Reunion with Nanna and her boys!

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 05, 2011

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Flag of Denmark  , Fyn and the Central Islands,
Friday, May 27, 2011

Twenty years ago, our family hosted a Danish exchange student who had come to Edson (??!) for her last year of high school. We've kept in touch with visits and phone calls and emails since then; when Mom and I started planning our Europe trip, one of the first things we did was phone Nanna to see which dates would work for her. 
What a blast to see Nanna and her partner, Lasse, again - and to meet their three sons for the first time.  Five year-old twins Kasper and Laurids were quick to include us in their games and chattered away in Danish to us, while their little brother Rasmus played shy at first.    
They live in a small town on the island of Funnen, surrounded by agricultural land, dairy cows, wind turbines and narrow lanes.
We were lucky that Nanna was able to take a few days off work to show us the area, and we spent the first day biking around the coastal farmland on Jutland.  She even found us a bakery that makes fresh gf bread very like the heavy rye bread that is traditional here.  In the evenings we enjoyed playing with the boys – it's funny that they are the same age the Dodsworth kids were when Nanna came as an exchange student to stay with us! 

We found the Danish daycare system very interesting.  Both daycare centers and day-homes (for toddlers) are state-run and mostly paid for by the government – I guess when 60% of your salary goes to taxes you’re bound to get more social services!  If a dayhome worker gets sick, the government arranges a different dayhome for the children to attend and phones the parents to notify them of the change.  Dayhomes even get a set-up fund when they begin, to buy toys and books and safety equipment. 

It was great fun to just be immersed in family life, to play with the boys and chat with Nanna and Lasse. 

We spent the weekend visiting Nanna’s family on the island of Ærø, where she grew up.  Her parents speak very little English, but somehow we managed to communicate and with Nanna as translator we had many laughs during the lavish meals her parents served us.  Mom had made beautiful quilts for the three kids and had mailed them in January, with a little note: "Do not open until I get there!"  The boys were so excited to open their gifts and they played for ages on their new quilts… We wonder if the quilts will ever be used as blankets.  

Much to Mom’s delight, our time on Ærø happened to coincide with an accordion festival; there were accordion duets, trios and orchestras performing on the streets of Ærøskobing from all over Scandinavia and Germany.  I hadn’t realized what a versatile instrument the accordion is – along with the usual oom-pah-pah polkas, we also heard rousing marches, delicate classical pieces and even a heart-breaking theme song from an old Russian film… it sounded like a pipe organ was being played, not a solitary accordion.

That night, we were all invited to the birthday party of Nanna’s nine year-old nephew, Meds (pronounced Mess.)  The house was lit up with candles and Danish flags popped up everywhere – the Danish flag is flown to celebrate special events.  We were interested to learn that the flag is only flown during the day; it’s always taken down at night.

One last morning of driving around beautiful Ærø, Nanna showing us her family church and the tidily landscaped graveyards surrounding it, and then we hugged her parents goodbye and headed back onto the ferry for the trip back to Middlefart.

Now to make all of you Lego-lovers jealous…  Mom and I went with Nanna and the twins to Legoland, a Disneyland-type adventure park constructed with over 50 million blocks of Lego, with rides and an aquarium, a movie theater and outside waterpark.  The Lego mini-land was especially impressive – they had built thousands of buildings and vehicles in miniature: the palaces in Copenhagen, Wat Pho in Thailand, the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, working windmills, an airport with planes that taxied up and down the runway and boats that moved along a canal and through a lock system.  Amazing!  Poor Nanna had a quiet drive home, as the rest of us fell asleep after such a busy day.
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Andreja Nastasja on

I hope you explained the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery to your hosts. ;)

Auntie Gopher on

I have just spent the better part of the evning catching up with your travel blogs. Wow, what a wonderful advenure you are having. Thanks for saring you stories and pictures, and including us on your adventures. Sooooo exciting! Safe travels, hi to your Mom, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy :)

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