Holy Snogerbloggan we love Denmark!

Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
Trip End Aug 20, 2009

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Flag of Denmark  , Region South Denmark,
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our first overnight train trip was quite an adventure. We boarded the train in Brussels to Cologne, Germany and then transferred to the train that was taking us overnight to Odense, Denmark.  The cabin could only be described as snug and not surprisingly, the kids loved it. We spent the first 5 minutes trying to figure out how we were going to fit all the luggage in, not to mention us! One of our suitcases couldn't fit under the bed or in the storage compartment by the top bunk which meant we had to leave it in front of the bottom bunk. The space in front of the bunk consisted of about 1 foot of walking room which meant if we wanted to move we had to climb over the suitcase. Quite a task for the boys since the suitcase was bigger than them! We shared a bathroom with everyone else on the car (a long line up for a 3 year old that "really had to go"). We finally settled in to our triple bunk beds to let the train gently rock us into a night of restful sleep. That is except for the parent that was sharing the bed with Cohen. Bruce, you really are a fantastic Father! It was a really cool thing to try, but probably a once in a lifetime experience with the kids!

In the morning we were picked up at the station by the Christiansens, the family we were exchanging with. They have 4 girls ranging in age from 5 to 13 years. After spending the day with them we felt so fortunate to have met them. What an absolutely wonderful family! We felt like we had known them forever and had a great time together. We were overwhelmed by their hospitality. The kids played on the trampoline together and went for a ride on the neighbors mini horses.  They also took us to the local outdoor theater production that some of their family were performing in. We had some wonderful Danish meals together (pork with crackling was a favorite) and enjoyed the company of what felt like life long friends for the rest of the evening. The next morning we wished them well on their trip to their new home in Canada.

It did not take Bruce long to discover the local bakery in Otterup.  It seems like every dessert here is topped with brown sugar. We have found a pastry that reminds us of Canada's beaver tail. Bruce has fallen in love and plans to go back for the hat trick. We've discovered many people have fresh vegetable and fruit stands at the end of their driveway. The people of Denmark are truly trusting. They just leave a cashbox or jar for you to leave your money in and you help yourself. We have enjoyed lots of fresh cherries and strawberries. We've also spent many hours jumping on the trampoline at the house and riding our bikes through the countryside. We were so glad to have bikes to ride here as well. Biking really seems to be a way of life in this part of the world and the roads are very bike friendly. 

Our trip has included yet another Castle called Egeskov Castle. Wednesdays in July they stay open late and have traditional music and dancing, horse and carriage rides, and fireworks.  Heaven forbid we miss a horse and carriage ride! We enjoyed their "carvery buffet" then participated in "Snobrodsbagning"- cooking fresh bread on a stick over an open fire. The castle also has great mazes,  a tree top walk, museums with different vehicles from the past, and a fantastic playground. The castle is still inhabited by descendants of the original family but allow the public to tour parts of the castle.

We loved playing a game of Fodboldgolf. Soccer-golf is just as it sounds, golf but kicking a soccer ball instead of using a club and golf ball. The fairway has obstacles you kick your ball through before you try to kick it into an oversized golf hole. Here we found another example of the trusting Danes.  There is no one is take your money, just a stand with info., scorecards, and an envelope to put your money in. Not knowing this was how it worked, we had to find someone to get change for us which she left in the stand before we had even paid. The Danish have been very kind people.

We have been fortunate to find some interesting festivals so far in Denmark. We visited Kerteminde for their Cherry Festival. They had lots of stands set up with fresh cherries, cherry drinks, cherry desserts, etc. We enjoyed the live music, the shops, and the beach there. We had a great time at a kite festival located on the point of Fyn where the wind was perfect for flying kites. We had fun flying the newly purchased cat kite amongst the 40 other kites. Many were quite serious about it but the majority were just like us- out for a fun family time. We also went to "Otterup by night" a local family fun night in the town where we are staying. The shops stay open late and there is live music, a few rides, but mostly just time for the town to spend together.

One thing that we have noticed since being here is that it's not exaggerated that Denmark is the most expensive country in Europe to live. The sales tax here is 25 %, so no more complaining about the GST! They also pay between 40 and 50 % income tax. Food is very expensive. An example would be a small bottle of Heinz ketchup is 40 Krone which translates to about $9 Canadian. Thankfully the tasty treat at the bakery is only 15 krones - go figure.

We enjoyed another game of mini-golf in Hasmark and then spent some time at the beach. We also spent a day in Bogense visiting their market, harbour, and shops. We really love all the small Danish towns. They are so welcoming and beautiful. We spent the day in Odense where Hans Christian Anderson grew up and went to his cultural house for children. There the boys could dress up in costumes from his plays, do art activities, watch a play about him, and get their faces painted. It was a lot of fun and the boys weren't the only ones who enjoyed dressing up in the costumes!

Staying here really has solidified our decision to swap houses. You really get to meet some great people and live in communities that give you a sense of how people really live. We love hearing what people have enjoyed about Canada and the funny stories about the differences between our countries. We have had many laughs at our own expense trying to figure out certain things that are different from home. Bruce removed the skin off the sausages we had for lunch when the Christiansen's Grandfather and Uncle joined us for lunch after they were doing some yard work. They never said anything but we later learned that you were suppose to leave the skin on. We're sure we're doing lots of other things too when we are out in public as we often get some nice smiles from the locals! Off to Copenhagen tomorrow for more adventures in this wonderful country!
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Theron on

We are the latest exchange partners with the Christiansens and we agree with the author of this blogg. We are enjoying our experience and will remember this exchange for a very long time. The Christiansens left at 4:00 am on Tuesday and we've missed them just a little. They will spend the next four weeks in SW Florida at our home and we hope they feel welcome there. Fortunately, we will see them again when they return home to Denmark as we will overlap with them for another three days and this will be nice.

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