En Travl Uge

*One Busy Week*

Life has not slowed down in our household.

There’s been a lot of driving, planning and baking.

First, I volunteered for UN Day at my daughters’ school. I wasn’t the leader but agreed to make muffins and work the USA booth during the event.

It was decided that the USA booth would represent its national food with pumpkin muffins and chocolate chip cookies. If you’re reading this from the USA, you know that starting in September, everything is pumpkin spice this and pumpkin spice that. It also seems to be creeping in earlier and earlier every year.

Here in Denmark, much less pumpkin spice. The stores were selling pumpkins and there were a few pumpkin related decorations but no pumpkin spice Oreos, cereal, coffee, etc. I can’t even find pumpkin pie spice.

Since I have celiac, I volunteered to make a batch of mini muffins for UN day that would be allergy safe (no egg, gluten, nuts, dairy). Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze (If you make it, be sure the glaze is thick. And do NOT dip the muffin into the glaze. Your muffins will be a slimy mess (but still taste good).)

UN Day arrived and with muffins in hand, I found the USA booth. A few of the moms were already hard at work. We laughed about “invading” Canada’s booth (Canada had to drop out). With the help of many parents, we were able to decorate both booths. They were covered with red, white and blue, a map of the states, multiple LEGO pieces with USA roots, books about the USA and even a bald eagle mask. We had the food for the kids to grab, activities like drawing your face on a dollar bill and trivia questions ready.

Before the kids arrived, I was able to take a tour of the other countries. Every country represented did an outstanding job. Booths were full of great information about their home country. Food was on almost every table and it was tempting to sample it all (Japan had sushi!). Below are just a few of the booths:

Soon the kids began to arrive. The younger children enjoyed the food and dollar bills. Us USA parents shared trivia and answered any questions they had. Many would tell us they wanted to visit the USA with the most common place being New York City. We placed red dots on a map of the places they had lived, visited and wanted to visit. NYC was covered very quickly.

By the time the older kids arrived, I was falling into my TV persona. I mean you put a TV meteorologist in front of a map and well, I fell into my comfort zone. My co-volunteers were getting a kick out of it.

What I really enjoyed about the older kids was sharing our knowledge. They voiced their opinions on the USA and asked questions. Many enjoyed our trivia (What’s the largest state in the US? HINT: Not Texas) with some even quizzing us back. We had to resort to some trivia off the top of our heads as the kids seemed to enjoy it so much.

I have to say I probably had as much fun as the students. It was great meeting some Americans and sharing the pride we have for our country with others.

After UN Day, we had some USA visitors. The girls were super excited to have some guests. They had never met them before (or didn’t remember them) but were so happy to make new friends.

I was able to take our guests to Aarhus while the girls were in school one day. We checked out the Den Gamle By or The Old City in Aarhus.

The way I would explain the Old City is that it is like the Wild West towns we experience in the United States. Actors/actresses were walking around in clothing of the era. Some were even doing the type of work one would see back around 1800. We stopped at the bakery, learned about the life of a tradesman, looked at vintage toys and went from 1800 to the 1970s.

It was a neat little concept though it was a bit chilly that day. By 1 PM, we were ready to eat. Although there were cafes in the Den Gamle By, we decided to walk to a cafe I knew had gluten free options, Cafe Faust.

The walk towards the cafe was wonderful. I continued to joke with our guests that they weren’t getting the real Denmark experience. The sun was shining and the winds were light. The shopping and food district seemed to all be situated along the Aarhus canal. Lots of shops but it was aesthetically pleasing.

After eating a not very Danish but delicious meal, we headed back to school to experience Halloween in Denmark.

Halloween in Denmark is much different than Halloween in the states with some similarities. First, I need to point out that we are part of an international community. We were able to experience more Halloween spirit than most Danish communities. Many Danes don’t celebrate Halloween. I have noticed some Halloween decorations in a few stores though. People have informed me that Halloween is beginning to make it’s way into Danish culture.

Halloween in Denmark for us consisted of Trunk or Treat first. There were only a few cars and most were out of candy when we arrived. Next, we started hunting down houses handing out candy. It definitely wasn’t as simple as the states. We couldn’t just pick the houses with porch lights on. We had a map of houses that would be handing out candy which was very helpful.

But the international community sure does get into the Halloween spirit! We saw a big costume party, adults dressed up with their kids, a haunted garage, evil clowns and lots of pumpkins!

The sun was setting fast and since we had to walk longer stretches, Avery was tired fast. After just five houses, she was done. I bribed her with a piece of Halloween candy to hit a couple more but it was getting colder and she was falling asleep. So although we didn’t get quite the candy load we likely could have gotten in the states, the girls (and guests) still got to experience Halloween. It was a successful night (and I got a Reeses-SCORE!).

The day after Halloween, the girls went to the dentist. Not to turn in their candy but for an actual appointment.

If you recall in a previous post, I said the medical system was very different than the USA. At the dentist, however, it felt very similar. The checkups were thorough and x-rays were taken. The main difference was that the dentist (tandlæge) did the appointment the whole time. The girls are also covered under the healthcare in Denmark, adults are not.

They both did very well and received toys for their good behavior.

We then took our guests to Ribe. We tried to get into the church but there was a funeral planned so we had to just skip over to the Viking museum (see previous post for details).

After a short day in Ribe, we said goodbye to our guests. The girls were very sad to see them go and there were tears before and after they left. We’re excited for our next visitors in December (grandma and grandpa!!!).

The weekend came to an end after a fun party for Avery’s class. There are no birthdays in Avery’s class until January so a class party was decided on so the families could get to know each other a little more. We had an excellent time full of food, glow sticks, a bonfire and laughter. It was so nice to talk to the parents I see almost every morning at drop off and get to know them a little more.

So needless to say after baking for the party, Halloween and UN day, I needed a break from the kitchen. Sunday was spent recuperating. I’m on week three of a nasty cold so I’m ready to get back into my normal routine of less baking.

The Christmas season has also officially started here. Obviously there is no Thanksgiving, so I’m already starting to put up Christmas decorations (very slowly). Maybe some Christmas cheer can kick this cold…

Family Trip #7

We are just coming to the end of fall break here in Denmark. It’s a national break for all schools. Many parents will also take time off during this holiday break to spend time with family or travel.

My husband was very busy at work so he was unable to take any time off but we were able to get in a one day trip.

This trip was to Egeskov Slot. Egeskov Slot roughly translates to Oak Forest Castle. It is one of the most picturesque castles in Denmark. The castle is often featured on many Denmark tourist websites. The gardens surrounding the castle have also received international attention as one of the best gardens in the world (CNN Travel 2013).

Our main draw for going is that it seemed to have something for everyone. Playground for Avery, Halloween themed scavenger hunt for Claire, scenery and history for me and a car/motorcycle museum for the husband.

With all the great reviews and attractions, it wasn’t surprising that the entrance price was a bit high ($75 for three of us, Avery was free). So if you are considering going to Egeskov Slot, go when there is an event going on. More bang for your buck.

October’s event was Halloween. We had to figure out who had cursed Egeskov Slot. There was a map that provided directions to clues all across the grounds. Each clue location had a theme and/or characters dressed as the part. So after a brief talk to a wizard (who spoke English for us), we made our way towards Egeskov Slot.

Wow, right? Egeskov Slot is surrounded by a moat. It really sits in the middle of nowhere. The closest city is about 20 minutes away. It is in the middle of farm fields and close to the village of Kværndrup. So it really is a magnificent site.

Our first stop was the zombies. Avery was NOT a fan. She clung to her dad and refused to take part. Claire was scared but I promised her they wouldn’t touch her or eat her. She gained some confidence after that and we found our first clue.

Everything was in Danish so Google translate was our clue decoder. (FYI. Google translate works much better on Apple than Andriod.)

After catching a quick ride on a broomstick,

we made our way into the castle.

The inside of the castle was set up like a museum. The walls were displayed with different portaits of royalty, stuffed animals, weapons, and other ornate things. Pretty much I ran around telling the girls not to touch anything and to stay close.

There were also some “ghosts” roaming the castle. You could converse with them and one was suppose to be a nanny for the royal children who used to live there. She tried to explain that to Claire but Claire still thought some kids lived in the castle. I had to explain to her that the nanny was a ghost.

Another creepy feature, which was not part of the Halloween fun, was a doll hidden up in the attic. No one knows how long the doll has been tucked away in the attic. Legend has it that if the doll is moved, the castle will fall into the moat on Christmas night. Past families had actually avoided Egeskov Slot on Christmases pass for this reason. The current generation though has enjoyed Christmas at Egeskov with little fear.

Besides the history of the castle, it offered wonderful views of the gardens surrounding the castle.

After touring the castle (and only reading 1/8th of the displays due to children), we ran into Marie Antoinette.

Claire had a few questions about what was up with her neck. So she got a little French history and a lesson in the guillotine. I compared it to Nearly Headless Nick in Harry Potter to make it a little less gruesome.

The next clue on the map sent us into the gardens to find dødens hus (the house of death), edderkopskolen (the spider school) and the Barons’ graveyard (forgot the Danish on this one). We saw some enormous cabbage and rhubarb, awesome hedges, mazes and beautiful views of the castle.

Dracula’s crypt was the last stop for us on the hunt and Claire (and I ) refused to check it out completely. Luckily, the clue was right at the entrance of the crypt so we didn’t have to explore into the darkness.

We did run into Count Dracula and his wife as we left the entrance of the crypt. Claire hid behind her dad as Dracula said something scary to her in Danish. We were happy to run into him in the daylight instead of the dark crypt.

We had completed survived our Halloween hunt and decided to have our picnic. Most Danish museums allow you to bring your own lunch. Egeskov was no exception so we picked a spot that protected us from the light rain.

After lunch, we split. The girls and I headed towards the playground while the husband went to the motorcycle/car museum.

The playground was great. There were many different play areas and equipment. Each play area had a different theme and seemed to be designed for specific age groups. There were also two bounce pads. They were a little slick from the rain but it’s Denmark, you need to learn to deal with it and just have fun!

There were also two zip lines. These types of zip lines can be found in a lot of Danish playgrounds. Claire and Avery both love them. Some go slow and some go fast. These at Egeskov went fast and I had to instruct the girls to hold on TIGHT.

After more bouncing and swinging (and the return of Dad), we found some courage and decided to partake in the Tree Top Walking.

The Tree Top Walking consist of 6 platforms with bridges connecting them. As someone who is a bit afraid of heights, I do not suggest it. I had weak knees the whole time and could not look down. I was clinging on to the rope for life and grabbing the tree trunk when we reached a platform. I was more than happy to get down.

But it did provide an awesome view of Egeskov.

Claire and I decided to partake in the maze next (located on the left in the picture above).

We did get lost but they left some cheat spots to get to the center to be able to go down the slide and escape the maze. The middle provided another great view of Egeskov and the maze.

Our final stop was the fire pit. We were able to participate in a very Danish tradition. We baked some snobrød over the fire. Snobrød (link to recipe. Gluten free link) is basically twisted bread around a stick. You turn it a lot and keep it away from the flames. It took us about 15 minutes to bake it but the girls and husband loved it.

After the brød (bread), we called it a day. We had spent 5 hours in Egeskov and had had a great time. It was probably one of the least stressful trips we’ve been on for everything it offered for all age groups. A great day trip for all of us.