Last Night in Denmark

So, our kids are laughing at us as we continue to fail to leave the north …

As anticipated our best intentions of racing down south came to nought, and only with partially good reason! We stopped off in the coastal town of Ebeltoft on our way down to Legoland, expecting to spend a few hours. Instead we spent 2 nights. The town itself was very pretty, with a real, functioning city centre that has withstood the passing centuries pretty well. Given the absence of tourists, we had the town pretty much to ourselves, as well as some prime parking on the harbour. With the wind occasionally reaching great strength this was a mixed blessing.



The highlight of the stay was clearly our visit to the Danish ship Jylland (in English, Jutland – sound familiar?) Commissioned in 1860 as a 44 gun frigate it was Denmark’s first steam powered screw driven warship, and its last wooden hulled ship. It was engaged in battle Helgioland in 1864 with ships from Sweden (hmmm, recurring Scandinavian theme here) and Austria. It went on to be converted to be the Danish royal yacht, got old, sank, sold, recovered, and is now being restored.

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If only Norway could loan Denmark a few hills, and if only the Danes could send some folks knowledgeable about the fact that exhibitions should, at heart, exhibit! There was more to see on a single deck than in all Norway’s umpteen museums. We spent three hours going through the ship, as well as the amazing collection of ship models. You may recall that we visited the cathedral in Kristiansand which had a model of the Jylland, presented by the Danish royal family (why??) – seeing the real thing was just so interesting! The result – we had too little time to pack, move to Legoland (Billund) and make use of an afternoon there. So we stayed another night, leaving at the crack of dawn this morning …


Crack of dawn is now about 7:30am, so it was a more respectable 9:00am before we were on the road. I wasn’t initially too keen on a day in Legoland, but had been warming to the idea. Arriving we were swamped with German tourists – schools on holiday, and so scenes reminiscent of the Shanghai International Expo greeted us after we had found, manoeuvred, and paid for parking.



Niki baulked, so it was back in the van and on our way to Ribe, Denmark’s oldest town. What a great stop! Free parking just outside the old town, €6 pita for dinner – so huge we’ve brought one back – dumping site on hand and temperatures up to 18°C. On parking we witnessed two massive flocks of geese heading off south – they must know something – as Ribe is a major stop for bird migrations. The town is still lively, and is obviously well frequented by tourists – but without the July chaos. Had a great day visiting “one of the world’s 100 loveliest cathedrals” – yes, that is a local quote. Nevertheless, it truly was beautiful. The core of the current church was built from 1150 to 1250 in Romanesque style, with the obvious later additions of new gothic ideas. Fascinating to see the large, square Commoner’s Tower, which looks like it was built last year, in fact dates from 1283, following the collapse of a previous tower.

House dating from the Great Fire of London
Yes, nothing is straight here!

Not without some controversy! Niki and I have loved visiting churches as repositories of art, collections of artefacts, symbols of faith of bygone times and, for me, a continual reminder of power and politics not foreign to our times. I must admit to being a little conservative when mixing periods too freely – and it seems I’m not alone. It took three years for the authorities to grant permission for a redecoration of the apse – I wish the debate was still ongoing.

Wooden pulpit carved 1597 – beautiful
Apse artwork, 1982, not so much!
Fresco, 1530, beautiful
Crappy mosaic 1982, not so good.

Now I’m sure that there will be someone out there looking to comment on ‘artistic juxtaposition’ or something similar – please comment elsewhere … In the same vein I have little sympathy for amateur reconstructionist who, with the best intent, still screw up important legacies from the past – see here:,_Borja)

Hmm … losing flexibility in your old age, or becoming more comfortable in stating a point of view 🙂

Domekirke, Ribe.


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