Monday, September 28, 2015

Seventh Weekend

Already our seventh weekend here! How fast the time goes. It was again an absolutely beautiful weekend, and we decided to go on an adventure. On Saturday we all struggled into the car (it really is a feat to get us all buckled in! I often end up with small bruises on my hands, trying to get the seat belts buckled) and headed south -Jeff the only one who knew where we were going. It was about an hour drive and we ended up at Møgeltønder -a very old, very touristy Danish town that was, when we arrived, overtaken by a large bicycle race! Jeff hadn't known that bit about the adventure before we left, but it made for some interesting stops and starts in the car while we had to pull to the side to let a group of racers past, and then go for a short bit until the next group came along. Svea, it turns out, gets car sick, so that made the adventure even more fun...she was quite upset that her clothes were dirty, but we couldn't do anything to fix the problem until we parked the car. It should have been just a couple of kilometers, but it took a very long time to get to the parking lot. Thankfully, with three car seats across the back seat of the car, none of the mess actually gets on the seats! It's pretty tight in there, so only her clothes were messy. And, I had brought a couple pairs of extras for her, so she got changed into clean clothes in the parking lot, we wiped out her car seat, and we were ready to head onto the street to see what the town had to offer. When we first arrived, we noticed many people sitting in chairs along the sides of the road, with blankets and coffee. It looked like they were waiting for a parade.
 Turns out, in a manner of speaking, that they were waiting for a parade. These bicyclists were going incredibly fast, and the noise their wheels made on the cobbelstone street was very loud. At first, Svea was quite scared by it and by how fast they came up and passed us. By the end of our time here, though, she was clapping for each rider that came by.
At least one of the riders in this race was in the Tour de France recently, so it was a for-real race. They were going in circles somehow, because every few minutes they would come by again. It was really quite neat to watch.

During the lulls in the race, we walked along the street and just looked at all the cool old houses and buildings. The boys and I went into a little boutique full of soaps and jams and other odds and ends, and we stopped by a small cafe to take a look as well.
Inside this little cafe, it was like time had stopped many years ago. The tables -all empty- were covered with old linens that surely were handmade by someone's grandmother in years gone by. We saw the owner come out of the small back kitchen with a tray of cakes and coffees, and he went outside and around the side of the building. In the garden, were a half-dozen small tables. Ah! That is where the patrons were dining. Of course, it was a beautiful day outside and it was perfect for sitting outside sipping on a kaffe and watching the race, engaging in meaningful conversation with your family and friends at the same time.

We kept walking, passing all sorts of beautiful houses and buildings.

 This one would be difficult to get too many groceries into on a rainy day! I imagine I would only buy a few things at a time if this was how my front door was.

The kids and I were getting hungry about this time, so we started our walk back to the car on the opposite side of the road and stopped in another little antique shop with a cafe. The antique store was not really a place for children, but while Anders and Jeff looked around for a toilet, Torben and Svea and I smelled several of the fancy soaps that were out on display. There were also multitudes of ceramic and glass drawer pulls, fancy wrought iron wall hooks -things you might find in Anthropologie- alongside wool blankets and all sorts of old treasures. I would have loved to spend more time just wandering in there looking at all of the trinkets and baubles. But, the children would not have loved such an adventure. So, we found our way to the ice cream freezer, where the boys each picked out an ice cream sandwich, and Jeff ordered a cappuccino for me. The woman asked where we were sitting -I was thinking to take it with me as we walked- and finally settled on, out there by the road. We would find a place to sit, I guess! It is different from America; here you get a coffee for the experience of sitting and enjoying it, rather than drinking it as you walk to somewhere else. We finally found the toilets, which were out a side door of the antique store. When you walked through that door, you came to a beautiful little courtyard with small garden tables. I imagine when there is not something going on outside in the street, this is where people would sit to enjoy their coffee and conversation.

We wound our way back out to the street so the kids could eat their ice cream and I could wait for my cappuccino. We found three chairs on the edge of the road that were unoccupied, so that seemed a good place to stop for a few minutes and watch the race. I wish Jeff could have been in this picture with us -it's a fun one.
 This was a delightful cup of cappuccino! The presentation is almost as important as the coffee itself, and this did not disappoint. It invites you to sit down and savour, rather than gulp as you try to walk down the sidewalk pushing a stroller and keeping your kids from running into the street. I see why the woman asked where we were sitting. This cappuccino is meant to be enjoyed. And the best way to do that is to sit down and sip -sharing sips with the kids of course.

Svea quite enjoyed the coffee, and kept asking for more! Thankfully her drinks are small. The boys didn't like it quite as well, which turned out ok for me since I got to drink the majority of it myself.

When our coffee break was done, we continued walking down the street until we came to the castle, complete with a moat and a bridge! This is one of the reasons this town is so famous. The castle belonged to Queen Margrethe II, and the boys recognized the insignia on the gates right away.

Around 1995 or so, the Queen gifted this piece of land to her son, who wished to become a farmer. The outside of castle gate has the year 1995 etched into the stone, with a slightly different insignia.

It's interesting that if you widen the zoom of the camera, you get a picture of one of the interior buildings as well as this one, with about 300 years difference on the dates in the stone. The one on the left with the black roof has a date around 1695 or so. It was difficult to see much of that building, as there are very tall trees keeping the privacy of the castle.

 This is part of the moat surrounding the castle grounds, with very tall trees on the castle-side to keep things private. It was absolutely beautiful.
 Coming up to the castle, you see the full view of the newer building, along with the bridge and the moat. Through the arched doorway you get to the gates. This seems to be the main entrance -though it is closed to visitors.
 Here, again, is the main gate of the castle.

After we finished at Møgeltønder, we got back in the car and (twenty minutes later) made our way to Rudbøl. I figured out pretty quickly where we were, but the kids didn't know anything more than that we were crossing over a bridge over a river again. It was gorgeous, and the weather was perfect for an outing!

Anders was the first of us to stand on the cement marker designating the border between Deutschland and Danmark.

There weren't many cars, so Jeff had them step back and forth between Germany and Denmark a few different times, to see how cool it was that this was the border between the countries. Torben was next.

We didn't get Svea to stand in the road (it didn't seem like a good idea), but we ran into a group of people, one of whom was from Michigan, and they asked us to take a photo of all of them on the marker, so then they returned the favour and took one of us at the marker as well.
I like that the sign welcoming us to Denmark is right in the photo as well, over my left shoulder.

We continued our walk a bit further, and saw all of the flags of Scandinavia -once you enter one Scandinavian country, you are entering them all -in solidarity. The Danish flag is at the center, and flies slightly higher than the others. It was nice that there was a steady wind so the flags were very visible for my photo!
We went back into the national park and headed back to our car.

This was kind of a neat map painted into the parking lot here.
The spot in the lower left, right by Torben's knee, is where we were.

We then got in the car and headed back into Germany to go to one of the border shops. It was quite interesting -almost all of the cars in the parking lot were from Denmark. It was a very small store, but a fun experience. We bought a couple frozen pizzas because by this time it was too late to make it back for dinner at the folk school.

On Sunday after brunch (the kids still don't quite get the concept of "brunch" -they eat breakfast, then brunch, then want lunch, and then dinner -with a few snacks in between!) we went on a walk to look for chestnuts. We found quite a few beautiful ones!

Then, we picked some apples out in the garden. Anders sort of fell from the tree and got a large scratch on his stomach, but other than that they had a lot of fun. The apples we picked are best for cider, so we are going to try to figure out how to use the cider press in the garage.
This one is the smallest apples I have ever seen. Right next to it is a bottle cap...

While Svea slept, Jeff had some work to do for a talk he had to give this week, so the boys and I went for another walk to see what kinds of beautiful things we could find in nature. This one is such a vibrant shade of green where most of the rest were already turning brown.
 We found quite a few of these, some white, some greenish, and some various shades of brown. They look like acorns, but they don't have the tops of an acorn, and instead are enclosed in a type of leaf-skin with spikes around it.
 When we got home, we put all of our nature pieces on a baking sheet and put them in a pan to heat up and make sure we wouldn't get any bugs in the house. We are going to do some sort of art project with the pieces. The boys are very excited about it.

And with that, our weekend came to a close. I look forward to another exciting week ahead.

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