August 31, 2010
The alarm going off this morning was not a pleasant sound but at least we were packed and ready. We grabbed a quick breakfast and then walked to the tram stop. It was certainly a much nicer walk to the closer tram although the early morning weather was a bit chilly! It took about half an hour to get to the ferry terminal and we were there in plenty of time and we just sat and waited the final half hour until we were able to board. Once on board and away from the old people and annoying brats we found a seat and just settled in. The journey took just over 3 hours and the sailing was nice and smooth. The ferry ended at Frederikshavn and from there we were heading north to a small town called Skagen, near the top of Denmark. We found the train station after about a 15 minute walk and were thankful to have just made a train. We’d have had an hour wait for the next one which would’ve been very annoying. Equally annoying though was the massive school group on the train we did catch who insisted on taking up as many seats as possible and leaving their bags strewn around the carriage. Thankfully the train ride was only about half an hour so we were able to stand and keep out of their way until they got off… the stop before ours!
Once at Skagen we found our hostel easily and were lucky to check in. Reception was closed but the receptionist was still around and we got our second piece of good fortune. Having told us that the hostel was nearly full with school children, she then told us the larger dorms were full up and we would be put in a smaller 4-bed dorm which would just have us in it unless anyone else turned up later that evening. As it turned out, nobody else turned up and we had it all to ourselves and that was the case for our entire three night stay.
In the afternoon we walked into the town and went to the tourist office. We needed to get our trains and accommodation booked for our next couple of stops but unfortunately the little tourist office here wasn’t ready for requests for booking trains and hostels so we were directed to the library and the free internet there! We had a walk through the sleepy little town and found the library and were able to book a hostel for Arhus (our next stop) but not Silkeborg (the one after that), finding everything booked up. We decided we would check with the hostel here to see if they could call ahead to their partner hostel and get us a room. After walking across to the train station and getting our train tickets to Arhus, we stopped at the supermarket and stocked up. The kitchen at the hostel wasn’t exactly Michelin star restaurant standard but it at least had a couple of desktop rings we could cook on!
We also found a couple of bike-hire places around town and decided we would try and rent some bikes for the next day or so, making it easier for us to explore. We didn’t get them for tonight but at least found out the prices for tomorrow! Elizabeth managed to get us a room for Silkeborg at the youth hostel there so we were all booked up until we were due to return to London.
For dinner we had pasta with some fresh veggies and we also tried a couple of the local beers. We had seen the brewery in town but both the food and beer were expensive so we decided to buy four different kinds in the supermarket to try. Tonight we had the Golden and Dansk Ol which were both very tasty.
September 1, 2010
After a lazy morning we walked into the town and grabbed some lunch. We found a decent priced buffet lunch and tucked in. The food wasn’t too bad but it certainly wasn’t great and we decided for the money we’d be better off just making our own in future! I don’t think the buffet was too bad value (about $13 each) but we paid about the same again for two cokes! I’m not sure how people afford to drink with their meals here!
After that we rented our bikes. Elizabeth hadn’t ridden a bike for years and she was very nervous to start with but we got her going and we headed north out of Skagen towards Grenen, the furthest tip of Denmark. Here the scenery is known for its beauty and the beach is known as the meeting point of two bodies of water – Kattegat to the east and Skagerrak to the west. We managed to reach the car park at the far end and we locked our bikes away and headed to the beach for the last stretch. The beach stretched out quite a way and there were a fair few people walking along it. There was also a tractor pulling a carriage along for those people too lazy to walk the half a mile or so to the end! The water of Kattegat is more enclosed and you could tell by how calm the water was. It was also really clear and as we got further past the dunes and we could see the water of Skagerrak on the other side it was noticeable how rough and dirty the water was in comparison. It was a really nice day and by far the best day we’ve had for clear weather in quite a while and it was so nice being able to just stroll up and down the beach.
After cycling back to the hostel we relaxed and had some dinner – cheese sandwiches tonight! After a big buffet lunch we decided to go light on our evening meal. We did try another beer though and this one was called Bayersk Ol. It too was really good just like the others last night – buying them at the supermarket was a much better way of trying them out!
In the evening we cycled back to the beach again. The idea was to catch sunset but given how the land lies we actually didn’t have a view of the sunset at all once we reached the tip. We did have great views of the lighthouse and the circling light but mostly we were avoiding bugs! The ride back was a little hazardous as the light was fading and Elizabeth still wasn’t completely sure of herself on the bike. At one point a group of old ladies were walking the other way and in her nervousness to get past them and avoid them she slowed right down and wobbled so much she fell off and hit one of the ladies. The old lady seemed to be OK and Elizabeth had hurt her knee a little bit but I think mostly she had hurt her pride and was a bit embarrassed and worried about the other lady. Thankfully, it was just a minor accident and nobody was hurt. After that we took our time getting back and made it back with no more incidents. Elizabeth had already been nervous about going on the bike and the fall had made her more nervous after such a good start. When we got back we decided we would go on another ride tomorrow so she could practice some more.
September 2, 2010
After having some more of our yummy blackcurrant jam we’d bought for breakfast, we ventured out on the bikes again. We wanted to get out and make use of the bikes we’d paid for as well as getting Elizabeth back on it again soon. We decided to go to a place called Gl. Skagen which is only a couple of kilometers away from the hostel but on the Skagerrak shoreline. The ride didn’t take us very long and when we got there it was really noticeable how dirty the water was compared to the other side. The little town was full of yellow buildings which all looked similar and it reminded me of one of those film sets of suburban America where every house looks the same with the same front yard and the same shape house. The houses here were quite quaint and led right down to the waterfront.
We strolled along the beach for a bit but there wasn’t a whole lot to see. I guess this is another situation where we are spoiled a little having seen the gorgeous beaches in Bermuda, the blue waters around Thailand and even the seal-covered beaches in New Zealand.
We cycled back into town and dropped the bikes back at the shop. We’d both enjoyed having bikes to ride around rather than walk but I’m glad we did it here where it was quieter rather than in a bigger city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam!
We sat and had our home-made lunch and then walked around the shops. After the expensive buffet yesterday we decided we’d go cheap today so we after our lunchtime sandwiches we bought stuff to make a pasta dish this evening. We managed to pick up a couple of postcards and a souvenir magnet in town. We’ve been sending our parents a postcard from every country we’ve been to with the exception, I think, of Macau. If my counting is correct I reckon they should have about 28 postcards so far! That might seem like a large number but that is nothing compared to the magnets we’ve bought. This is probably a crazy fetish and we’ve probably spent a lot more than I care to imagine (we must have about 15 Hard Rock magnets which are about $15 each!) but they make cool souvenirs and they are comparatively cheap and easy to transport. That’s my excuse, anyway!
Back at the hostel we got packed up and lazed around for a bit before dinner. Skagen has been ne of the better places we’ve been to in Scandinavia as it has been quiet and relaxing. The scenery around this area is really lovely although it is flat as a pancake and it would’ve been good to have spent more time getting around on the bikes. Now we’ve tried them though and Elizabeth is a little less nervous, we might hire them again in other small towns, too!
With our pasta dinner we had our final Skagen Bryghus beer which was an IPA. This was really tasty but a lot more bitter than the others. This meant Elizabeth didn’t like it as much so I got to drink more of it! After a couple of mornings of lie-ins we had an earlier start tomorrow so we hit our beds pretty soon after dinner.