This post takes us from Bremen in Germany to Odense in Denmark. The weather has veered from one extreme (hot and sunny) to the other (“has anyone seen Noah?”) and back again, but it hasn’t hampered our progress.
We left Bremen on Saturday morning with a shopping stop planned at a Rewe supermarket that was just off our motorway route. We wanted to pick up a few German bits and bobs for our food stocks (to add to the mountain of supplies we bought in the UK before setting off and the Leclerc shop we did in France on Wednesday morning): Kartoffelknödel, Rotkohl, Sauerkraut, meat products (sausages, salami etc), oh and some beer for Mark (surprise surprise!). We emerged, 108 Euros later, with another trolley full of swag to somehow cram into SOK.
Getting round Hamburg turned out to be a real pain: it was reminiscent of the M25 in rush hour. Storms had been forecast for later in the day and we could see black clouds approaching from the west. The bad weather arrived whilst we were in a tunnel under the river Elbe. It was quite a shock to emerge from the tunnel straight into this:
Though the rain did ease off later in the afternoon, there was plenty of water sloshing around on the roads, so care was needed. We were passed at one point (as we sat in yet more traffic) by two fire engines with sirens blaring. The radio did tell us later that the Hamburg fire service had been called out 100 times in half an hour, mainly for flooded basements and fallen trees, but also to rescue two kids on a lilo.
We were heading towards a free parking spot next to a ferry crossing over the Kiel Canal. When we got there, it was full so we had to quickly move to plan B – the closest available overnighting spot. This turned out to be a swimming pool car park three kilometres away at a place called Burg.
It wasn’t one we’d have picked out as it only seemed to have one review online (we prefer to stick to places that are definitely well used by motorhomers, as evidenced by at least a few reviews), and when we arrived we were slightly concerned that there was no signage or bays specifically marked out for motorhomes. There was one other motorhome there, though, and we’d definitely had enough of travelling for one day, so we parked up.
Shortly before 8am the next morning came the dreaded tap-tap-tap on SOK’s habitation door. I jumped out of bed, donned my dressing gown, and mentally prepared our tale for the large angry official I imagined had come to tell us to bugger off immediately. I opened the door and was surprised to find a rather petite, pleasant-looking German lady who had came to tell us that we’d left SOK’s lights on! Aarrgghh!
Luckily he did still start. We’d left the sidelights on in the bad weather and forgotten that you do have to turn them off on arrival (you do get a beep if you open the driver’s door, but of course in motorhomes, you don’t always open the driver’s door after arriving somewhere and forgetting to turn the lights off…..). Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson from this near miss!
Sunday was grey and drizzly, so a good travelling day. Of course, more shopping was in order along the way – there were a couple of things that we hadn’t managed to get in Rewe. One was suitable breakfast cereal (no wheat and no noticeable banana or coconut as Mark’s not keen on either).
We were getting a bit concerned as we drove on and all of the supermarkets we passed were closed on Sundays – but then we came to the last little town before the Danish border and found that not only did they have every supermarket known to German man, but that they were all open for business. It seems that Danes cross the border to Germany to shop in much the same way that Brits head to Calais on booze cruises.
We stopped at ALDI and once again failed to buy cereal. I kid you not, over half of the muesli on sale in German supermarkets is chocolate chip muesli (no good for me with my milk allergy!). The thing that really made me laugh is that they offer “normal” chocolate chip muesli and a “less sweet” version as well – so that’s the healthy option is it? LIDL finally came to our rescue (and as we spent almost 70 Euros betwen the two shops, quite a few other bits and bobs were purchased too!). The last few days have truly been “Shop ’til you drop”! We can still manage to squeeze into SOK around all the supplies, but only just….
Crossing the border into Denmark marked the end of our little shopping spree. We’re on a minimal spend regime from now on. Luckily, SOK is now so well stocked with staples that we should now manage to complete our trip to Scandinavia without bankrupting ourselves on food shopping!
Sunday’s destination was Ribe, the oldest town in Scandinavia. We’d been here on our 2017 trip to Scandinavia so knew there was a really good free aire with free filling / emptying facilities. It does get very busy, though, so we couldn’t afford to arrive too late. We got there at 2.30pm in the end. There were two spaces available, so we dived into one and within five minutes, the other one had also gone (there are two rows for motorhomes, 18 places altogether).
It wasn’t long before later arrivals had filled every space in the bus parking area:
They were living dangerously… We saw this Italian van (parked in the area for cars) get some kind of ticket though we couldn’t quite work out what their transgression was – there were no signs prohibiting motorhomes from using the car parking area during the daytime (just a “no camping” sign).
We had a good wander round the town. It’s nice sometimes to revisit a place that you’ve been to before. It’s a really attractive little place, though quite touristy.
One thing that did strike us was the prices advertised for coffees, food etc. On our last trip in this direction in 2017, France and Germany were cheaper than the UK, Denmark seemed a bit pricey, Sweden expensive and Norway extortionate. This time round, I’d say that the prices in Leclerc in France were generally on a par with those in the UK, Germany was more expensive than the UK, and Mark has already commented that we’ll be doing a lot of self-catering in Denmark!
The cathedral in Ribe must’ve been closed on our last visit (we can’t remember why, but we’d definitely have had a look inside if it had been open). It was open on Sunday afternoon so we had a nosey:
Monday was definitely a day for ducks – grey and wet.
Another quick stop was called for as we left Ribe – at a supermarket…. As Mark only wanted bread and milk, we decided that Kvickly was the shop for us….
We drove for about an hour and a quarter to a place called Fredericia on the east coast of Jutland and got parked up at a really good free spot near the harbour. We were impressed by this converted lorry (it had German numberplates):
A motorhome with a balcony!
As we drove in, we were somewhat confused by two ladies in high vis. jackets guarding the entrance (who waved us through but were clearly there for a reason) and then coffee stalls and shops housed in shipping containers that were open despite the weather. All became clear a little bit later in the afternoon when large wooden sailing ships started to appear (unfortunately under engine not sail). By about 3pm, the harbour was getting quite full, but still they kept arriving!
We went for a wander and discovered that it’s the week-long 2019 “Round Funen” regatta. Funen is the first of the Danish islands that we’ll be visiting, just on the other side of the “Little Belt” waterway from Jutland, where we are now. Many of the ships had information boards on them telling us where and when they were built (typically late 19th / very early 20th century), their dimensions etc.
We retreated to SOK after checking out the ships, having decided to explore the town in Tuesday’s promised sunshine rather than Monday’s horizontal rain. We hung our waterproofs in the shower, put the kettle on, and my next step would normally have been to put the heating on for a bit – only I couldn’t as I’ve been banned from using it until further notice, a certain someone having squirreled three packs of choccy biccies under the floor along the heater ducting after Sunday’s visit to ALDI…..
You may or may not notice a change in photo quality at this point, as my camera went on the blink later that evening in the van. I’ve emailed Currys (it’s still got a few days left on its guarantee – hurrah!) and we’ll see what they say…. Back to ‘phone snaps it is then…..
Tuesday did indeed bring hot and sunny weather again, just as the forecasters promised. A cannon fired at 9.30am and the wooden ships set off toward their next destination:
We then set off to have a look at the town. Fredericia was built as a fortified town (rather than a fortification of an existing settlement) in 1650 and named, as you can no doubt guess, after the king at the time, Frederick III. Just seven years later, the Swedes captured it and slaughtered the garrison.Yikes… We had a good wander along the ramparts:
The town also saw action in the 1849 conflict between Denmark and Prussia. Next to one of the gates (this was the main gate into the town until the 1920s!) is the first known statue anywhere in the World to the unknown soldier.
We had some very nice Danish neighbours in Fredericia. Mark was plied with bread rolls first thing in the morning, and was then given a couple of danish pastries too! Apparently, there’s a special offer available before 11am each day at the Fotex supermarket chain whereby you get a loaf of black bread, some bread rolls and some pastries for 50 Krone – but then it’s too much for two people so you share it with your motorhome neighbours….
The first danish pastry disappeared far too quickly for me to be able to take a photo, but I think you need to see this one….
In Danish, it’s called a Baker’s Bad Eye (so yes, the bit in the middle is yellow pus – that baker needs antibiotics!). I don’t think I’ll ever look at this type of pastry again without thinking of this – and now, perhaps, neither will you….
Not that Mark was put off, needless to say….
I’m sure we’ll be visiting Fotex at some point for the bakery special offer – and then Mark can go round offering Baker’s Bad Eyes to all and sundry!
We moved on this afternoon, crossing the bridge onto Funen, Denmark’s second largest island. We’re currently parked up outside a caravan dealership on the outskirts of Odense, the largest town on Funen and the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen:
There’s a cycle path just a few metres away from our parking spot and apparently it’s 7.5km from here to the town centre – so tomorrow’s plan is to leave SOK here and cycle into town for the day. We’ll let you know how we got on in our next post….