Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Denmark, where the wind comes whistling o’er the planes…

Yes, planes.

We’re in Denmark, that’s rural Denmark, with wide green flat fields, white square fortified church towers with red roofs, efficient trains, and exciting planes. Cute little red and white airplanes; that’s how you know you’re in Denmark.

The Danish Aviation Museum definitely gets my gong for the most isolated air museum I’ve seen. I am sure that James will thrill with stories of the very rare or unique aircraft, but if it were left to me, I would tell you that there are some very cute airplanes in here, of classic clean 1930s design, with red and white flags on the tails. (Now it’s up to James and his friends to set the record straight…..)

While he takes pictures, I’m in the very nice little café, playing on the laptop and eating chocolate. Mmm.

I like Denmark. And not just for the chocolate. (All of the food, even in supermarkets, is incredibly expensive here. – That is, EXCEPT for chocolate, which is half the price we pay in Australia for the good stuff. Tag, danke, thank you, merci, that’s great!) So imagine the divine gustation of orange-studded dark Belgian chocolate as you read on…

We arrived a couple of days ago from Munich, delayed, hot, tired and somewhat flustered. After the excitement of Venice, Paris and Munich, both of us had started to speak of a hankering to get away from the cities to somewhere peaceful. So we declined the hotel in Copenhagen and headed for the tourist information booth at the airport, where we met a lovely woman on staff who immediately perceived what we were after and found us a beautiful historic BandB overlooking a harbour in a small town we hadn’t even heard of.

(The BandB is the white building on the left).

I think it was when I said, “I’m so tired. I need to go somewhere small and peaceful near the sea”, and we got a big smile and an enthusiastic recommendation – "Oh, I’ll send you to the town near the island where my parents live – there’s a lovely new BandB, just opened a week or two ago, it’s beautiful..."

And she was so right, and it was perfect, and she took a lot of trouble, even calling her son to help her find the name and number of the owner so we could book in (the BandB not being properly advertised and up and running yet).

So we spent two quiet days looking at the fishing boats, walking along the sea wall, sleeping and making our own meals in the huge attic kitchen of the BandB.

Up on the top floor by the kitchen, there's a deck area, where we were sitting, watching the boats one evening while the next day’s lunch was cooking – hard boiled eggs (the economical option in Denmark!)

While we were there, a fellow guest, a nice cap from Newcastle with a very broad Newcastle accent, bumped into a Danish grandpa in the kitchen, and this is the conversation we overheard from out on the deck:

(You have to do this with accents on both parts, one strong Newcastle UK, one Danish).

- “Hi.”
- “Hej.”
Both men nod and smile.

The Danish grandpa looks at the pot on the stove:
- “Aeg?”
- “Egg.”
- “Ja. Aeg?”
- “Yes, Egg.”
- “Och, Aeg!”
- “Mm, eggs.”

At which point I stuck my head in and more smiling and nodding ensued. I’m not sure who was more difficult to understand: Newcastle or Denmark.

The aegs were nice, though.


I’m finding Danish fascinating. As a language it seems incomprehensible (and of course, it mainly is), but when I’m eavesdropping I can hear a lot of similarities with German, and much of the gist of what’s going on makes sense, even if the pronunciation defies me.

Another nice tourist office staff gave me a lesson in pronouncing place names yesterday which was a giggle when she realised I'd got it right... (I have to say, the tourist offices in Denmark are the nicest, most helpful, welcoming and friendly we have met anywhere on this trip or any other I can remember. I’m really, really impressed).

When we took the ferry from Kalundborg to Århus, on the first leg of our trek across Denmark to the aviation museum, we sailed on a ferry that was a heaving mass of schoolkids off for school summer camp. As we awaited embarkation, a very pleasant ferry crew man, a deck traffic crew, got talking to James and was hilarious on the topic.

He reckoned they were carrying all the children from the mainland to the islands and then back again. “Their parents pack them these big suitcases because they think they are going to wash every day! They don’t know the truth – if they put a shilling under the soap, the kids wouldn’t find it by the end of the week…” Another friendly Dane, he let us on the boat through the truck deck and up to get our pick of seats before the school kids washed through the shop like a tidal wave of noise……

And two and a half hour later, we emerged, battered, from a ferry that was a wreck of crumbled biscuits, crisp packets and icecream wrappers.

But to go back to my interest in the language, the school kids were clearly easy to understand: it all goes a bitlike this:

- "oogledee boogledee oggledee"
- "Oggledee boggledee" - TONK!
- "BOG-ledee - OW!"

The physical part is universal. And the teachers; "Erasmus, Symon, SHTOP!" - despite the pronunciation and the amazing names (Erasmus?) - the intent was pretty clear....


Tonight we go to Odense. That’s pronounced *sneeze *. Then towards Copenhagen and two nights at Helsingør, the town with the castle that caught the eye of a guy called William Shakespeare, writing some play called Hamlet. (“Omlet, Omlet, ich bin de Papa spooky” – Ask the Laing family).

We’re enjoying our time, we appreciate the friendly and interesting Danes we’ve met, and we’ve coined a new term, which is bøgan. Thankfully, there aren’t many of them in Denmark (although the following family crest is a bit of a concern...) another plus for this lovely place.

Save your sheckels and come to Denmark. Live on bread, apples, and boiled eggs, and take the trains, which run on time. I definitely want to come back already.


No comments: