Denmark is a beach!

A beach in sight. The splashing white foam of Danish sea waters slowly gives in. The neighbouring coast of the Zealand (Sjælland ) island of streches its long beach arms for the new guests. Far behind, the boat has left green pastures and fields of Swedish Halland, with its occassional strong wind blows that send the waves over the pier wall and give a salt face wash to those curious spectators of the beautiful and tough scenery.

Hornbæk

The lighthouse at the Hornbæk`s outside pier gives green light – it is time to put down the sails before entering the harbour. Already there and then, friendly locals wave and send their greetings, that promise some good days ahead. The harbour master shares the same spirit; he proudly presents his Hornbæk and the busy pier where tasty and affordable sea food is served with chilled wine and beer.

Hornbæk`s beach is long and sandy. While the wave foam splashes over excited bathers and swimmers, the sun competes with the wind in reaching out to those other ones, lying on their beach towels, eager to get tanned.

After some bathing and drying on the beach in the morning, it is time for a long bike ride to the famous Rudolph Tegner museum. Located in the countryside, this precious institution houses numerous sculptures of the renowned Danish artist. Both inside and outside of the building, figures in stone tell stories inspired by everyday life and old myths.  And inside,  in one of those rooms in the back of the museum, numerous Tegner`s paintings decorate the walls; paintings of different courners of the planet that the artist visited during his lifetime…

Rudolph Tegner museum

All that he experienced plays it self out in different forms in front of spectators’ eyes: from the cult Parisian Seine and the bridges over it, via Spanish landscapes and portraits to Moroccan green market. It feels like it would be a time travel experience if only one stayed some minutes longer. Very inspiring paintings, both for painters and world travellers. After the museum visit,  a smiling and friendly cafe host in the museum`s backyard serves a good cup of coffee.  Sitting there on a bench and being surrounded by idyllic countryside – an old water well, garden full of greens, cafe`s pet dog resting in the shade under the table and fresh flowers in a vase next to the coffee cup – gives tons of necessary energy for the cycling back.

The neigbouring harbour of Gilleleje, some sailing hours to the west, still keeps memory of the time when this used to be a small fishing village. Now restaurants and kiosks  serving local delicacies have their outside tables full of hungry visitors. No wonder; good smell spreads throughout the whole area! Fishermen and sailors gather together on board one of the boats to have a skål with nubben glasses in bohemian spirit. Their laughter makes harbour more lively and more cosy, as the evening slowly approaches.

A walk in the town. Thatched roofs on old houses keep the spirit of old Gilleleje. House yards full of flowers, summer greens and working tools, with a bit of mess here and there, reveal similarities with southern European backyards. This could be a reminder that Denmark might be a mix of Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.  Gilleleje is also called “the town on the hill” and the reason for it reveals itself during the search for the old lighthouse .

Nakkehoved lighthouse

The path passes Gilleleje`s church and cemetery  and gradually climbs up the hill, where people have build beautiful homes with even more beautiful view. Sitting on a wooden bench, set up just there at the top of the hill, and enjoying the view of the sea blue with white triangular sails on the horizon or even a boat regatta near the neighboring rock, who wouldn`t get a feeling of being a witness to somehing out of this world or at least something confirming that this world can be and is an awesome place (at least from time to time)?

On the way back forest path leads eventually to steps, that end up on the pebble stone beach and it is exiting to jump the many stones on the way to the harbour.
“It is almost necessary to have a dog to come to this place”, says and smiles one of the crew members of the boat that just arrived to Hundested, harbour at the corner of Danish Halsnæs peninsula. Two dogs on board, of course. They are waving their tails, trying to find their way to the land, while the owners are still fixing the ropes to make sure the boat is tied well.  The comment refers to the name of the place: “hund” meaning “dog” and “sted” – “place”. However, “hund” here apparently means “seal”. Tough to imagine two of those on board.

Hundested is not big place, but could be called a center for artist shops and galleries, where visitors can enjoy or buy various artifacts, from postcards to furniture. Public messages of wisdom such as “Order removes imagination” and “Only the stupid cleans up, the genius masters chaos” that are posted on an artist workshop is a creative way of explaining (and justifying) the state of its interior. Speaking of notes,   “Closed today,  due to the rain” is a common one on rainy days as the wooden art, which dominates the square, does not tolerate water.

It would rather wait dry and sunny weather, when a huge sand castle in the heart of Hundested welcomes thousands of visitors, that probably try to make their own at the beach later.

Yet, there is always something to do, even in the wet weather. As one of the brochures says, you can never get bored in this part of Denmark. Or, at least, they claim so. One can, for example, try out rope tying skills. Both rope and instructions how to make knots hang on the wall of one of the gallery houses.  Or simply get into rainy boots and jump and splash with all power the water from small street ponds. Meant for children from 2 to 92. 🙂

Ice cream lovers do not get discouraged by the rain and head for the local supermarket, but those with kids made all the popcycles disappear from the freezer. Only family packages left. Big supermarket. Not a single ice cream. Ok, big packages are still untouched. But still. Unreal.

It will be smooth sailing out of Hundested, think those on board with a touch of poetic innocence!. But NO! The area out of the harbour is called Terskelen (“The Threshold”) – it is a tough battle with waves and air when going against the wind.

But eventually the boat crosses the water and arrives to Grenå on the Jutland (Jylland) peninsula. Here is the place to enjoy a good bicycle ride on the way to bakery in the morning, for instance. When the wheels cross the dock and pass that narrow space next to the ramp, and then over the wooden bridge, the road eventually gets flatter and longer and it feels good to work out before famous Danish sweet tasty breakfast…calories.

Grenå is also a nice destination when searching some town fun, Western-style wooden bars, bowling or simply – hanging out with sharks! Yes, Grenå has also Kattegatcentret, aquarium full of sharks and all other beautiful sea creatures. One of the highlights is feeding of sharks and seaIs, conducted by very experienced staff and trainers.

In the meantime, in the harbour, boats seem to constantly come and go. And it is fun to look at them. For example, those three older sailors à la Popeye over there, on board the boat called “Oh dear”. Hope “Oh dear” finds a good place before the night falls.

The next day, as the sailing trip proceeds north towards the island Læsø between Denmark and Sweden, the wind stops. Or it blows maximum 2 m/s, sometimes 3. A German boat seems to be standing completely still and land is currently  nowhere in sight. He greets the boat passing by and shrugs his shoulders: “Kein Wind”. Sympathy goes both ways. It will be better soon.

In Læsø`s Vesterø harbour people are gathering just before the sunset to “syng solen ned”, sing as the sun goes down. Some are singing and some are grilling and the summer evening simply feels perfect after a long sailing during the day.

After the sun sets down, there is a phenomenon in the sky; not a rainbow, but rainbow colors in clouds. And down on Earth, two teenagers are building sand towers, while listening to hip hop music from their mobile speakers. When meeting people on the beach, they stop the music and get shy. They continue digging. After a while, music sound can be heard from the beach again.

Læsø people are proud of the island`s salt. It is everywhere; bakers use it when making bread, local spa center uses it in treatments and lots of it can be found under the boats` sprayhoods!

Not far from Vesterø, there is a long beach. Long and shallow path in the water, with sand islands popping up on the way, when people least expect them. On Læsø people seem like to be walking on the water.

Læsø Beaches

Meanwhile, an extremely friendly and talkative bus-driver takes us all to the Østerby harbour, harbour that belongs to fishermen and their industry. Although it also has apart with sailing and pleasure boats as well as a long sandy beach, it is fishing boats with all their characteristics (nets, fishing equipment, look like they should get cleaned) that rule the place.

One boat gets a visitor. Seagull not only got on board, it is actually checking all the rooms inside of it! Nothing beats this hungry birds. Specially not a small dead fish, left in the net on land. A bit of patience and the bird got its snack.

It is hard to leave Læsø and set the course north. Sweden is waiting, with its really nice islands and nature…but if only we could take some sand (and a small beach) with us. Tip / note for later: plan the trip to Danish islands so that you have enough days to enjoy this beach of a country!