Friday, 29 August 2008

One Day, In Denmark

When I think of the Danes, I tend to imagine tall, shiny people positively radiating health and vitality, good-looking rather than beautiful and generally jolly. 24 hours in Denmark largely confirmed the stereotype, although admittedly, they're not all tall. But in the short time we were there, we were made to feel welcome (in English, good old Scandinavia), well cared-for (the campsite we stayed in was one of the most spectacularly equipped we've experienced so far) and despite the gloomy, drizzly weather, there was no denying a general sense of bonhomie.

We were also relieved to discover that Denmark isn't quite as heinously expensive as we'd feared. Fuel is no pricier than anywhere else, the campsite costs are the higher end of average (but still cheaper than Switzerland), toilets tend to be free to use and very clean (you usually have to pay between 30 and 50 cents to have a Jimmy in Germany) and it's very kind to the motorist. Service stations and picnic areas are plentiful, both on the motorways and the trunk roads. If you want to eat out, smoke or drink alcohol, costs can prove a bit hefty, but we kept our outgoings modest to non-existent in that area and spent well under half our five hundred Krone when we re-crossed the border with Deutschland. There are about 7.4 Krone to one Euro, if you want to do the maths.

As we only had a day, we took ourselves to Ribe, Denmark's oldest town and only a few hours drive from where we'd been staying with Theo's old school friend, Franzisca and her boyfriend, Henning in Kiel. Even the persistent light rain couldn't destroy Ribe's charm, sitting as it does on a small river, complete with small dams and weirs (I was going to describe the river as dammed and weired, but decided that was unfair). We saw diminutive, part-timbered houses, chocolate-box streets, a pond area a-quack with ducks and a rather splendid cathedral.

Theo and I have visited more churches and cathedrals than I can easily count on our travels so far. Mainly because they tend to be the most beautiful buildings in which you can still wander for free. The cathedral in Ribe was not only a looker in terms of its gorgeously decorated pillars and ceilings and intricately carved pulpit, but it had arrestingly combined the ancient, Romanesque characteristics with some eye-catching modern art. Expressionistic mosaics, stained glass windows and frescoes surrounded a monolithic, almost Bauhaus altar. We agreed it was the grooviest cathedral we'd visited.

Pausing only to buy a couple of Ribe Bolle - a type of local Danish pastry - we pointed Sheena south and towards the town that once dominated the Hanseatic league, before being overtaken by the likes of Hamburg and Amsterdam. But the main reason I was looking forward to Lubeck was because I'd heard it was famous for making excellent marzipan. I really must go on a diet once this trip is over. Meanwhile, BRING IT ON.

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