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.

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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.

Village Life

Preparing for our Family Gap Year

In preparation for taking a year away to travel round the world, we have sold our house in Bristol and downsized to a cottage in the country. We sold our house before Christmas and have now finally moved home into our new village.

We had to sell our old house to help fund our year away, but we have been lucky to find a new house to which we can return after our travels. Our new house is a bit smaller on the inside, but this was part of the plan. We didn’t need all the space that we had before, and much of that space was filled with things that we also didn’t really need.

Part of my ambition for taking a year away is to get back to basics. Reducing the volume of our possessions feels like a good step in the right direction. But there was still a moment on moving day when I literally didn’t think that we would fit everything into our new home. After some frantic unpacking of boxes, we finally managed to squeeze everything in, but this involved using every square inch of available space and leaving various items in the shed.

The kids have adapted extremely well to the house move. We have moved to a rural location, so there is more outside space than we had before. From the kids’ perspective this means they have actually gained some more freedome to roam about outdoors.

A change of location also means a change of school. We decided to wait until after the impending summer holidays to make this switch, so the kids will start at the local village school from September.

Adapting to a rural, village location, has been an interesting experience for us all. Even though we are still only 30 minutes from Bristol, the change of outlook (and broadband speed) has been noticeable:

  • It is very quiet at night…and dark
  • We wake to the sound of the nearby farm cockerel, rather than the background hum of traffic
  • Electricity supply can not be taken for granted, with the occasional mini-blackout a “feature” of the new house that we hadn’t anticipated
  • We have wildlife all around us, with a whole variety of garden birds, farmyard animals, insects and pond life on our doorstep
  • Buying a pint of milk takes more planning than before, needing to fit in with the opening times of our community-owned village store
  • The only real source of traffic jams is being stuck behind a tractor
  • Modern technology has been overtaken by the radio as our most reliable source of regular entertainment
  • Gardening is higher up on my list of weekend activities

This transition to a new life is only a temporary interlude while we wait to be able to rent out our new house. But at some point we will need to return from our gap-year and get back to normal life, so it’s nice to know that we have a family home to which we can return.

family travel blog

I am now turning my attention back to our trip. The first order of business is to re-plan our itinerary to take account of a new departure date in March 2017. My aim is to plan a route that combines spending quality time in a few locations, alongside some interesting road trips. I am not intending to plan the route down to a daily schedule, because we want the freedom to be able to changes plans as we go. But I would like to have an outline direction of travel to start booking flights.

All About Our Trip – by Kiera

What are your favourite things to do?

My favourite things to do are swimming, running and playing outside with my sister Lexi. I also like playing in the park with my friends after school. I like to sing, dance and do drawing, models and being Creative!

creative-graphic

 What are your least favourite things to do?

To go in the car for long journeys, and if I have to go on an aeroplane for a long time.

What are you most looking forward to on our trip next year?

Visiting new country’s I`ve never heard of or been to before, looking around and seeing what it is like and how different people live as different cultures.

 

Is there anything you will miss while we are travelling?

All my friends, my house, my dog Hugo, my hamster Oaty, and last but not least my two guinea pigs Rusty and William. I will also miss having a very long garden, my climbing frame and my trampoline.

bff

 

Which countries are you most looking forward to visiting?

Canada because I really want to see a bear – my favourite teddy is a bear. My Mum and Dad have been to Canada. I`m looking forward to Australia because it will be interesting to see different animals.

canada-flag

 Do you want to take a year away to travel round the world?

I don`t really want to go on the trip around the world because I don’t want to have the injections.

injection

 

But I also think that it will be quite good fun because I like going on holiday and looking around different countries.

 

House Swap

Selling our house, so that we can take a year away to travel round the world, was just one item on the pre-departure checklist, alongside more mundane activities such as organising vaccinations and buying some suitable rucksacks. The house selling process, however, is still ongoing and the reality is dawning that we will not achieve our hoped for departure window of July 2016.

We have now got some buyers lined up, and all being well we should have sold our family home by some time during May. This should help us to get back to planning our year away, which will need to start with a re-working of our itinerary  based on a new departure target of Spring 2017.

It will be a relief to sell our house so that we can start making some firm travel plans, but there is also some sadness in leaving our home behind. We have to sell our current home to fund our trip, which in our minds is a good trade-off to enable us to follow our dreams.

We do still need somewhere for the kids to sleep when we get back, so we are buying a smaller house nearby that we can hopefully rent out when we go, but which does at least give us a base for when we return.

Choosing somewhere to live for the next 6-9 months, that we can then also rent out, was trickier than I expected. We started with a very logical plan to buy a more modern property than our current 1900’s house, on the basis that we wanted something low maintenance and hassle free. What we found was a lovely stone cottage, which was modern once, around about the time of the Crimean war. On the plus side the house has managed to remain standing for the last 150 odd years, so with a bit of luck it should be ok for one year while we’re away.

All we need now is for everything to run smoothly with the final stages of the home moving process so that the real fun can commence!

 

 

 

Habla Espanol?

Serious travel planning for our round the world family trip is currently on hold, while we finalise the sale of our house.

Therefore, in a minor attempt to plug some of the gaping holes in my global adventurer toolkit, I am instead trying to learn a little Spanish. I opted for Spanish on the basis that I believe it to be one of the most widely spoken languages outside of English. Also, I like Spain, so perhaps a few words will come in handy on future summer holidays when I’d really like to know what I’m ordering for dinner.

Thankfully, as for nearly everything else, there are now plentiful free apps that promise the road to fluency in practically any language you fancy. After several concentrated seconds of research, I opted for an app called “Duolingo”, which I would definitely recommend for beginners.

After around ten hours of lessons, which are helpfully broken up into easily manageable 5-10 minute stages, I am now apparently 10% fluent! I find this hard to believe, but I suspect the next 90% gets harder. At least I may now be able order some drinks at a bar without having to rely purely on pointing, providing the kids are happy with either milk (leche) or orange juice (hugo de naranja) and nobody starts asking me any awkward questions.

Buenos noches.

Dan

 

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