. In the evening, we listened to the Nightingale and other birdsong, lovely.
The following day we cycled through a gorgeous meadow with buttercups and protected orchids. We left the bikes and walked down the many steep steps to the pebbly beach. Although there is no tide, the waves were quite ferocious caused by the gusting winds (nothing to do with farts)! The cliffs were quite spectacular as you will see from the photos and we were able to walk along a short stretch of the beach. We then headed back up the steps and continued along a path at the top of the cliffs until we reached Liselund Park. A beautiful romantic park created in the 17th century by an Antoine de la Calmette as a token of his love for his wife. I hope she appreciated it, because it was quite beautiful. Wonderful green lawns with lavender trees, overlooking a large lilly pond and a thatched summer house, a joy to walk through and where we had our picnic lunch.
Our last major stop in Denmark before crossing to Sweden will be Copehagen. But don’t worry, I will write about that in the next diary entry.