North Sjælland, DENMARK – April 2013

In April of this year we took a trip to Denmark with a friend, and I remember coming back home and feeling so invigorated to immediately write up a post allllll about it. Um, then I didn’t and now it’s November. Hopefully by the time we leave Europe I can actually write a decent travel post whilst the trip might still be fresh in memory?

Americans in Europe all seem to be plagued by the same thing: the Travel Bug. Observation shows no one goes more than a few months without getting antsy. Especially if it’s early winter, or (what should be) early spring (but is still winter in Sweden).

When pregnant, I knew that a lot of frivolous travel wasn’t going to happen. We had already planned a trip back to the USA in the middle of my pregnancy, and of course there was Oktoberfest, so the travel bug was dormant and the nesting instinct obviously kicked in. Speaking of nesting, travel money gets eaten up quickly when baby things need to be purchased (whomp whomp). BUT, approaching 8 months, I knew it was now or never. We might not be able to travel for a good long time, so I wanted to go somewhere before it was no longer a reality. Turns out our friend, and new American expat out here, wanted to explore some too, so we all decided to drive over to Denmark to see what we could see.

He had one stop request in Helsingborg, a city we hadn’t yet been to, and I knew from there we could take a ferry over to Helsingør, Denmark which is a sweet little Danish town and where the Kronborg Slot is located, both of which I’ve wanted to see. I had also heard of a deer park north of Copenhagen that sounded unreal – a park where tons of deer live and where you could just wander around and picnic, and they might roam around you. Seriously, Scandinavia is like a fairy tale. That deer park is called Dyrehaven and is accessible by car or public transportation (so easily accessible no matter how we want to go there). I also remembered this big, beautiful castle from memory and decided to look that up…and low and behold it is located right up in the same area north of Copenhagen! Add to all of this Copenhagen the beautiful city itself and there was plenty for us to do no matter what we decided. Location, set.

I found a little backyard cottage on Airbnb that looked nice and was located right in the middle of all the sites – in between Lillerød and Hillerød – and we decided to split the cost and stay there. The benefit to an Airbnb rental over a hotel in this case was not only would we have a more homey central point, but that we wouldn’t be tied to eating out for every meal, which not only saves us money but also ensures that the pregnant lady can try to eat more responsibly (whatever that means when you’re in Denmark, land of the most delicious pastries in the world). (P.S. It didn’t work, photographic evidence to follow.)

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On to the trip! We first stopped in Helsingborg to scope out a coffee shop and peruse the town a bit.

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We spent very little time in Helsingborg, but it was enough time to know that we need to get back to the west coast of Sweden before too long. It’s hard to explain, but there is a different vibe over there, it was refreshing.

The ferry between Sweden and Denmark is very nice, and easy to take between countries. There is a bit of a cost for the ride, but also some tax-free shopping (candy and booze, natch), a bar and café, and some very Scandinavian interiors. It’s a short ride, but a lovely one, with views of Kronborg.

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Once off the ferry, we made our way to our little cottage and set up camp for the evening.

denmarkcottageThe next morning we decided to explore Helsingør

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and Kronborg Slot.

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kronborg5woodworkIt’s immediate the difference between Danes and Swedes. See…Danes are loud, happy people. Swedes are far more reserved, in general. At lunch that day in Helsingør, it got to a point where we couldn’t hear each other speak at the same table, and Matt and I were almost in shock. Fresh to Sweden, our friend didn’t seem as surprised by the noise; you know you’ve been in Sweden too long when happy people at lunch feels deafening 🙂

Kronborg Slot is an old defense fortress with immense history. It’s a beautiful castle, absolutely worth a visit, even on a very cold, dreary day like the ours.

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That afternoon we committed ourselves to visiting Dyrehaven park, which is actually closer than I expected. Unfortunately, it was later in the day, and it was a very cold day, so it was a short visit. Not a lot of deer were to be seen that afternoon, but there were people out running around the forest, and others setting up cameras and hiding behind ghillie fabric mesh, waiting for a perfect shot. Again, this is somewhere we need to revisit, perhaps on a more favorable day (warmer and not heavily pregnant, for starters).

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The next day we headed out early to see the crown jewel of the visit, Frederiksborg Slot. Or, as I affectionately think of it: “Frederiksborg Mother-Effing Castle”. Truly, this is a beautiful castle and a sight to behold. There is so much history to absorb, and the castle is an important part of Danish history. It was built to reflect the Danish people, and my goodness does it speak highly! It’s a decadent treat to behold, and we only saw the castle interior. There are gardens and a surrounding lake that I’m sure are breathtaking during warmer months of the year (must revisit).

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Hillerød, the town the castle is located in, small but has a nice walking street lined with great places to shop and eat.

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Before we hit up the castle, we were able to grab some breakfast at a bakery. I’ll let you guess which pastry picked out.

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KNOW THIS! It took me more than one sitting to eat it all. But…I still ate all that myself. And yes it was the massive 2-3 foot pastry. Go big or GO HOME. I’m here for a good time, not a long time. I say things to make myself feel better about eating the crap that I do…

It was a quick trip over the course of a weekend, but I’m more in love with Denmark than ever before, just like after the first quick visit we took to Copenhagen. If we can venture back next summer, it will be a priority to explore the little towns like Hillerød and Helsingør more, as well as Dyrehaven. I can only imagine what an up close sighting of a red stag would do for my giddy heart. Luckily, it’s only half a day’s drive away from Linköping; an easy cure for when the travel bug bites.

    3 Comment

    1. Thank you I enjoyed reading your post about your life and travels in Sweden. You mention you flew overseas during your pregnancy to USA? May I ask you how that went? My husband and I are also trying for a baby and we also have a trip planned to USA next year. I am a little nervous about the whole thing. May I ask if you have any tips or how it went with your travels?

      Thanks

      Melissa

      1. Katie Haverluk says: Reply

        Hi Melissa! Thanks for reading 🙂 I did fly overseas, Stockholm to Seattle, at 19 and 21 weeks. I totally get your hesitation, we had this trip planned before we found out I was pregnant, so I was nervous too. It went really great, though, no problems at all with the flights or with our trip (all over the Seattle area, on ferries, up the Space Needle, & out to the mountains). We flew Iceland Air, so it was actually a fairly quick trip – 12 hours total Airport to Airport, and only one quick layover. My midwife had no problems with the travel, so that made me feel better. Stock up on as much water as possible before boarding, since sometimes it’s hard to get enough on flights, and get up a few times. I also wore compression socks to make sure I didn’t swell up (for comfort and because blood clots might be a little more common in pregnancy). Eat as well as you can the day of the travel, drink a lot of water, and relax. If you can sleep on the plane even better! And wear comfortable clothes – leggings or yoga pants, etc. Stretchy pants are necessary! The family also allowed me a solid day of rest our first day there, which was nice.
        Good luck with everything! Are you in Sweden? Going anywhere fun in the US?

        1. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I feel better about it already! It looks like you had no issues whatsoever and everything went smoothly. Your little boy is adorable by the way. I am actually in Sweden too – not too far from you in Nässjö about 1.5 hours south. In January I’ll be going to Florida to visit my family but my husband is Swedish and we live here in Sweden the rest of the time. I agree with you on many of things you write about in your blog and its nice to find a fellow American who is in the same situation more or less! How have you found Swedish life to be? I am taking SFI and found everyone to be very welcoming here. It seems the healthcare is much better too – it looks like you had alot of support from the doctors during your pregnancy and they were welcoming to you as an American here. If we are ever close by we should meet for fika!

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