Friday, 31 October 2008

Hirtshals and Skagen

The morning dawned to much nicer weather, and although cold and windy, there was no sign of rain.

Breakfast was set for 8:30, so we had time before this to get out onto the beach for a nice walk.

The boys love being on the beach - running about, fossicking for shells, getting their shoes wet in the edge of the surf. It was great. The coastline is littered with lighthouses and old WW2 concrete bunkers. There were several here, and also later in the day when we were near Skagen.

Following breakfast (and the kids had a great play on the swings) we set off for the most northerly point in Denmark. Just North of Skagen, Grenen is a beach with a nice long arm of sand that is the tip of Denmark, and the meeting point of the Kattegat and Skagerrak seas.

They really crash together, and it looks as if the tidal currents would be really nasty if you ventured in.

There are lots of Bunkers along this stretch of coast as well,

and we were lucky enough to see a small pack of seals resting on the remants of an old bunker just offshore.

Here we are at the Northern Tip of Denmark!

lots of shells

and jellyfish, and sea urchin shells

After having morning tea in Skagen, we set off on a drive through the magnificent Fjord country to our hostel accommodation in Ringkobing. With the long sweeping roads beside the Fjords, it really was beautiful country. The expanses of water are massive. There didn't seem to be too many boats out on there, but I could picture Steve on the Taipan having a great time out there.

He got held up at one bridge, while waiting for a large boat to cross the Fjordes.

We had afternoon tea in a small town called Lemvig - and it was then that we remembered that it was Halloween! (The pumpkins with the candles in them was a bit of a give-away!) There was a jumping castle set up in the little town square, but the boys were on and off it in a flash - after they realised it was wet!

Our hostel for the evening was in a small town on a Fjord called Ringkobing. The Hostel is part of a leisure centre/sports complex - and they were having a kids halloween disco (plenty of doof-doof music!). They also had a bowling alley, which was free for hostel guests! Phil, Alexander and Cameron bowled 2 games and had a great time. Cameron was very interested in all of the animations on the bowling screen, and Alexander really got the idea of 'chucking them down' and scored a 99 (would have been over 100 if he didnt foul one of his bowls by sliding deep into the lane!). Lots of fun for all the boys (big and little!)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Odense and the ship graveyard of Ladby

The hostel was lovely, and the kids had a chance to run around and play in the courtyard for a while after breakfast, before we set off on a long day of travelling.

If you look at the boys jackets, you will see Ghostie 1 and Ghostie 2 attached to their zippers.

First stop on our trip was Hans Christian Anderson's house. Its small, and maybe the best word for it is 'quaint'. Not a long stop here...(because the house wasn't open for another hour, it's very small, and the Lonely Planet Guide said there wasn't much to look at in there!)

But it was one of those things that you have to see....the "quaint" town was lovely! People still live in these homes. I wonder what the restrictions are for living in them, and what rules they
must follow?

We then proceeded down country lanes as we back-tracked to our next stop - the ship graveyard in Ladby - The Viking Museum. Driving up a farm lane to the site, you pay your cash (Kids free) and are show out a door onto a path that leads into a paddock (thats a field for the non-Aussies).

After you walk for a while, you arrive at a mound. Feeling a bit 'ripped off' at this point, you walk behind the mound to a small door hidden in the back

- and as the automatic doors open a truly amazing display of the impression of an old viking ship (with rings, nails, bones and the like) comes into view.

It was really interesting, and shows how much history there is around Denmark, if you just happen to dig..

The bow of the ship

Can you see the remains of the small pony?

We then spent a while checking out the displays back at the farm-house, before hitting the road for the top of Denmark.

This is a model of what the experts think the ship may have looked like.

We found a wayside stop for a picnic lunch. Nothing special, just a rest stop on the highway, we thought. However, just behind the rest stop was a 5,500 year old barrow and burial site. As they have extended the highways through Denmark, and done 'serious' excavations, they have uncovered more and more historic sites. There was an interesting map showing how most of the newly found archeological sites were found along the highway routes.

We stopped for Afternoon tea at Aaborg, then continued to our final destination at Hirtsals. We arrived at a beautiful hostel on the beach (it faces the North Sea) and we were getting ourselves organised to walk into town when a North Sea Squall blew in off the ocean. This cramped our style a bit, and we had to drive into town.

We were at the beach

Everybody had matching towels

Somebody went under a dock

And there they saw a rock

It wasn't a rock

It was a rock lobster

Nicole satisfied her 'shopping' bug and found a wool shop, where she bought a pattern and a couple of balls of wool. The boys found the toy shop and Phil...he found a pint of Guinness at the pub!

By the end of dinner the weather had calmed down again. Nicole and the boys walked back to the hostel (to help shake the "wiggles" out of the kids), and Phil drove home. It was less than 2 kms, and the sea breeze and air was great!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


After finding our way into town, we arrived at our first overnight stop. A youth hostel 5 km from the middle of town. It was a lovely place - however there was no water for the first few hours, and when it came on, there was a lot of urgent toilet flushing!! The next morning, there was no hot water - so we had cold washes and got ready for our day in Copenhagen.

Phil had been to Copenhagen before, and knew a few sights that we should see. With a top-up from the Lonely Planet book of Denmark, and a booking to catch up with Phil's friend Ghita for a coffee, it made for a pretty full day!

Hans Christian Anderson would not let go of this book!

The only thing that was not on our program was visiting Princess Mary for a cup of tea and an Iced Vovo. Next time we will have to make a bit more time so she can see us....

Copenhagen is a compact city, and very beautiful.

We caught the driverless train (the boys loved pretending to drive it from the front seats, although setting the controls to go 'a billion kilometers per hour' may have been outside of the manufacturers guidelines...) from near the youth hostel to the centre of town (Kogens Nyrtov)

From there it was a short walk past some lovely harbor views to the palace. There was not much happening, but the Royal Guards were impressive. Alexander obviously thought he needed guarding....

Cameron decided to seek shelter in the guard's box

One of the 'symbols' of Copenhagen is the little mermaid. She sits on some rocks on the edge of the harbor and may be one of the most visited places in the city. We walked past an impressive fountain
and along the harbour to the mermaid statue, enjoying the the views.

Next to the little mermaid is the old fortress castle, which has a moat around the outside and (what looks like) modern military barracks on the inside. It was great fun for the boys, who loved running along the paths and 'firing' the cannons that surround the fort. There was even a lighting wick and a match (two pieces of grass). It is obviously a very popular spot for dog walkers and joggers, and we enjoyed strolling around and enjoying the views.

It was time for a coffee - and luckily one of Phil's new friends works in a fantastic building near the fortress. It used to be an school for naval children, and has the most fantastic open spaces and offices! We enticed Ghita out to a local coffee shop and enjoyed her company (chatting about the 'old times'...last week!) for an hour or so, before we resumed our tour of Copenhagen (and let Ghita get back to work!)

A short walk away was Rosenborg Slot and the lovely kings gardens. The Crown Jewels are kept in the basement of the castle, and several of the rooms are open for display.

One of the great things about attractions in Denmark is that kids under 12 years of age, have free entry. Not only were they free to enter the castle, but they were given a little 'ghost' stuffed toy each, which soon became 'ghostie 1' and 'ghostie 2' (these guys had the most fabulous adventures in the back seat of the car on the long driving legs with Quala (that is Alexander's Qantas Koala) and Simba toys.)

We really enjoyed the displays, and the crown jewels were really magnificent.
top of the church, and below the bottom half.

Nicole wanted to see where 'our Mary' married into the Danish Royal family. We visited the church, Vor Frue Kirke, where they were wed (I just hope it is more impressive on the inside..)
The boys cannot resist chasing the pigeons in the town hall square...much to the discomfort of the locals enjoying their lunches!

We then walked to the Town Hall - on the way the boys spotted the letters "BR' on a sign - Ghita had kindly informed the boys that 'BR' means 'LEGO' (BR is on the sign for the major toy shop chain) - so of course we went in for a look!

Our next stop was the Design Museum. The Danes are known for their groovy design (one of them - Jan Utzen - designed the Opera House in Sydney!). It was interactive and we all had a great time in this small exhibition space over several different levels . After enjoying a coffee (whilst the kids did most of the exhibits again!), we strolled past more beautify Copenhagen street scape to the train station, and back to the car.

The statue on the top of this building is very similar to the Brandenburg Tor statue!

Tivoli Gardens was closed for Winter..but looked like fun!

From there we drove out of town and to our next overnight stop, in Odense. The highways were great - even though there was some 'peak hour' traffic, we were soon clear of Copenhagen and well under way. Our trip included crossing the impressive bridge from the island of Zealand to the Island of Funen. We arrived at the lovely hostel (I think we may have been the only guests) with the help of maps, printouts and the blackberry. (We learned our lesson on the way into Copenhagen - it is intereting how used you get to 'Bob' the satnav in the Merc telling us where to go....she only works in Germany unless I get more CD-ROMs!).

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Frederiksborg Slot/Castle

Frederiksborg Slot is amazing. (we are learning lots of different words in Danish). Slot is Castle, Goddag - hello (almost G'day), Farvel - goodbye, Tak - thanks.

After the Viking Ship Museum we headed north east to Hillerod to this castle. The gardens of the castle were amazing. The work that goes into these hedges is amazing....not one rogue branch pops out anywhere! Can you spot the crown in the design below?

Christian the fourth's Castle was built in the beginning of the 17th century. The king loved this deeply castle and used it as his residence and he often used it as a residence.

In 1859 a fire destroyed part of the castle. The royal family at the time could not afford the repairs, so sold the castle to the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries J.C. Jacobsen. He restored the castle and then offered to use the castle to house the Museum of National History.

The autumn leaves in the garden were stunning, and lots of great landscape photos to take.

Quite a 'reflective' place....

With Phil's Jetlag setting in, and the evening fast approaching, we finished strolling around the gardens and headed for the car to drive to our overnight destination in Copenhagen. It took us ages to get out of the car-park, as there was some slow old goose going right down the middle...

OK, we know its a swan!! (but it doesnt sound the same, does it!)