Store Bededag in Herning…

 

This morning, I woke to a cloud-covered sky, and I soon understood it would be the kind of day when you just take a break from running around, and you just let your batteries charge up for the next adventure.

It was time to leave Silkeborg, and move to Herning, just a short half hour train ride away.

 

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As you might have seen in my previous posts, most of the train stations I visited in Denmark have this charming red-brick oldish look. It was quite a surprise to find myself in such a modern building after hopping off the wagon.

My home for the night was just a couple of minutes of walking away from the station, and I went to drop my backpack, planning to spend the afternoon walking around town, the showers not being strong enough to force me to stay in all day.

 

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The top-floor window was mine… For the night.

 

The street were amazingly quiet and empty when I left the apartment. I knew it had nothing to do with the rain… Danes are used to rainy, windy days, and the weather doesn’t usually affect their outdoor activities.

A sign outside a pub answered my question.

It was Store Bededag. The holiday celebrated almost exclusively in Denmark takes place the fourth Friday after Easter. I remember clearly my first encounter with Store Bededag in Odense, in 2016. Just like today, I had found the streets empty, and all the stores closed for the day.

 

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The walk was nice, but I did have a little problem… I only had half a bag of mini almond cookies and my bottle of water, and a fast building appetite. Of course, I could have stopped in one of the few restaurants that were open, but the choice was scarce, and I didn’t want to spend that much money…

So I kept walking, letting my feet guide me, confident I would eventually find what I was looking for.

 

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And I did! For just under 20$, I came back with a little feast.

 

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For this little money, some bananas, cold cuts, cheese, two tebirkes (Danish pastries), potatoe salad, fisk frikadeller (Danish fish cakes), a bottle of remoulade AND an Easter brewed beer… I think that’s quite a deal!

 

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Fisk frikadeller with remoulade is a common meal, in Denmark. And one I don’t get tired of, when I travel through Vikingland… It is delicious and very filling after a long day spent outdoors. It is also a cheap option compared to the pricy restaurants in touristic areas.

 

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I ate my dinner in my little home away from home, and enjoyed a movie, snuggled under a warm blanket… The perfect ending to a quiet rainy day.

The rest was welcome, as I was about to move farther West on Saturday morning. To a little town I have never set foot in before… Thisted, here I come!

Hobro – Following the Vikings’ trail…

 

 

We have a saying in French, “Les jours se suivent, et ne se ressemblent pas.” Which doesn’t seem to be the case here… Days are going by, and although I know I will eventually wake up to a greyish sky and have to plan indoor activities, this morning the sun was still shining brightly!

Yay!

One great thing about Denmark, is that it is an incredibly small country, in size. And the network of trains and buses routes is so well developed, that you can basically wake up one morning, walk to the train station and  move to the other end of the country in very little time. Well, at least when you are used to Canada’s wideness!

So, this morning, after a tall glass of ginger-carrot juice and a warm shower, I headed to Hobro. Now, Hobro is just about 2h of train away from Silkeborg, and it had the advantage of making me spend a little bit of time in a town I had the chance to visit a couple of times in my past trips; Aarhus!

 

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There was still a little bit of time before catching my next train, and I got myself a light snack to nibble on, while enjoying the always amazing view.

 

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Have I mentionned rape fields before? Oh, I have? They’re still pretty!!

 

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Another unexplainable love of mine… Tall windmills. 

 

Shortly after, we were stopping in Hobro. ”Why Hobro?” you might ask, since it is not a very big, nor very touristic destination. But just outside of town is an old Viking site I really wanted to visit… But we’ll get there.

 

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Welcome to Hobro!

 

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Google had told me it was an (about) 25 minutes of walking to get to Fyrkat’s Viking fortress ruins. I have a feeling Google thinks I am 6’8” and that speed-walking is a passion of mine. But I tend to stop every now and then to take pictures (or check if I am still following the right path).

 

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Downtown Hobro

 

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So after something more like 40 minutes of wandering, the first signs of the Viking site were in sight!!

 

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Notice the nice Dannebrog flying proudly in the Spring wind! How welcoming….

 

Fyrkat’s Viking center is divided in two different sites. First, the reconstitution of a Viking property, and the actual ancient fortress ruins. I had to start with the village, and I made friends right away!

 

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But not everybody was happy to see a crazy Canadian Girl touring around… And I soon had the visit of my hens’ less enthusiastic rooster!

 

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The different buildings on the site, give a feeling of what a Viking’s village once looked like. I am guessing that during summertime, there is a lot more animation. But today, it was rather quiet, and I had pretty much the whole place to myself!

 

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Model of the traditional Viking long houses.

 

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Probably some kind of Viking Scrabble, for the long winter nights.

 

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The Fyrkat fortress site is about a kilometer from the Viking center. You can drive there, but I walked, as usual. And it was well worth the extra stroll, since the trail leading to Fyrkat runs along the water, and it seems like Hobro is where Denmark’s swans gather to mate. There were couples of the great white birds everywhere! I wish I had caught a good picture of them, but they were too far to do justice to the sight…

 

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Entering Fyrkat’s site…

 

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Long house reconstitution.

 

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My pictures are not as impressive as the aerial views you can find on Google, but the feeling of walking in the middle of the circular grass-covered fortifications was pretty amazing. I coud feel the history under my feet, and I spent a long time, just imagining how it was to live, back these days…

 

Aerial view of Fyrkat Viking ring castle

Borrowed from The Internets

 

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I stopped at the gift shop on my way back, to pick a souvenir for Little Bro. Backpack traveling is a bit restraining when it comes to finding interesting things to bring back, but with a little imagination, there is always a way not to come back empty-handed. I’d post a picture of what I bought, but it would spoil the surprise, wouldn’t it?

 

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Time to walk back to the train station…

 

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A little refreshment for the road…

 

 

After the swans, I was greeted by a flock of crows, when I came back to the train station. The black birds are not an unusual sight, neither in Canada or in Denmark, but seeing so many of them nesting in the tall trees was impressive. And loud!

Dang loud…

 

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Which made riding in the Stillezone all the more enjoyable!

Last stop, before returning to Silkeborg… I always have to raise my glass (or bottle) to some dear friends of mine, when I pass by Randers. The other travelers probably wondered what I was doing, but Mrs Completely and her Viking will understand!

 

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Skål!! And here’s to another day of fun wanderings to come!

Helsingør & Fredensborg…

You’d think that sleeping under one of them magical Danish duvets would be good enough a reason to stay in bed really late and get the much needed rest I’ve been craving for, for what seems like months now.

But yesterday night, I had the (bad) idea of checking sunrise time for this morning, in Helsingør. Which was just barely after 5 am.

So of course, I was wide awake by four,  and even if I knew it would be kind of cold outside, I finally put on my leggings and dressed like an onion under my Spring vest, and I trotted to the harbour.

 

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It was incredibly still by the water. Aside a couple of fishermen getting ready to sail away, I was the only soul around, and I waited patiently for the show to start.

 

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Swedes were nice enough to keep some clouds on their side of the Øresund! How considerate! So, when the sun finally peeked over the horizon, the colors had much more texture than I had expected.

 

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No, these trees aren’t on fire!

I walked back ”home”, my body suddenly realizing that it was in fact just a little past five, and that the cold wan’t fun anymore, now that the sun was up. Luckily, I had tea on the kitchen shelf, and my fingers found their natural pinkish color, wrapped around the warm mug!

Next was the visit of Kronborg Castle, but it opened only at 11 am, so I had some time to lazy out in my little hyggekrog.

 

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Welcome to the castle!

 

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 The inner court throught the main entrance

 

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A little view around, from atop the tower…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Kronborg, I took a guided tour called ”The Royal Baquet” and unlike usual tours, this one was pretty special. A performer playing the role of the Lady in charge of having everything ready for the arrival of the King and Queen to the castle walked us around, as if we were guests for the Royal baquet taking place two days later. It ended up being almost more like a play than a visit, and I forgot to take my camera out, just enjoying the show! If you are visiting Kronborg, ask for the guided visit schedule. They are free, aswell as very entertaining.

Two fun facts to make up for my lack of pictures… Kronborg was built under the reign of Frederik II, on the already existing fortress. And Frederik’s son, Christian, who became king himself some years later is the subject of one of Mew’s songs:

 

Back to King Frederik II who, apparently, enjoyed entertaining crowds very much. When he and Queen Sophia held big banquets, the king gave ”Canon toasts”. Several times, during the evening, he would hold his glass in the air. To this sight, drumms would go rolling. And outside the castle, some horns were blown, giving the signal to fire the canons around the castle, making a surprising display of Frederik’s power. The sudden vibrations would make some of the ballroom windows to blow in, which amused the guests. Celebrations often being on a period of many days back then, the guest would come back to the ballroom the next day to see the windows all repaired. Yet another display of the Kings great wealth, since glasswear was extremely expensive at that time!

 

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Meet Holger the Dane! The legend says that Holger will stay asleep in the casemates of Kronborg Castle, until Denmark gets in real trouble. That day, it is said that he will wake up to fight to defend the Mother Country. But nothing to worry about, everybody can sleep safe and sound: Holger’s still there, sleeping.

 

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Here’s one of my personal favorite Dannebrog pictures. I don’t know what it is exactly about it… Maybe the nice contrast on the deep blue sky, maybe the way it thrones right in the middle of the picture. Or maybe it is because of the fluffy clouds giving the impression that the canons have actually been shot! I don’t know, but I really really like it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A couple more pictures, on my way out…

 

When I returned to my temporary home to get ready for what I had planned next, I found my host spending the afternoon with her mother on the back patio. When I crashed in to announce I’d be back later after the falconry show, I was kindly offered a ride to Falkonergården, instead of taking the bus to Fredensborg. I didn’t want to disturb the mother-daughter meeting, but was assured it was fine, and that it’d give them a chance to take Oliver, my new dog-friend, on a little trip out too.

I got the chance to have a nice chat with my host’s mom, who, had lived in Toronto in her younger years… It is a small world. Life always makes sure to remind me of it.

So… Lucky me got in the car, with my lovely host, her mother and Oliver, and we rode through the countryside where I was dropped off in this little falconry: Falkonergården

 

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I was a bit early, so before the doors to the actual falconry opened, I got the chance to go see the Icelandic horses of the little domaine… I even got to pet one, as a matter of fact he pretty much asked for the forehead rub!

 

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How do you say no to such beautiful eyes?

 

If you visit the Fredensborg area, and are intested in seeing the Falkonergården show, make sure to visit their website first, before you show up. For an example, this month of May, the only performance of the week occurs on Sundays.

The whole show is about an hour long, and important thing to know for foreigners, it is almost entirely in Danish. The trainer does give some of the information in both Danish and English, and a sheet with some more details about the different birds is provided to follow up, but don’t expect to get everything!

The show is worth it nonetheless. The first part takes place indoor, where three of the smaller prey birds are brought in, one at a time, to perform while the trainer explains their origin, the specifics of each bird and how they were used in falconry over the different eras.

I must say that having these little hunters flying around in such a closed space was pretty impressive.

 

 

 

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Regardless the language barrier, it is obvious that the trainer is very enthusiastic and loves her little (sometimes not so little) feathery friends very much. After each presentation, she walks around the room to give everyone a chance to snap a picture or two. Unfortunately, the birds are more into ”feed me” time rather than ”Oh! you want a good picture, here’s my best profile” time… So most of my shots are either blurry, or of a hawk’s back of the head… LOL

The second part takes place outdoor. There, the larger prey birds get their chance to wow us, and they do that well! We get asked, before the beginning of the second act, to sit on the left if we want the birds to fly just above our heads, and to the right if we’d rather not. Don’t take that question lightly, because I the eagle flew so close to me, that I got hit in the face by its wing. No worries, I wasn’t harmed in any way, but if you think you might be sightly scared of large birds with huge claws, sit to the right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last part is a demonstration of the way people used prey birds to hunt, horseback riding. That’s when our little friend from the beginning comes to the stage!

 

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Yup, I rubbed that fluffy star’s head!!

 

At the end of the show, you can ask all your questions, and have a chat with the trainer… It also gives everybody a chance to get a couple of more pictures!

 

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Another great day behind… Already looking for the next one to come! But for the moment, it was time to walk back to the train station and get back ”home”.

 

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September Trip – Stockholm, day 5

Already the third and last day in Stockholm.

We could have spent many more days in Sweden’s capital. Because there was much more to see, and because Stockholmers are just such very nice people.

Tip when you visit Sweden, and especially Stockholm… Learn to spot pedestrian crossings and don’t hesitate when time comes to walk from one side to the other. This is something that felt a little dare devilish at first, but even if there aren’t any stop signs or street lights, cars and busses will stop if you are about to cross the street. They will. So even if you are used (like we were) to wait until you’re sure that the vehicule will let you go, forget about it, and just walk. You’ll save drivers time if you don’t wait until they come to a full stop. They will stop…  I promise.

Ok, so… Last day, and our first stop was a must. I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable with heights David was, before we got to enter Globe City.

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Thank you, Google… I can’t find the picture I took oof the entry of Globe City… Grrrr

Globe City is the sum of many stadiums that hold multiple sports events, concerts and shows… And most certainly, the Globe is the most impressive of them from the outside.

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Thanks again, Google!

Sky View is a sightseeing activity that is totally worth the little Metro ride outside the center of Stockholm. The 20 minutes ride slowly takes you to the top of the Globe in a little glass ball.

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At the top of the Ericsson Globe, you get a 360 view of the Stockholm area, perched at 85 meters in the air.

 

We skipped my usual sandwiches to have lunch in a local fast food chain, Max. Not that either of us is big on hamburgers and the like, but we thought we should try it since it is Swedish.

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After being denied the Hop On Hop Off boat the day before (thank you very much!) we decided to take one of the many other tours on Stockholm’s canals…  The sail offers a very different view of the city and its subburbs. And the audio guide, in several languages, provides with interesting informations… A very enjoyable time on the waters!

 

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Yup, here is our little Foxy friend again!
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Again… Inside the boat.

 

After our cruise it was time to get back “home” and get ready for our move the next morning. But not before we visited Sergels Torg one last time…

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Next up… Göteborg!

 

 

September Trip – Malmö, day 2

I had warned David that we’d be sleeping early after our first little walk in Copenhagen. We were in fact in our bunk beds before 6pm, and up again around 5 the next morning.

The weather forecast wasn’t on the optimistic side, and we were ready for several days of pouring rain. And here’s the view we got when we stepped out of the Hawila;

 

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Dang Scandinavian weather! LOL

 

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That’s the Hawila, on the right…
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And here it is with better lighting… I told you I’d have pictures of it!

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And since we’re talking of promised pictures, here’s Den Blå Planet, but we’ll talk about it later.
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We had a quick bite, and shared with a couple of feathery friends…

Then, it was time to move to Malmö, Sweden. But first, a short ride on the Copenhagen Metro…

 

Malmö is just across the Øresund bridge, and a very short ride from Kastrup’s Airport. I was eager to see Sweden, but I knew I was stepping out of my comfy Danish slippers. I wouldn’t say I could get along effortlessly in the countryside, but my Danish is good enough to get around, ask for directions and order a meal without getting a surprise dinner!

In Sweden, my confidence took a good drop.

Especially when I saw an alien spaceship while entering Malmö!

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But the rest of the city seemed pretty UFO-less…

 

 

As you can see, Sunday early mornings are very quiet in Malmö. Most probably because of the Saturday night partying… Theory that seemed to be proven right by the following sight…

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Left over drinks on window sides, or simply on the sidewalk, is also something very common in Denmark. Sometimes, you can even find unopened bottles, just left behind when the party moved on…

While walking around, we fund the King’s Park (Kungsparken).

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By then, we needed to fuel up and nibble on a little something, so we stopped in a little cozy café, The Expresso House, where we also got a chance to fill our water bottles and charge up the camera and our cell phones.

 

We wanted to see something internationally known, in Malmö, and went hunting for the knotted gun. I had seen the sculpture in the past, and I couldn’t wait to see the non-violence icone. Like many other attractions, I was surprised to see that it was a lot smaller in size than I had imagined it… But still!

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Note that the weather was equally horrible on the Swedish side of the bridge! Another thing that looked familiar, after leaving Denmark, was the numerous bicycles…

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One thing I discovered, that is completely different in Sweden and Denmark, is the access to train traveling. Traveling by train (tog) in Denmark is a piece of cake. Once you’ve mastered the use of the ticket booths, you just have to buy a ticket from A to B, and you take the next ride from A to B, hoping to have a nice place by the window. In Sweden, we had to take asigned places at a counter, and I soon realized that it wasn’t a good idea to buy them last minute…

Since we were moving to Stockholm, we spent the last couple of hours around the train station.

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Remember this little guy? It made a stranger laugh that I’d try to take pictures with a tiny fox in front of the lense…. LOL
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This made US laugh. From a distance, we thought those were bread sticks, and planning on buying one for the ride…  Yeah, no… they were roses!
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Waiting for our train to Stockholm…
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Yeah, don’t ask… I just love windmills. And there are a LOT of them both in Sweden and Denmark

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After a many hours long ride, we finally arrived in Stockholm.

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Next, our three days in Sweden’s capital!