Denmark

Once the seat of Viking raiders and later a major north European power, Denmark has evolved into a modern, prosperous nation that is participating in the general political and economic integration of Europe. However, the country has opted out of European Union's Maastricht Treaty, the European monetary system (EMU), and issues concerning certain internal affairs.

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Basic Information

Ah, Denmark. The country of Lego and vikings. Not necessarily in that order. Now I come to think of it, I don't really know what Denmark has to offer besides that. Well, there's the Danish pastries (which are not really Danish) and the Roskilde festival. Which I won't be visiting. I guess I'm in for a decent surprise.

I'll only be visiting Jutland. The main peninsula attached to Germany. So Copenhagen will have to wait. There's a choice to be made here. Whether to travel along the western or the eastern coast. The eastern coast has some beautiful scenery, Legoland (yay!) and a very diverse coastline. When taking the western route, there's of course the stunning North Sea coast which the route already follows from Germany.

Keeping the route nice and simple is important. The western most road heading north is probably the easiest choice. Denmark isn't that far from home, so there's plenty of opportunity to revisit the places I've passed.

Map

External Info
Distance traveled 444 km
Time spent 2 days

Places of Interest

disclaimer   These are only places that make up 90% of the plan for this trip. Whether or not I've actually managed to visit each and every one of them can be found in the ride report.

Esbjerg

Crossing the border with Germany at Neukirchen the route follows the North Sea coast up north. The first major town is Esbjerg, the home harbor of the Harwich ferry service. It's too bad I won't be using that ferry. Ferries are awesome, you know.

There's also a peculiar monument in Esbjerg. Four nine meter high statues of sitting, bald men with really thick coats on. There's no other way to describe the weird anatomical quirks found in the monument. The biggest feat (ha! word play) is the apparent lack of graffiti or other alternative paint-base permanent free art forms. It's interesting enough to visit.

I bet all the Brits who disembark the ferry are hungry from the long hardships at sea. There has to be some good place for a snack around there somewhere. As it used to be the biggest fishing harbor of Denmark, there's bound to be some fish available for direct human consumption.

Esbjerg
The monument

CC-BY-SA-3.0 Erik Frohne

Ringkøbing, Stadil and Nissum Fjords

Water! Loads and loads of water. When following a coast line, you're bound to see some water. The route north from Esbjerg passes Ringkøbing Fjord over a narrow strip of land with Vesterhavet on the other side. The small town of Hvide Sande is located smack in the middle, surrounded by, you guessed it, water.

Staying just behind the dunes, or "klit" in Danish, the route passes the Stadil fjords. Everything has the word "klit" in it this close to the coast, which in Dutch means something completely different. There has to be some place, road or town called something hilarious in Dutch.

Further up north is the Nissum Fjord. It's huge. And there's, again, a town smack in the middle of the narrow piece of land between the ford and the sea. This time it's Thorsminde. With an awesome name like that there's no way they'll sink into the sea.

Thorsminde
Awesomeness

CC-BY-SA-2.0 kezze

Nationalpark Thy

There's it again. A town in the middle of a narrow strip of land between a fjord and the sea. Maybe it'll become clear when riding through these towns what the exact purpose of them was, or maybe still is. This one is called Thyboron, which features a ferry instead of a bridge across the connecting canal. Ferries are, and will always be, awesome.

Nationalpark Thy has some beautiful scenery. It may be a nice place to leave the bike for a bit and take a walk. With lakes, woods and beaches there's plenty to see.

Disembark the ferry, enter the Nationalpark and what do we encounter? The worst bilingual word joke in the region. Klitmøller. Translated roughly as one of my least favorite bands in the universe and beyond. The photo will be hilarious. There's also a town called Aars by the way, which I will not visit. It's too far off course.

Thyboron
Thyboron ferry

Courtesy of Lemvig Turistbureau

Hirtshals

After laughing at very bad jokes it's time to move on. Still following the North Sea coast the road takes us (me and the Alp) eastwards along some really nice beaches if that's your sort of thing.

For the last part of the trip the route goes straight up north to finish in Hirtshals. This is where all of the traffic off of the E39 is loaded into ferries. Incidentally, although the tires of the Alp will probably never touch the E39, I will be one of them as well. Hirtshals will be the last town in Denmark for this trip.

After two long days on the bike it's time for a proper shower. Even though this trip will be low budget, after almost 1100km in two days a hotel will be something to look forward to. But not before I manage to get some tickets for the ferry leaving for Kristiansand, Norway next day.

Hirtshals
Hirtshals

CC-BY-NC 2.0 Adriaan Westra


Ride Report

This is only what I remeber of Denmark and quickly wrote down during the trip. I'm sure I've missed some details here and there. Sorry! It's chronological, mostly.

So the idea was to cross Denmark in a day, avoiding the highways of course, and sail for Norway the next day. With perfect summer weather it looked like it would be a breeze.

Following the North Sea coast on the western side of the peninsula, I noticed the abundance of Danish flags above all else. Every house had a Danish flag. Sometimes more than one. Unlike in the Netherlands, where you need special permission to fly the national flag, the Danes seemed to be very proud of their country. And I immediately understood why. It's a very nice, clean and neat country. The roads are superb, all the grass seemed to be neatly trimmed everywhere and every house looked like the ones you see on the travel sites. They weren't lying.

Heading north, I stumbled upon Esbjerg. I kind of planned that, I'll admit. I also planned to grab a bite to eat there. I kind of forgot. And I also couldn't find the monument that quickly, which is weird being that large. What I did find was an ATM. According to the Garmin I was standing on top of one, but I couldn't see it. So I walked into the bank, expecting the ATM to be there. Instead I walked into the bank's office. With my helmet on, visor down. That was a stupid idea. Everyone froze. After a minute or so, one lady got up and walked over. She said something in Danish, so I asked if she could speak English. She did. Kind of. "c..can I help y..you?" She showed me where the ATM was, obviously relieved I wasn't going to hurt her. I wanted to apologize but she ran inside before I could finish my sentence. There was a lot of Denmark to cover so I decided to press on instead of looking for the big, white sitting men.

The scenery that followed was absolutely lovely. Dunes and beaches, with a few twisties in between them. I just had to make a detour every now and then to blast through these narrow dune roads. The speed limits were much higher than the maximum speeds I could manage, for a change. I even got the bike airborne a few times. That little Alp sure is fun when pressed hard. Grinning all the way of course.

There's another awesome ferry at Thyboron which I didn't want to skip. I was waiting in line at the dock when suddenly two young girls came walking towards me, waving their hands and shouting things. Both of them wearing bright yellow fluorescent jackets. I didn't understand what they wanted, or that they were waving at me for that matter. Once they got closer they probably noticed I was another clueless tourist and switched to English. If I wanted to follow them. Right now. As the gentleman I am, me and the Alp obliged and followed their lead, constantly asking myself what the hell I did wrong this time, to be arrested by two fourteen year olds. Laughing they pointed at a strip of asphalt and it dawned on me. They were sorting vehicles. Motorcycles at the front of course. I wanted to thank them, but they were back in their lazy chairs busy talking about whatever girls at that age talk about.

When I thought the scenery couldn't get any better, there's Nationalpark Thy. I felt bad for disturbing the silence. It's beautiful. Dunes, shallow waters, low vegetation and an abundance of bird life. I didn't want to leave that soon, but I had the northern tip of Denmark to reach within a day.

Arriving in Hirtshals in the evening marked the end of my Danish day trip. I made it. In time even. With the best weather you could wish for. I was looking forward to the rest of the trip. I only had to find an hotel and book a ticket for the ferry to Kristiansand, Norway so I could leave the next day. The first hotel I found was full. The second too. Even the third. I sure as hell wasn't going to spend the night in that soaked tent again. The fourth hotel was deserted. I rang the bell at the reception, but nobody seemed to care. I heard people talking behind the door, though. I guessed they didn't want an extra customer so I left. If my Alp was a donkey and I had a pregnant virgin with me I would've settled for a stable. Upset I went to the last, and most expensive, hotel in Hirtshals. They did have a room available. At about twice the rate I had in mind. Tired of looking for a place to sleep I reluctantly handed over my credit card. The lady smiled and evil grin.

For that amount of money I was glad I could use one of their computers to book a ticket for the ferry. I hoped there was some place available on the first ferry the next morning, since all the hotels were filled to the brim. There was, so I set out to arrive early the following morning so I wouldn't be at the back of the line when the boarding started. I had never been on a big ferry like this.

The following morning I skipped breakfast, grabbed my things and raced to the ferry docks. It was completely deserted. Not a soul. I drove past the check-in gate, circled the place a few times and noticed a man running towards me. I thought he would tell me I just missed it. Instead he asked me why I didn't pay for a ticket. Apparently there was someone at the check-in gate. Oops. I handed him my reservation numbers I scribbled down the previous day and he walked back to the gate. A few moments later he came back with a ticket and pointed to the spot I had to wait. Alone.

An hour passed and the place started to fill up with campervans and cars. I thought I would see some fellow motorcyclists, but I was the only one going on board that day. I met a Dutch bicyclist who was planning to cycle all the way up north. According to him, there was plenty of room on the ferry and I got to the docks early for nothing. Reservations weren't needed at all apparently.

After setting sail I saw why I was the only motorcyclist on board. Dark clouds coming from the north. The kind that makes you wonder when it's going to rain, not if.


Photos

These are the photos taken during the trip through Denmark using this gear. Hopefully they're in chronological order. If you'd like a larger version of a particular photo, just let me know and I'd be happy to make it available to you. All photos can be redistributed freely under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.