We started the first leg of our Baltic odyssey on Olton station waiting for a train and we finished it for this year on Sonderborg station! We were on our way to catch a plane home at Copenhagen, via a detour to Roskilde to see the Viking boats and burial site of the Danish Royal family for the past 1000 years. And then onto France for a few days for a family party and finally back to reality!
Olton Station at the start of our journey
Sonderborg Station at the end of our journey
But first things first, lunch! We had a 4 hour train journey ahead of us and something to eat would be a good idea! I dashed to the bakery I had spotted at the top of the street (I have developed an unfailing ability to find bakeries!) and asked if they had any sandwiches and got handed two foil wrapped packets, when I asked what they were I was told very helpfully that they were ‘sandwiches’! And that would be 50 Krone, thank you! Oh well! I wish I had discovered Danish packed lunches before, so much better than messing around with bread rolls and cheese slices!
Once on the train we set about having our picnic and what a fantastic treat we found, a lovely selection of open sandwiches, cheese and fruit bread. It was clearly the thing to have for lunch as everyone else in the carriage was eating the same things!
Crossing the Great Belt bridge on the train
Roskilde was the ancient capital of Denmark, Copenhagen was originally founded as a satellite port on the Oresund for Roskilde by the Bishop of Roskilde and only took over in importance for trading when the Roskilde Fjord silted up. We wanted to go to Roskilde to see the 5 Viking Longships that were excavated from the Fjord in the 1950’s and hopefully have a sail in one.
We stayed at the Danhostel on the dock next to museum – what a fantastic location! Although it was billed as a youth hostel, it was inhabited by middle aged Americans with rucksacks doing Europe, so we fitted in perfectly!
A Viking ‘theme park’ has developed around the museum in a sort timber shanty town. The museum is a rather colourless and austere 1960’s concrete building but provides a perfect backdrop for the boats. The boats themselves are a remarkable collection of the different types of boat in common use over 1000 years ago. Some of which are still in use today in the Fjords of Denmark and Sweden. The recovered boats consisted of a large ‘traditional’ longship built in Dublin! A smaller, locally built longship and a fishing boat, a local trading boat and a large ocean going commercial ‘freighter’. When they say large and ocean going it must have taken real courage to cross the North Sea in what was in effect a large open boat! As old and well patched boats they were filled with stones and sunk to form a barrage as part of the defences of Roskilde about 1100 to 1000 years ago.
The ocean going ‘freighter’
The large longship and the trading vessel
The fishing boat
The small warship
The shield rack from the small warship
As part of the museum they have a boatyard where they build traditional boats using the different woods and tools available in the Viking era and it is these boats you can sail. So not having been on a boat for 24 hours we were first in the queue to go for a sail! We ended up rowing our way across the Fjord under the command of a Danish speaking New Zealander.
The boatyard and boats
The skipper was a hard task master and made us row!
And pull on ropes!
This was then followed by lunch at the Viking restaurant. I did not realise that the Vikings ate pizza!!
The other significant sight to see was the cathedral. It claims to be the oldest brick built religious building in Europe, although I am sure we have come across this claim somewhere before in our travels!
Each Royal dynasty built an extension on the side of the church in the style of the moment to house their bodies and those of their families. There is medieval chic, renaissance high style, best gothic grim, overblown baroque and so on! This continues today with the current queen that has a very trendy Scandi vibe sarcophagus under construction.
Modern scandi awaits their current queen!
By way of demonstrating how well connected the Danish Royals are, in one of the burials chapels a column has been marked with the heights of various visiting Royal children over the centuries, including Czar Nicholas and Prince Philip!
The whole building has a lovely calm feel to it which is slightly spoilt every hour by the clock which emits a tremendous farting wail as a model of St George chops the head off a dragon!
Thank you, if you have read my posts I hope you enjoyed them as much as we had being part of them! We are missing Grace and the freedom and challenge of sailing her and cannot wait for next season. This really is the very last blog for this year! If you want to read more, and I hope you do, then look out for the next part of our journey starting in May 2018. This will take us to Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland and the Baltic States; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Andrew and Anne