The big road trip where all of Denmark is covered in 7 days or less......no, not quite. But we did cover a fair amount of the Home country in the 7 days we had the car. And a nice car it was as well! We spent a couple of extra dollars as we knew we would be picking up brother Ken and his wife Linda approx a week after we had been in Denmark and take them to the Island of Aero with us, so extra leg room and luggage room was required. The Audi A6 Wagon fit the bill almost perfectly .....almost.... it was just a suitcase or two too small for four of us, but for the few hours we were all in the car we managed.
TIP: you can click on any picture to make the pictures full size.....by doing so you get the full magic!
Grab a coffee folks, I've got a lot to tell you... :)
Annette and I picked up the car in Copenhagen on Day Two and motored to the eastern shoreline of East Zealand and then followed the coast north to Helsingor. This is a beautiful drive with wonderful views of the ocean looking east across the water to Sweden. It is evident that this is one of the old rich areas as many older, stately mansions or large summer homes are located along the shore road. This was the route recommended by the rental car clerk and his suggestion was ideal. The "royalty" we seen along this stretch of road put is in the right mood for our first destination - Kronborg Castle.
The castle's history dates back to the 1420's when a stronghold named Krogen was first built overlooking the narrowest part of the Oresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden that acts as a gateway to the Baltic Ocean. At the time, Denmark controlled the area of Sweden across the sound, and with a stronghold built on either side of the sound, King Eric VII extracted a levy for ships passing through the sound. From 1574 to 1585 King Frederick II had the stronghold radically transformed into a magnificent Renaissance castle. This marvellous castle became the model for Elsinore in Shakespeare's play Hamlet
here for you to view. (HINT - right click on the mouse and select "Open In A New Tab" so you don't lose your place on the story page)
We enjoyed visiting Kronborg Castle as it was on Annette's bucket list of places to see in Denmark, plus it is a Unesco World Heritage Site - by the time we would finish our trip to Scandinavia we would see 7-8 Unesco sites....that in itself was worth the trip to Europe.
After visiting the castle we made our way to a hotel located on a small estate in a small town north of Helsingor. The hotel was not quite as it was advertised, and we were a bit disappointed in it as were under the impression we would be staying in a room in the "estate"...instead we were put in a room in a wing that was built many years ago as an add-on for the conference groups the hotel seeks to attract. Food was good, the hotel liked to think of itself as a 4 star location.....the food was 4 star but the other parts?...not so much.
We woke up to a sunny and warm day, knowing that the weather could change in 10 minutes and indeed it did many times, but we weren't going to let that stop us. Next on our places to see is Frederiksborg Slot, or Castle, close by in the town of Hillerod
The oldest part of the Frederiksborg castle dates back to 1560 when the original structure was built by Frederick II; most of the current castle was constructed by Christian IV between 1602 and 1620. The castle has been used for many purposes over the years...it has seen many royal coronations, anointments, and proclamations in its life. It has also been used as a Knight's Chapel, it houses the Royal Danish art collection, and been the royal residence of King Frederick VII. These days it houses various art collections and is itself a royal treasure on display for the Danish people.
Like many castles, fire has ravaged Frederiksborg - only the Royal Chapel was untouched by a major fire in December of 1869, and the magnificent wooden benches and framework still caries the chapel's beauty for all to see.
The beauty of the castle itself, it's art work, and it vast gardens would take way too much time to write about here.....but I have created a separate photo album located here. for you to view the pictures of the castle
(HINT - right click on the mouse and select "Open In A New Tab" so you don't lose your place on the story page)
Having seen two castles in two days, in was time to start eating up some ground and make a quick run to the north-east tip of Zealand so we could catch the ferry across the water to Aarhus.
The ferry route is a busy one and is _the_ major passage way from Zealand to Jutland in this corner of the country, as such reservations are highly recommended...so naturally we did not bother with reservations. 300 cars or so were lined up, 280 of them had reservations, we were in the group of 20 that did not. As you can see we made it on the ferry, and we were the last ones to get on....proving once again that old Mexican adage of "we don't need no steenken reservations"!
Once on board we joined the other passengers in the sitting rooms to watch Zealand fade away and to pass the time waiting for Jutland and Arrhus to arrive ahead of us out of the mist. We spent most of the ferry ride talking to a grandmother and grandfather and their grand kids whom were on their way to spend some time at a retreat on Jutland. I think they enjoyed talking to the "foreigners" as much as we enjoyed talking to them and discovering some tidbits about each others countries.
We booked a night at the hotel in downtown Aarhus so we would be close to most things should we decide to go for a walk, which we did the first night we were there. Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark with 314,000 people, and it has the youngest population of all Danish cities thanks to Aarhus being a university city But historically it's one of Denmark's oldest cities. And like many European cities, it is finding it's past again. Like the Stroget in Copenhagen, Aarhus has created a number of pedestrian streets that bring the people into the heart of the town. And at the heart of every city is a river, which helped to coin the city's name. Founded in the early Viking age, the site was a town as early as the 8th century. The ancient Danish "ar" meaning mouth and "oss" meaning river came together and by the year 1231 the name Aarhus was used to refer to the town.
The Aarhus River runs through the ancient heart of the city and was covered over during the 1930s to help with the burgeoning motor car traffic. It wasn't until 1996 and 1998 sections of the river were uncovered and turned into part of the treasured walkways that makes Aarhus so lively. This is an ideal cafe place to sit with a cup of strong coffee and people watch when the weather is nice.
Colorful and trendy artwork abounds in unexpected places and adds an element of whimsy and youthfulness to this ancient city. Public information signs help you discover Aarhus on your own and point the way to the pedestrian streets. One of the great little memories we have is walking into a department store bakery right at closing time and grabbing the last two pastries out of their showcase. It was the end of the day, night was falling, and we were hungry so we weren't going to complain about getting the left overs. We bit into them and oh my god, they were fantastic! We were going to run back and get some more but we realized we had scooped the last two...darn! What a fabulous treat we enjoyed as we strolled down the revitalized Stroget that showcased all that was right with Aarhus.