Mike wasn’t super excited about renting a car for part of our trip to Denmark, and for a quick jaunt into Germany, but there were places we wanted to go where buying train tickets for the whole family was going to be super expensive, or our destination was out of the way enough, the train wouldn’t quite get us where we wanted to be.
By this point in our journey to visit the place our son had been living for a year and attend the wedding of a former exchange student, we’d experienced no real problems. None. No missed connections or lost luggage or screw ups with our Airbnb hosts.
Which made it the PERFECT time to put all marital and familial relationships to the test by having one us navigate while another drove (possibly illegally, we never really looked that up), and the rest rode in nervous silence in the back.
Or if not total silence, at least everyone tried to keep their startled screams and audible gasps to a minimum.
Saara gave Mike a quick and helpful tutorial about driving in her part of the world. It was basically pretty much the same as driving in the United States, she said, except with regard to stop signs.
“We actually stop at them,” she said. Which made us wonder what she thought we were actually doing at stop signs in our home country.
NOT stopping. Apparently.
A couple of weeks into our trip, we had another opportunity to explore Copenhagen, when we returned from Finland with the honeymooners, en route to Sønderborg. The flat we rented this time was more centrally located than the one in Nørrebro, and if the weather cooperated, we’d easily be able to walk to a few attractions.
The weather did cooperate (which in Denmark means temps in the low to mid 60s, intermittent rain and some sun. As with our last trip to northern Europe, I made the mistake of packing sundresses. Sigh.), so we came up with a plan to do way more than would be physically possible for mere mortals in one day (if you know us, you know that’s kind of our MO).
We returned from Germany on Sunday and dropped Jack off at his host family home in Sønderborg (he’ll finish out the last week of his exchange and then travel home from Billund. Our tickets are outbound from Copenhagen), and continued on to see a couple of other points of interest in Denmark.
One of those was the town of Haderslev, not too far north of Sønderborg. Mike picked this place out because he thought it would be a quiet stopover on our way north, and also because at least one of my ancestors is from here: my grandmother Betty’s great grandfather Nis Jensen Krough, to be exact. Nis was born in 1849 in Haderslev, and died in 1908 in Des Moines, Iowa. He married Gertrude Marie Christiansen, also of Denmark (although her birth city is unknown to us).
Our oldest son is a young man of many talents, but I must say, he’s got a ways to go if he wants a future in the travel industry. When we’ve talked about the town he’s called home this past year, he totally undersold it. The impression he left us with was: safe, small, and rainy. There’s a rocky beach and a harbor, a decent mall, and a great kebab shop within walking distance.
We weren’t really prepared to be blown away by Sønderborg, a seaside town of around 30,000 that straddles the narrow straight of Alsslund in southern Denmark.
The days are starting to run together at this point, so that’s the perspective you’re going to get from this blog now, dear reader. If anything you’ve read heretofore made any sense whatsoever in the first place, that’s probably outside the norm, anyway.
Regarding our last day in Copenhagen, remember that thing where I said ‘Mike kept testing the gods, saying things like “I thought it always rained here? You guys are just pulling my leg.”?’
You knew that meant rain in our future, right?
Our luck was holding out on our second day in Copenhagen, although Mike kept testing the gods, saying things like “I thought it always rained here? You guys are just pulling my leg.” Jack kept shushing him and making the sign for the evil eye and looking skyward.
We returned to Nyhavn for a boat tour, which started near this thing:
This, as it turned out, was an enormous art installation called Soleil Levant, featuring 3,500 life jackets discarded by refugees who’d landed at Lesbos. The piece as assembled for World Refugee Day, June 20, by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
The good news is: we have our boy back. The big one. The one who’s been on exchange for almost a year.
The better news is: he appears to have actually taken the opportunity of his exchange to learn a decent amount of Danish. Most folks in this country are fluent in English, so if he’d wanted, he could have easily frittered the opportunity to expand that part of his brain.
The really exciting news is: there are about a bajillion new ways to annoy him by pronouncing Danish words incorrectly, and we don’t even have to try.
Pretty much the first day into this trip, I decided our primary goal was to give Jack’s eye rolling mechanism a workout by mispronouncing purt’near everything I can in Danish. It isn’t hard to do, and he’s mostly a good sport about it, BUT I haven’t broken out my Swedish Chef imitation yet, nor has Colin asked him how to say Fahrvergnügen in Dutch, so we have some cards left to play.
In all seriousness, it is really nice to have the band back together.