Farvel Denmark (and Germany), Until We Meet Again
This post marks the last days of our mini-tour in Denmark.
It feels surreal to be saying that, especially after all the prep work and time it took to get here. In some ways I’m ready to leave and yet in others I’m not. I’m travel-weary and longing to get back to the comforts of home, and yet I’m still excited to explore the country of my birth. What makes it even harder is that the sun is out again, so that sweet late-summer Danish weather is back.
Who ever said travel was easy, eh?
Our final days in Denmark are a blur of activity and driving. We stop for a few nights near Copenhagen in the most unusual campground we’ve experienced so far this trip, see more friends, and then plunge deep into the Danish countryside in search of my direct ancestors. We finish off with another zoom through Germany to a completely new country, and inch that much closer to home.
Almost there now, but I’ve got a few more tales to tell before we finish off this tour….
We Spend A Few Nights Near Copenhagen
Our final campground in Denmark is in an old fort just ~15 mins north of Copenhagen.
It’s a top-rated campground that’s very difficult to get into, mostly because of its prime location and very limited number of sites. I had to book Charlottelund Fort Camping almost a month in advance (the only place in Denmark I had to do that) and was only able to snag 2 nights for the princely sum of 300 DKK/night. Admittedly I was expecting something quite phenomenal.
The reality was perhaps a smidgen deflating.
The campground itself is certainly unique, located entirely inside 19th Century Charlottelund Fort. That also means its small and you’re surrounded by ramparts, so you have zero views except for high walls and battle guns. The sites are tight, you’re packed in together with tenters, and the only WiFi is inside the central lounge/facilities area (not accessible at all from the campsites). After so many weeks in camps with lots of space and awesome nature, I found it a little claustrophobic and difficult to adjust to. Perhaps I’ve become too much of a country girl?
On the upside the location is simply fantastic.
It’s right next to one of the most popular sandy beaches in North Copenhagen (Charlottenlund Strandpark), as well as a HUGE forest (Charlottenlund Skov) filled with hiking trails, both of which are fully dog-friendly (the forest even allows off-leash!). Plus it’s got one of the top-rated restaurants in the area (Restaurant Charlotte Lund Fort), located right on top of the Fort walls with fabulous views over the water. Apparently their Sunday brunch is delish. Best of all you’re biking distance to downtown Copenhagen, the perfect launch-point to explore the Capital City.
And to be honest that’s the main reason people clamor to come here.
It may not be a fancy campsite, but you’re definitely in a fancy location, and in a big city that counts for a lot. So, despite the tightness I think we’d chose this spot again if we were coming back to explore Copenhagen itself.
But We’re Not Here For The City, This Time
We’re not here to see Copenhagen, at least this time around (although it really is an awesome city to visit). We’re here to see a friend that I haven’t seen in many, many years. A Danish gal that I went to university with in CA who ended up marrying an American and then moving back to Denmark with him (plus kids!), coming full circle in her own way.
We catch up that very afternoon at their house, and when we see each other it’s like zero time has passed. We’re both still 25, and we pick up conversation exactly like we did back then, and Happy Hour too. They have a beautiful young pup, and initially Polly isn’t so sure what to make of this ridiculously-over-the-top-energetic thing. But after about 20 minutes or so of figuring out the hierarchy they start to get along, and by the end of our Happy Hour time Polly is quite enjoying herself.
That evening my friend introduces us to a super cool little place Værtshus Sankt Peder that’s a classic old-school Danish pub serving traditional beer & smørrebrød. We all sit outside and have a fabulous time eating and chatting until the wee hours of the morning. The perfect place with perfect company.
It was an awesome evening, but both Paul and I feel it the next morning (not quite the 25-year-olds we thought we were, after all LOL). We cancel all plans to explore and simply stay in LMB to rest and work.
Into The Countryside We Go
The next morning is departure day and our final drive in Denmark.
I have a specific goal in mind too, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My mothers side of the family were country folk who lived deep in the sticks of Zealand. They were hardy and strong, and lived off the land to ripe old ages, a testament to their hard work, good food and the strengthening effects of a shot of Snaps to start off the day. The latter was something my great-grandmother always swore by, a lady I was lucky enough to know growing up. She lived on her own in a house with no toilet (except an outdoor pit), and managed a huge garden, all quite happily until her early 90’s when she finally found it all a bit too much. She died at the age of 93, active up until practically the very end.
My goal was to find her grave, and the forest my mother grew up in, to pay my respects to both.
So we launch LMB into the interior of Zealand, on roads that narrowed progressively from freeway, to 2-lane roads to single-lane bumpy country paths. The landscape is rolling hills and farmland, interspersed with forest. There are small villages along the way, folks that like to live in peace and quiet, and the only car we see for an hour is a farmers tractor. I filter through childhood memories of driving here, the smell of oldemors baking, the taste of her raspberry jam. These are warm and fuzzy things.
When we see the church I recognize it right away, a fine red brick lady who overlooks the land. I have only vague memories of her burial site, so we go searching in the graveyard reading inscriptions on the headstones and trying to match dates. In the end its Paul finds her in a corner under an old oak tree, a peaceful and beautiful spot. It’s moving to be here, a strange sensation after so many years and I spend some minutes just soaking it all in. This is where oldemor lived and where she died after a simple, but full life. She never traveled outside of Denmark, never complained of her lot and never seemed to yearn for things she did not have.
Sometimes I wonder if our modern lives really are that much better?
After the church we go to the forest where my mother grew up, and walk with Polly one last time in the Danish woods. It’s serene and pretty, and a fitting end to our time in my homeland.
Another Zoom Through Germany
The next few days we embark on yet another zoom through Germany.
It’s a frantic pace compared to our last few months in Denmark so the days merge and I start to lose track of where we are.
First night is back in Flensburg, full circle from the beginning of summer. In some ways it’s nice to come back to a place you already know, where you don’t have to think about sites or guess what the facilities will be like. We choose a corner one, the biggest in the campground and pretty much just set-up, walk Polly, eat and fall asleep. It’s been a long day with many impressions, and the drive through Denmark has us beat.
The next day is another big drive, this time around Hamburg with traffic that is just as nightmarish as the last time we went through. It’s tense driving with trucks everywhere, seemingly no end of random roadworks and cars speeding by on the autobahn at crazy speeds. You’ve got to be on your toes constantly, watching for road barriers and planning well ahead every time you need to overtake a truck. By the time we reach the Stellplatz in Bunde we’re both exhausted again.
The motorhome parking area turns out to be a lovely and quiet little spot, next to a very cute little town. And it’s fab value at only 3 EUR per night (plus electric). We walk around town for a while with Polly, check out the interesting multi-color-brick houses and enjoy the church bells that ring enthusiastically at 6PM (end of work day, I guess?), but we don’t manage much more. Once again we’re so tired we simply eat and fall asleep.
Finally, A New Country
Our final drive is into a new country, at least for LMB. It’s her 5th country this trip and will be our last stop before we return to France.
Our Scandinavian mini-tour is winding down now, even though we’ve got a few more epic visits before we reach home. Denmark already seems like a long way away, and it’s giving me all kinds of mixed feels. It’s been an amazing summer, much better than I ever hoped for both weather-wise and in camping experiences. And in so many ways I wish we could have stayed longer and explored more. But travel is a thing of motion, as is life, and eventually everything must move on. So like all good things we say our fare wells and look forward to what comes next.
Farvel my dear Danmark, until we meet again again….