(20) Let’s go Tim!! (Denmark)
Apologies for the delay in posting this – we have had no access to the internet until now – enjoy!
Tuesday 31st July
With Sweden behind us we didn’t feel like we had really experienced the country because it seemed like the main corridor between Norway and Gotenberg with the odd shop for the Norwegian shopper. It felt like a nice country although drivers did drive closer to us. It would be nice to come back and see more of the country but as always you can’t do everything.
After about five hours sleep we woke up to the birds singing away, it had felt a long time since we had heard the chorus of many different birds.
Waking up to our first morning in Denmark
We lay there with the tent getting hotter in the farmers field and started packing only to discover a stream of ants inside the porch. They weren’t your typical ants; they were ants on a mission to bite! We increased the speed in which we were packing our things and headed out onto the road hoping that none of them were coming along for a ride south. We were excited as we knew we would be meeting Sara later and had a fairly easy day of riding ahead of us and had been repeatedly told how flat Denmark was.
We headed into the town as the previous night in our tired state, Sharon had hallucinated a Rema store – surely not – but yes there down the road it stood. We popped to the bank first and realised we had no idea what the exchange rate was so couldn’t draw any money until the bank opened. We waited for about half an hour and checked with the bank. The currency was Kroner as in Sweden and Norway but of-course it was worth a different amount – it was getting a little confusing…
We went back to Rema and Sharon went inside to buy breakfast. She came out with what looked like milk but when it was poured it smelt off and was gloopy. Back inside the supermarket the young assistant said it was half milk half yoghurt. She bought proper milk but we had the half yoghurt on our cereal and it was actually delicious! We had many shoppers welcoming us to Denmark as we ate our breakfast and one lady who didn’t speak a word of English and our Danish was non-existent –came over to us. We communicated that we had ridden from Nordkapp and were heading south. She was so amazed and asked what we do when it rains heavily. We told her that we found shelter or stayed in our tent. She wished us good luck and when Sharon went back into the supermarket she heard her telling a friend – obviously in Danish but the words ‘Nordkapp’ and ‘Engles’ could be heard!
As we sat outside eating our breakfast in the sun a man pointed at the sky around the corner and said something in Danish. On closer inspection the sky had turned black and a huge rainstorm was heading our way. We quickly packed our things away and took cover just as the heavens opened. Luckily it moved on after about ten minutes.
Riding on we felt at home here as cycle lanes were well paved, there were flowers in the hedges, people saying hi and the odd rain storm every 30 minutes which produced some amazing views across the corn fields . We had unbroken views of the sky. We decided to take some back roads as the map of Denmark was ten times more accurate than the one of Norway.
One of the many storm clouds we saw that day
Enjoying the flat roads of Denmark
We arrived at a pretty church and took a closer look. It was a traditional Danish church and very pretty with all the graves separated by tiny privet hedges.
A beautiful church and grave yard near Horby
We were about to ride on when the sky turned black and the heavens opened once again.
We sheltered in a maintenance shed while it passed. As we wheeled our bikes forward, Tim noticed a puncture – his first one and disappointingly in his new tyre (from Bodo) which was sold as ‘puncture resistant’.
We stopped for lunch on the edge of a cornfield under a clear blue sky, pulling everything we needed to make lunch out of the bags. We created a feast to then be faced with a black sky rapidly approaching. Thinking we had more time than we had we sorted the important things out then the rest in monsoon conditions. We should have learnt by now. Only having done 20 miles of riding due to the rain cloud dodging we continued on at a faster pace to Alborg to meet Sara. About an hour’s ride north of Aalborg, we spotted some honey for sale at the side of the road and got drawn in! We got chatting to the owner who showed us his fresh honey in big white tubs. We brought 2 pots after tasting all the different types – one for our host further south and one for us – it’s always worth doing lots of taste tests.
We arrived in Alborg and were only 5 miles from the airport so picked up supplies from the supermarket for our dinner. We looked for the arrivals part of the airport and found a bench out of the way to cook our evening meal of ham, eggs and potatoes washed down with some PG tips.
We loved this sign at the airport!
After a few funny looks from people coming and going we washed up and went to see if Sara’s plane had landed only to find out it had come in early while we were washing up.
We went down and greeted her, it was so great to see her again and within 2 minutes it felt like she had never been away – well apart from the 4,000 union flags, tea and coffee she had brought for us.
Sara and Shaz at airport – Sharon couldn’t find her Union flags anywhere….
It didn’t take long before we were all back on the road again heading for another camp spot.
Denmark has a great scheme where camp spots are provided for walkers and cyclists. They range from free to £2 per person depending on the site. They vary in facilities of long drops, shelters, benches and fresh water.
After about 14 miles we arrived at a free camp area that Sara had found on the internet which was part of this scheme and pitched our tents. As it was around midnight we were all shattered but Sara and Sharon caught over hot chocolate, rice cakes and honey.
Wednesday 1st August
We woke up after a good nights sleep and we got going about 11.30 after a leisurely breakfast. We were heading to a town called Vinerup where Sara’s friends lived. We made good progress even with a head wind. We rode past an old thatched wind mill where we stopped to take some pictures.
A traditional thatched Danish windmill
It was raining by the time we were ready for lunch and we rode around, finding a DIY store with a large canopy so hid under there. We parked our bikes and spread our things out and cooked bacon sandwiches ; ) We rode on and crossed over a bridge that lifted up – after we had ridden across it!
We were looking for signs for the ferry port as we needed to cross a fjord. Sara was ahead and rode down to what looked like the port. We saw signs for the ferry in a different direction so called Sara back. We continued on around some houses and ended up back where Sara was originally which we all found quite amusing! On the ferry we got chatting to a farmer who owned 3 farms. He asked us if we were from Australia. Standing by our Union flag clad bikes, we said no politely, we were from England.
Sharon and Sara
With the wind considerably less on the other side of the fjord, our average speed increased. As it was starting to get late, we decided to cook tea 14 miles from Vinerup. We got our heads down and finally arrived at Bjarne and Birgette’s house to be warmly welcomed with a cuppa. It was great to meet them and their son Casper who had recently had come back from a year in Australia. We were staying with them for 4 nights so settled into our room, sleeping well after a nice hot shower.
Thursday 2nd August
We woke up and had a delicious spread for breakfast. We jumped in Bjarne’s car and went to the North sea coast on the west side of Denmark. First stop was the beach – it was deserted except for us and a strong wind. Our legs didn’t like climbing the small sand dune to get there after so many miles of cycling! Next stop was a museum which was based around the sinking of the ship St.George which was part of a British Navy fleet in the 18th century. All of the crew drowned except for about 17 men. In total that night around 1,300 people lost their lives. We spent time looking at artefacts that were recovered by divers and learnt about other ships that had the same fate over the years as it is such an unforgiving stretch of water. Afterwards we were treated to a delicious ice-cream with a creamy strawberry moose on top which is typically Danish and very delicious.
In the afternoon we drove through a beautiful National park and had a ‘drive by’ of a beaver’s dam – no beavers though. We then went to a ‘high point’ to look at the view. High points in Denmark aren’t really high but the view was good with wind turbines scattered across the landscape.
The view from one of Denmark’s few ‘high points’
We called in to see a wind turbine close up – Denmark is perfect for wind turbines as it’s so windy. Bjarne works for Veste a large wind turbine company in Denmark. As we went inside the bottom of the turbine we asked if we were able to climb it as we knew Sara and her daughter Helen had done so on a previous visit. Bjarne said he would need to ask the farmer and check the wind speed for the following day. We headed home really excited at the prospect and Birgette cooked lasagne which we hadn’t had since leaving England and is Tim’s favourite dish ; ) For dessert we had chocolate sponge pudding and ice-cream- also one of Tim’s favourites and baked apples, washed down with cold beer. We went to bed happy and full!!
Some of Birgette’s delicious home cooked food
Friday 3rd August
Waking again in a comfy bed with a good night’s sleep behind us we walked out into the dining room to find breakfast ready – cereals, bread, cheese, jams , Bjarne’s homemade honey and fresh coffee were all laid out and we had to pinch ourselves and think exactly what was challenging about this trip. We sat down and while enjoying the feast before us Bjarne announced that it would be possible to climb the wind turbine that morning. With both of us quite overwhelmed with excitement we finished breakfast and headed out. The turbine was a Vestas turbine that was 15 years old and was still producing energy at full capacity. Vestas are a company that have been going for over 100 years and started out producing and continue producing farming equipment. They moved on to house hold items and during the 1980’s oil crisis they moved into wind turbine production and are now one of the leading wind energy suppliers.
Bjarne used to be a shareholder in this turbine so could not only tell us how it worked but also how well they performed and hearing about the amount of energy it had produced over the last 15 years you could see why there are so many in Demark .
Sharon and Bjarne put on their harnesses and headed up the 40 metre ladder fixed on the inside. Tim and Sara waited outside for them to appear at the top and before long the hatch at the back opened and we could hear Sharon’s excited voice. She then appeared on the top held on by two ropes; it was amazing to see her so far up stood on top of a turbine. Sharon agreed with Sara’s description that it was like standing on top of a caravan roof, 40 metres up in the air!
It was then Tim’s turn so he swapped over the harness with Sharon and headed up to meet Bjarne at the top who would show him how it all worked. With Sharon and Sara standing at the bottom, the back door reopened and Tim exclaimed that he had forgotten while he was inside, that he was actually hanging out over the main tower. They both climbed on to the roof and Tim said it was amazing standing up there looking out through the turbine blades (that had been switched off if you’re wondering). They returned back down the ladder and we all spent the journey back to the house talking about what a great experience it had been.
Sharon looking like she might take off!
Tim on top of the turbine – if you look close enough!
On returning back to the house Bjarne asked if we wanted to see his honey bees, so off we went again clad in bee keeper’s outfits to see the hives.
Bjarne explaining the science of bee keeping to Sharon
It was altogether a total science on its own with the changing of the Queen and the workers, the pollen and the honey itself. With no stings and a head full of information we returned to the house where Birgette had made an amazing chocolate brownie cake – Tim’s favourite – with lunch and fresh coffee – this trip was feeling pretty great.
We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to catch up on our blog and Tim borrowed Casper’s hair trimmers so he didn’t look quite so ‘tramp like’. We had been invited to Bjarne’s parents for tea so we got ready and all walked the short distance over to the old farm that Bjarne had been brought up on. We first met Jens, Bjarne’s brother who runs a cabinet making business and showed Tim his workshop that comprised of some amazing pieces of equipment most of which are computerised. We found out that he supplied a furniture company in Exeter which is close to where we live. We went into the house to meet his parents. They were lovely and we sat down to a table full of food. We had large pork burgers, boiled potatoes and vegetables, our plates were re-filled each time with Anna (Bjarne’s mum) saying ‘let’s go’ with the indication to have seconds. We had been warned that the portions were large and were experiencing just that! Next out came ice-cream, moose and peaches which were delicious – of-course it was followed by ‘Let’s go’ with ‘Tim’ added on this time to encourage him to have seconds! Of-course he obliged and just after thirds were served we were told to have a walk around the garden while the table was cleared. It was a great stroll around a lovely garden. Bjarne showed us around and we spotted a trailer with ‘TIM’ written on it! We headed back in only to discover the table had been re-filled with Danish pastries, biscuits and the world’s largest black forest cake in the middle. Anna announced ‘let’s go Tim’. With his shirt being stretch tested to the maximum, he dug in and it was a brave effort.
Sat around the table enjoying a delicious home cooked dinner
We waddled home with full stomachs. The hospitality was second to none – except for that of Bjarne and Birgette and we were so grateful for such a lovely evening. Back in the house we were given night caps ; ) What a day!!
Saturday 4th August
After a good nights sleep and still feeling full, we woke to find breakfast ready –the usual delicious spread with fresh coffee. Bjarne told us about a market that happens once a year so we got in the car and made our way there finding a market with animals, food, bric a brac and other goodies. It was nice to look around – Birgette proved to be an experienced market shopper. We stopped for a beer and listened to some live music for a while before heading home for lunch. We sykped home and did some more on the blog.
Mid afternoon, we were taken into the woods with some more delicious homemade cake to a camping ground with wooden shelters.
Bjarne with Rollo, Birgette, Sara and Tim
We sat inside supping fresh coffee when 4 moped riders turned up, clearly wanting the shelter for the evening. One of them chatted to us and proudly said they had driven three hundred kms from the south. Bjarne was quick to tell him that we’d cycled nearly three and a half thousand kms from the north – he was clearly impressed and asked us many questions wishing us a safe trip. We gave up our shelter and they quickly moved in as it was starting to spit with rain. We headed home and relaxed. A call for dinner later, revealed what Birgette had been cooking – she had made us an amazing Danish Christmas dinner!
We had the traditional 2nd helping for each course. Main course was pork roast and dessert was rice cream with cherries. We were soon bulging once again. Walking was becoming difficult so we got comfortable and spent the evening reminiscing of the days that Sara used to spend with Bjarne and Birgette.
Sunday 5th August
It was the morning we were due to leave and a family that Sara knew came over for breakfast. We packed our bags; we had been made to feel so at home it was hard to leave. Birgette had made us a wonderful Danish flag with our names on, we were so touched. Their son Rasmus who is in the army gave us some army rations of breakfast cereal, fish supper and coffee. Sharon had been talking about missing her garden and the flowers so Birgette gave her some to put in her handle bar bag which brightened it up no end! She had also covered the handlebars with ivy. (They were plastic so would last a little longer than the fresh kind!) We said a tearful goodbye and headed over once again to Bjarne’s parents as they wanted to see our bikes.
Bikes in order of appearance – Tim’s -winner of the ‘how many flags can I fit on my bike prize’, Sara’s and Sharon’s with the Danish flag that Birgette had made
Bjarne brought the trailer named after Tim out of the shed so we could take a photo. We headed off with full bellies, clean clothes and a warm feeling of being so well looked after.
Our route took us south and we enjoyed the quiet lanes
We met a man with a horse and carriage who said it was great to see tourists in this area and they normally were all on the coast! We stopped for lunch in a bus shelter only to be approached by a man who said he had a piece of land just down the road with a bench and we were welcome to use it. We sat down and made cheese sandwiches and offered him one with a coffee. In exchange, he gave us 2 cans of beer which we saved for later that evening. He also dug up some potatoes for our dinner that night. We chatted for a while before heading off.
A bronze age mound
We passed many bronze age mounds – these were erected in the late stone age or early bronze age. At the time the dead were buried in their finery. As well as men, women and children were also buried. Later on in time, the dead were cremated and their ashes were put on the sunny side of the mound. These days the mounds are protected so that farmers cannot remove them.
That evening we arrived at a camp spot where there was a large wooden shelter, camp fire and bench. Someone had even left a pot of wild flowers so it looked very homely! We lit the fire and sat around chatting before retiring to our shelter.
Monday 6th August
We woke up to heavy rain – Tim and Sara had been listening to it in the night – Sharon had slept right through it! Tucked away in our wood shelter we were grateful that it didn’t leak! The other people that were camping in their tents didn’t look too happy – it was the heaviest rain we had seen so far on the trip.
The view from our shelter in the morning
We packed up and headed off, taking some quiet roads. We were heading for Billund where Legoland is based for Tim to live out a childhood dream! The road wasn’t straight forward as we had to track diagonally across the country lanes.
Enjoying the sunshine on our way to Legoland
We finally decided to hit the main road and soon found ourselves outside Legoland. We ate a light lunch before going in, putting our bikes in an area behind some gates which was reserved for staff.
The Lego displays were amazing – it’s so cool what you can make out of Lego! We pottered around taking in the displays which consisted of Star Wars, regions of Germany, the Denmark palace in Copenhagen and even a safari park. Tim even spotted a Rema truck much to Sharon’s delight! Sara had been there before with her children Charles and Helen and commented on how much larger it was now. We headed out towards the rides and had an adrenalin filled couple of hours! We stopped for ice-cream and finished off the day by going to the 4D cinema – the 4th dimension meant us getting wet at one point!
Copenhagen’s waterfront made of lego
Feeling tired we headed off to our next camp spot. Tim was feeling particularly drained which we put down to too much excitement. We were unsure exactly where the spot was but asked a walking group in the village and got directions. We found it – it was a small area with already a couple there in their tent. We cooked dinner and went to sleep with the rain pattering on our tents, Tim still feeling unwell.
Tuesday 7th August
We had heavy rain in the night and we camped under a tree which was dripping on the tent. Tim was feeling better and we stopped for a snack after an hour or so. Sara had spotted a sun flower to add to Sharon’s handle bar bag.
Sharon’s floral display!
We rode for about 20 miles and arrived in the pretty town of Ribe which Bjarne had recommended and was the oldest town in Denmark. It was stunning, with lots of cobbled narrow streets and beautiful architecture. We had a relaxing look around and had picked up supplies earlier so sat outside a beautiful church for lunch.
The beautiful town of Ribe
We found a tourist information centre and Sara went in to ask about the possibility of a camp spot further south. She came back with good news that there was one not far away and that there was free internet in the info centre. We all caught up on our emails, learning about our success at the Olympics and then headed out of town to look for the camp spot. On route, Tim picked up his third puncture – the second one in his ‘puncture resistant’ tyre.
Sheep posing for a photo
We took a while to find it as it was actually in someone’s front garden. So far they had all been in woodland. We set our tents up and the owners kindly let us use the internet to upload our last post. We had our own kitchen area and bathroom which was a real luxury. Sara cooked dinner while we did this and then we settled down for a good night’s sleep.
Wednesday 8th August
With no rain in the night and no condensation in the tent (which was unheard of) we packed up and headed on having paid the very reasonable £2 each for the camping. We had no rain but strong wind. We rode out before 9am and headed to the coast. We arrived at the beginning of a causeway to an island and Tim wanted to ride out to see it. Sharon and Sara didn’t fancy riding into a very strong head wind for 9 miles so decided they would meet Tim at Ballum just down the coast. Waving goodbye with a promise of the kettle being on, they rode south. Tim headed out to the island in the strong head wind. It was hard going but after 45 minutes had reached the main island and decided to cross over it to get to the beach on the other side. He arrived at the edge and in the distance he could make out loads of camper vans next to the sea. It looked like a scene from Area 51 but with no aliens. After 5 minutes he arrived at the campers. He dipped his tyre in the sea as a mark of achievement and enjoyed the tail wind on the way back, getting up to speeds of 20 MPH. He arrived back with the team in Ballum which was a gorgeous village.
After a snack we headed on into a tail wind which was so great and we were flying. We arrived in the town of Tonder close to the German border. We had a small amount of change which we wouldn’t be able to change for Euros so spent it on…you guessed it – chocolate!! Tonder was a pretty town with the traditional cobbled streets. We had a quick look around, heading on as we had another 40 miles to do that day. We made good progress and stopped at the border – which was marked only by a sign. We entered our fourth country feeling pretty proud of ourselves.
Crossing the border into Germany
The going remained good but we were starting to get tired. We arrived in the German town of Bredsedt (which quickly got nicknamed Bedstead). We found a supermarket and Sharon and Sara went in, marvelling at the choice. We found Crunchy nut cornflakes and cola bottles for Tim who was hugely impressed.
We were a little nervous of finding somewhere to camp as we had been told you are not allowed to free camp in Germany. We soon came across a spot in a rest area and pitched our tents at the back in amongst the trees. It was a great spot but it was close to a busy main road.
Total miles in Denmark – 320 miles
Altitude gain – 1,719 metres (so not totally flat!!)
Total mileage to this point – 2,684 miles
Total altitude gain from Nordkapp – 36, 681 metres