HOW I PLAN MY DESTINATIONS..
I do have a sort of itinerary for my year out with Peter, my campervan. A general guideline for which countries I hope to visit when, but there are no fixed locations or dates. I mostly travel spontaneously as I go, following recommendations, signs and intuition.
Denmark was not on the list but a lastminute detour after Hamburg.
I drove to Hamburg after accidentally finding myself in one of the most beautiful villages in the World, Bourtange (Netherlands) I spent a couple of days here and I was lucky to catch a local themed festival held in the gorgeous old fort, built in the late 1590s in the shape of a star!
While in Hamburg, I didn’t stay in my van. One of my friends’ sweet daughters was so keen to give up her cosy, bright-coloured bedroom for me, which gave her the perfect excuse to tuck in with her adored big sis for a few nights. I had such a lovely time. We celebrated Halloween together and I got to taste their yummy traditional pumpkin soup!
I visited this city before and I love it, especially its busy harbour. On this trip I had my bicycle, which made it all feel even more homely and familiar. Northern European countries make cycling so easy and enjoyable, even through busy centres.
So what made me head North instead of starting my decent towards the South?
The answer is simple: More friends.
I am blessed to know amazing people all over Europe and I hope to meet up with as many as I can on this journey (watch out you all!). So, when I received two separate invitations to meet in Denmark, I had to go.
An Italian friend recently moved to Aarhus for work and another dear friend, based in Stockholm (too far out for me on this trip) suggested meeting at a half-way point: Copenhagen.
WHAT HAPPENED IN DENMARK, STAYS IN THIS BLOG
I enjoyed the long drive to Copenhagen, especially across the 18km Storebaelt bridge.
On arrival, I settled in a nice campsite, West of the city, from where I could easily cycle to the main spots.
The next day, my friend was due to fly in from Stockholm but when he got to check-in, he realised he accidentally booked for the following week. Ouch! We laughed it off and agreed to catch up at another of my roadtrip destinations.
I absolutely adored Copenhagen. So much so I even looked up courses on positive psychology that I could perhaps attend here after vanlife. It’s so pretty and they have great cycling paths. I visited the Nyhavn canals, met The Little Mermaid, slurped on a giant hot chocolate at Tivoli gardens, browsed around Christiana and otherwise enjoyed my favourite pastime: spending hours at cool cafés, writing while watching the world go by.
In terms of cafes, I sat at Palae Pilestraede in the inner city (Indre By) and Paludan, right by the University. Here is where I met a lovely Italian who recommended a stop in Helsingor, North-East. Why not?
The drive up from Copenhagen to Helsingor, along route 152, must look amazing in day-time. Sadly, by the time I was ready to leave, it was already dark. I missed the scenic views but I could still admire the luxury mansions and villas, lit up along the way. A cycling lane follows the entire coastline. To be considered for when I return. Day-time!
Thanks to my usual lack of preparation, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Helsingor homes the famous Shakespeare’s Hamlet castle. What a treat. I pitched up right by the harbour, so when I opened the back doors the next morning, while the sun was rising and I was still in bed, I was greeted by a memorable view of the sea, Sweden on the other side and to my right, the castle itself. Here’s a video of it:
I spent a couple of days exploring this lovely port city and one afternoon I hopped on a quick 20-minute ferry across to Helsinborg (Sweden) for an afternoon of leisure: a long lunch, a prayer at the local church and a relaxing pedicure.
After Helsingor I continued North-West where I hoped to ride some scenic routes but didn’t, due to rain (yes, again) and (key factor) a punctured tyre. Instead I enjoyed a few days of writing and on coaching commitments before making my way to Aarhus.
The trip to Aarhus included taking a not-so-cheap ferry from Sjaellands Odde that takes 1h15m. My bad for not buying in advance. I love boats but the weather was still too grey and misty for me to enjoy any views.
In Aarhus I was treated to a great home-cooked Italian dinner, courtesy of my friend and the next day we walked around the city centre. I got to try their reasonably new tram system and perfectly-timed buses before I finally resolved my tyre puncture. However because of the clouds still hanging over my head, like they do over the Adam’s family car, I didn’t get to ride my bicycle until I reached Ribe, Denmark’s oldest town. Its cobblestone streets date from late 9th century!
Ribe was another spontaneous stop, c. 150km South-West of Aarhus. A picturesque gem, a stone throw from the Wadden sea. I loved wandering around this medieval town and at this time of year, the old streets were all mine. Empty. The camping site here was also one of the best I stayed in so far.
On the day I decided to drive back to Germany, to another recommendation called Schwerin, I wanted to fit in two more cool stops in Denmark: A drive across to Mando, which is only possible on low tide, and make it to Romo, where there’s a sandy beach so wide and flat, you can drive right up to the water edge.
I did make it to the seabed-turned-road to Mando, but I chickened out half-way, worried I wouldn’t make it back within low tide. What a unique place! If you find yourself in this area, it’s definitely worth a visit. I did however make it all the way to the Lakolk beach in Romo. Another wow experience, despite the grey, windy conditions. On a bright sunny day, this natural spot must look insanely beautiful. It’s a hot spot during warmer seasons, I hear. Oh the joy driving Peter Van along the widest beach I had ever seen in my life, and parking up just a couple of meters from the sea.
Denmark, I’m so glad I met you!