Goodbye Denmark and thanks for all the fish

This was my final day in Denmark, so i will refrain from profound thoughts. First two corrections, (1) Ribe is the oldest city in Denmark – no just one of the oldest and (2) the Inn that stayed in, below, was built in 1600.

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I rode up to Esbjerg with my reconciled friend the wind and arrived with some 9 hours to spare before the ferry for England was due to leave. There is only so many times you can visit the same shops, cafes etc, particularly since Rain came to visit me once more time.

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I think some people got tired of waiting and decided to try and walk across the North Sea.

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At least I was able to get a close look at the back side of the Tour of Denmark. It is an amazing operation required for each team. Saxo-Bank had 1 custom touring bus (for the cyclists etc) 1 full sized truck as a mobile work shop plus 1 smaller one, and I saw four support vehicles loaded with bicycles.

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One of the first photos I took in Denmark was of the four men gazing out to sea. I offer one final cheeky photo of them from a side seldom seen in brochures.

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Tour de Denmark (aka Post Danmark)

While I had been able to watch the Tour de France during the daytime, it wasn’t the same as being there. But there was an unexpected replacement. I had been in the Viking Museum when a cacophony of sound erupted outside. It was the caravan that precedes a race. Soon after the leading break away came thru.

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4 minutes later the peleton came thru with Team Sky leading the bunch..

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And finally what seemed like dozens of support vehicles.

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Then it was over.

And at last to Ribe

Ribe is one of Denmark’s oldest towns and a place I was told I must visit. I had bypassed it about a week ago in my rush to the German Border. So now I made my way west from Kolding using a variety of national and local cycle routes. For the most part the signs were good.

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But every so often, either I would miss a sign or it was missing. This can be frustrating, particularly when you end up with a flat tyre on an unwanted excursion.

Now, just a quick word of praise for the most useful iPhone App. It’s called Maps with Me. Basically off line country maps that don’t need an Internet connection and that can show one’s position. I am amazed at the level of detail in them. Time and time again, I would use the app to get myself back on track.

Anyway, I found the perfect place to stay in Ribe, the Weiss Stue. An old place built in the 1600s and right on the Cathedral square.

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It is genuinely old and I have to take care not to hit my head on the beams and there are no level floors. I love it.

For the rest of the day I played tourist, went to the museum, and climbed the cathedral tower.

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That’s the old castle in the photo – no much left of it.

Koldinghus

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, almost an old industrial workplace, but Koldinghus ( Kolding Castle) is one of the most fascinating places I have visited in Denmark.

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My first impression was rather that of an old industrial building. But first impressions can be so wrong! I would have to say this was one of my favorite places I visited.

Originally built in the 1200s as a defensive castle, it was destroyed by fire in 1808. Not in war but by a chimney fire, accidentally caused by Spanish auxiliaries garrisoned there during the Napoleonic wars. For decades it remained a “scenic ruin” until restoration was completed in 1991. What makes the restoration so good that that, rather than recreate the original castle, it is a mix of the old and more modern that houses art, silver ware and history.

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There was some wonderful art, including this bronze interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci and his drawings

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In a quite different mindset was this almost “kitsch” glass sculpture of a dog, bone and puddle.

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(there are actually two dogs but the other is black and doesn’t photograph well)

And the view from the top of Koldinghus?

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It is well worth a visit.

This time it really is Lolland

Muggy wet mornings can actually be quite beautiful with a still calm. At 6 in the morning not much stirs and the waters are flat.

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After the confining, fenced regimentation of the previous camp ground, the one at Kragenæs was a pleasant relief. I camped surrounded by Rosehips and yes it rained but there are always ups and downs.

In 1683 (or there about) Denmark instituted mile stones where each mile was 7 point something kilometres in length. I had been seeing these oblong stones every so often and had wondered about them. All was revealed when Just north of Vesterboro I came upon a sign explaining them and noting that that particular stretch was the last complete set.

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The stone here is in the bottom middle of the photo and was numbered 1.

Denmark is famous for its architecture and design. But… that style and elegance does not exist with it’s power companies who have gone out of their way to build the most ugly blots on the landscape. The countryside is dotted with these grey monolithic horrors.

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I am not sure whether to believe in chance or fate. I hadn’t realized that I was going to Lolland until the day before I reached the island. But I remembered that Morfar (my grandfather) after his time in the Faroe isles, has been the vicar in Lolland so I made a detour and an unintentional pilgrimage to his church in Skovlænge.

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There wasn’t much else at Skovlænge, nowadays most people have moved to the towns. I passed abandoned farms and houses and many houses for sale. It is a feature though out the world, the move to cities.

Denmark is renowned for it’s bacon, but I saw very few pigs. I heard them a lot, I smelled them even more. So why didn’t I see Them? Because they’re all indoors. The fields are given over to grain and fodder. I hope this type of farming does not reach New Zealand.

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Well the rain is determined to accompany me for a while again so I have decided to take the train back west.

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Rain 3 – 2 Tent (after extra time)

Last night was the big match up between my tent and the rain. After a beautiful summer’s evening, the clouds started gathering and blackening. I knew something was going to happen, after all the rain had been absent without leave for 6 days now. I was sitting on a bench when the first drops fell and, being brave, went straight into my tent for cover.

The tent held out well for much of the downpour but not well enough. I knew I would be damp that night and I was.

I did try to dry out my tent the next day when I stopped to make a cup of tea, but immediately the sun covered up and the rain came for a return match. So, in the rematch, Rain 1 : 0 Tent. The rain even got my towel as it is now somewhere in Lolland drying on a tree wondering what it did to be left behind.

Lolland and some other Islands

I was quite glad to leave the camping ground at Bøjden, and was unsure of whether to continue on the West Coast to East Coast Cycleway or go back to the West Coast. However I decided to at least go as far as Svendborg. It was at Fåborg that I came across this mini “replica” of the town. At least it was a workshop in progres.

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For the most part the countryside was rolling fields of grain. Some fields already harvested. In Norway, strawberries were still in season and the corn barely 1 foot high. Such is the difference in latitude.

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I think it was before Svendborg that I came across some very grand buildings in the woods. This one had Sanitarium etched about the entrance. I can only imagine the history behind the facade.

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Nearby was some quite peaceful lakes

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By the way, this was a lineup of frustrated car owners, a queue of some 15 kilometres.

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For me as a cyclist it was just pathways like this

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Finally it was on the ferry to Lolland, I guess I had decided somewhere along the way to continue East.

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For now anyway.

Eastwards now

The wind and I have a turbulent relationship, sometimes we fight, other times we are as one. Today we forgot the fights we had had early and together we journeyed east. For the most part the roads were also kind, but this part of the road near the Royal Castle at Møgeltønder gave new meaning to shake and quake.

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This is the Ecco Shoe factory, near Tønder. Apparently the grey ‘monument’ is that of a foot. Since I was afraid that a giant foot could have a giant smell I did not go closer.

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Soon after I met a couple from Copenhagen who were cycling around Denmark over time. We cycled for a couple of hours together. It is wonderful what you learn from chance meetings. Here we were going back into Denmark having taken a wrong turn into Germany. I think the building to the left maybe the old Border house – maybe not.

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Anyway, it is funny, but we never introduced ourselves, so guys, if you read this, please let me know your names and do come to New Zealand.

Afterwards I pressed on, Going thru Sønderbørg.

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Being late Saturday everything was closed so I continued. Possibly a bit further than I should have, and i took the ferry to Bøjden.

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and stayed at the worst campsite of my trip. Yes, it was modern and clean but everywhere you had to use a swipe card, even the kitchens and the toilet. Fences were everywhere. So, try fumbling for a dammed swipe card in your tent at 2 in the morning when you have gotta go.

Sprint finish to the German Boarder

I had intended to take a rather leisurely day cycling south, but plans are made to be changed on a whim. I did start out as planned, on the local train.

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But I didn’t get off at Ringkøbing, but kept on to Esbjerg. After all, I’d already cycled that section on the cycleway. I decided to cycle the last section of the west coat cycleway (or first section if you’re heading north). This is the section from Esbjerg to the German boarder, just 108 kilometres.

A Swiss cyclist I had met earlier had described it as boring. It certainly was flat and for fifty kilometres I rode along the seawall dykes. My map showed the high elevation points along the way, the highest was 2 metres and it even showed the one high elevation point as 0 metres.

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In the photo below you’ll see the sea level to the left of the lock and the canal level to the right – about 6 foot lower.

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So what is the best way to travel thru dull, flat lands on a grey cool day? With a stiff wind to your back! I flew toward the German border and suddenly it was here. A bit of an anti-climax. Just two signs about 1/2 a kilometre apart. I don’t even know where the exact boarder is.

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Although Højer was lovely little town near the Boarder.

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Lemvig

By now I was retracing the route I had taken north, the long road from Agger to the ferry wasn’t quite so far as the wind was at least from the side, although the ferry itself decided to entertain with a little rock n roll.

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I now headed to Lemvig stopping at some ancient remains or burial mounds. One of which turned out to be a water tank.

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It was here my helmet gave it’s life to save my bike. While I was admiring the view, my bike and panniers ( all 46 kilos) fell upon and attacked my helmet, ending its long life.

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In Lemvig I had a welcome respite from camping, staying with Nancy for the night.

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Thank you Nancy!

In Lemvig there is an unusual planetarium, all outdoors and at a scale of 1:1 billion. This is the sun

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And this is the earth

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To reach Pluto ( I know not a planet anymore) you need a car as it is a long distance.

And now onto Esbjerg to complete the full length of Denmark.