GONE BIKE ABOUT...

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July 10th - 29th, 2009

Flensburg (Germany) - Højer - Mandø - Esbjerg - Hanstholm - Ǻrhus - Samsø Island - Kalundborg - København (Denmark) - Malmö - Smygehamn - Trelleborg (Sweden) - Travemünde - Lübeck - Hamburg (Germany)

See map

   
When we heard that Denmark had over 7,000km of coastline and 10,000km of bike trails... we were interested. With no mountain higher than 172m, Darina was getting excited! A handy overnight train to the border convinced us entirely, and we were off!
   
On day one, we hopped off the train in Flensburg on the German/Danish border and cycled from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea, all of 80km. The cycle path was well signposted, as were obscure places with names as long as those in Wales.


Baltic Sea to North Sea cycle route

   


Right!

   

T
ønder
Beautiful red-brick towns with numerous thatched cottages, neat gardens and happening markets were the order of the day.
   

T
ønder

















M
øgeltønder

   
Day two was already Darina's biggest adventure! Cycling a tidal causeway against the clock, not knowing how many minutes you have before the flood comes in, is not fun. Add a nasty loose gravel path and Patagonian-style head wind, and Darina has a serious adrenaline rush.


Are you for real?

   

Darina's little adrenaline rush!

   

Check out those eyes...
The destination was Mandø island, one of the last North Fresian Islands located in the Wadden Sea. This tidal sea is a fabulous national park attracting birds and bird watchers from all over the world.
   
Luckily for Kurt, there were also a load of oysters waiting to be harvested!


Oysters for breakfast

   

Mand
ø island
   

Guess what way the wind blows!
Back on the mainland we followed the North Sea cycle route up the west coast of Jutland as far as  Hanstholm. With a prevailing SW wind, we had the wind on our side most of the way up, making for easy cycling.
   
The cycle path led along the coast, past windmills, lighthouses and lots of well-camoflagued holiday homes tucked neatly into the dunes. Sporting activites were centred around the wind, with kite and wind surfers out in full force.


Beach boy

   

Alternative cycling


Typical holiday home in the dunes

   

Sand sculpture on the force of the wind
   
Cycling through the dunes
   

Esbjerg sculpture
   
Then it was time for city life, so we hopped on a bus to Ǻrhus and arrived just in time for a great jazz festival.
   

The Grauballe bog man
South of town in Moesgård there is a fabulous Viking museum, containing the fascinating bog man called Grauballe man. It is astonishing to think that this body remained perfectly preserved after possibly 2,300 years in a bog hole. Whether he was buried as a sacrifice to some fertility goddess, perhaps, or was a victim to local violence, remains a mystery to this day.
   
Ireland's Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney even wrote a poem about this mysterious find:

"As if he had been poured
in tar, he lies
on a pillow of turf
and seems to weep
the black river of himself."

 


Did we miss something?

   

Traditional house in Nordby
Part and parcel of any trip to Denmark is a spot of island hopping and so we jumped on a ferry to Samsø. Only 27km long, Samsø has some wonderful little traditional villages, including Nordby, a tidy towns winner.
   
Most farms have a fruit/veg/preserve/handicraft stall outside their houses. Payment is on an honesty basis, where you help yourself and leave the money in the box. Wouldn't it be great if this worked everywhere?


Self service veg stall

 

Bike paths are generally well-thought through!
 


Interesting!

Considering Denmark is as flat as a pancake, this huge big topographical atlas tickled our fancy. The Danes would be good candidates for selling fridges to Eskimos!

   


There's no escaping the wind!

   
Campgrounds in Denmark come at a price, but are spacious, clean and well-equipped. Kitchens and well-protected sites are the norm and distances to the amenities are so great, everyone uses a bike to go to the loo!


Nordby, Sams
ø

   

This should be good! (Better in German)
   

Tight fit on the ferry
Leaving Samsø, the stewards nearly had to use a funnel to get all the bikes onto the ferry, with dozens returning to Zealand after a 3-day music festival.
   
Roskilde, which was probably the most important town in Denmark in the Middle Ages, has a magnificent cathedral well-worth visiting. It is also the burial ground for Denmark's royalty!


Town hall, Roskilde

   

Roskilde cathedral...


where kings/queens are laid to rest

   

OK!
   

Capsule hotel Danish style
Entry into Copenhagen couldn't have been easier with generous cycle paths straight into the centre. One of the cheapest sleeps in this expensive capital is at the Cabinn Hotel. This unique concept, based on ferry cabins, manages to squeeze all the required amenities into a room the size of a shoe box, for the downright bargain of 100€ a double room!
   
Christiania is quite a novel neighbourhood in Copenhagen. This free state, set up in 1971 in an old military quarter, is still a magnet for all sorts of alternative people, wishing to live a less established life. The drug scene has been cleaned up and now to walk around, it's like flower-power, peace and love all over again. We would have loved to include pics of this unique district, but the residents prefer to keep a low profile.
   
Copenhagen has a pretty blend of old and new that kept us busy for a few days. We were lucky to catch the Little Mermaid before she goes on tour to Shanghai in 2010.


The Little Mermaid

   

Opera house


Nyhavn

 


Town hall

 
SWEDEN
 
Being so close to old friends, we decided to include Sweden to catch up on Jessica and family. Doing so gave us the opportunity to wonder at Calatrava's spectacular Turning Torso in Malmö. He has come a long way from his bus stop shelter in St Gallen, which was one of his first public projects. The Turning Torso is 190m high... ie higher than the highest mountain in Denmark!
 


Calatrava's Turning Torso in Malmö

   
An afternoon spin down the coast to the southern-most tip of Sweden and we arrived at Jessica's pad. It was fabulous to catch up on all her news and meet the recent additions to her family.


Kurt, Siggi, Jessica & Ludwig

   

Blonde bombshells all the way!
   

Travelling in style
From there we were nicely positioned to catch the overnight ferry from Trelleborg to Travemünde in Germany... an absolute bargain compared to the cost of a double room in the Cabinn Hotel in Copenhagen!
   
GERMANY
   
Our short stay in northern Germany was mainly to catch the train home from Hamburg, but was certainly a thoroughly enjoyable one. Busy port cities, easy cycling paths, picturesque towns from the 15th century, cheap, well-located campgrounds and very friendly people...
   


All present and correct?

   
Lübeck, one of the best preserved Hanseatic League cities, is now on the UNESCO world heritage list. Going by the stately buildings and towers, it is easy to see how successful this trading monopoly was in the Middle Ages. We enjoyed our stroll through town, despite the very mixed weather.


Lübeck

 


Lübeck

   

Currywurst is the local speciality
   

The luggage rack has broken off!
Following the Lübeck-Elbe canal, we reached Mölln where Kurt's back rack and luggage suddenly became a trailer on the ground behind him! Oops! This is now the third time he has had to be inventive with rack/frame problems.
   
On a Saturday afternoon the only shop/business open was good old Aldi. There MacGyver himself came out armed with a steel wire bathroom curtain rail from the bargain basket and, in no time at all, had the whole business sorted!


Kurt'll fix it!

   

Picnic on the Lübeck-Elbe canal


Lauenburg

   

Hamburg's harbour on the River Elbe
Hamburg, the second biggest port city in Europe, is certainly an impressive one. The one-hour tour of the harbour is not to be missed, with its mind-boggling statistics about container and cruise ships.
   
The Town Hall is another tour worth signing up for. With 6 rooms more than Buckingham Palace, chandeliers, furniture and decoration fit for a queen, this amazing place is one of the few buildings that survived the bombings of WWII.


Town hall, Hamburg

   

Here's looking at you babe!
Hagenbeck Tierpark (Zoo) is a must. The aquarium and tropical house kept us busy for quite a few hours. Complete with live coral, sharks, crocodiles, parrots and lizards, it's really like being on holidays!
   
A speciality not to be missed in Scandanavia or N. Germany is herring in all it's forms. Salted and pickled and spiced and curried... Roll mops are the business!


Matjes herring for lunch

   

Danish flag

It's hard to beat Denmark for bicycle trails. The weather was a whole lot better than we could ever have expected, with an average of 25 degrees Celcius and sunny spells every day. We even went swimming a couple of times in the North Sea. Campgrounds were plentiful and luxurious, and shops were never far away. With long days up until 11pm, there was no stress to arrive before dark.

 
We came back rested and relaxed and, for a bit of topography, headed off for a hike into the mountains!

See map

 

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