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/

 

 

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

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 /

 

Getting back on the horse…

 

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I bet some of you thought I had an argument with Denmark, which would have led us to go our separate ways a few months ago…

Things couldn’t be much farther from the truth.

I still love Denmark deeply. More than before I visited it, if that is even possible. And that’s exactly why I had to put this blog on “hold” for a while.

I got the after-trip blues. It might sound like a made up thing, but it is a real “condition”… I had read about it on fellow travel Bloggers’ sites. They sure tried to warn me about that sad feeling of not being abroad anymore… But I guess I was just in denial.

Not that I was disappointed to be back home, no way! I was happy to get back to my “normal” life. But every time I listened to a Danish song, or watched a video, or looked at the pictures I had taken during my trip; I ended up with teary eyes, and that just didn’t feel right.

So I put everything in the closet for a while, giving myself time to put a distance between me and Denmark, and let the dust settle.

And now, it is time to get back on the horse! I wish it would be a wild one! (you’ll see what I am talking about when we get to Langeland…)

This Blog is therefore officially re-open!

 

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We’re back in business, and I want to do things right! So no more pressure about posting once every day. I should be able to post once or twice a week, allowing me to put more information about every city I am visiting, more links and more stories…

And don’t you worry! My memories of Denmark are as fresh as when I got off the plane back in Montréal..

I’ll be catching up with my Danish lessons too… and I have a few ideas to help this Blog live on even when I’ll be done telling you about my 11 days left, and revamping the 10 days I already told you about…

A LOT of work ahead of me…. But I am decided, and there is no rush.

You know the fable “The turtoise and the hare”?  Remember who won that race?

Dang yeah! The Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10 – Esbjerg day 2

I am not a breakfast kind of girl, but when days stretch up like they had been doing for the last 9 days, it becomes a necessity to change my habits a bit…  And if breakfast meant spending some time outside out at a picnic table, enjoying the early morning’s sunshine, I sure could make a little exception…  So I took my tablet, my goodies and did a little trip to the vendor machine to get some hot chocolate to get the set up ready…

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Day 10 was time to meet Mennesket Ved Havet. Unfortunately, not long after my frugal breakfast, I noticed that the weather had changed drastically, and it was now raining cats and dogs (well, not litterally, of course, otherwise, I would have taken pictures for sure, which I didn’t do).

I could have taken my raincoat out and braved the wind, but I just had a feeling everything would eventually clear up. So I took advantage of the situation, and decided to use the hostel’s laundry services and get all my clothes all clean and fresh!

I was a bit surprised by the price of the precious (indeed) token needed to start the washing machine and the dryer. Fem og tyve kronner, twenty five crowns that is, nothing less! Five dollars! Each, that is! Do I need to say that I didn’t sort colors from white clothing, and delicate underwear from jeans?? I decided everything would have to get clean all together… That’s just how dare-develish I can get!!

Again, my Couch Surfing plans had been cancelled for my next destination, Odense, and I was a bit scared to get Aarhus 2 – The sequel! I decided to spend my clothes washing time in the common hall next door, and find a new welcoming place…  I was quickly contacted by a nice fellow, who unfortunately wasn’t free the 2 nights I was about to spend in his town, but who was offering his help if I didn’t get lucky…  We agreed to get in touch the same evening, I collected my good smelling clothes from the dryer, and got ready to head out to the beach!

A short bus ride later, I was walking along the shore, pretty much by myself. The clouds had spread a little, and the rain had stopped, but the temperature was at the coldest I had experienced yet, and the wind was constant. I walked a long way, watching Esbjerg’s harbour, and fooling myself into thinking I could find little pieces of amber in the sand…

A few pictures taken along the beach…

On my way back towards the four large statues, I appreciated their majesty, standing there, facing the ocean from their green grass stand. My knuckles were almost as white as the tall men, but it was well worth it. Unfortunately, I ran out of battery and could only take a few pictures, but here is a link to learn a little more about the 27 feet tall statues.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/man-meets-the-sea

I couldn’t spend too much time outside, worried that my windbreaker wouldn’t be warm enough to prevent me from catching a cold (Even Danish, it wasn’t part of my plans to get a runny nose or some fever…). I walked around the Fishery and Maritime Museum, a little disapointed to learn that it closed its doors at 5pm, which meant I wouldn’t have time to visit it after all.

Back to the hostel, I decided that I had had enough of Esbjerg… I was lucky enough to get a call from Ib, catching up on my traveling. I asked him for advice, and he suggested to spend the next day in Ribe, on my way to Odense. I noted it down, we chit chatted and I promised to give him my impressions of the oldest city of Denmark!

I also gave a call to Søren. Noone had answered my earlier requests to share their couches, and Søren went out of his ways to find places where I could spend the evening near his house if I didn’t find someone in the meantime. He insisted that I’d come to his place if no other opportunity presented itself.  It was heartwarming to see someone I had never met before caring for the stranger I was. I promised to call again in the morning…

It was already past midnight, and I had a long day coming, so I quickly slipped under my duvet, already wondering what my unespected day in Ribe would bring….


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

Day 9 – Esbjerg day 1

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Leaving Aarhus was a somewhat stressful experience, since the train indications were not the clearest for once. I even asked employees of the train station, just to be sure I was taking the right ride to Esbjerg, you know? But torn between what I was told and what the Internets were saying, I decided to trust my lady’s sixth sense, and chose not to listen the the Danish Railroad’s workers!!

How lucky for me, one more time! I have to say, if I might make a little “aparté”, that I learned two things during my three weeks journey…

  1. To trust myself. I found out I made better choices when not offered a second opinion, than I would have believed!
  2. To always think positive. Countless times during my trip, I faced situations that didn’t look too good at first… Bad weather, doubts about my upcoming whereabouts, Aarhus in general (LOL) and things like that. But being in Denmark, I always had the reflex to tell myself that everything would turn to the best eventually… How could things go wrong? I was in Vikingland after all! And by some Danish kind of magic, everything in and around Denmark did end up on the good side. (I confess to have more difficulty using all-time positive thinking since I came back to Montréal, but every now and then, I force my self to do so, and I am always pleasantly surprised by life!)

 

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Here is what my standard set up was when I took a train for more than a 45 minutes ride… My loyal tablet, my now-lost-somewhere-in-Skagen water bottle, my now-retired Lumia phone, and not-in-pijamas bananas 🙂

Once on the train, and not worrying anymore about where I would end up, the train controller showed up to check my ticket. I found out, as I was handing the freshly printed pieces of paper to the lady, that I had two receipts, and no ticket per say. In Denmark, boarding a train without a valid ticket leads to a fine (not so fine fine, if you ask me) of a little over 700 kr. (just a little less than 150$) It wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but that was starting to look like a bitter goodbye from Aarhus!

The lady and I discussed a little, and I don’t know if it is the Canadian flags on my packsack, my hush puppy eyes pleading I really had bought my ticket, or the sight of the numerous bus and train tickets I looked through in my bag, hoping to find the ONE to Esbjerg… But she finally told me it was ok for this time, but that I had to be extra careful next time. Heldig mig igen!! (Lucky me, again)

Esbjerg is the largest city on the West coast of Denmark, and has the most important seaport on the North Sea. All I really knew about Esbjerg before getting there, was that it had a very impressive set of 4 statues called “Mennesket ved havet” (Man meets the sea) which was actually the only reason I chose to visit Esbjerg (no offense to the citie’s inhabitants, I am sure there are tons of great things to do around, but I was just foolish like that, wanting to see Esbjerg just because it was on the West Coast and had four really tall men looking at the sea!)

When I got there, the weather wasn’t actually great. It was pretty chilly, compared to what I had accustomed to during my first days of vacation, and the wind was pretty strong. I walked a bit downtown, had a McDonald’s cheeseburger, just to get WI-FI (and because I was hungry too). After visiting the Tourists’ Bureau, I decided that I’d better head to my hostel right away and decide what to do from there…

 My home in Esbjerg, the Danhostel! No, I was not the only guest, but I must admit that we were just a few… Which is great, since I got the 4 bunk beds room all to myself! 

It was about supper time, and I decided to go to the grocery store and get myself something yummy yummy for my tummy, since I had access to a fully equiped kitchen. I finally toned down my cooking frenzy, bought rye bread, sausage, two pots of bread spread, and some remoulade (all of my goodies costing me under 10$ total) and walked back “home”…

My loot… It might look basic, but I am just not a fancy eater!

I made myself comfortable in my new home, ate my meal at the round table by the open window, and enjoyed a good hot shower before preparing to hit the sack. I puffed my white duvet while thinking about visiting the four tall men the next morning, and fell fast asleep, once again, still happy in Denmark…


Previously…

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

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