As predicted the sun shone the next day and we rose early and were on our way through the sleepy Maribo and were on our way through open country. We had been going for a couple of hours, even though it was only 09.30 and were definitely feeling the need to have some respite from the saddle and re-caffeinate. We stopped at a store in the town of Guldborg and bought the first Danish pastries that we have had despite having been in Denmark three days, a shameful record, which we shall do our best to address!
As we have travelled through rural Denmark (and much of Denmark is rural) we have been struck by a distinct lack of people. We pedal through towns and villages that seem to be all but deserted. Denmark is apparently the most densely populated country in the Nordic region, but that population is evidently concentrated in the major cities, as we could pedal for hours and not see another person, excluding fellow bike tourists.
Our journey to Vordingborg saw us traversing the Storstromsbroen bridge, which is about 2 miles long. This is a rail, road and cycleway which is no longer the main thoroughfare, as the Faro Broerne bridge is newer and services the main E47 highway. It was evident from the outset that the bridge had seen better days, as the cycling surface was a little rough in places. We were making good progress nonetheless, however, about a third of the way along we hit a protruding metal board and I saw something fly off the bike. We screeched to a halt, and I retraced our tracks to find that the plastic surround from Mr V’s SPD pedal had been ripped away. Fortunately, we have cleated pedals, so he was able to cycle fine, indeed he had not realised that was what had been lost as he was still clipped in! We were a little more careful pedalling the rest of the way across the bridge and made our way to our campsite which was not far away.
After checking in and pitching our tent, we sought out a supermarket to buy food and also some superglue to see if we could carry out some running repairs to the pedal. Provisions purchased, we were able to fix the pedal well enough for the time being. Fortunately the type of pedal it is, means that there is no pressure exerted on the broken part, this is just for foot stability. As we sat in the sunshine congratulating ourselves whilst chewing on some liquorice, Mr V let out an expletive and produced a tooth cap that had been pulled off. This had the potential for disaster as the sharp edges from the tooth will cut into his tongue making it extremely painful. We could of course see if there was a dentist who could carry out a temporary fix, but this could prove very expensive. Having just purchased some superglue though, I had the brainwave of using this. So cotton buds in hand and head torch on, I tested out my armature dentistry. Though there will be dentists who will be aghast, I am pleased to report that to date the tooth is still secure.
Our campsite was practically on the beach, so we had a little paddle in the warm shallows, and later in the evening enjoyed watching the sun go down. Fortunately this spectacle was to the left horizon, the overall perfection was a little marred on the right horizon by the considerable works that are being carried out building a causeway across the strait.
We set forth the next morning for Koge, which was to be our final stepping stone before Copenhagen. The route was not straightforward and included albeit short but steep sections and a variety of surfaces, it was tough going with the heavily laden Talula, and our legs really felt it. This aside, we still made good time, finding our campsite early in the afternoon. We pitched our tent in the designated area, which was undulated and dotted with trees, so there were in effect lots of little private dells. We were the first to arrive, but by nightfall, when I was stumbling my way back from the ablutions, there were numerous little camps lit up around the wooded area.
We had a fairly leisurely start the next morning as we had to wait for the office to open at 08.00 to get the deposit back on the ablutions key, but we only had a short ride today. We stopped at about 10.00 at the marina in Greve, and met and had a long chat, discussing all manner of philosophical issues, Tinna, who though a native of Denmark, has lived in the US for around 30 years, and was home visiting her mother who was poorly. She took a shine to Talula, and may be a future bike packer.
Setting off again, and only slightly inconvenienced by major roadworks, we found ourselves at our campsite, which was about 30 minutes outside the city centre. We made ourselves comfortable and did our weekly wash, before finalising our plans for exploring Copenhagen.
We had booked ourselves onto a ‘free’ walking tour to maximise our time. We have done these in a number of cities we have visited and find them to be both entertaining and informative. Looking at the route of the tour, I noticed that it did not take in the Little Mermaid statue, which we particularly wanted to visit as this was our daughter’s favourite story when she was little. Knowing that we would be awake early, this is unavoidable in a tent unless you wear an eye mask, we thought we would pedal in before joining the walking tour and visit the statue.
I had read that Copenhagen is the best city for cycling, but having cycled extensively in the Netherlands, was not sure how it would compare. I can report that it does live up to it’s reputation, and is definitely a cyclists’ city. We went through the centre at what would have been the start of the morning commute and the motor traffic was really not heavy at all. The cycle traffic however, was a different story. Our tour guide Martin, later informed us that cycling through Copenhagen is referred to as Viking Biking, as they definitely take no prisoners. We kept firmly to the rig of the cycle lane so as not to be in the way, and it took us a while to master a left turn at a cross-roads junction (I use the term ‘master’, but in truth it was more a case that we eventually did not get off the bike and walk the turn).
We arrived at the Little Mermaid by about 08.30, pedalling in the tracks of the Tour de France as the chalk writings were still clearly evident on the roadway. We were able to spend some time taking pictures by ourselves, but it was not long before the number of tourists was growing, so we headed back to the centre of the city via the Nyboder area, which is a distinct row of houses which were formally Naval barracks and had been used as the backdrop for the film the Danish Girl.
We then made our way back to the meeting point for our tour, in the Town Hall Square, and had time to enjoy a pastry and smoothie for breakfast before joining our fellow walkers, to be entertained and informed about the history and hidden corners of Copenhagen, which I now know has been burned down numerous times and therefore does not have any really ancient houses left!
Tour finished, we had lunch in a recommended place, off the beaten track before making our way to the train station. We hoped to catch an international train, that would take us over to the west of Denmark before traveling down into Germany, it is a six hour journey, but is supposed to be a lovely way to see the countryside. Having eventually found space to park Talula amongst the hoards of cycles outside the station, we spotted the queue for the information desk. Fortunately, I realised that this was a numbered queue and secured a ticket, and we waited for our number to be called. We approached the booth and asked the gentleman about tickets for our desired journey. It transpired that we had stood and waited for 10 minutes in the queue for currency. In our defence, there was little to give this fact away! We then, after directions, made our way to the correct location for tickets and information, where you had to pre-queue to get your numbered ticket to queue, and there were different queues for domestic and international enquiries. We settled down for a long wait, but eventually our number was called and we made our request for our desired journey, only to be informed that the earliest date for any bike spaces on international travel was 21st July. Crestfallen, we sought advice and the very helpful gentleman gave us various options, even drawing us a map and sold us and Talula tickets to Nykobing the next day.
Our campsite at Copenhagen has been lovely, not only were the facilities excellent, but we have been treated to nightly visits from hares who have come quite close around the tent area. We have been fortunate enough to see much wildlife as we travel with little sound around the countryside, but I am never able to react quickly enough to capture the deer and hares we have seen, Mr V has a particular affinity with hares, as a runner too, he often sees them out in the countryside, so it has been a lovely experience to encounter these animals at close quarter.