Airbnb Adventure in Denmark

Why Go To Denmark?

We decided to use this year’s summer holiday to take a mini-adventure in northern europe and pay a visit to Jutland, Denmark.

I fancied exploring some Danish culture, probably as a result of over exposure to Danish crime thrillers on the BBC and my recent reading of The Year of Living Danishly.

The kids were sold on the idea that we might pay a visit to Legoland.

We found a lovely beach house on the east coast of Jutland, booked through Airbnb, which seems like a really useful option for our year away. So we decided to use this week as a trial of our future living arrangements.

If you are new to Airbnb, Get £25 off your first stay here.

Initial Impressions

After a short flight from Amsterdam, we bounced into Bilund, the home of Lego. Our initial impression was how quiet it seemed. This turned out to be a theme of our time in this corner of Denmark, which was abundant with deserted beaches and empty countryside.

We are used to living in the south of England, where the first hint of sunshine means there will be queues on the motorway to even get close to the queues that will be lining most seaside amenities. We arrived into a relative heat wave (30 degrees celsius), yet we literally had miles of coastline seemingly to ourselves, without a fairground ride or ice-cream van in sight.

Our new home was around 45 minutes drive from the airport, tucked away in an idyllic location. Set in a forest and only a short walk down to the local beach on Vejle fjord. The view from our small back garden was spectacular. The kids were happy because they could run around on the grass and make some noise after a day travelling:

Airbnb Denmark

Crab Fishing

Our local beach turned out to be the ideal spot for crab fishing.

My usual attempts at crab fishing end in recriminations. The kids complaining about my lack of survival skills and general inability to persuade crabs to leave the seabed and climb into a net filled with raw bacon.

Luckily, we hit upon a better technique, courtesy of being told precisely what to do by the very helpful owners of our beach house. A piece of string tied around a stick, baited with some smashed up mussel’s attached with a clothes peg. This seemed too simplistic to work. Within five minutes of landing on the beach our bucket was nearly overflowing with claws and the kids thought they were in heaven.

It turns out the catching crabs is quite addictive. Anja was soon on the edge of a rickety pontoon, hanging precariously over the fjord in an attempt to land “just one more”. Kiera went for an even more direct approach, with some free diving to catch the crabs at source, while Lexi relished her role as chief mussel catcher.

Having amassed a small army of creatures, there was only one thing for it – crab olympics. They mostly went off fast from the side of the bucket, scampering back down the beach towards home. One or two stood to fight it out, claws waving wildly in the air, before deciding that they too would be best advised to retreat to shallow waters.

Legoland Bilund

After a couple of days chilling around the house and exploring the beach, the kids decided that they would take us up on our offer of one day at Legoland.

The Legoland in Bilund is built next to the original Lego factory and was opened in 1968.

Legoland Denmark

My only real tip for visiting Legoland is to arrive early and get in line. We also decided to head for some of the bigger rides first thing, so that we could get in a few circuits before the crowds started to build.

None of us are particularly brave when it comes to rollercoasters, so Legoland is ideal for us because most of the rides are well designed for younger visitors.

Legoland Bilund was a great day out and it did seem less busy than our English version in Windsor. The kids are also at a nice age now, at 5 and 8, where they can both ride most of the attractions that they (we!) are brave enough to try.

What We Learned During Our Time in Denmark

  • There is more to Denmark than Copenhagen and it is well worth exploring the rest of this beautiful country.
  • The Danish do love their flag, with a full-blown flag pole on display outside most homes.
  • What we call Danish pastries at home, are known in Denmark as Vienna Bread (wienerbrod), having been originally bought here by Austrian bakers.
  • It is normal to see fully grown adults riding about on bicycles, as a means of transport rather than as an attempt to “get fit”, and without the need to wear any lycra.
  • Everybody speaks very good English, but most people you ask will say they only speak a little, before engaging you in a detailed conversation in our native language.
  • I thought it was only in Sweden that you had to drive with your headlights on at all times. I was wrong. Every car that we saw in Denmark had their headlights on, during the middle of the day, in the middle of August, when there was no conceivable reason to need any extra illumination.
  • There are no police in Denmark, except for the few wielding machine guns at the airport.
  • We felt extremely welcome wherever we visited, with total strangers striking up conversations with us on more than one occasion. I can’t recall the last time this happened at home.
  • Much to the kid’s amusement, on the odd time that Daddy was driving a fraction over the speed limit, a big sign on the side of most main roads would flash a warning to us reading “Din Fart”. It was a real highlight when this also happened to coincide with us heading in the direction of a local town called “Middelfart”.
  • Danish school summer holidays finish in early August, which may help explain why everywhere seemed relatively quiet when we visited in mid-August.

The Lull Before The Storm

Life feels relatively normal at the moment. On the surface there isn’t much to show that we are slowly approaching a major change.

We are still quietly planning our family gap-year, but our departure date of July 2016 feels an incredibly long way off. I suspect, however, that we will look back in nine months time from the runway of Heathrow airport and wonder where all the time went.

Anja has started to tell her friends at work about our plans, with lots of encouraging reactions and a few  very kind offers to look after our dog while we are away. We haven’t yet finalised any plans for Hugo, but it is encouraging that we at least have some potential homes for him when we go away.

The kids are loving school at the moment, with Alexandra settling really well in her first year and Kiera enjoying the step up to Junior school. It is clearly one of our biggest worries as parents that we are disrupting the kids’ schooling by taking them away from their normal routine. We sincerely believe that the kids will learn more from travelling the world than they would from one year in school, but we also know that it is going to be hard for them to leave everything that they know behind.

I am managing to keep busy as usual, with a combination of work and decorating our house so that it is ready to go on the market before Christmas. Selling our house will feel, to me at least, like the point of no return on this journey.

Despite my insistence on saving money for our trip, we have also squeezed in a few family days out to avoid cabin fever. We had a lovely weekend in Lincoln, visiting my brother and sister in-law, and we have just returned from a day trip to Legoland, Windsor.

We had not been to Lincoln before, but my brother moved up there a few months ago and it was past time that we invaded their peace and quiet with the kids in tow. Lincoln reminded me slightly of my old university city of Exeter, with an imposing central cathedral and castle combination that meant you really could be transported back in time by several hundred years and not lose your bearings.

My brother twisted my arm to join him for a day at the races at Market Rasen, where I just about managed to escape from the bookies at break even, and Kiera particularly enjoyed putting some new found maths skills into practical application by helping me calculate odds. Vegas here we come. (Don’t worry, we only gambled with my money, so no laws were broken).

Legoland was more of a spur of the moment trip as the weather was dry and the kids have just broken up for half-term. We have been once before and the rides are just about perfectly suited for a 7 and 4 year-old duo, albeit with fewer options in the 36 year-old bracket.



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