Danish Delights

Day 61: June 18th, Tønder to Husum, Germany

Our campsite was very close to the border, and we had Danish cash that there was no reason to carry home. The only town between us and Germany had exactly one store: and it was boarded up. We backtracked a few kilometres to Tønder. It turned out to be a good move; the town’s old centre is really beautiful, and though it was Sunday, and the stores were closed, many cafes were open, and had tables set outside.

We explored a bit and chose a bakery/cafe, taking a table in the pedestrian-only street. We spent about $40 Canadian on coffee, macaroons, sliced bread, chocolate milk, cheese, raisin brioche, and buns. We had coffee and macaroons there, and packed away all the goodies for later. We had just a tiny amount of change left over.

After riding across the border into Germany we saw why the store in Sæd had failed: there were giant supermarkets in the first town, with parking lots full of cars. Food, and particularly alcohol, is much cheaper in Germany. In Sweden they all go to Denmark to buy their alcohol, and so on as you go farther north.

We were riding mostly along a busy road, but on a separated cycle path. In one town we stumbled into the middle of a festival. We walked our bikes, and stopped to listen to a rockabilly band (with a mandolin!) that was quite good.

We ended our ride in Husum at an Airbnb. Jan and his wife made us feel right at home. We cleaned up and walked to the touristy port, where we had patio beers.

Back at ‘home’, Jan invited us to join them in the backyard. We stayed up late enough to see stars, which was very late for us. Jan, a tattooed triathlete, turned out to be a pastor who teaches at a boarding school. His wife speaks five languages, and spoiled us with food,

Distance: 70 km

$128

A Tønder Subject

Day 60: June 17th, Egebæk to Tønder, Denmark

We ate fried eggs while being watched by the hens that laid them. Then it was back to the North Sea Cycle Route to head south again.

Much of the route was path by the big dike. Sunny, and lots of sheep. Really great riding conditions.We passed the road to the island of Mandø, which is only accessible at low tide. Cars were waiting to cross. It was the weekend, and all along the route we saw lots of groups of people getting together to eat outside.

We also waved hello to a gentleman in a recumbent bicycle, with a dog in a trailer behind him, headed north. Too bad we didn’t run into him at a campsite, I’d like to hear his story.

The first ‘Nature Camp’ we checked out was like a Scout camp in the town of Hojer, and the building was locked so there was no washroom. We were not willing to rough it quite that much. It was more than 20 km to the other one on our list, but the days are long in Scandinavia in June.

We rode through Tønder, and ended up at a B&B on a country road. We found someone who showed us where the camp was (just a field surrounded by trees) on the other side of the road, and explained that there were showers and bathrooms behind the building. Again, it was 60 krona (about $13 Canadian).

It was a long ride. We showered, ate a simple meal, and tucked into our sleeping bags early.

Distance: 71 km

$18

Really Fresh Eggs

Day 59: June 16th, Tjæreborg to Egebæk, Denmark

We didn’t realize how close we had come to the sea. We rode west for just a few minutes and suddenly found ourselves on a cycle path beside a giant dike: the North Sea Cycle Route again, far from the section we rode in Sweden.

The path along the coast was great and the dike protected us from a fairly strong breeze coming off the water.

We took time to head inland to see Ribe, which is Denmark’s oldest city. The pedestrian-only core streets were full of people. We found a very nice cafe and had (expensive) coffee.

Ribe has a microbrewery, but nobody was around to let us in, so we ended up hitting the cafe again and sampling their beer in bottles.

Deb’s bike, Momo, got a flat just as we reached Ribe, but it held air well enough that we pushed on toward our “Nature Camp” destination. We had to stop a few times to re-inflate, but Deb was determined to get settled before we messed around with a new tire. I ended up taking us on a longer route than necessary and she still didn’t kill me.

This time the instructions were on the door of house: deposit cash in the tin, use the bathroom and kitchen as you like, etc. The host, Brian, came home as we were changing the flat. He told us there was a forest trail we could walk, a small lake, and he introduced us to his dogs and cats (warning us that the cats would eat food that we left unguarded).

We bought eggs from him, watching him take them from the small chicken coop in his yard. Fresh!

The kitchen was fully equipped, so we rode our unloaded bikes (Momo with a new white-wall tire) back to town and picked up supplies (Tex-Mex couscous and fried potato patties!).

We slept in the shelter, putting up a makeshift windscreen over the open side.

Distance: 34 km

$100

Jurassic Boar

Day 58: June 15th, Billund to Tjæreborg, Denmark

We headed west, planning to pick up the North Sea Cycle Route. This ‘repositioning’ meant that we made up our own route, and ended up mostly on roads. Fortunately, road riding in Denmark is pretty sweet.

Along a gravel road through a forest we found ourselves at a gate. There were those grates underfoot that prevent cows and sheep from escaping their pastures, and there was a strange sign instructing us not to feed the boars. Was this a wild boar preserve? I commented that it felt like we were entering Jurassic Park, and, as much as Deb loves pigs, the idea of meeting a fierce wild boar face to face made her nervous.

We survived Jurassic Boar Park without encountering a single swine.

Near Ribe, we passed by a potential campground, because Deb found a “Nature Camp” marked on Google Maps. Was this a free camping shelter like we’d used before?

When we got to the address, there was only a house there. Google had the location of the last site wrong, so we scouted around. Deb spotted a small tent symbol by the mailbox of a home about 200m farther up the road. There was a man on a riding lawnmower in the yard, and he spotted us and came over. Yes, this was where we could camp.

As it turns out, there is a whole network of ‘yard camping’ places that accept only cyclists and hikers as guests. Available facilities vary, but they always have water. The maximum they can charge is 30 krona a person (about $6.50). As it turned out, we found an ideal place to spend the night. We set up our tent in their lovely yard next to a gazebo we could use. Birgitte and Flemming, our hosts, showed us the bathroom and shower we could use, and the sink/counter where we could do some food prep.

We talked for awhile. They told us about their old (former) farmhouse, and about the thatch roof made from grasses that grow in the region. These fragile-looking things last 25 years on the sunny side, and about 45 years on the shade side!

They couldn’t talk for long, however, because they were off to play in their pétanque league. I’d never heard of the game, but it turns out to be very similar to Bocce.  Birgitte also showed us the guide book for these Nature Camps, and we took note of some addresses.

Distance: 76 km

$ 58

Everything is Awesome

Day 57: June 14th, Billund, Denmark

It’s a short walk from the Legoland Holiday Village where we camped to the actual resort. Somehow we got another day without rain for our visit.

We rode the biggest roller coaster first to avoid lines later in the day. Then we peaked into the empty “Penguin Bay” and got face-to-face with some playful penguins.

Shortly after that, I got to sit in the cockpit of a life-size Lego model of an X-Wing. R2, that stabilizer’s broken loose again. See if you can’t lock it down.

There are several fun rides, but the real highlight of the park is, obviously, the Lego. There are reproductions of entire neighbourhoods, scenes from movies, famous buildings, etc.

And Deb got eaten by a Lego lion.

We were able to stay the whole day, as we are camping in the village again tonight. Tomorrow: to the west coast.

$214

Awesome since 1958

Day 56: June 13th, Jelling to Billund, Denmark

A carpenter from Billund founded Lego in 1934, and the company headquarters are still here. We rode past several Lego office buildings, including one intriguingly named, Lego Innovation House.

Back in Sweden we booked a patch of grass for two nights in the Legoland Holiday Village. With all the rain we’ve had since our return to Denmark, we were very fortunate to get a cool, but dry day and night.

The campground is pretty nice. It’s more expensive than your average Danish campground, but the wifi coverage is great, it’s clean, and there are cool Lego models all over the place. For kids it would be amazing, because the playground equipment is really great.

I wish people wouldn’t feed birds in the tenting area. Stop feeding ducks bread, first off. And secondly, they crap where you sleep, genius.

Distance: 25 km

$82 plus bike tires and tubes

Viking Kings

Day 55: June 12th, Jelling, Denmark

Something we don’t do a lot of on this trip is visit museums. It’s more about the rides really, and most museums here are a bit pricey, especially for the amount of time we would be able to give them. But in Jelling, we had a rare opportunity: a branch of the National Museum, walking distance from our Airbnb house, a day of no riding, and it was free admission.

The museum was amazing! Great animations, interactive displays, English on everything, and fascinating stuff. Jelling was a very important Viking town. There are a couple of huge carved stones there and one marks the introduction of Christianity to the land. They call it Denmark’s baptism. It is also where the word Denmark appears for first time in the country. The caved image of Christ on the stone is in every Danish passport. The area around the museum is also impressive, with the burial mound where many of the artifacts were found, and white posts set out to show where the palisade once stood, giving you a sense of the scale of the fortress.

Sadly, the local brewery is closed on Mondays, but we bought a supply of beers for the Danish meal that Hans and Kirsten were preparing for us.

It was frikadeller (Danish meatballs), potatoes, and fresh peas and carrots in a sauce. They said is was “country food”, as in the old days everyone would grow those vegetables in their own gardens. It was fantastic, and Deb and I had to force ourselves not to wolf it down without taking a breath.

After dinner, we got into the beer, and we talked for hours. Hans is an accomplished guitarist, singer, and songwriter (you can check him out on Spotify), and when he found out that I play a little, he asked if I’d like to see his guitar.

Hans Stephansen

And so it began. Soon he had three guitars and a ukulele out, and he played and sang a bit. He gave us his CD and we listened to a couple of tracks. At midnight, we finally crashed.

It was a special evening, and we will never forget it.

$96 plus souvenirs

The Man who Stares at Goats

Day 54: June 11th, Engesvang to Jelling, Denmark

I won a staring contest with one of the goats at the campground.

We got away early, after avoiding a light rain by eating breakfast in the lounge with the pingpong table.

Once again, there was rain in the evening forecast, so we decided to double our ride distance and stay at an Airbnb for two nights, taking a rest day.

 

This is a hilly (possibly the hilliest?) area of Denmark, and there were some real thigh-burners in there. Tricksy Route 3 took us to a long stretch of bad gravel at one point too. It was a nice ride overall, with no rain, but we were very tired when we rolled into the small town of Jelling, meeting our host in his driveway.

Hans and his wife Kirsten welcomed us warmly, and, even better, offered us cold beer. We sat in their kitchen and got acquainted. They are semi-retired teachers with three grown children. They have some impressive travel adventures as well, touring in a camper van all over Europe.

After Deb and I had our dinner, they invited us to join them in their living room, and we talked more. They said they would like to make us dinner the next day, a traditional Danish meal! The rain came just as we went to bed. I passed out, mumbling that I was very happy we had decided not to camp.

Distance: 75 km

$100

PingPong

Day 53: June 10th, Viborg to Engesvang, Denmark

Viborg is a very old city, one of the oldest in Denmark, with Viking settlements as far back as the 8th century.

It was a quick ride into town, and we went off route to see the big cathedral. Right next to it a market had set up in the square, and we discovered that on the weekend pretty much the entire core of the city was pedestrian-only. It was full of shoppers and tourists.

We followed the Ancient Road (route 3) out, but quickly lost it. Following roads going generally south, we ended up on a beautiful cycle path (probably an old rail trail). We discovered after awhile that it was route 3. After that it was almost all hilly country roads.

Heading into the small town of Thorning, Deb’s back tire went flat again. This time we hunted carefully and Deb found a tiny, embedded piece of glass. We used a patch on the little hole, and installed a new tube.

Camping Bøllingsø (by Lake Bølling) was very nice, and we were the only tenters. We rode in to Engesvang to get food and a box of wine. Deb was very creative with our meal creation; she had to be, because this was another modern campground with no pots, pans, etc. Not even a microwave.

Chicken and potatoes

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that a lot of campgrounds in Scandinavia have mini-golf, and we’ve seen courses in many towns too. It seems really popular. This campground had a nice pingpong table too, which was fun. There were also a pair of goats.

We turned in early, despite the late brightness, because we wanted to get the tent packed away before the forecasted rain hit in the morning.

Distance: 45 km

$63

Momo’s First Flat

Day 52: June 9th, Hobro to Viborg, Denmark

With a forecast full of rain, we decided to book yet another Airbnb. It didn’t rain much during our ride, making me think we’d made a mistake, but shortly after we arrived in Viborg, it poured. We got a full-blown thunderstorm, and it rained for hours.

A small Viking-style ship floating in a small lake, greenery all around

On the way here we started with a big downhill run to the site of the Viking fortress, Fyrkat. Then it was a crummy ride uphill on muddy gravel. It was so humid that my panting fogged my sunglasses. Once we reached the top of the other side, things got much better. Route 3 followed mostly country roads. The land was hilly, but it wasn’t windy and we didn’t have a particularly long distance to go.

two horses being ridden in a field

With less than 2 km to go, Deb’s rear tire went flat. It wouldn’t hold air either, so we walked. I fixed the flat and gave the chains a much needed cleaning/oiling. Tomorrow we’ll find out if the valve adapter works.

Distance: 40 km

105