Monday, September 14, 2015

Off-road in Jutland

The students from the højskole were taking a tour of Jutland -this part of Denmark- by bus, and we were encouraged to take the kids along as well. It worked out well because the teachers had a workshop day on this particular Friday, so we were asked to find other arrangements for the kids anyway. I was a bit nervous about having all three kids on a bus tour for the entire day. We left at 8:30am and were home at 5:45pm. Svea had no nap, save for about 5 minutes when she fell asleep just before one of the stop. It could have all gone very, very badly. Fortunately, we had a delightful time! The kids were fantastic and the stops we made were interesting. It was a great way to see some new parts of Denmark that we might not otherwise get to see.

We ate breakfast at the højskole and then boarded the bus at 8:30, and the first segment was 75 minutes in the bus. We arrived at a road that is 2,000 years old. Anders thought that was absolutely fascinating!
 The bus made its first stop, for kaffe of course, at 10am.
The boys decided it was a good time for a coffee break for them as well -though they ended up pouring most of the contents of their cups into mine.
 Kaffe and an apple -it doesn't get much better than that! Svea just had an apple.

After the brief break, we started off on the first "off-road" adventure. The leader, Mads, walks very quickly! We had a hard time keeping up, though on the road part, we managed to stay right in the middle of the pack. By the time we hit the off-road part, though, it didn't take long for the stroller and us to get surpassed by almost all the students.

We entered the first pasture about 15 minutes into the walk.

 Denmark's second largest river...very near its source.

 These mounds are ancient burial sites from the Bronze Age. There were many of them along the route we took in this part of Jutland.

 The river gets wider here, and was so beautiful!

Our walk in the pasture was literally IN the pasture. The cows were right there with us. As our group walked around the edge of the pasture, they followed to watch. It was important to watch one's step through here...or your shoes and/or pants might get a few extra touches. Sigh. I had to wash my jeans when I got home.

The source of the river, this spring, was such cool and clean water that you could drink from it. It tasted a bit like dirt, but, it was fun nonetheless. Jeff and the boys stopped to take a quick drink.

 The students also stopped to take a drink of the cool, clear water.
 Here, Mads is checking out the level of "off-road" for the next segment of the trail.

 Out of one pasture, and into the next. Though there was a "trail" of sorts, it also seemed like uncharted territory where we were walking. Every once in a while there was a gate, and we went through it and carried on with our walk. The countryside was breathtaking.
 There were several of these swimming pools scattered throughout the fields. No one is quite sure what they were for, or why they are there. They were built around 1920 or 1930, but now are filled with tall grasses rather than water.
 Torben really wanted to jump into this one, just for fun. But settled on sitting along the edge of the wall instead.

 Torben stopped to take a brief rest -just long enough for a slightly-out-of-focus picture. Then he was off and running again. There aren't as many pictures of Anders from the tour today, because he was up ahead with the students setting the pace, rather than at the end of the line with us and the stroller. He really enjoys being a leader of the pack!

 There were many roots sticking up out of the narrow path, so the stroller was a tough accessory! We had the baby carrier along with us, and might have been better served by wearing Svea instead of pushing her. But, she enjoyed getting to see all the trees and animals as well.
 This was an "easy" part of the trail! Basically flat, and though the trail was narrow, the grasses along the sides were short as well so the wheels could navigate through it. At other times, we found it easier to pick up the stroller and carry it, as the path was barely wide enough for a person to walk through.
 The trail here clearly goes up and over the mound. So we followed it...despite the steepness of it. It didn't seem so bad until we saw how we needed to get down on the other side!

 As we stood on what felt like a precipice, Jakob said "perhaps it would have been better to go around" -Indeed, and we'd remember that for next time. I wasn't very sure about pushing the stroller down the hill facing forward, it seemed likely that Svea would pull me down and we'd all end up in a pile at the bottom (a quick descent, for sure, but probably slightly painful), so we turned around and I walked backward down it and carefully navigated the stroller backward as well. It worked out.

Our third stop was at a sculpture park. There were about ten different wooden and metal sculptures scattered around, and as you walked through the park there was also an amazing view of the land below.

 Though the day was slightly overcast, you could still see for hundreds of kilometers. It was breathtaking.

 This attempt at a family picture is amusing...Svea is her usual happy self. Anders was grumpy about something, and Torben closed his eyes and tried to be serious.
 We were on and off the bus for about 9 hours, so at some points we needed to try to entertain Svea. This is one of my favourite pictures we took of the two of us. Our shirts even match! That wasn't intentional, but it makes for a cute picture. And I love her little smile.
 Torben and Jeff sat on the opposite side in the front row as well. It was slightly more difficult to get a picture of their faces on the trip.

We stopped in Jelling for lunch and to see the rune stones. Anders thought that "Jelling stones" (pronounced "yelling stones") meant that the stones actually screamed. So he was really excited about the prospect of getting to see these amazing rocks. While they don't actually make any noise, the rune stones themselves are very neat to see.

This is the church in Jelling. The stones are housed in the cemetery just outside.

 There was a very long path bordered by these white pillars. It turns out they were part of the original protective pieces of the grounds, and the ones displayed are the ones that have been found in excavation.

 This is the Jelling Viking museum. We went inside and were able to see many of the artifacts of the viking era on display. The museum itself was made to be interactive, which was fun. The kids really enjoyed getting to touch things while we walked around.
 When you climbed up this hill, you could see the entire churchyard and much of the city as well. We opted not to take the stroller up this hill.
 This is the view looking down from the top of the hill into the churchyard. The metal and glass boxes right in front of the church next to the path house the rune stones.
 Svea thought it might be fun to try to climb the steps herself. We decided that wasn't really a good idea this time.

The glass enclosures were built just about 12 years ago. Until that time, the stones just sat in the courtyard, and for hundreds of years no one messed with them.

Jeff is on the roof of the museum, where there were a couple of telescopes set up that would display what the area looked like in the past.

This was an interesting stop on the tour. We were told it was "more" off-road than the first walk, so it wasn't going to be a good idea to bring the stroller with us. Svea had fallen asleep about 5 minutes before we stopped, so I decided I would stay with her in the bus and hopefully she would take a nap. Alas, no nap was to be had today! Torben decided to stay in the bus with us as well, and one of the students decided not to go on the walk either and stayed in the bus with us. Jeff and Anders went for the walk, which was supposed to be about 45 minutes. After almost an hour, we saw Mads walking back toward the bus alone. That didn't seem like a good sign! He said the path was stickier than usual, with grass and mud taking over all of the walking areas. It was incredibly difficult to navigate.
 We started driving down the road to pick up the rest of them after they finished the walk. Anders had a great time! They all had wet, muddy feet and were talking extensively about how the path was straight up a hill, then straight down a hill, and no real path to be found. One of the students gave Anders a piggy-back ride for part of it, which he thought was pretty fantastic. Though it was a difficult walk, it seems they had a fun time.

 Our final stop before returning home was at a small kitschy store that was sort of a museum of stores. You could buy just about anything you would never need inside this crowded little store. We saw wooden toys, and metal advertising signs, wooden spoons and loose-leaf teas, and everything in between. We purchased a post-card and four caramels.

 When we stopped for lunch, everyone took a few minutes to get a snack at the grocery store. Jeff had bought some double-stuff Oreos, and the boys thought it would be nice to take a picture of how horrible their teeth look while in the midst of eating these cookies.

 The store also had a few small cabins behind it that you could rent out for camping. They were kind of cute.

And then it was back to the folkschool for supper. We were a bit nervous about how the kids would do on this 9-hour tour, but they all three did a fantastic job! Svea slept only 5 minutes the entire day, but still managed to be her happy little self. The boys loved being out in nature and getting to see so many different sites, and the bus rides in between each of the stops weren't too long. We had a great time and it was so fun to be able to share this adventure with them. Supposedly, next semester the day-long bus tour is in northern Germany, so hopefully that will be a good trip as well!

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