3 Countries in a Day

I’ve been sent off to spend a couple of days on site with a client in “regional” Denmark – Silkeborg. It’s all of three hours drive from Copenhagen and Hamburg but counts as roughly the middle of nowhere by European standards. The nearest airport is an hours drive away (3 hours by public transport) and required flying from London to Amsterdam then to Billund so I wound up just flying straight to Hamburg, renting a car and driving up.

Since I’d gone for the cheapest rental car, I had visions of struggling along the autobahn in a Honda Civic trying not to get run over by all the sports cars flying by. As it turns out, my Avis Preferred membership paid off and they gave me a convertible instead. The nice surprised wore off a bit when I realized I’d be driving a sports car, with no speed limit, on the wrong side of the road and the gear stick on the wrong side. It took about 10 minutes of sheer panic to get out of the car park with all it’s tight corners and ramps, but once I was on the actual road I got used to it pretty quickly.

The autobahn was only two lanes each way, so the choice was basically between doing 90km/h with all the trucks in the right hand lane or 130-150km/h with the cars in the left hand lane. The roads are well made and the car was designed to go fast so doing 150km/h didn’t really feel any faster than doing 110km/h in the UK. I wound up stopping for a break at a couple of fuel stations for lunch and a break then arrived in Silkeborg about 6pm. I’m pretty sure I didn’t run over any unfortunate Honda Civic’s on the way…

Denmark is a fair bit further north than Maidenhead – roughly in line with Edinburgh so the sun comes up at about 4:15am and doesn’t go down until about 10pm. Combined with some really nice weather it’s given me a chance to explore a bit. Silkeborg is apparently the lakes district of Denmark and there’s a big lake in the middle of town – my client’s office looks out over it which is rather nice. After settling in Wednesday night I went for a drive with the top down out to one of the other nearby lakes and got some really nice photos in the “late afternoon” (9pm) sun.

Thursday and today I’ve been busy working, but I managed to head down town to find dinner last night. The Riverboat Jazz Festival started last night so there was live jazz at a bunch of venues and anywhere near them was packed with people. Apparently the first paddle steamer in the world was made here to take tourists from Silkeborg to Himmelbjerget and the main attraction of the Jazz festival is a two hour trip on the river boats with a jazz band on board. They sell out months in advance though so I’ll just have to settle for the free bands around the centre of town.

Himmelbjerget means Sky Mountain in English and it’s one of the largest “mountains” in Denmark. It’s a whopping 147m above sea level. Geologists seem to have decided that it’s actually a “fake hill” but the Danes are quite convinced it’s a mountain. I’ll probably drive out there on my way back to Hamburg tomorrow morning to check it out. It has a monument to the King on top and everything.

The food here is fantastic, though slightly unusual – most of the time I have no idea what’s what since everything is in Danish. The first night I wound up with a duck salad, with rocket, beans, raspberries and blueberries. I think the chef got confused between salad and fruit salad at some point, but it tasted good. Desert proved a challenge for the waiter as he tried to explain firstly what the slice thing was – he came up with pancake mixture with raspberries in it and I’m not sure I can do any better – but then as he tried to explain why it was sizzling when he brought it out. They’d sprinkled it with “sugar that sort of explodes in your mouth – but in a good way!”. Basically pop-rocks. You could see everyone eating dessert with a grin on their face. The servings are big as well – I ordered a glass of wine with dinner last night and I’m pretty sure she poured the whole bottle into the one glass.

Otherwise I’ve been busy with work stuff. The company was good to work with, every so often they disappeared off to an all staff meeting that ended with cheers and high fives – not entirely sure why but they were definitely a happy bunch of workers. Apparently we worked late both days – 4:30pm on Thursday and 3:50pm today, we were one of the last people to leave both days. Definitely need to get a job in Denmark…

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