Day 12 – Odense (day 1)

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God morgen!

Good morning, that is, coming from the other side of the bedsheet hanging between Anne’s bedroom and the living room, for the night.

And day 12 was on its way! I didn’t know much about Odense, aside from the fact that it was Hans Christian Andersen’s home town, Denmark’s 3rd largest city and one that had to be on my itinirary (Lucas’ advice)… Anne told me a little more over a hot bowl of oatmeal and I quickly got prepared for another exciting day.

My host had to go to work, but she insisted on walking me to the the river. From there, I couldn’t miss downtown Odense, and she assured me it was a great walk to take. What she didn’t mention, as we left her apartment, was that she also wanted to show me huuuuuuuuge lilac trees on our way to the river. And anyone who knows me a little knows I love lilac! I honestly don’t know how I managed to pull myself away from the trees, but I eventually did, and walked all the way to HC Andersen Haven (park) with all of its strickingly colorful, newly bloomed flowers, and people sitting here and there, enjoying the lovely morning.

Just over the bridge, I arrived to Odense’s Domkirke (Cathedral) where the day’s service took place outdoor. What surprised me, was that the celebrant was a woman. She stood, in her long black robe, and her white collar, and adressed the many people sitting in the grass behind the church.

I took a long walk downtown before looking for a café, where I was supposed to meet with Søren. As you might remember, he had been a great help, finding a last minute stay in Odense, even if he couldn’t host me himself. I really wanted to see him!

 

Søren showed up, and invited me home to have tea and have a chat. He lived in the cutest house (ok, I’d say that about a lot of houses in Denmark, and I still will when I go back, no doubt about that) and we sat in his little backyard, to sip on mint tea and discuss my trip and his many travels. Søren is an accountant that travels many times a year and hosts couch surfers from around the globe when he is back to Denmark… And I understand his good ratings online are so impressive! He is one charming, interesting and entertaining person to spend some time with!

But all good things having to end, I soon had to leave him to his evening plans, but not before he walked me back to the river where I had decided to take a stroll all the way to the zoo.

 

In Odense, the zoo has been built along the river, so you can have a look at some of the animals without paying to get in. It is a good walk  from downtown, but it is totally worth the time, especially when you are on a budget!

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Then it was time to quickly go back “home” so I just hoped not to get lost along the way…

 

 

That house… It is a house. It was not part of the zoo, and I just thought it was awesome having two “pet” lamas!!

Anne welcomed me back to her apartment as if we were old friends now, and I helped cooking dinner, a homemade potato-turnip potage with rye bread croutons and grilled kale (I think)… Exactly what I needed after my long walk…

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Anne couldn’t believe how far I had walked… and quite frankly, looking at the map, I surprised myself too! I very well deserved the treat that my host had prepared as a surprise…

Rødgrød med fløde! (red berries purée with cream)

The simple Danish desert is a classic, and its name is often used to “test” foreigners’ level of Danish, because it is a bit complicated to pronounce…

 

Before we knew it, it was already passed bedtime… And my duvet was calling! Anne put up the wall bed-sheet, and we were off to dream land after a quick good night through the fabric…

Godnat, that is…

Fun facts about DK…

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Denmark will never cease to amaze me… Never.

Here’s another fun thing I discovered just today, and wish I had known about back in May. I sure would have stopped by to check it out.

Back in 1944, a Dane (Duh!), Sir Søren Poulsen, discovered a rock resembling Jutland while dewatering the meadows surrounding his childhood home at Klejtrup Lake. He probably had a very wandering mind like mine, because it inspired him into creating his own “little” world, all made of man made islands.

 

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It took Mr Poulsen 25 years… And here is the result!

The park is open to visits, and it will be visited by me, next time I set foot in Denmark! That’s for sure!

To learn more about Verdenskortet…  http://www.verdenskortet.dk/en/

 

 

Fun facts about DK…

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Hans Island is not much more than a big rock peaking in the water of the Kennedy Channel between Greenland and Canada.

Really, not much more than a rock:

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Hans Ø eller/or Hans Island

 

Why do I “Fun-fact” about it, you might wonder? Well it so appears that Canada and Denmark are fighting for the 1290 per 1199 METERS big “Island”. I feel concerned by this fight. First because I don’t like the idea of my two favorite countries fighting period! It is like following a reality show, getting to the finale and having your season-long 2 favorite characters fighting for the big price… Who do you root for?? I don’t watch reality tv (almost never… almost..) but that must be so nerve wrecking!

I don’t really see the point in fighting either. There are no natural resources on the Island, no one lives there, and quite frankly, if they weren’t fighting for it, I wonder how many people would even be aware it exists…

It is like children fighting over marbles. And I find that pitiful coming from two such peaceful pieces of land. And the fight itself is ridiculous.

I read a bit about the conflict, which has been going on since June 2005. At that time, it appears that Canada sent some ships around Hans Island but there was no takeover even possible since there are no inhabitants on the Island. My guess is that ownership of the rock was discussed because of border issues, and the discussion never came to an end.

Now, the “fight” consists in Danes dropping a bottle of Schnapps when they navigate by Hans Island, and the Canadians taking it away and leaving a bottle of Canadian Club… To me it looks more like a very intricate and expensive ongoing gift exchange.

There seems to be a few Danes making fun (and trying to make a few bucks) out of the situation… Here are 2 websites that I found along my researches…

 

  • A bit aggressive, but still funny… I take from the lack of contact information and the pretty absurd arguments that it is a joke, if it isn’t… It is scary

http://freehansisland.com/

 

  • Clearly a joke… But I love the idea of bringing Santa to Hans Island to stop the conflict!

http://www.hansislandliberationfront.com/index.htm

P.S. For any concerned Dane reading this, and thinking that I am not very informed for a girl claiming to LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Denmark… Yes, I know that oil extraction is the main reason for the conflict… But that’s just not funny 😉

Day 11 – Odense (arrival)

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I don’t have pictures of day 11’s evening, but I hope you won’t be too disappointed… I usually would have jumped straight to day 12, but my first encounter with Anne is worth mentionning, at least to me 🙂

 

So, where were we?

After walking the streets of the oldest Danish city, came time to ride the train between Ribe and Odense. I still remember the excitment I felt, knowing I was about to get to Fyn Island, where Pippa lives! Even if time was going by way too fast (I was already halfway through my journey), I couldn’t wait to meet with my dear friend! But before that, I had a two day stop to spend in Hans Christian Andersen‘s home town.

Just off the train, and eager to meet with the nice lady offering me shelter for the two nights to come, I had a small argument with the citybus driver. I guess my backpack was not big enough to give the impression I was a tourist… He treated me like a local who should have known all about directions. Then again, I couldn’t complain… He did treat me like a local, which is how I had intended to live my trip in Vikingland!

Right from the doorstep, I felt like coming home to a cousin’s house, or something very close to it, when I met Anne. Her smile was bright and she totally surprised me with a warm hug, as if we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years! (Danes are not big with hugging… Maybe with close friends and family, but I didn’t experience much hugging on my way, hihihi)

We entered her small appartment, and I truly understood the meaning of hygge. Hygge is big in Denmark, and I’ll have to write a post about it, because otherwise, I’ll get lost in this one, and lose you along the way! Let’s just say that the closest English synonym to hygge would be cosy.

Anne had an open spaced appartment, with a living room, a small bedroom you had to walk through to get to the kitchen and finally the bathroom in the back. I don’t know many North Americans who would choose to live in a small flat like hers, but I would have moved in anytime.

Anne’s home was so alive, with the grand children’s drawings hanging on the walls,  her shelves loaded with books and the plants resting on the window sides… She slept on a mattress on the floor, and didn’t own a couch, so I had a foldable mattress on the living room’s floor. And the usual duvet…

Did I talk about Danish duvets yet? I’d have to re-read myself, but everywhere I had slept from day 1 to 11, my days always ended under a cloud-like duvet, pairing with my fatigue du jour to guarantee a perfect night of sleep. You know the expression “sleeping like a baby”? Well, I am pretty sure that when babies have a great night, they think “I slept like a Dane!” (yeah, they think that, they can’t say it… they’re babies!!)

Anne did everything to make me feel at home. Conversation was easy and natural with her from the start. She prepared some tea, and we sat together to learn a little about each other. She told me about her couchsurfing hosting experience, and a little about Odense. I explained the how and whys of my journey around Denmark, and we exchanged traveling memories while sipping on our tea. We had a few good laughs, and soon had to call it a night. We hadn’t shared as much time chatting as we both would have wished for, because it was already pretty late, but I knew we’d catch up the next day.

As I was drifting into another night of sound sleep, I thought that I was for sure experiencing the essence of Denmark. Being happy with what I had, and keeping things simple! Rolled in my duvet, I couldn’t have cared less about Morpheus’ arms, unless he had been a Scandinavian God, which is not the case…

Sweet dreaming my way to day 12….

 


 

Previously…

Copenhagen, day 1  / Copenhagen, day 2  / Møn’s Island / Aalborg / Viborg, day 1 /

Viborg, day 2 / Aarhus, day 1  / Aarhus, day 2 / Esbjerg, day 1 / Esbjerg, day 2 / Ribe

Fun facts about DK…

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The NHL (National Hockey League) season is on again, after a few months break.

My favorite Danish fun fact is an anecdote that is a link between two of my fav things in life; Denmark and hockey.

On February 12th 1949, in Stockholm, Canada defeated Denmark with a final score of 47-0. (/o\) To people unfamiliar with hockey, this might be of no interest at all. But when you know that a hockey game is played over 3 periods of 20 minutes each, the score becomes a real joke! (Really, how can you score a goal every 1.28 minutes??? Did Denmark know they were allowed to have a goaler in front of the net?)

I often take a minute to imagine the scene… How incredibly discouraging it must have been to play the last minutes… I think that there should be a rule saying that when a team has a 20 goals lead on the opponent, the game simply stops!

But hey! You have the Viking spirit or you don’t… These Danish players fought until the very last minute! Go Danes!!

 

 

Day 11 – Ribe

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Day 11 was off to a good start…

Waiting for the city bus that was about to take me back downtown to catch my train to Ribe, my phone rang… One of the potential hosts I had contacted the day before had a couch to offer in Odense!

Jubi! (Danish for “Yay!”)

The voice on the other end was warm and friendly, and I felt that the nice lady was at least as excited to welcome me, as I was to come visit her… We arranged to meet that evening, and I texted Søren to tell him I had a bed for my two nights in town, and that I’d call the next day to say hi.

I hopped on the train for a short ride that got me to Ribe, a city I didn’t know much about. I didn’t care… Ib had said that it was worth seeing, and I was sure to have fun, no matter what I’d find on my path.

And I wasn’t disappointed, as soon as I got off the coach. Right there, across the street, was the Viking Museum! Hey!! Vikings… I like them Vikings! My first stop was pretty obvious… Museet Ribes Vikinger!

 

 

The two exhibitions (About Ribe’s medieval age and the Christian Vikings) were very interesting, even if they clearly didn’t fit the image we normally have of Vikings. After all the conqueror and bloody fighter depictions I had in the past, it was a bit weird to imagine Vikings setting up farms, and trading stuff…

As you can see on one of the pictures, Ribe is recognized to be Denmark’s oldest city (Danmarks aldste by) and it is pretty incredible to know it celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 2010, knowing that Montréal is presently getting ready for its 375th anniversary 😉

The only heavy rain episode I experienced in Denmark (I know, I was clearly blessed) happened while I was at the museum, while I was snacking in the “restaurant” area. I was tempted by the souvenir boutique, but any item meant more weight on my shoulders, and I promised myself I’d come back some day, to pack up on Viking stuff!

On my way out, I noticed the fire department was celebrating some event… (Danish) hot dog selling, fire trucks watching, and tours around town… It was over when I came back at the end of the day… I wish I had stopped to ask a few questions, but at least, I caught a few pictures!

 

May 15th and 16th meant Pinsedag (Pentecost) celebration in Denmark. Because of that, a lot of Ribe’s stores were closed and pedestrians were not very present in town while I walked around… I must say, it was quite a treat, at least to take pictures!

Here’s a walk around town…

 

 

Like many of European countries, a lot of Danish cities have a Domkirke (cathedral), but Ribe’s is definately worth a visit. It is the oldest Christian church in Denmark, founded during the Viking’s age, under permission of the pagan King Horik I. Ribe’s cathedral is the best preserved Romanesque building in Denmark, but over the years, many architectural styles have been added. It was awarded 2 Michelin stars (I didn’t even know churches could get Michelin stars!)

 

The Commoner’s Tower was built in the years 1300, and stands 52 meters tall. For 4$ (20 Kroner) you can walk your way to the top of the tower and have access to an exhibition on the second floor hall along the cathedral.  I highly recommend it. 4$ VERY well spent, if just for the view from the top of the tower…  But get ready to work those legs!!  And if you really want to get a good sweat, try carrying a 25 pounds backpack!

 

After visiting the cathedral, I stopped by the stand (picture in the “walk around” section) to get a hot dog… Rød pølse (red sausage) version… with a bottle of Cocio. I had heard somewhere that it was one of THE musts I had to try, and I wasn’t disapointed. I was distracted by the bright red color of my sausage, though. My brain kept asking me “are you sure that’s not plastic??” bite after bite… Another good reason to walk a whole lot day after day; I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about my hot dog + chocolate milk “snack”…

Still, my shadow seemed on the chubby side!

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On my way to Odense…

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Previously…

Copenhagen, day 1  / Copenhagen, day 2  / Møn’s Island / Aalborg / Viborg, day 1 /

Viborg, day 2 / Aarhus, day 1  / Aarhus, day 2 / Esbjerg, day 1 / Esbjerg, day 2 /

 

Fun facts about DK…

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Ok… Since I am trying to make way better posts out of my “Day ** – Name of the city” series, and that it is taking time, I thought I’d treat you with anecdotes and fun facts in between cities… I don’t guarantee 100% seriousness, and if Danes are reading, and don’t agree, please correct me, or give your opinion…

Here is one fun fact that is possibly more on the fun side than actually a fact. But I don’t really care. I have lost my faith in the Internets a while ago, and I don’t bother doing thorough background check when I read something weird. I just assume it is a hoax. When I really really want something to be true, I do my research (most of the time to find out it was a hoax anyway). And there are very few and blissful moments when I just accept a funny story as it is told. Knowing too well it is probably a hoax, staying consciously oblivious to the fraud.

This is one of those delightful moments…

I read somewhere online a funny story about Faroe Islands. Those islands that belong to Denmark nowadays were previously part of Norway’s territory. (that’s the fact-part) The story also said that Norway lost the Islands after the King of Norway had lost a drunken poker game against the King of Denmark…

Don’t Google anything! And if you do, don’t tell me about it!

I want to believe that a few centuries ago, a hammered King woke up one morning with a splitting headache telling himself he’d never have Akvavit again. That he got up, went to get good strong Danish Kaffe, and asked his wife what had happened the night before… And that at the end of the epic summary of the drunken King’s evening, she just added;

  • Oh, and you won Faroe Islands hun…

 

*Giggles*

 

That’s the kind of stories that make my life worth living!

But I held a minute of silence for Faroe Islanders though… Because it is the worst way to change nationalities. The country that is letting you go didn’t fight the big fight to keep you… And your new country didn’t really want you all that much… It must have been a crappy ego day for Faroe Islanders.

Sooooo… the lesson learned here is? Never play drunk poker, or drunk checks, or drunk any game for that matter, with a Dane! They hold the liquor better than you!