Denmark - it's not all Carlsberg bacon & pastries

Trip Start Jun 20, 2010
1
8
26
Trip End Nov 20, 2010


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Where I stayed
Aalborg camping

Flag of Denmark  , North Jutland,
Thursday, July 8, 2010

The €4.50 challenge
The €4.50 challenge is a game which many of you that have travelled will have played already.  When leaving a country often your pockets are left bulging with change, this change isn't worth converting back and (especially when cycle touring) weighs a huge amount the challenge is then to buy stuff and use up all your change (you can also start a scoring system if you are really bored e.g each cent remaining is a point, on a really long trip if you are travelling with others you can have an ongoing competition). You start by picking a venue, (however sometimes there is no choice) supermarkets are easy so have a low difficulty score airports are harder, things like corner stores are often hardest due to the limited amount of things they sell. In the last town in Germany before Denmark I found a supermarket, buried my hands in my pockets and threw a dirty great pile of coins on the table. I counted them up, coppers and all and surprisingly it came to exactly €4.50. This is quite a hard figure for this particular game as supermarkets always sell things at 49 cents etc. There is added difficulty to the game in Germany as when you buy anything in a bottle or can, water, beers etc you pay a price and then there is an added tax for the bottle or can. It is quite a clever system as when you are finished with them, you then take the bottle back, they have scanners in all supermarkets where you can put them in and it will refund your money. It stops people throwing cans etc away is better for the environment because you don't have to make as many new ones. It also means that all the bums wander round inadvertently tidying up the streets (and rummaging in bins) trying to earn some dosh. It's pretty ingenious and clever, probably the reason we don't have it in Britain. It made the game slightly harder and it soon became apparent that €4.50 was not going to be enough so the €4.50 challenge became the €9.50 challenge. It is quite an interesting experience as you end up buying all sorts of random things (many of which you don't even know what they are, or need) just because they cost the right amount. My maths is not bad but when I got to the till I was still unsure as I had only roughly jotted it up. You have to be careful that it doesn't cost more as then you end up in a very awkward position especially when you don't speak the language, this is known as an epic fail. It turns out I did better than expected and got €9.48 (it did come to €9.49 but for some reason they subtracted 1 cent). It's pretty stupid thing to do but just another way you find of keeping yourself occupied when you are travelling for long period of time on a limited budget, it's also a pretty good when you get the exact amount. So next time your using a foreign currency give it a go and see if you are up to the challenge.

Crossing the border

So in the last few days i have covered quite a few miles and travelled up through Denmark to Aalborg. The border crossing this time was a bit better, there was still no way of getting a stamp in my passport but at least there were some police in yellow jackets and flags. The police weren't exactly doing anything (just watching the cars driving past, and staring at me like i was some kind of mad man) but at least they were there which made if feel like i was actually crossing into another country!

Finally other cycle tourers!
I have met quite a few other people cycling recently. The first was a crazy old German man. I had stopped for lunch on a bench by the side of the cycle path. He pulled up and started talking at me in German. I told him my German was not good he looked at me still with a massive  beaming grin on his face, stared at me through his huge rose tinted glasses and just continued talking. I managed to understand the jist of what he was saying and we had a conversation (in the most basic of senses) for a good 5 minutes. It turned out that he had recently cycled from the north cape at the top of Norway down to Hamburg he was very proud that he did the 2600 km in 26 days cycling about 110 km a day. He then asked me how old I thought he was, a tricky question even if you speak the same language. I of course didn't want to offend and so politely said 40? (he was at least 60!) turns out he was 66 so a pretty impressive feat. We continued our bizarre conversation for a while longer and then still beaming he said good bye and sped off in the most energetic of manners for someone of his age. A couple of hours later I passed him coming back the other way I could spot his beaming grin a mile off, he gave me a thumbs up and shouted go go go or words to those affect in German a he whizzed past. 

I met some more cycle tourers at the first campsite I stayed at in Denmark, all Danish on their summer holidays. You meet a lot more long distance cycle tourers when you get out of Germany as there are less people on bikes so they stand out more and as there are less roads often people are heading on the same route. I met German guy a few days later who was really mad. He had pretty much done the reverse of my route through the Balkans and then  Scandinavia and had done about 5000km. He was riding an amazing 150-200km a day (Which is about 10 hours in the saddle)!! He gave me some really useful advice and although it was raining and we both needed to be getting on we stood and chatted for a good hour. That's the great thing about travelling on a bike, you automatically have some thing in common with anyone else you meet who is riding and can chat as though you have known each other for ages.

I stayed in a campsite the other day and i knew when I turned up that something was slightly odd but I couldn't put my finger on it. The next day I realised that there were an awful lot of dogs for a campsite and not just any dogs but Labradors. I had inadvertently booked into a campsite where there was a Danish Labrador dog club running dog handling classes. I hadn't realised this initially which is why I was quite surprised to see a woman walk up to the toilet block give her dog the lead in its mouth then tell it to sit and wait in Danish. The dog sat as if glued to the floor it was only young and there were people waking passed all the time but it stayed eyes glued on the door for a good few minutes. I found out later that is was the instructor and demo dog hence the reason it was amazing well behaved. 

Cycle touring is not all easy going. My fist medical issue (ignoring some sun burn creating very odd tan lines) was caused by an annoying little critter. I woke up to find a tick buried in my foot (not the best way to start the day). Luckily our dogs have had them quite a lot so I knew that you can't just pull em out otherwise the head bit comes off and gets infected which is not what you want. There are three options for removing  them a hot match which kills them and makes them let go, Vaseline (yes really) this i think suffocates them and strong alcohol like gin (this presumably gets them so pissed they fall off?). I decided to go for the first option and got my camping stove going. I soon realised why our dogs make such a fuss when we remove ticks with a hot match. It's really rather painful as its impossible to just get the tick (which of course also goes mad before dying adding to the pain) and you end up burning yourself. Even when dead the strength of the things in amazing I was tugging so hard at it with tweezers it broke in half, it took a good couple if minutes to get the thing out. It just goes to show that when you are doing a trip like this you have to be prepared for anything to happen whether it be good or bad (or painful!)

Stranded in Aalborg
They say you make your own luck but I can't really figure out what I have been doing to receive the luck I have been getting. I have had more problems on the mechanical front. On the way out of Germany I had another broken spoke and a puncture! The reason is that the Germans have in the recent past decided they need lots of cycle lanes. As the roads were already built they decided to use the pavement, this is fine but means that the surface is pretty bad and you are continuously going on and off curbs. I slightly mis judged one and the result was a loud BANG! Luckily I had come prepared I had purchased a nipplespanner (see previous post) so was able to mend the damage but I think I will need some fatter tyres and possibly a rear wheel rebuild to avoid further spoke based stoppages on the dodgy roads In Eastern Europe. When I reached Aalborg I decided to have a day off to get some tyres before I get to Norway where things are very very expensive (like 9 quid for a beer expensive...YES! I did say 9!!!!) unfortunately as I went to pick my bike up I noticed a very serious problem. One of the rack mounts for my rear rack had come off and needed welding back on. It would be enough of a challenge to find somewhere to do it back home let alone in a foreign town. It was a boiling hot Saturday morning i managed to make it to a very helpful bike shop which didn't have welding gear but they gave me some good leads, unfortunately though everything closes at one and doesn't open again until Monday so I had to admit defeat, looks like I'll be spending a few more days in Denmark. 

Luckily the campsite I'm staying on is pretty good. It's attached to a hostel so there are lots of people around. I was a bit unsure at first as the travel guide says that the campsite is popular with naturists?!?! Luckily there is a wall up to separate us from them! The campsite is also quite bizarrely full of orienteers from all over the world as the world junior orienteering championships are being held nearby. I had never appreciated how seriously it is taken as a sport (there are teams of kids all walking round with matching tracksuits). It's really good as it means there are people here from all over the world from afar afield as Oz and NZ so there are lots of interesting people to talk to

I did meet one travelling stereotype of which I have met a few before but forgotten about. The batty old retired Australian woman backpacking stereotype. They are always pretty funny (very independent and loud and wont take crap from anyone) they have time and some money so go abroad to visit family then just stay for months living in hostels etc. I could tell she fitted into this stereotype straight away, she sat down at the computer next to me and immediately started cursing at it in a broad Australian accent "Flaming thing why are you so slow, I'm supposed to be the slow one here". I helped her out as there was a trick to starting the computer we had the usual travelling introductory chat and I continued uploading photos. Next came the running commentary (older people including my parents seem to do this when searching on the net) "right, train times where do I look for train times". I helped out from time to time as I heard things like "strewth that's too expensive" and "ah no it's all in Danish, that's no good, anyone would think we are in Denmark!" it was quite amusing. In the end I gave up on uploading photos and got my travel guide out to help. I eventually, quite by accident ended helping her out by telling her she could get a ferry to Bergen in Norway. She jotted down some hostels from my book and checked a few train times. And then with no idea if she would get to the ferry in time, without booking accommodation and with no plan on how to get back to Zurich for her flight home she said "right that's a plan I'll do that" and was off.  I really hope that I'm that spontaneous and out going when I'm her age, it's a nice change from all retired people that sit watching TV all day reading the paper. 

Key Facts
Distance covered - Approx 1581km (982 miles)
Number of days - 18
Countries visited - 4
Currencies used - 3
Max speed - 60.4 km
Longest day - 147.5 km
Punctures - 1
Spokes broken - 3
Things broken / worn out (given my luck in the recent past this could increase rapidly) - 1
Different beers tried - 22
Languages spoken (well attempted) - 4
Proper mountains climbed - 0
Ferry Crossings - 2
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