Trainride to Denmark, August 2015
We often travel to Denmark to visit family and friends. Usually we go by car or we fly. So far, this has always been the cheapest way for us. Train fare has really never been a realistic option.
Train tickets are expensive in Europe. In fact, they are so expensive that I have often been asking myself how they even sell anything! But they do, because usually the trains are filled - during the holidays they are more than packed - and I also realise that when it comes to commuting between cities, trains are the best option. After all, commuter discounts are available.
But as a holiday transportation option it has never been an attractive option to us. But then we literally stumbled upon a great offer from Deutsche Bahn (DB) and we decided to go. Children under 14 years are free when they travel with parents or grandparents, so this was in fact not expensive at all!
The reason for the trip had to do with the fact that Anton’s Kindergarten is completely closed during the entire month of August. It would have been some VERY long weeks at home, had we not made any plans for the summer at all. Alexandra could only take one week off, in which we went hiking in the mountains and just relaxed at home. And the following two weeks we - Anton and I - went to Denmark. A real “mans trip”!
We had made reservations for the ICE-train. Ever since we got back from our round-the-world trip Anton has been talking about how much he wanted to try the ICE-train. Those flashy, white lines of metal, racing through the country. We have often seen them from the highway when on the road, and every time Anton has been longing to go. So for quite some time we had been talking about this. Now was the time to actually go!
The ICE-trains are among the fastest in Europe. An average speed of 230 kilometres/hour is not unusual. Once, as I looked up at the info-board on the wall, I even saw the speedometer at 265 kilometres/hour. With a pace like that it is no problem to go from Munich to Hamburg in just 6 hours. Arriving exactly on time. After a 40 minute stop-over we went by normal regional-train to Flensburg, from where we took off in a Danish IC3-train…
This is where the problems began…
We had barely crossed the border before we were told to change train 2 stations ahead. This turned out to be quite easy. We made it to Fredericia, the station for our next, and planned, change. After only 10 minutes we were told that due to track-work our train would be replaced with a bus-service a little further ahead. This would in fact cause a 1-hour delay. By now it was already 11 o’clock in the evening, and Anton was almost falling asleep. I really could not deal with this, so I called my mom, who was to pick us up in Struer, near her home in Lemvig, and asked her if she could pick us up where the train ended for the night.
She picked us up fast, and we ended up saving time after all. But had she not been able to come and get us, the journey would have been quite a drag!
When traveling with kids you have to expect that they cope with change in a different pace than adults. Also, for a while, they may be able to get by with less sleep than adults. Anton was full of life rather early the next morning. So I had to be as well! It was fine, and the weather was fantastic!
I have always enjoyed spending time by the Northsea Coast of Denmark. I find nature here to be spectacular. It is always windy but what does that matter? The mighty waves of the sea. The steep slopes that are eaten by the ocean, bit by bit, year after year. The endless sand beaches. It is all extremely refreshing and invigorating.
Each summer there is a sand sculpturing festival in the city of Søndervig. Often we have been passing by without ever visiting. But this year the theme was “Dinosaurs” - so obviously we had to go! Anton led the way through the exhibition, explaining about the latin names of the species, and lecturing about carnivores and herbivores. He was excited and “all over the place”. Occasionally we couldn’t help but doing a little fact-checking on the various boards explaining about the ancient animals. But Anton always had it right. Remarkable how such a small head can contain all this information, when you consider the fact that he cannot remember to clean up his own room! The exhibition is well worth a visit. The entire family will have fun. In the corner there is even a huge sandbox, where children can build their own sculptures, castles etc.
Throughout my years of visiting Lemvig a lot has happened to the city. Lately the entire harbour area has been completely renovated, making room for boat- and yacht-tourists from most of northern Europe. This have given new life to the area. Particularly Germans are seen and they seem to love Lemvig. Also the nearby town of Thyborøn has seen quite a growth in visitors the past few years. This is one of the largest fishing ports of Denmark. And when the weather is nice I really do understand the tourists. This is a lovely place. The day we went to Thyborøn we went by train and made it a small adventure. The ride from Lemvig to Thyborøn only takes 30 minutes and you go through the countryside. Through fields and sand dunes. Anton loved this. We stopped by small stations so tiny that they were literally only just wooden sheds. Can you imagine, one of these stops were called “Victoria Street Station”?
In Thyborøn families MUST take time to visit Jyllands Akvariet and Kystcenteret. Jyllands Akvariet has a nice collection of fish and animals from the seas surrounding Denmark, and Kystcenteret is all about how the sea affects the coastline. This is great, informative entertainment for the entire family. Kystcenteret, however, is mostly for children at 7-8 years of age and above. On the harbour front there are a few good places to eat, if you are into seafood!
In Lemvig Fiord you can catch crabs from the wooden piers. There are A LOT of crabs. We put some smoked, dried ham on a line and lay down on our bellies to catch an enormous number of crabs. We either threw them back or let them race back over the edge towards the water. Anton had a blast!
We also made it to the east coast - Djursland. Our family summerhouse is located here on the north coast of Djursland. Down by the beach the water is very low for the first several hundred meters. It is only knee-deep. We had a great time filming under water (not much to see there) and flying kites in the strong winds. Our kites were small and very light, so even Anton could easily control his and thus have some great fun!
We drove around Djursland, enjoying the great, Danish summer weather. And we managed to squeeze in time with friends and family throughout our entire 10-day stay, before we took the ICE-train back to Munich.
Our first leg went from Vejle in Denmark to Hamburg in Germany. Danish National Railways (DSB) managed to do it right and on time this time around. We had quite a delay at some point north of Hamburg, which started to concern me a bit as we would not have made it to our connecting train to Munich had the driver not managed to catch up. He did, and we arrived in Hamburg just in time for the ICE-train to Munich.
Some advice: PLEASE do make seat reservations! Far too many people have no reservations when they board the trains, and it always causes commotion when people with no reserved seats occupy seats reserved by other passengers, and those passengers insist on getting them. Often times people who have not bothered with reservations even give you a weird, insulted look when you want your seat. I understand that it can be difficult to get reservations on short notice, but do try! For your own sake, and the sake of fellow passengers!
On the German ICE-trains we sat in the “Quiet Zone”. This was a bit odd to me, as I had explicitly made it clear that I was traveling with a 5-year old child. Anton is capable of being quiet for a longer period of time, but 6 hours IS a long time running on iPad entertainment with a head-set on. But we also relaxed with crayons, some quiet story telling, music and eating of our sandwiches and snacks. Yet, I felt a certain sympathy for the old, agressive lady who continuously had to ask other fellow passengers to stop talking on their mobiles and laughing out loud. She never said anything to us. Maybe she felt sorry for us too?
Upon arrival in Munich the time had just passed 0100 in the morning and Anton had been asleep for the past hour. He was quite grumpy when we exited the train because I had to wake him up, but fortunately Alexandra was there to pick us up and calm him down. The next morning he was up early… again… a little too early!