June 20th, 2020
Denmark is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It is the most populous and politically central constituent of the Kingdom of Denmark, a constitutionally unitary state that includes the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean. European Denmark is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries, lying southwest of Sweden, south of Norway, and north of Germany.
Denmark’s geography is characterized by flat, arable land, sandy coasts, low elevation, and a temperate climate. As of 2022, it had a population of 5.88 million, of which 800,000 live in the capital and largest city, Copenhagen. Home rule was established in the Faroe Islands in 1948 and in Greenland in 1979; the latter obtained further autonomy in 2009.
The unified kingdom of Denmark emerged in the eighth century as a proficient maritime power amid the struggle for control of the Baltic Sea. In 1397, it joined Norway and Sweden to form the Kalmar Union, which persisted until the latter’s secession in 1523. The remaining Kingdom of Denmark–Norway endured a series of wars in the 17th century that resulted in further territorial cessions to the Swedish Empire. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was absorbed into Sweden, leaving Denmark with the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland. A surge of nationalist movements in the 19th century were defeated in the First Schleswig War of 1848, though the Second Schleswig War of 1864 resulted in further territorial losses to Prussia. The period saw the adoption of the Constitution of Denmark on 5 June 1849, ending the absolute monarchy that was established in 1660 and introducing the current parliamentary system.
Danish neutrality was violated in World War II following a swift German invasion in April 1940. During occupation, a resistance movement emerged in 1943 while Iceland declared independence in 1944; The Danish resistance helped the Danish Jews to escape to Sweden before the Germans did their “sweep”. Denmark was liberated in May 1945. In 1973, Denmark, together with Greenland but not the Faroes, became a member of what is now the European Union, but negotiated certain opt-outs, such as retaining its own currency, the krone.
Denmark is a highly developed country with a high standard of living: the country performs at or near the top in measures of education, health care, civil liberties, democratic governance and LGBT equality. Denmark is a founding member of NATO, the Nordic Council and the United Nations; it is also part of the Schengen Area. Denmark maintains close political, cultural, and linguistic ties with its Scandinavian neighbours, with the Danish language being partially mutually intelligible with both Norwegian and Swedish.
The earliest archaeological finds in Denmark date back to the 130,000 to 110,000 BC. Denmark has been inhabited since around 12,500 BC and agriculture has been evident since 3900 BC. During the Pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC – AD 1), native groups began migrating south, and the first tribal Danes came to the country between the Pre-Roman and the Germanic Iron Age, in the Roman Iron Age (AD 1–400).
From the 8th to the 10th century the wider Scandinavian region was the source of Vikings. They colonized, raided, and traded in all parts of Europe. The Danish Vikings were most active in the eastern and southern British Isles and Western Europe. They settled in parts of England and in France where Danes and Norwegians were allowed to settle in what would become Normandy.
In 1397, Denmark entered into a personal union with Norway and Sweden, united under Queen Margaret I. The three countries were to be treated as equals in the union. However, even from the start, Margaret may not have been so idealistic—treating Denmark as the clear “senior” partner of the union. Thus, much of the next 125 years of Scandinavian history revolves around this union, with Sweden breaking off and being re-conquered repeatedly. The issue was for practical purposes resolved on 17 June 1523, as Swedish King Gustav Vasa conquered the city of Stockholm.
After the European Revolutions of 1848, Denmark peacefully became a constitutional monarchy on 5 June 1849. A new constitution established a two-chamber parliament. Industrialization came to Denmark in the second half of the 19th century. The nation’s first railways were constructed in the 1850s, and improved communications and overseas trade allowed industry to develop in spite of Denmark’s lack of natural resources. Trade unions developed, starting in the 1870s. There was a considerable migration of people from the countryside to the cities, and Danish agriculture became centred on the export of dairy and meat products.
Denmark maintained its neutral stance during World War I. After the defeat of Germany, the Versailles powers offered to return the region of Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark. Fearing German irredentism, Denmark refused to consider the return of the area without a plebiscite; the two Schleswig Plebiscites took place on 10 February and 14 March 1920, respectively. On 10 July 1920, Northern Schleswig was recovered by Denmark, thereby adding some 163,600 inhabitants and 3,984 square kilometres (1,538 sq mi). The country’s first social democratic government took office in 1924.
In 1939 Denmark signed a 10-year non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany but Germany invaded Denmark on 9 April 1940 and the Danish government quickly surrendered. World War II in Denmark was characterized by economic co-operation with Germany until 1943, when the Danish government refused further co-operation and its navy scuttled most of its ships and sent many of its officers to Sweden, which was neutral. The Danish resistance performed a rescue operation that managed to evacuate several thousand Jews and their families to safety in Sweden before the Germans could send them to death camps.
In 1973, along with Britain and Ireland, Denmark joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union) after a public referendum. The Danes rejected the euro as the national currency in a referendum in 2000.
(excuse the length of this blurb – Denmark has a loooooong history!)
The Danish Flag is red with a white Nordic cross which means that the cross extends to the edges of the flag and the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side.
Currency: The Danish Krone – worth $0.18 CAD and $0.13 USD
Danish beer: Carlsberg of course!
Price of gas: approximately 17K per liter which is about $2.41 USD per litre
EU license plate letters: DEN
As we crossed the border into Denmark there was actually a booth but most vehicles, including us were waved through upon observation of EU plates, we guessed.
We arrived at a free small motorhome parking place with toilets and a black dump right on the sea. The sun was back out now and it was quite lovely. A few of the rigs were parked a little too far apart as, really more could have fit it but Fran walked down the end and saw enough room for two more but there was a huge puddle. She figured if Doug backed in we’d have our door not in the puddle and that worked.
We took a short walk along the water’s edge but Doug tired easily and we went back but not before seeing a large number of jelly fish in the water.
By now it was about 4:30 so we finished putting the last of the groceries away and chilled. We were fortunate to get here when we did as several others arrived after us and no one parked on the puddle side of us but some did park in the 3 hour limit spots.
We figured out how to manually put on the LPG and have it stay on so for now the fridge is running constantly on LPG until we sort this out. We reached out to EuroCamping Cars but as usual, no quick response.
Doug had a really good sleep and although he still sounds a little “froggy” and is still congested some, he’s feeling much better.
We drove into the town of Odense which is the home of Hans Christian Andersen and parked by the zoo. Odense, like many cities in Europe, has a low emissions zone, and our vehicle does not qualify being so old. It was a 2km walk into the city centre and we went a bit past that. We walked into the city via a walking path along the river and we began to see sculptures of the characters from the fairy tale writer’s stores.
The city was quite pleasant with lots of pedestrian streets and little traffic and it was very quiet for the third largest city in the country. Doug began to feel fatigued before we got all the way to our destination so we stopped and Fran got us both a drink and a small snack for sustenance. It was after 11 by this time so close to our brunch time anyway. We walked to a few more sculptures and then called it. We tried to call an Uber, but no luck, no Uber in Odense so we just strolled back to Minou. Half way there Doug felt better and we began our drive eastward.
We left the island of Funen and crossed The Great Belt Fixed Link bridge to the island of Zealand. It was quite a cool bridge.
The Great Belt Fixed Link is a fixed link crossing of the Great Belt Strait. It consists of a road suspension bridge and a railway tunnel between Zealand and the small island of Sprogo in the middle of the Great Belt and a box girder bridge for both road and rail between Sprogo and Funen. The total length is 18 km (11 mi). This is a tolled bridge that takes the place of a ferry. The bridge opened to rail in 1997 and to traffic a year later. The ferry used to take approximately 3 hours; the drive takes less than 15 minutes!
After pay the hefty toll (just over $86 USD) we took the first exit off to try and get a better view of the entire length; not really possible due to the length but the suspension bridge was quite visible.
We then checked out the free ice boat museum at the parking lot which was interesting Ice boats were used for a long time before the bridge was built. This was often the only connection to the island. The trip across could take anywhere from 6 hours to several days – it was possible to sleep onboard.
We had thought to try and make it all the way to Roskilde to the Viking Ship Museum but the pickings for a place to spend the night were quite slim and not a sure thing – also both were parking lots. We opted instead to stop about 6km / 4mi before town and parking in a gravel parking lot in a national park with three lakes. As it was only 3pm it gave us some down time for the rest of the afternoon. It was sunny and about 21 C / 72 F and quite pleasant.
After a quiet night with only one other motorhome in the lot, we awoke to cloudy skies and slight cooler temps but hey, it’s not raining, right!
We took our time this morning as the site we wanted to visit nearby is not open until ten. Doug is feeling much better today; maybe 80% over the Omicron and Fran is not displaying any symptoms (full disclosure: although she knows zinc is not a preventative measure for COVID, it works for colds so in case, that’s all Doug really has, she’s taking some every day).
The Viking Ship Museum is right on the harbour in Roskilde and displays five original Viking ships that were found somewhat intact in a strait nearby in 1950. After careful excavation, planning and rebuilding, they put the ships together with what pieces that they had (none were completely whole) and then reconstructed similar ships using tools from Viking times.
Upon entering the museum you learn about the excavation and some history and then watch a short video about the ships before entering the great hall where the five partial ships are on display.
When you are finished inside you can walk over to the harbour to see the reconstructed ships and if you want, sail on a smaller version on which you must row yourself. We opted not to do the latter partly because it’s really just a glorified row boat and partly due to the weather.
Upon returning to Minou we made our way to Hillerod to see the Fredericksborg Palace. Upon arriving we both decided we didn’t “need” to see the inside and so we just wandered the spectacular gardens. Man, they must employ a hundred gardeners to maintain this huge place. The palace itself is huge, at least 8 floors high and contains a chapel and a national museum. It is spread of three islands and you can even take a ferry across its lake!
When we left, we decided to try switching the fridge to auto detect and see if the 12V will begin to work. The manual said to wait up to fifteen minutes to ensure that it has been detected and no “fault” happens. Fran set a timer and after 15 minutes – it was still working with no “fault” light! Have we fixed it? Let’s hope so.
So now we are off to the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen. This city like many European cities, it too has a low emissions zone, so Fran remembered that last night and we realized that both our campground options we were considering were within that zone. One that she had been corresponding with told us no problem, come anyway, but we did not want to be subject to a fine. We found one just outside the zone but much further from downtown where we want to go tomorrow but there is a Metro station about a click away and we can use that to go into the city.
This campground is actually at the marina and is like the Aires we used to camp at in France; you buy a ticket, you get a code and the barrier lifts to let you enter. You can also buy a card that gives you access to toilets and a shower but we’ll use our own. The price does include power, Wi-Fi and access to water. The price is a little higher than we like but as the options are slim, we’ll do it. We did look into hotels but the parking is of course an issue in the city.
We got one of the few last spots (we did walk into to check to make sure there was space before buying the ticket) and got settled. Doug hooked up the power and the fridge detected that (YEAH!). He then went for a walk to find the train station and figure out tickets. Then it was shower time. Doug had a few little repairs to do (the darn side running lights are still not working from our two blow outs) and the grey tank hose is leaking again – also a consequence of the 2nd blow out.
We have booked a “free” walking tour of the city tomorrow and expect it may not cover all the spots we want to check out but we’ll have the afternoon afterwards to do that.
Doug is feeling pretty good now; most symptoms have passed and he’s feeling more energetic.
Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. Originally a Viking fishing village established in the 10th century in the vicinity of what is now Gammel Strand, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century.
The city flourished as the cultural and economic center of Scandinavia under the union for well over 120 years, starting in the 15th century up until the beginning of the 16th century when the union was dissolved with Sweden leaving the union through a rebellion. After a plague outbreak and fire in the 18th century, the city underwent a period of redevelopment. After further disasters in the early 19th century when Horatio Nelson attacked the Dano-Norwegian fleet and bombarded the city, rebuilding during the Danish Golden Age brought a neoclassical look to Copenhagen’s architecture.
With a number of bridges connecting the various districts, the cityscape is characterized by parks, promenades, and waterfronts. Copenhagen’s landmarks such as Tivoli Gardens, The Little Mermaid statue, and many museums, restaurants and nightclubs are significant tourist attractions. The city has the busiest airport of all the Nordic countries.
We took the train into the city early on Thursday in the hopes of getting some Danish pastries before our walking tour. At the train station the ticket machine wouldn’t take any of our credit cards so we had to find a bank; we’d hoped not to have to get any Danish Kroner since we are here such a short time, but looks like we need to. Then of course, the machine doesn’t take bills; only coins! However, here at most train stations there area 7-11’s and most of them sell train tickets so that’s what we did.
We thought about going out to the Carlsberg brewing museum/brewery but luckily, we read online it’s closed for renovations.
We found the recommended bakery, La Glace, on our way to City Hall and tried out three pastries between us:
We also stopped at a souvenir shop to get something for Denmark; after looking at some Little Mermaid things, we opted for something else and our shopping is done!
We actually found a working fountain:
We wandered over to City Hall to the start of the walking tour and it’s on a huge plaza. The building itself is quite impressive and we took a peek inside as well.
There were quite a few people registered for the 10:30 Grand Tour of Copenhagen and luckily there were four guides; one took a Spanish group and the other three split the nearly 80 others into three groups. Daniel, our guide was from Australia and had a nice loud voice. He regaled us with lots of stories and information about the city and the Danes.
First thing we saw on the tour is the statue of the most famous Dane, Hans Christian Andersen.
Right across the street was the famous Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park (we looked into this further as we’ve heard of it but it’s quite expensive and we wouldn’t go on the rides anyway AND they cost extra!).
Here are some of the sites we saw:
Party buses of college students celebrating the end of the year
St Nicolas – oldest church in CPH
We tried hotdogs from a street vendor: (reminded of us Iceland hotdogs – not something we’ll do again)
Nyhavn – pretty canal neighbourhood that used to be quite seedy centuries ago:
We walked along the harbour to a lovely fountain outside Amalieborg castle – home of the Queen – she’s 82.
All the above took about three hours.
We decided there were a few too many things left to do so we’ll stay another night and come back here tomorrow. Before catching the train back however, we did check out the Marble Church.
Frederik’s Church, popularly known as The Marble Church (Marmorkirken) for its rococo architecture, is an Evangelical Lutheran church in Copenhagen. The church forms the focal point of the Frederiksstaden district; it is located due west of Amalienborg Palace.
The church was designed in 1740 and was along with the rest of Frederiksstaden, a district of Copenhagen, intended to commemorate the 300 years jubilee of the first coronation of a member of the House of Oldenburg. It has the largest church dome in Scandinavia with a span of 31m. The dome rests on 12 columns. The inspiration was probably St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The foundation stone was set by the king in 1749, but the construction was slowed by budget cuts and the death of the architect in 1754. In 1770, the original plans for the church were abandoned and the church was left incomplete and, in spite of several initiatives to complete it, stood as a ruin for nearly 150 years.
In 1874, Denmark’s Finance Minister, sold the ruins of the uncompleted church and the church square to Carl Frederik Tietgenfor 100,000 Rigsdaler — none of which was to be paid in cash — on the condition that Tietgen would build a church in a style similar to the original plans and donate it to the state when complete, while in turn he acquired the rights to subdivide neighboring plots for development.
The deal was at the time highly controversial. On 25 January 1877, a case was brought by the Folketing at the Court of Impeachment, Krieger being charged with corruption over this deal. He was, however, eventually acquitted. Tietgen got a new architect to design the church in its final form and financed its construction. Due to financial restrictions, the original plans for the church to be built almost entirely from marble were discarded, and instead Meldahl opted for construction to be done with limestone. The church was finally opened to the public on August 19, 1894.
Inscribed in gold lettering on the entablature of the front portico are the words: HERRENS ORD BLIVER EVINDELIG (Danish: “the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” – 1 Peter 1:25, KJV).
Enroute to the train, we then wandered over to see the famous “Little Mermaid” which our morning tour guide, Daniel, told us tourists think is the “second most disappointing” tourist attraction (First is the Manikin Piss in Brussels they say). On the way we saw the Gefon fountain which was quite lovely.
And some of the Kastel base.
And finally we arrived at the statue (which we didn’t find it disappointing ourselves)
We grabbed a couple of beers from an ice cream vendor and sat on a bench looking out at the water for a while before walking to a station to catch the train “home”. It was quite a nice day; 22C low 70’S and mostly sunny with a breeze off the sea. We had to sleep with windows open tonight for the first time. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be even warmer and even sunnier! We’ll take it.
So Friday morning we headed into the city just after 8 and caught the train to the Carlsberg brewery even knowing it was closed as Doug had read about the famous elephant sculptures at the gates that seemed worthwhile to see so we hoped we could see them despite the renos.
We managed to see a few of the things around the brewery including the elephants:
We got back on the train and took it and the subway over to “Free Christiania” to have a peek.
Freetown Christiania, also known as Christiania is an intentional community and commune in the Danish capital city of Copenhagen. It began in 1971 as a squatted military base. Its Pusher Street is famous for its open trade of cannabis, which is illegal in Denmark. No photography is allowed on Pusher Street. It is considered to be the fourth largest tourist attraction in Copenhagen, with half a million visitors annually.
The flag of Christiania is a red banner with three yellow discs representing the dots in the word “Christiania”.
Within Christiania itself no private cars are allowed. Residents with cars, park on the streets surrounding the Freetown. After negotiating with city authorities, Christiania has agreed to establish parking areas for residents’ own cars on its territory. As of 2005, parking space for only 14 cars had been established within the area.
Doug actually found a hardware store here and we looked for a few things we need and found one of them.
We then wanted to check out the street food kitchens in the hopes of trying some of the Danish open faced sandwiches called “smoorebrod”. We found it but no luck on the food. We continued to walk back into the city and Doug googled where to find the best of these sandwiches and it happened not to be far off our route in the Magasin Nord shopping centre to sample some for lunch. We tried an avocado one, an egg & shrimp one and a salmon one. They were good but not something we’d have to have again – a little hard to eat.
Next stop was the “Happiness Museum” seeing as how Denmark is the second happiest place but it was closed until later this afternoon. We were not so happy.
We made our way to the Round Tower which is attached to an old church (which is quietly lovely inside but no photos allowed) and decided it was not worth walk up as it was not that tall.
Pic from outside:
Our final site was the Rosenberg Palace which is a second home of the Queen – it has a huge garden area around it called the “kings Gardens” through which we took a stroll.
Now to leave the city, the shortest way to the bridge to Sweden is right through the city – which in theory, we are not allowed to do without a particulate filter on our engine; going around the city on the Ring Road adds 35 km of driving so to us, it means we are spewing even more pollution. We decided to call the tourist Info Centre to ask what the law is about this; they were not sure but she gave us a number to call the Environmental Department who told us, we could be fined if caught (1500 DK = $200 USD) so we’ll probably take the Ring Road. It apparently is not the police who will catch and fine you but the Environmental people so we’re not sure how many of those are around.
Before leaving this morning, Doug went over and paid for another night here. Turns out that additional night ends at midnight tonight just like the first two days we already bought ??? – So we’ll chance that we won’t get caught and leave first thing after showers and dumping and getting water in the morning.
We got back to Minou by 1:30 and Doug began working on a few chores he had on Minou and we chilled the rest of the afternoon. It was getting quite warm but there is a lovely breeze off the water. We are parked on the inner street of the RV parking so we are closest to the water.
We have to say we both just loved this city; totally liveable, not too big but with all the services, great public transportation, nice people and location beside the water. The only and main draw back for us is winter; we know it’s probably rather mild but still too cold for us!
We wanted to get an early start on Saturday, so after showering, dump and filling our water tank, we hit the road. As we are not allowed in the city legally, we have to take the ring road on the outskirts to get to the tunnel/bridge to Sweden so it’s 35 km /22 mi further to drive but could save us a fine.
The Öresund Bridge is a combined railway and motorway bridge across the Öresund strait between Denmark and Sweden. It is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, running nearly 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the Swedish coast to the artificial island Peberholm in the middle of the strait. The crossing is completed by the 4-kilometre (2.5 mi) Drogden Tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager.
The manmade island of Peberholm is quite a spectacular feat in itself. TI was constructed from material dredged from the seabed. The flora and fauna has been allowed to develop freely and has now become a big point of interest for biologists. More than 500 species of plants have been identified.
The bridge connects the road and rail networks of the Scandinavian Peninsula with those of Central and Western Europe. A data cable also makes the bridge the backbone of Internet data transmission between central Europe and Sweden. The international European route E20 crosses via road, the Øresund Line via railway. The justification for the additional expenditure and complexity related to digging a tunnel for part of the way, rather than raising that section of the bridge, was to avoid interfering with air traffic from the nearby Copenhagen Airport, to provide a clear channel for ships in good weather or bad, and to prevent ice floes from blocking the strait. Construction began in 1995, with the bridge opening to traffic on 1 July 2000.
While crossing the bridge there is no place to stop on the man made island. You can see more “floating” wind mills off to the south.
Fun Facts about Denmark:
- It is approximately twice the size of Massachusetts (not including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) – about 42.710 s q km / 625 sq miles OR slightly larger than The Netherlands
- It is one of the happiest countries in the world
- There is no word for “please” in Danish
- It has the oldest flag in the world dating back to 1219
- Danish pastry actually came to Denmark via an Austrian baker
- There are no mountains so biking is easy; highest point is called “heaven mountain” which is only 174m / xx ‘ high
- More than half the workers in Copenhagen cycle to work
- The Danish alphabet has three extra letters: Æ, Ø, and Å
- The two oldest amusement parks in the world are in Denmark: Tivoli and Bakken.
- Lego was invented by a Dane: Ole Kirk Christiansen
- Denmark was the first country to legalize same sex marriage back in 1989
- Denmark has 444 islands but only 76 are inhabited
- You will never be more than 52 km / 31m from the sea in Denmark!
We drove a total of 420 kms / 260 miles in Denmark.