Staycations

I haven’t written in a while. It’s odd how I feel like it’s been a busy month yet looking at what we’ve done, we really haven’t done that much.

Here in Denmark all the ferries, museums and many other tourist attractions are at a huge reduced value. Public transportation is cheaper than usual. All of this is to try to get Danes to stay in Denmark during this pandemic. The border may be open to many in the European Union but a lot of Danes have decided to take full advantage of these deal.

My family, well, we have not. We’ve decided that public transportation is probably not the safest option and crowded museums don’t sound all that fun to us. Or maybe it’s because we don’t want to get sick before our one trip out of the country (coming soon). So we have been playing it fairly safe mainly staying around home. But we have ventured out to a few spots so I thought I could at least share those.

Our first trip took us to one of our favorite locations, the Lego House. We’ve been there multiple times but it is always a must with kids. To help prevent the spread of COVID, the number of guests allowed in has been reduced significantly. Hand sanitizer is everywhere and encouraged at every building station (even employees walk around with a Lego backpack of just sanitzer). The bricks are sprayed with disinfectant and employees are constantly cleaning. It was a short day but the girls had a great time (as always).

We then spent a wonderful day with friends of Avery’s class at Engelsholm Castle.

I don’t know much about the history of this castle but I can tell you it is definitely settled in a secluded, beautiful piece of Denmark. A lake is located to its west and it is surrounded by forest. It is currently a folk high school which I think means it offers specific college-type classes. Engelsholm appears to specialize in music and visual arts.

Wednesday, we jumped over to Odense. We ran some quick errands (one including my husband getting lost in Ikea) before we parked near the harbor. There was a carnival going on but we (the parents) decided to continue on walking around the harbor. We enjoyed a little bit of time taking in the sights of the harbor. There was some striking imagery near the North Atlantic House. And we found a little area for the girls to jump around. But before long we were reminded of Denmark’s always changing weather and it started to pour. Of course, we were prepared with waterproof gear and umbrellas but we decided to find some shelter.

We sheltered in Storms Pakhus.

Storms Pakhus is like a glorified food court. No McDonalds; local resturants. The girls were on the hunt for a bathroom and ice cream. Us parents were looking for drinks and good food. All of us were successful in finding what we were searching for. The girls got HUGE bowls of ice cream loaded with sprinkles; the husband found beer with fish and chips and I tried a burrito bowl with a glass of wine. Yum!

With full bellies, Avery played hopscotch for awhile before we headed back home.

Our next adventure brought us to the island of Mandø.

Mandø is a very unique island. 1) It is small. It only has an area of around 3 square miles. 2) It is located on the Wadden Sea, a national park and where the husband went oyster hunting last year. 3) It is only reachable by one road during low tide. You need to know the tide charts to visit this island. Companies also offer a tractor bus ride for tourists who want to just spend a day in Mandø. We went for this option.

We got to share the experience with some friends so as soon as we arrived, the girls were chatting and joking. The ride is a double-decker bus so, of course, all the children wanted to be on the top. As we started going, Avery did get a little chilly and I was happy she came to sit with me. Honestly, it was windy and her looking over the edge of the bus gave me the heebie jeebies. So she snuggled up right next to me.

The tide was definitely low when we went across the mainly one lane road. Many cars were traversing it as well as our tractor slowly crept towards the island. We saw sheep, cows and many flowers going in to Mandø.

When we reached the island, we headed straight for a picnic table for lunch. I mean my kids hadn’t eaten for like two hours. They were starving!

After lunch, we hit the beach. The beach was not very sandy or at least we didn’t venture very far to look. There appeared to be one portion where we were at that was protected by a bigger sandbar in the distance. We decided that the sandbar to the west was likely where the seals would be. Unfortunately, it was cold and we didn’t feel like traversing knee deep water to get to the sandy beach unsure if we’d actually see any seals. So we happily plopped down in one sandy-ish area and let the kids play.

Boy did they have fun! We all brought an extra pair of clothes which was a very good idea. The children were jumping around puddles, looking for crabs and other treasures along the shores. Avery sat down immediately and started digging in the sand. Claire waded out into the ocean as far as I would let her go. Everyone was exhausted and soaked by the time we left. We were at the beach for two hours! The time always flies when one is at the beach.

After a quick stop for much needed ice cream, we hopped back on the tractor bus. The children decided it was too cold to be on top again so we took seats in the protected bottom. The tide was coming in…and FAST!

There were many sections on our road back to mainland Denmark where it was completely covered in water. My inner meteorologist was not happy driving through a flooded road and I had to remind myself that they do this on a daily basis; the driver knew what he was doing. The kids (and adults) took a few trips to the top of the bus to see the tractor go through the water. It was neat to see the water creeping in over the green landscape. Imagine living on the island knowing you’re trapped during certain parts of the day. Dream vacation destination or not?

Avery did get a little terrified as she thought it was flooding all of Denmark including our home. I had to reassure her it was all ok; that our home was not flooding.

It was a longer trip back to the cars due to the water covered roads but we all had a good time.

Coronavirus

I thought I would end this post with what is going on here as some of you may be wondering.

Denmark is part of the European Union so travel is open between most countries in the Union along with a few more (Britan, Norway, etc.) The following map shows areas where traveling is not advised and when quarantining must done when arriving home. It is Norway’s version but Denmark is pretty much adhering to the same: map here. However, tourists from other countries are blocked including the USA and even parts of Sweden (Denmark’s neighbor). The rule is that a country must have sufficient testing and have one week of less than 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Germany and Spain have recently been toeing this line so there is a chance that travel may not be advised there.

We have not been tested as we have not been ill or have been in contact with anyone that has tested positive. But we can get tested whenever we want. There is a website that anyone (without symptoms) can go to to sign up for a test. If you have symptoms, you are instructed to call your GP who will refer you to a special testing site. Airports are also set up with corona tests to test anyone who arrives from a quarantine required country. If you test negative, you do not have to stay in quarantine. Ambulance vans are also parking in popular tourist locations to test anyone (without symptoms) who wants one. All tests are free. Results for most tests (I’ve heard) takes 24-72 hours.

Face masks are not required here…yet. A few news articles have hinted towards the use of masks becoming necessary in October as we head into flu season along with the pandemic. Face mask buying has increased here and it seems Danes may be preparing themselves for it.

As for numbers, there has been an uptick in cases. The average is around 50 a day. However, community spread is low. Hospitalization is only at 23 patients while only three remain on respirators (as of 7/27). It may also change quickly like we’re starting to see in some European cities where cases are again starting to climb, but I’m happy we live in a rural part of Denmark.

As for the Danish summer…it’s been rainy, chilly and cloudy. A little sun and an 80°F day is desperately needed.

But do I miss the 100°F days?

One Year

What!?!

That can’t be right…

We’ve been living in Denmark for one year!

Seriously. It sounds so cliche but where has the time gone?

When we moved here, we didn’t really know what to expect. We definitely didn’t expect a pandemic to trap us in our new country but it hasn’t been a horrible experience.

We’ve made friends; traveled more (especially within Denmark); visited the ocean on multiple occasions; experienced a new culture.

I’ve loved the many family trips we’ve made and I can’t narrow it down to a favorite. The international community around the school has been a huge blessing in helping me not feel so alone as a foreigner in another country. I love all the nature parks around this country and how a fun hike is literally just around the corner. The Danes and foreigners in our area care for one another and it feels a lot like the Midwest spirit; neighbors helping neighbors.

But I do miss home. I miss easy shopping. Reading labels is a HUGE part of my life as I’m looking for wheat ingredients. While I have figured out the Danish words for said ingredients I must avoid, I don’t always catch it. Luckily, I’ve caught it all before getting sick.

I miss the memories that are being made with my family at home. My girls miss their cousins and grandparents dearly.

I also miss my old job. I’m honestly surprised I do because the work hours were a bit ridiculous at times. But the weather here is straight forward. I definitely miss the four seasons of the Midwest (yes, even snowstorms).

While I’m sad we couldn’t make it home this year due to COVID-19, I do not regret us moving here to this little country.

I may not speak the language yet (or at all) but there are moments I dread having to leave. We are definitely making some fond memories here.

What do my kids think about the last year? Well I asked Claire a few questions in the video below:

Her answers did surprise me a bit. And she’s a ham, like her mom was/is.

So to celebrate our one year in Denmark, where did we go?

Kolding botanical gardens.

You may remember (or not) but we have been here before. We went back in early October to participate in a little get together with other foreigners new to the area. I had been disappointed but not surprised (it was early fall after all) that the award winning rose garden was barren. So when I saw their Facebook account announce that the roses were blooming, I told the family it was going to be our next (repeat) trip.

It was a pretty dreary day when we went. It was the day after a cold front passed and kicked the heatwave out of Denmark. There had been a lot of rain the night before so I was sure the girls were dressed in rain gear and the umbrellas were packed.

We started the experience by following the path through the garden. We started in Chinese foliage and made our way through a bamboo forest to some caves. The girls spent quite a bit of time climbing up and down the caves exploring all the nooks and crannies.

Next, we made our way through Japanese foliage, to northern Europe foliage and North American. We found many flowers along the way.

After walking through a small patch of climbing roses, we entered the rose garden.

It was beautiful!
There were so many different types of roses and every one had blooms as big (if not bigger) than my hand. We may have missed the peak of the bloom as it seemed a lot of petals had accumulated on the ground. But we still had an excellent experience.
I walked from aisle to aisle taking in the smell, the sounds of the pollinators and all the colors. So many colors!

The girls did get bored quickly so I handed over my phone to them and ended up with some of these treasures:

The husband and girls headed off to the playground while I took in the last aisle of roses.

As I walked over to them, well, it had started to rain. Typical Danish weather. But after a year of living here, I was prepared with the umbrellas.
We finished the day with a picnic and a viewing of the animals. Avery was in love with the bunnies so we spent a long time with them before we called it a day.

I’m unsure what the next year will bring us. Will we be able to travel as USA citizens within Europe? Will it be safe to travel home in the next year? We’ve had three trips we have planned canceled so far due to travel restrictions and uncertainty.

There are still so many unknowns but whatever the next year brings us, we have each other to experience it with.