The tourist guide tells you that, to blend in with the locals, you should wait for the green man when crossing the road. It does not say that you need to be tall and blonde with broad shoulders and very pale blue eyes. So with our cameras around our necks and map in hand we went forth to explore Denmark looking every inch the tourist!
Up until now, if I thought about Denmark at all, I thought about Danish bacon, Vikings, flat landscapes and of course 'that Mermaid', but more about her later. My ideas about the country were not too far from the mark.
We flew in to Aarhus at lunchtime and drove straight to the Moesgaard Museum to get a couple of hours there before it closed. As you can see from the picture the museum does not impose itself on the landscape and there are great views of the surrounding countryside from the roof.
The museum is most well known for its bog bodies of which many have been found in this part of the world but there was also a temporary Chinese exhibition of terracotta warriors.
Silkeborg museum.Open only at weekends!
Next we made our way to Silkeborg. The main attraction here was another museum. It is this museum which houses Tollund Man, one of the best preserved bog bodies in Europe, that Gilly was particularly keen to see. Unfortunately we arrived to discover that the museum was only open at weekends!
Silkeborg is a small town with a parade of shops and a picturesque stretch of river but seemed to have little else to commend it to visitors. We had a mediocre meal in an overpriced Italian/Mexican restaurant.
We had heard that Jelling was a quaint medieval village so that was our next stop.
Jelling is said to be the birthplace of Christianity in Denmark. The church is set between two burial mounds and within the area of a symbolic Viking ship burial site which has been marked out with white stones. Again we were met with a closed museum, this one closed for renovation, so after a quick look around the village we moved on to Vejle (pronounced Vile).
The next morning we drove almost as far as the German border for Gilly to visit a former concentration camp. Those of you who know Gilly will know that this is an essential part of any European holiday!
A perimeter watch tower at Froeslev.
Froeslev was unusual in that it was run by the Danish not the Germans. The Danish government insisted that all prisoners remained in the country which meant that they had more control over the conditions in the camp. This agreement continued until the Nazis took over the running of the camp in 1943, when conditions worsened and the political prisoners were removed to death camps in Germany and elsewhere.
Inside one of the barracks.
At the end of the war the camp was re-named Faarhus and was used to house German prisoners of war.
Today the barrack blocks have been renovated or rebuilt and half the site has been given over to a school. The other half is an eclectic mix of museums. Some of the barracks form a museum dedicated to this site; others are taken over by such institutions as the UN and The Royal Danish Navy.
FroslevA view of the camp from the central watch tower.
Above is a view of the camp from the top of the central watch tower. Original buildings are painted brown, reconstructions are painted red and hedges mark out the place where some barracks were demolished and have not been re-built.
The next major stop on our tour was the Viking museum and ship burial at Ladby where I got talking to one of the craftsmen who were constructing a Viking ship using traditional methods, tools and materials.
A short walk from the museum was a burial mound which contained the excavated remains of a Viking ship. The remains are preserved behind glass in a controlled environment.
We moved on to another Viking museum at Roskilde where several ships had been found at the harbour mouth. It is thought they had been deliberately sunk as a kind of blockade against invasion.
We finally dumped the hire car and spent a few days just exploring Copenhagen.
Our first stop was at the picturesque Nyhavn where we spent a pleasant hour soaking up the atmosphere with a sandwich and a drink before taking a boat trip around the harbour.
Back on dry land and we found this graffiti wall. The little doors are all painted black on one side and coloured on the other so you can flip them to make a new design. I confess I thought that this was a great idea. Graffiti wall in Copenhagen.
In the centre of Copenhagen there are 5 streets collectively known as Stroget; this is the main shopping area and is totally pedestrianized. At the heart of this area is the Rundetaarn (round tower) which has some interesting architecture.
RundetarnInside the round tower.
. . . and some great views from the top.
In the park we found one of Copenhagen's most famous past residents, Hans Christian Andersen.
The guards outside the palace are very smart but not as disciplined as those in London. This one even smiled for the camera.
I had been warned to expect to be disappointed by the Little Mermaid. Apparently the locals cringe at the mention of her and even the travel guide says that tourists shrug and say "is that it?" at first sight of this 'small underwhelming' statue.
Personally I failed to be disappointed. The statue is about life-size, as I expected. Although, as I had seen photos of her, I did expect her to command pride of place at the main entrance to the port instead of being tucked away in a corner, but love her or hate her she is the most photographed object in Denmark.
I saw these two walking in the evening sun and thought it made an attractive picture.
On a morning walk I spotted a little girl playing around some statues so I sat back to see if she did anything interesting and was rewarded with this shot.
Above: Two views looking back down the spiral staircase. At the top the stairs narrowed to nothing.
Once again the views from the top made the climb worth while.
A rooftop viewed from above.
These open sandwiches in the market made for a very tasty lunch.
Copenhagen has a laid back atmosphere and some great museums, all in all this was an interesting and very enjoyable trip.
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