Week 6 started with a rough plan to go clockwise around Zealand and get to Copenhagen for the weekend when it is likely to be most active. Whether this plan works or not we’ll all have to wait and see! The week started sunny and warm so we went on a longish bike ride from Kerteminde through some peaceful and pretty villages of Male and Viby seeing old and pretty houses actually being used rather than set out for the tourists. The easterly beach wasn’t great though, but the ride made up for it. The western part of Fyn as a whole seems particularly authentic and pretty.
After a quick lunch we headed to the eastern island of Denmark, Zealand, over the Storebælt bridge which is long and impressive to see, but a bore to drive! (225DKK). We then headed to Vikingeborgen Telleborg which is the Viking fort remains we promised ourselves we’d see after Fyrkat. So, we got there Monday afternoon in glorious sunshine, to find it was closed on Mondays. But we only found that out after wandering in via a back door as the front door was being painted (we assumed the sign on it said “Wet Paint”…). Once we got inside we realised it was closed, but chatted up a nice lady who said we could look around outside anyway. For free. Bargain! Not sure if you only pay for the internal museum but we didn’t ask. The landscape and old fort is interesting, and they have also built a number of Viking building that they clearly use in season as there were remains of fresh campfires. Worth a visit if you are anywhere near.
For some reason (can anyone explain?) fuel prices in Denmark change frequently – and by that I mean every time walk past the same station the price has changed – sometimes by 10%. No idea why, but we got some when we saw diesel around the 8.6 mark (94p!).
Our friends, Barry & Hazel who took a similar van to the Arctic Circle gave us some of their wild-camping positions and we followed one to just outside Soro where they found a quiet and pretty area close to a lake with nice beach and BBQ area which we made use of with just us there.
The BBQ was a bit of a disaster. The mushrooms were great; the meat needing grilling as it wasn’t getting charred, and Mels food fell on the floor. Another tip from us: Don’t buy cheap disposable BBQs!
In the morning we headed to Roskilde and to be fair the drive was dull with uninspiring scenery. Roskilde has a Viking boat museum (good parking) and a UNESCO cathedral that we went around that housed some royal tombs. Unfortunately you couldn’t climb the tower. Apart from these two attractions the town was rather dull. With dark clouds and rain starting we ran in the opposite direction to North Zealand and to Hundastead (don’t bother) then to Tisvildeleje which apparently has nice beaches. However this entire northern stretch is like so much of Europe where holiday homes are continuous and its actually impossible to see the sea let along get to the beach. When we eventually saw the beach further along in Gilleleje it was narrow and really wasn’t that great. Even Hornbæk was only “okay”. A bit of a disappointing day really, though we did find a nice spot to spend the night overlooking the Øresund sea looking out to Sweden with a view that looked like we were on our own desert island….
When we eventually awoke we decided we’d have a “Rookie only chess game day”. In other words, a day full of castles 🙂 okay poor joke. We started in Helsingør with Kronborg Slot where Shakespears Hamlet was, allegedly, based. The impressive fortifications and grounds are free to walk around and the tour of the museum, chapel and cellar areas was a reasonable 65DKK. If you take the tour bring a torch…! The castle innards were impressive with lots of art and history, and Mel was in her ideal world with one of the pictures. They do Hamlet plays there in season which look to be very impressive. The town of Helsingør was okay – very much geared to supply Swedish tourists with “cheap” alcohol.
From here we went to Fredensborg and the Royal Palace, but for some reason access to any building was blocked and we only had access to part of the gardens which weren’t that great though there was a statue garden which was interesting – quite spooky if you remember Dr Who – “Don’t Blink” – as all the statues were of normal villagers of old. If you were to miss off a castle, miss this one.
Finally, we went to Hillerød to see the mightily impressive Frederiksborg Slot – probably the most interesting of the bunch. The grounds were free to look around, well kept and very pretty, and again the entrance fee was a reasonable 60DKK. The inside tour took around an impressive church as well as loads of old state rooms with amazing ceilings and carvings as well as some art and furniture. Overall a very impressive interior and a stunning exterior skyline. Sadly though, not everything is authentic as a lot of it was rebuilt after a major fire in the 1850s. That said, its still very much worth a visit. The town outside was pleasant enough and with some nice eateries if needed.
The following morning we headed to a large forest, Klampenborg just north of Copenhagen. Once we eventually found somewhere to park we had a 6 mile run through the park on the lookout for deer – but they were all hiding. We got back and had a haircut and shower – one of the great things about the vans is having a shower whenever you are hot and sweaty. Worrying, a “Google Mapping Car” caught us in our hiding place so we await those pictures to appear.
We decided to then venture into Copenhagen and see if we could find anywhere suitable to hide for our couple of days exploration of the city. What a nightmare! The “Citicamp” area was closed (and looked a dump anyway), and all the usual suspect places we explored didn’t meet our requirements (security/noise etc), so after hunting for a while we escaped and got to Brøndby Strand where we found a quiet secluded area for the night overlooking a lake, and with a metro station 1km away with a big carpark, so decided to make camp and use the public transport in the morning. We were tempted by a spot near Amager beach watching all the kite surfers but didn’t feel it was good enough to leave the van all day.
Our plan worked quite well – the overnight spot was very peaceful (though it may have been the local illicit meet/dogging car park), and the daytime parking spot was safe and busy enough to look after the van. Metro tickets to the city were 46DKK per person each way from the machine, but a kind local told us to buy a “10 trip card” for 225DKK – so we’ll use 8 of these and still save around half. The train was clean, punctual, quick and actually very good – free wifi and TV on board – well ahead of UK.
Copenhagen is a must see place as there are many things to see and enjoy and plenty to keep you occupied and interested for a fair few days or long weekend city-break. But in our view it doesn’t rate up there with London/Rome/Berlin/Dredsen/Budapest – it lacks as many wow factors as these and is nowhere near as photogenic. That said the only disappointment we had, which we were prepared for as its supposed to be naff anyway, was the statue of “The Little Mermaid”. However we were disappointed that it actually wasn’t there – it was on holiday in Shanghi without even a model left in place. You could see it via live video stream though!
Our first day was a lot of walking, into the town hall to see the world clock (don’t bother), down the tacky-ish Stroget shopping street, down Nyhaven the very pretty canal/harbour/restaurant street, then up to the reasonably impressive Marble Church (or not – but impressive internal dome) and the Fredriksstaden square, then up to the Frihedsmuseet – the museum of the Danish WW2 resistance. This was a very interesting place and explained the bizarre situation in Denmark – worth popping in (free). Then to Kassellet then back through the parks though we could not get into the Botanical garden. The Kongens Have gardens were fun with lots of funny statues and art, one of a mole, and of course H C Anderson. We made it through the docks and went to the Old Saviour church. Mels idea as there is a huge steeple you can climb on the outside. In the wind and rain this was rather interesting and she wished she kept her mouth shut! Think she kept her eyes closed and hung on for dear life! (Actually – it was a bit uncomfortable!). There was also an atrocious “band/rapper” at Slotsholmen who embarrassingly were from London. A huge amount for a day, so a good nights sleep was earned!
For our second day we covered the bits we missed, round the university and cathedral (the latter being the most boring from any capital city!) then to Orsteds Parken which was sealed off by the Police/Army – but it looked nice from outside. Then over to the Frederiksberg Have down to the Carlsberg visitor centre. Incidentally, the Gamle Carslbergveg road outside the visitors centre is wide, free, and unlimited parking, so ideal for day or even a sneaky overnight park. The visitor centre tour probably wasn’t the best brewery tour in the world but the beers were nice at the end. They did have a replica of the Little Mermaid though which was good and filled that gap for us. If Carlsberg made shop assistants, they’d all look like the stunning one in the shop. Yum. Mel was more interested in her cat though. From here we ventured through to the red light area and then finally over to Tivoli.
Tivoli is a fun place though I’d need to go with someone other than Mel (should’ve got the Carlsberg girls number!), as Mel was almost ill just by looking at some of the rides. Some were rather extreme looking and looked rather fun. Outside there was music, bands and other entertainment with many eateries. Well worth a visit though we opted not to stay for the apparently impressive fireworks as we were walked out and bit knackered.
The following morning, we headed to Køge which had an interesting old town with some old buildings, but not much else to note, so we then headed off into the quiet areas along country roads and found Vallo – a very pretty moated “castle” with lovely grounds, you can’t get into the castle but the grounds are well worthy of a picnic or afternoon stroll. Driving deeper down the quiet roads we passed through many a pretty place and we ended up in Rodvig and found a lovely place for the night – a spur that gave panoramic views – white cliffs, sea and beach to our left, sea and fishing ahead, and marina and harbour to our right. Rodvig gives the impression of a genuine working fishing village, very quiet and quirky, but interesting and non touristy enough to have an evening here. A few restaurants and nice cafe are along the marine where we had some beer and some smorrebrod, the traditional Danish meal, whilst not feeling like a tourist.
So week 6 ended pretty much in a perfect touring scenario – great place; great food; superb views and of course, great company!