Scandinavia (2021): From Thuringia to the North Cape and back

Aalborg – Seagulls, Vikings and a nice reunion

For the first time in days, we experienced a morning that wasn’t pure stress. We got up, packed everything up and drove to the nearest supermarket to get something to eat. Since it was raining (again), we had breakfast in the car before continuing north. Our next destination was Aalborg in Denmark. We had planned this stop for two reasons: On the one hand, Aalborg was perfectly located on the route to Norway and on the other hand, Florian lives there now, a former professor at our university, who was also the first supervisor for my master’s thesis and with whom Kevin and I , after we started working at the university, we often went to lunch together.

Es blieb entspannt, denn die Fahrt hoch in den Norden war auch unsere erste Fahrt komplett ohne Staus. In strömendem Regen näherten wir uns der dänischen Grenze. Während der Scheibenwischer auf maximaler Stufe lief, konnten wir grob ein Grenzhäuschen und eine Ampel erkennen, die aber auf grün geschaltet war. Alle Autos vor uns passierten die Ampel ohne Probleme, doch als wir an der Reihe waren, schaltete sie plötzlich auf rot und wir mussten rechts ran fahren. Es wunderte uns nicht, dass gerade wir für eine zufällige Kontrolle herausgepickt wurden. Unsere gelbe Borussia, wie wir unseren Campingwagen genannt haben, mit dem Ersatzreifen auf dem Dach war schon ein bemerkenswerter Anblick. Ein dänischer Soldat winkte uns zu sich und fragte uns nach unseren Personalausweisen und nach unseren Impfnachweisen. Bei letzteren schaute er lediglich kurz auf den QR-Code und das darunter stehende Datum der zweiten Impfung bevor er uns zu verstehen gab, dass alles in Ordnung sei und wir weiterfahren konnten. Wir waren in Dänemark!

From then on, the journey up to Aalborg was relatively unspectacular. Since it was already lunchtime, we didn’t go directly to the booked campsite, but to a street food hall very close by, which I had previously discovered online. Inside, the first shock awaited us: Denmark is damn expensive! The cheapest dishes ranged between 15 and 20€. It didn’t help that the hall was actually pretty cool, with an arcade area and a karaoke corner, among other things. I ordered a bowl and paid an extra 10 crowns for nuts as a topping only to realize much too late that the waiter had unfortunately forgotten them. Kevin, however, was hit even harder. While he was still waiting for his food, I found us a seat outside at the harbor right on the water. We had long left the rain behind and now there was bright sunshine, which of course I wanted to enjoy. After a bit of a wait, Kevin came out with his food, he had opted for Greek gyros with fries. He had just sat down opposite me when a passing seagull made its contribution. No, she didn’t go for Kevin’s overpriced meal, instead she hit him square in the face and the end product spread across Kevin’s glasses, his forehead and his nose. What a start!

A bit indignant but at least full we went to the campsite. It was actually very nice and even right on the beach. The only negative was that you had to pay 10 crowns for a 5-minute shower. Little did we know at the time that this was the standard at most campsites we would visit. Our place was right on the edge of a meadow close to the sanitary facilities and a large kitchen, which unfortunately had almost no equipment apart from stovetops and a cutting board (we discovered a kettle on the first day, but it then disappeared magically way and we didn’t see him again). After we had a quick look around, we went straight to Aalborg to explore something. We walked along the fjord to the city center and Aalborg is actually really beautiful. Aalborg is a bit bigger than Weimar, but it is still far from being a hectic city and the beautiful location on the fjord and the well-kept city center underline this.

For sightseeing we first went to Aalborghus Castle, which was quite unspectacular. You could get into the dark catacombs a bit, but there was nothing more to see than empty corridors that we could shine our cell phone lamps into. Back at the fjord, however, a much more interesting spectacle played out before our eyes. So there was a really nice freely accessible small swimming area with ski jumps on the side. A young Danish woman, maybe 17 years old, was standing on one of these ski jumps and was just gathering up all her courage. Her parents were both standing below, their cell phone cameras trained on the daughter. Meanwhile, a group of little boys took turns jumping off the neighboring hill without batting an eyelid. The daughter took another deep breath, started to jump and … “Nei!” she yelled suddenly and backed away. She let some of the boys in front, who now also wanted to jump off their hill. Her parents were still busy keeping the cameras on it and so she went to the front again. We all held our breath… and again: “Nei!”. This spectacle repeated itself over and over again. After about 20 minutes we gave up and walked on, while a loud “Nei” sounded behind us again and again. I would like to know if she finally jumped or not.

We headed for a supermarket only to find out again: Denmark is expensive! After we had stocked up on the essentials, we went back to the campsite, where I enjoyed the good weather again by putting on my sports gear and going for a run along the fjord. Meanwhile, Kevin set up the camping table and relaxed a bit by reading a book. After my little run, it was time to take a shower, play a few rounds of Uno and finally sleep.

Vikings, German hits and a very tasty iced coffee

The next day I got up early to get breakfast. Actually, we had already shopped the day before, but only things that didn’t need to be refrigerated. We did have a cool box, but because we had pressed a button wrong, as we would unfortunately only find out a few days later, our additional battery was not charged, which meant we didn’t have power for the cool box. The only supermarket that opened so early was about a 30-minute walk from the campsite, but on the one hand the path led past a pretty little bakery and on the other hand I used the shopping directly for a nice little morning walk through the city. I also bought one of the famous Danish pastries at the bakery, but since I don’t really eat sweets, I later shared it with Kevin and what can I say? It was tasty, but it was also really darn sweet.

Well strengthened, we organized rental bikes via an app, which apparently all had different names. So today my tour started on falafel while Kevin’s bike was named Roland. Unfortunately, Kevin wasn’t very lucky with his vehicle, because not only did he not have a bell, the brakes didn’t really work either. Nevertheless, we made our way to Lindholm Høje. Lindholm Høje is an old Viking cemetery with a Viking museum attached. We had a discount coupon for the first 30min with the bikes, but unfortunately it took us 38min to get to our destination and since Lindholm Høje is a bit out of the way, there was no place to store our bikes, so we had to continue paying for the duration of our visit, what was a bit annoying, but still bearable. Lindholm Høje itself resembled a large field (there were even goats and sheep) with many stones. Only on closer inspection did one recognize different shapes which, as one could see from some information signs, had specific meanings, such as whether it was a man’s or a woman’s grave. The museum was set up quite simply: Lots of things in glass cases. It was mainly the subject matter that made the whole thing interesting. After stocking up on some souvenirs in the museum shop, we got back on our bikes and headed back toward the city center. It’s worth noting that we passed an interesting drawbridge and that at a point where the ground briefly became a bit sandy due to a construction site, I fell off my bike as clumsy as I am, but landed softly thanks to the sand.

It was now lunchtime. We returned our bikes and entered a ramen restaurant. Unfortunately, the waitress came right up to tell us that there was a problem, so unfortunately they weren’t ready in the kitchen. So instead we headed to a traditional Danish restaurant where, considering the prices, we ordered the cheapest main course: Meatballs with cucumber, red cabbage and bread. But the food was really delicious.

Kevin spontaneously chose the next item on the program: The Park of Music. In the description, the whole thing sounded more like a weird art project, but in the end it was pretty cool: In the park, massive, elongated metal boxes, which looked more like gravestones, were lined up. On the boxes was a plaque and a button. If you press this, the music of a star, who is immortalized on the plaque, sounds. All the stars have performed in Aalborg beforehand. To our amazement there were also some German hit stars like Andrea Berg or Helmut Lotti, which surprised us a bit. We went through all the boxes and pressed all the buttons. Among other things, Gilbert Becaud’s “Nathalie” was also played, to my delight. Unfortunately, some speakers were also damaged and did not make a sound.

Kevin had forgotten his watch in Weimar and had been looking for a cheap watch to wear during our trip for several days. On a side street there was a small dark oriental shop with an elderly Iranian at the counter. In addition to Persian products, there was also some junk, including a box of cheap wristwatches. The problem, however, was that the hands stood still. We asked directly for batteries to go with a watch Kevin had picked out, which seemed to present the poor salesman with a great challenge. He went through all the watch batteries he had in the store looking for the right size. He kept reassuring us that the watch definitely works as he tried to put in battery after battery – only to find it was the wrong size again. “The clock works! Definitely! If not, you can bring it back, but it works! Really!” Eventually Kevin bought the watch, probably even out of pity and you could see how the seller felt a load of relief because he could still sell something. We decided to keep an eye out for suitable batteries in the next few days. A few days later, Kevin found out that the plastic strap was still in there to secure it, since the watch was new. As soon as he pulled out this tether, the watch started working immediately (and it still works today). Not only was this embarrassing for the seller in retrospect, Kevin planned to take the watch to a watch shop to have it “fixed”. Luckily he had noticed himself that the plastic strap just had to be pulled out.

We had an appointment with Florian for the afternoon. He took us to a bakery where we spent a good few hours with his wife, daughter and the newest addition to the family, the dog Leo. We all talked a lot together: of course about Corona, about the fact that everything is much more expensive in Denmark than in Germany, about the university, about Aalborg and the surrounding area, but also about racism, which unfortunately also exists in Denmark. There was also delicious cake and I really discovered iced coffee, as it is prepared in Denmark. If you order an iced coffee in Germany, you get a coffee with 2-3 scoops of ice cream in it and often whipped cream on top. Here in Denmark an “Is Kaffe” consists of normal ice cubes, lots of cold milk and the hot coffee poured into the cold milk. Where else a lot of things in Denmark are extremely sweet or extremely heavy (thanks to the high-percentage cream), I was pleasantly surprised at how pleasant and light this iced coffee was, especially since I’m generally not the biggest fan of sweets.

Finally, we ended our last evening in Aalborg with a little insider tip from Florian and his family: There is a shopping center in the city center whose roof is relatively easy to get up with the elevator. From there we were able to see the city from a different perspective. Satisfied with this great and eventful day, after a short detour to the supermarket, we went back to the campsite.

Schadenfreude is the most beautiful joy?

Not suspecting anything bad, I got up early the next day to get breakfast. As I got out of the car, I noticed a group of seagulls that had emptied the contents of a rubbish bin in front of one of the numerous campers by scattering the rubbish across the meadow and picking out everything that was still edible. Amused, I took some photos and was relieved that we had deposited our food in the switched off cool box, which was standing next to the car and which the seagulls would certainly not get open… yes yes… they certainly would not on ours get food…
What I didn’t know at the time was that Kevin, who had cleared away our food after dinner the day before while I was doing the dishes, thought it would be enough not to put the food in the cooler but just put it on top. So when I returned from my walk, Kevin greeted me with an appropriate confession and photos of the seagulls that had now scattered our food across the meadow. That was probably just punishment for my previous gloating.

After this last little experience it was time to pack up again. Today we should continue on our journey and we should take the ferry to the country where we should spend most of the time: Norway.

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