Family Trip #10

The tourists are coming!

We decided to squeeze in a quick mini vacation before all the tourists, mainly Germans, started to stream into the country. My family escaped to south Zealand, the island that is home to Copenhagen.

We picked this location for a few different reasons. It was an ideal location for its distance from Camp Adventure, a motorcycle museum and Møns Klint. We also wanted to try an area of Denmark we hadn’t been before.

We arrived late Friday afternoon at Bakkebølle strand. It is basically just a little community of summerhouses. Unfortunately, this home did not give us a wonderful view of the ocean. It gave us a swing set full of bird feces, dog hair covered rooms and a strange squeaking noise in the attic. I consider myself an easy person to please but if you can’t tell, we were a bit disappointed with what we walked into.

So we escaped to the beach. We walked though a meadow full of tall grass and multiple mowed paths. I could hardly see Claire’s head bobbing ahead of us from path to path.

When we arrived to the beach, we ran into some skinny dippers and gracefully steered the girls to the other side of the beach. It was pretty rocky and chilly so we didn’t stay long.

We got back to the cabin and started a warm fire in the fireplace. We played a game of Tumble. Tumble has basically the same concept as Jenga except there is a dice and shapes on the blocks. The dice tells you how many blocks to pull or which shape to pull. It was the girls’ favorite game all weekend.

Saturday we spent the morning at the cabin. We took another hike down to the beach. We ran into some morning bathers but this time, they had swimwear on. There wasn’t a clear path to walk on the beach so we really didn’t hang out there long. But it did have a gorgeous view of the bridge that connected Zealand to Falster, Lolland and the many other islands.

We cleaned the house a bit then ate lunch before heading to Stubbekøbing Motocykel og Radiomuseum.
My husband is a gear-head and he really misses his motorcycles back in the USA. He was very excited to check out this museum.
We arrived there just around one. The man at the desk tried to speak Danish with us. We got the idea of what he was trying to say so we were able to understand what we needed to do.
There were signs pointing which way to go. We were to move unidirectional (arrows pointed the way) and hand sanitizer was located at the front. The girls and I made our way across the top floor before finding the kids table. We spent the rest of the time there playing with puzzles, coloring and looking at Danish comics. (Donald Duck in Denmark is Anders And.) So the below pictures are mainly of the top floor.

Downstairs had a few less motorcycles. There were mopeds, scooters and the radio area downstairs. I didn’t spend much time down there but we did snag a quick picture of the girls on a motorcycle.

The girls left with balloons and we decided to make our way down to the harbor and check out the sights.
It was a windy day so the harbor was a bit chilly. But it was not too chilly for ice cream. I mean…this pose.

While eating our ice cream, we watched the ferry come into the harbor and leave. Ferries are very common throughout Denmark and still run despite bridges that have been constructed to connect most of the islands.

After a brief swing at the nearby playground, we decided to go for a walk in the forest. However, we soon discovered that the forest was a private forest and I couldn’t find a public parking area (data on phone was dropping out). Avery was cranky so we made a quick stop in this tiny town next to the coast. The houses in Hesnæs were adorable! They had the thatched roof but many even had thatched siding. With the flowers climbing up the side, they were so cute!

The beach looked nice and sandy but unfortunately, a LOT of seaweed had washed up on the shore. A LOT. And it STUNK. The seaweed must have been there for a while as it was obviously decaying. It smelled like rotten eggs. I felt bad for the residents of the town. Claire and I did a quick walk to the harbor then turned around very quickly to escape the smell. After that, we decided to just call it a day.

Sunday we made the longest drive of the weekend to Møns Klint (Møn’s cliff). I had seen many pictures of it and knew it was a must see of Denmark.

We arrived just after 10 AM. We obviously were not the only ones who decided that Sunday was a perfect weather day to see Møns Klint. The parking lot at the GeoCenter was filling up when we arrived at opening.
The GeoCenter is a museum along with a theater. We decided to bypass the movies and just stick to the museum. It was an excellent museum. There were hands on exhibits with lots of history (along with hand sanitizer). It showcased fossils that had been found on the island and around the cliff; how the chalk cliffs were created; the formation of the flint in the cliffs and so much more. There were so many little hands on activities for the girls that they were entertained most of the time. We found out how many products are made of lime, solved a dinosaur mystery and played in water.
Claire had started the day saying she didn’t want to go and that it would be boring to go to this museum. She had changed her tune significantly by the time we left to have lunch

After our picnic, it was time to see the cliffs. We decided to try a round trip view of the cliffs and Claire decided which direction to go first; left! Onward we went.

No joke, the cliffs are high. Many parts did not have a railing and it was obvious that parts of the cliff had caved into the ocean. So this momma was a bit nervous walking on the top of the cliff. Claire was yelled at multiple times for jumping around close to the edge and Avery fell while running. Not the most enjoyable part of the trip for us BUT the views were stunning.

After that stressful walk, we made it to the stairs to go down. So. Many. Stairs. Traversing it with kids was not entirely easy but I would still say it was safer than the top of the cliff. It did take us a long time to make it down with the many stops on the various benches along the staircase to take a break.

But the view at the bottom quickly made us forget the stairs!

The beach was lined with perfectly rounded, flint stones. Chalk from the cliffs had also made its way down to the beach. The girls enjoyed picking up stones and drawing on them with the chalk. I found the perfect Little Mermaid type rock!

We walked along the beach enjoying the views, the sounds of the ocean and grabbed a snack on one of the many tree stumps that had tumbled down to the beach. The winds were also much calmer down at the beach so it made for a lovely walk.

The below pictures shows a flint line that was created in the cliffs.

You can see several flint lines in this picture too.

We finally made our way to the other staircase of Møns Klint. We had to cross over an area covered in seaweed and my toes were drenched by the time we reached the stairs. But it did offer the best view of Møns Klint.

Just stunning!

Up the stairs we went. I had a little passenger on my back for some of it in hopes to speed up the walk but alas, I could not make it. So we had to slowly climb the rest of the way back up (500+ stairs).

When we made it to the top, we were exhausted and very proud of ourselves.

We made the unanimous decision that we needed ice cream; homemade ice cream at a local dairy on Møn. We had seen signs advertising it in it’s windows but we decided to go to the actual dairy it was made.
There was a long (distancing) line when we arrived but it was worth the wait. I had strawberry-rhubarb and coffee flavored. Delicious!

After ice cream, we started driving back to the cabin. We grabbed a quick picture from the top of a hill and marveled how the area farmers get a wonderful views while working their fields.

The next day we made our way to Camp Adventure. Camp Adventure is another highly advertised must see of Denmark. It has the Forest Tower which is a 45 meter high viewing tower. It looks over the treetops to the landscape of south Zealand. It’s made of steel and oak. Very safe.
There is also the option of zip-lining and tree climbing through the park but with a 4 year old we decided to skip that.

We arrived at the park just after 10 AM. There were a decent amount of folks arriving as well. We reached the entrance and started our trek to the tower.
The scenery was…alright. There wasn’t any grand entrance to the sea or streams like we had seen in other natural parks in Denmark. But the husband and I both agreed that it was nice to walk on boardwalk instead of gravel/dirt/grass.

After maybe 15 minutes, we arrived at the tower. It certainly looked impressive towering over the trees. The design is eye catching too.

We briefly took it in then made our way up it.

I was honestly doing great until Avery grabbed the side of the railing and I looked over the edge with her. Big mistake for someone who is a tad scared of heights. Never look down!
After another level, I was beginning to feel a bit dizzy and sick. So I had to say goodbye to the family and make my way back down, slightly disappointed.
When I reached the bottom, I looked back up for my family. They were coming down as well. I guess the girls felt scared of heights too (which I suspect may have had to do with me walking down).
The girls and I parked ourselves on the benches next to the tower as my husband made his way back to the top. He was fearless and grabbed this picture:

The girls and I spent the time searching for daddy and waving at a little girl who looked for us every time she did a 360 around the tower. The girls had a lot of fun spotting her and waving really big.
When the husband reached the bottom, we headed back to the entrance. It wasn’t a very long walk. It did take us through more of the tree top adventure, a creek with a circular sitting area and a glamping park in construction.
When we made it off the boardwalk, we ran into a little climbers park. This is where the girls had the most fun of the day. They enjoyed climbing up and down, swinging on the zip-line and chasing each other around.

If you’re in Denmark or thinking of traveling here, is Camp Adventure worth a stop?
Honestly, I would pass. Unless you have kids old enough to do both the tower and treetop adventure, it’s not worth it. Denmark has so many natural wonders to behold, lighthouses scattered across the coasts, castles and Copenhagen. I would see those before this.

After our picnic, we traveled into town to do a little shopping (groceries and thrift stores). We happily found a nice fountain to cool off in before calling it a day.

Tuesday we made our way back home.
We decided to go a different way this time. Instead of taking the big bridge, we decided to grab a ferry.
But first, we made a few pit stops.
I had seen a news article about a 2-acre lupine field on the island of Lolland. I noticed multiple wild lupines blooming around the area so I decided we needed to stop. I was able to find it’s location on Google maps and it was our first stop.

It was stunning. The colors. The smells. The sounds from all the pollinators. Definitely a good stop on our travels home.

We then headed 30 minutes directly north of this location to check out Dodekalitten.
Dodekalitten is a circle of sculptures along with music that look over Småland waters (north Lolland coast). It is still a work in progress and I thought it would be neat to see.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any parking directly next to the sculptures. We only found parking next to the harbor and a path leading to the monument. It was a 1.3 km (0.8 mile) walk. After eating our picnic, we realized we would not be able to catch the ferry we needed if we walked all the way to the sculptures. So this is all we got to see:

Maybe another time…

Happily, we did make it plenty early for our ferry.
It was my first ferry. I tend to get motion sickness very easily so I was a little worried. But after only two minutes (and me getting out of my head), I was able to enjoy the ride. It was a gorgeous day so while the kids stayed in the kids area (they were the only ones on board), the husband and I enjoyed the view outside on the deck. We eventually persuaded the girls to check it out and they enjoyed it as well. We saw many small boats and even large tankers. It was a pleasant experience EXCEPT for my youngest saying she had to go potty when they started telling everyone to return to their cars. That was a mad dash! We made it back to our car JUST as they were lowering the front to let us out…

We made it back home just before supper and were happy and exhausted.

We only saw a fraction of what south Zealand and the southern islands have to offer but it was good to get away. Avery’s favorite part was the flowers and ice cream. Claire loved the Geocenter. The parents loved Møns Klint. We all had a good time on our mini Denmark vacation together.

Q&A

I’m sitting here at a car workshop waiting to get the oil changed on our car so I figured it’s a good time to tackle some of these questions a few of you have had. Maybe even throw a couple more in…

One of the most frequent questions I get is about the weather. What is the weather like in Denmark? How does it differ from the Midwest?

The main difference: extremes in temperature. Denmark lacks the extremes or roller coaster type weather that we get in the Midwest. In the Midwest, we can have thunderstorms one day then snow the next. An 80 degree high one day and 40 degree high all in the same week. That does not happen here. This is all thanks to the fact Denmark is small and surrounded by ocean. The ocean currents keep the temperatures fairly steady. We have just seen a gradual increase in highs over the past couple of weeks heading into summer. The winter highs rarely get below freezing and the summer highs tend to be below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
But that doesn’t mean the weather forecasting is easy here. Temperatures might not be too difficult but forecasting rain is. Again because of the abundant amount of moisture in that ocean next to us, there is a chance of rain nearly every day it seems. Even when the forecast says 10% chance, we’ll likely have a quick downpour. We have a good amount of dreary days as well, especially in the winter. The winters here are very comparable to the Pacific Northwest. A HUGE lack of sun.
Happily, the sun is back and I’m really seeing Denmark wake up.

Another question I’ve gotten is about prices on goods and how stores look here.

European vs American Paper Towels

Stores here are very similar to the USA. They are smaller. You do not see a Walmart sized store in every town but there is a store called Bilka that is probably the most similar to Walmart. It has it all; electronics, food, clothing, garden supplies, etc. Shopping malls are also scattered across the country and are actually thriving unlike malls in the US (at least before COVID-19).
Prices depend on the goods. Fresh produce seems to be very comparable to the US. Just like the US, produce is cheaper when you buy in season. There are also a lot of roadside produce stands that sell potatoes, strawberries, flowers and apples. I really enjoy picking up fresh fruit during the summer.
Sweets and alcohol are a bit more expensive. There is a higher tax called the “sugar tax”. A kilo of chocolate or sweets is subjected to a $3.25-4 tax depending on the sugar content. It’s seen as a way to curb obesity and is also the reason many Danes cross the German border to obtain sweets. Alcohol on the other hand is subjected to a $7.49 tax per liter of 100% alcohol. So good wine is a bit more expensive here…
I know clothing is more expensive here but I really don’t have a great handle on it. I rarely buy new clothes. I mainly shop at the second hand stores if I’m in need of clothes. If I do need new clothes, I typically go to H&M as it is a cheaper option and they are also located throughout much of Denmark. Or I use pricerunner.dk which compares different prices at different stores.
There really aren’t many “dollar stores” here. There are a few companies that do sell cheaper items but they are small and their product is constantly changing.

Speaking of food (I’m gettin hungry), one question I got was about seafood. Is it readily available?

Yes, at least much more available than it is in the Midwest. We have fish at least once a week. Claire loves salmon now (still working on Avery). Smoked fish is also very popular and we found a variety we like in Rømø .
The husband went oyster hunting last fall and there are also shrimp tours that occur in the spring/summer. There is even a meal box company that specializes in fish meals for costumers.

Taxes. That is another question I get.

How high are taxes in Denmark?

High. Denmark is a welfare state. The income tax rate is 12.16% for the lower bracket (income above $6,794.02) and 15% for upper bracket (income above $75,499). One that really tends to shock folks is the tax on a new car. Vehicle registration tax is 150% for cars newer than 2017. This is likely the reason why many Danes bike or live very close to work…
There are also many different taxes that I don’t have the knowledge or experience on. Wikipedia has a great breakdown if you’re interested.

What do Danes think about this?

We’ve talked to a handful of Danes about the taxes. Like Americans, they are resourceful in finding loop holes or cross the border to Germany to avoid the high tax.
However, all have stated they don’t mind paying higher taxes than other countries. The reason? They know they are taken care of. Danes have free (or subsidized) childcare, education (through college level), healthcare and assistance if they should become unemployed.
The maternity leave policy here is absolutely outstanding. Parents can receive a total of 52 weeks of paid leave from the government. Few families have to decide between a career and raising a family due to childcare costs. Therefore, most members of the household work. A stay at home mom is sort of seen as an abnormality.
Are there issues with the system? Of course. There may be longer waits for healthcare in bigger cities. You are not allowed to see a specialist unless your GP refers you which means you may have to fight more for your health. You can change doctors but it costs a fee (you typically stay with the one in your municipality). The emergency room is only for true emergencies and you must call ahead.
My experience has been small here but it has all been pleasant so far. Our doctor has happily talked English to us. We have made same day appointments (one including pulling a bead out of a screaming toddler’s nose). We have called the on call doctor in the evening to get a next day appointment at an urgent care. It has all been pretty seamless…so far.

What is driving like in Denmark?

Just like Iowa; or should I say we drive on the same side. This is not Britain. The terrain is the same and you pretty much just need to learn the signs so you know exactly what they’re telling you.

I was asked if we visited Tivoli. Twice: here and here.

I was also asked about the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen. It is probably one of Denmark’s most famous statues and has been vandalized many times. Her head has been sawed off twice, she has lost an arm and she’s been painted on several times. The latest vandalism was to show support for Hong Kong.

I was also asked if COVID-19 is widespread through Denmark. It is widespread in Copenhagen and its island. As of today (6/8) the border remains partially closed. German, Norwegian and Icelander tourist may now visit Denmark if they can prove an overnight stay of at least 6 nights. They are not allowed to stay in Copenhagen.
Schools are open completely and businesses are opening as well. The assembly ban has been raised from 10 to 50. Everything has strong restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. You can check out all my lock down posts for our experience with the lock down.

And the final and likely most frequent question: how long are you staying in Denmark?

We will be here for at least another year. Our visa allows us to be here for a total of five. So somewhere in between…