Denmark, Day 5, The Jelling Museum and Silkeborg!

Uffe, our Radisson Blu concierge from Copenhagen grew up in Silkeborg, and he recommended three sites as ‘must see’ in the area;

1. The Kongernes Jelling Museum

2. Hotel Himmelbjerget, which sits on top of the highest ‘mountain’ in Denmark

3. Svostrup Kro, a family owned inn and restaurant that’s been in business since 1280, and owned and run by the same family since 1834

Today, we set out to visit each of the above. Our first stop is the Jelling museum, which is located inland and south of Silkeborg. Once again, we’re surprised and delighted by the rolling hills, verdant farms, and lush countryside. Everywhere we drive there are farms of every sort, dairy, vegetable, and even horses.
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Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth created the monuments at Jelling, the first of which is enormous, ship-shaped, and built of stone. There are also several stone runes, but two depict the reigns of King Gorm and King Harald. The Jelling church was constructed after Harald Bluetooth converted to Christianity and this is also depicted on a rune stone called ‘Denmark’s Certificate of Baptism’. There are also two huge burial mounds. The museum is unique in that it’s all digital and interactive. A very interesting experience.

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From Jelling we drive through the countryside to Hotel Himmelbjerget. We can’t get over how densely forested the area is and we’re both amazed that we don’t see a single car on the hour-long drive. The view is amazing. From the cafeteria we can see clear to the lake on which Silkeborg is situated.

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It’s straight downhill to Svostrup Kro. The history of this little inn and restaurant dates back to 1280 when a traveler by the name of Erik Klipping records in his diary; “Tomorrow we are going north and will be crossing the Gudenå at Svostrup, there is a little resthouse.”

Talk about quaint and charming. We have lunch here and the food is scrumptious. The Viking orders a ‘Thor’ beer, which has a faint lemony aftertaste. Afterwards, we stroll the grounds, and enjoy the sunshine before heading back to Silkeborg.

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When we take the elevator to our floor in the Silkeborg Radisson Blu, a new poster is hanging on the wall. I burst out laughing when I saw this as two of my sons are seriously into Crossfit. Who knew that it’s now worldwide?

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For our last meal in Silkeborg, we head downtown, and eventually end up at Café Safran. OMG. First of all, a blond giant who could’ve been a SEAL he was so built sat right opposite me. It was so hard to not drool over his tanned, hard-as-rock body. Second, the ambiance, the food, and the service was nothing short of superb.

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Sigh, a fabulous way to end our time in Denmark’s ‘Lake District’.

Cheers,

Denmark, Day 4-Part 2, The Ribe Viking Center!

The Ribe Viking Center transported me back in time. Every hut, every craft demonstrated, every vegetable and herb grown in the garden, all the goats, chickens, pigs, and cattle, has been reconstructed with meticulous detail. Where possible all materials used are those that would’ve been the standard for the ninth and tenth centuries. Since, there’s no way I can convey how astounding the experience was, I decide to let my pictures paint the afternoon for you.

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The last picture is of the blacksmith’s drool-worthy arms. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching him work.

We ate lunch in a nearby town, and then headed off to Silkeborg, which is a town located in the middle of the Jutland peninsula, and is considered the lake and forest vacation spot of Denmark. I can’t stop talking about the Ribe Viking Center and I know my dreams will be overrun with Norsemen, Valhalla, and Harald Bluetooth.

Denmark, Day 4, The Road Trip, Part 1!

Our Denmark road-trip begins today! Yay—so thrilled!!!

We grab a quick breakfast, store our luggage, walk around the corner to Hertz, and pickup our rental car. It’s rush hour and it takes a good forty minutes to weave our way out of the city proper, and onto the highway.

The Viking and I are both struck by the hordes of cyclists everywhere. The Danes bike, bike, and bike some more. There are bike lanes and bike stands everywhere, and, as I’ve noted before, the cyclists have the right of way. What that means is the Danes are fit. The only overweight people we’ve seen are obviously tourists (and North American if you go by the flags on purses and backpacks). In south Florida, you take your life in your hands if you attempt biking on major roads.

We’re both surprised by the landscape change within minutes of driving on the freeway. Copenhagen is flat, but the second we exit the capital, rolling hills peppered with lush, verdant farms dominate the landscape.

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Until this trip, I never realized that Denmark is actually composed of the peninsula of Jutland, 12 major islands (Zealand, Funen, Jutland, Amager, Lolland, Als, Falster, Bornholm, Samsø , Ærø, Tåsinge, and Mors), and over 449 (the number is dynamic as new islands form and other disappear according to sedimentation) smaller islands (of which 74 are inhabited). Here’s a map of the country:

MAP-Denmark with islands

In addition, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, are also considered part of the Kingdom of Denmark (although absolute monarchy was abolished in 1849). Iceland also once belonged to Denmark. We’re planning to visit several Viking sites on our road-trip, and the first one, Ribe VikingCenter, is located on Denmark’s west coast on the island of Jutland. This is our planned route over the next four days:

Map-Denmark

The major islands of Denmark are connected by bridges. When we cross over from Zealand to Funen, this is what we saw from the bridge:

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Windmills in the sea! A first sighting sighting for both of us.

The Ribe VikingCenter is located near the old Viking trading center of Ribe, which served as the conduit for trade with the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The ancient site was excavated and a new center built to the specifications of what was found during the excavation. Every summer, the Viking village in the center is occupied by people who live and practice the trades of Vikings during the tenth century. These are the statues at the entrance to the Ribe Viking Center:

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We stayed at the center for over three hours. Both the Viking and I were completely enthralled. Tomorrow’s blog will be devoted to pics and experiences at Ribe—I  minted a gold coin!!! Yikes—they let me near fire 🙂

Denmark, Day 3!

Over breakfast on the penthouse floor of the Radisson Blu, the Viking and I discuss the concert from last night and our plans for the day. I forgot to post the views yesterday, so here are some shots:

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Man have we made some right choices on this trip. The weather’s perfect for being on the water as temperatures have climbed into the 70s, the breezes are light, and again, a cloudless sky. The vistas are superb and I take way too many pics, but how can I resist?

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Until visiting this side of the world, I couldn’t comprehend how deeply ingrained seafaring is in Scandinavians. No wonder the Vikings ruled the waves. Because we loved the canal area and it’s close to where we dock, the Viking and I lunch there, but in a different spot. Our waiters are from Armenia, Siberia, and Lithuania. Not a single Dane.

Did I mention that this happens to be National Jazz Fest week in Copenhagen? Talk about luck and good fortune, first Elton John, now Jazz everywhere. We saunter back to the hotel via the main pedestrian street and stop to have a drink in the many courtyards intersecting the cobblestone paths.

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So far, all the cities we’ve visited are organized around two main things; the central train station (Central Station) and a wide, tree lined pedestrian main street (with many offshoots). Outdoor cafes abound and the ambiance is celebratory.

When we return to the Radisson, Glenn and Uffe, the concierges, help us plan our road trip around the country. We organize the car rental and head out to eat.

Remember that tapas restaurant from the first night? Well, we finally find it, and have a yummy meal before retiring.

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Cheers,

Denmark, Day 2!

The Viking and I woke up late today. We had a lovely continental breakfast on the penthouse floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel. The almost 360 view proved breath-taking. I’m amazed that we can actually see the bridge that joins the mainlands of Sweden and Denmark.

We discovered in Stockholm, Finland, and Tallinn that Hop On/Hop Off tours are a great way to get a quick layout and history of a city, so after breakfast we head to Central Station and purchase two-day tickets. Yesterday, when we arrived the temps were almost suffocating and nary a breeze relieved the heat. Today, it’s in the 60s, the winds are gusting, and hold an icy chill. But, the sun’s shining and only a few clouds interrupt the vast expanse of a powder blue sky. Here are some pics of Copenhagen:

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Everyone hails Denmark as a ‘green’ city, and the narrative on the tour emphasizes over and over that the country intends to have no, that is absolutely zero, carbon footprint by 2025. Cars are taxed a 180 percent to encourage cycling and, believe me, all those on bicycles have the right of the way. Yet, this is the first country (except for parts of St. Petersburg) we’ve visited where litter abounds. I took a shot of one street to prove this. There are cigarette stubs, paper wrappers, and other garbage everywhere. It’s so contradictory.

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We have lunch along this charming canal (this is what I imagined Copenhagen would look like everywhere), and then head back to the hotel for a nap. After our rest, we cross the street to Tivoli Gardens to grab dinner before the Elton John concert. The gardens are lush and soothing, and we eat outdoors at a Bavarian place in Tivoli.

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Now, Elton John’s one of my favorite performers, and I’m totally in paradise when he plays Candle In The Wind, Rocket Man, Daniel, Your Song, and so much more. The breeze has died down, the sun’s shining, and Elton John’s singing. Could there be a more perfect end to our first full day in Denmark?

Cheers,