December 06, 2010

Our Last Days in Europe

We took the over night ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg and arrived on Saturday, the 27th of November. We drove about four hours north, through snow and wind, passing by Aarhus and Aalborg, and finally got to Hjørring about 6:00 PM.

Press HERE to see a slideshow
of Christmas in Denmark.

In a Frozen Hjørring Alley
IMG_2491: Betty in a Frozen Alley
Birte and Ole
IMG_2504: Birte and Ole

Our main purpose for coming to the north of Jutland was to visit our old friends, Bet and Niels Simonsen. We met them 16 years ago on the Playa del Carmen beach in Mexico. We have been friends ever since then and have visited them several times. Niel’s brother Kurt and his wife, Ulla, are also out friends. We certainly did not come for the snow and cold, but it has been here, none the less. More than eight inches have fallen in the past week.

Beyond cooking and talking with our friends we have not been doing much. Niel’s primary job is farming. He is a very successful strawberry grower. In the winter he works one day a week for Det Grafiske Værksted, a graphic arts workshop where artists can get their lithographs printed. We liked the some prints enough that we will probably buy a set. While I am on the arts, we also visited the local art museum, the Vendyssel Kunstmuseum. There was a good exposition but the best pieces were by Berit Hjelhot. The tapestries she made are really fantastic.

On Wednesday Niels and I traveled more than two hours south to Herning. We came to see the annual farm and agriculture exposition, called Agromek. There I saw a lot of the new machinery used by farmers in Denmark. The size and diversity of the machinery was unbelievable. The only company missing was John Deere, who sells more tractors than any other company in Denmark. When I was a boy and teenager, I spent every summer on my grandparent’s farm. So, I had a lot of catching up to do. Niels was kind enough to explain what the machines did and how they worked. I really enjoyed this show. I might even have to go to Farmfest next summer in Minnesota.

On Saturday, Niels and I attended the Christmas luncheon at Nordjyllands Ultra Light Flyveklub. The last time that I visited, some six years ago, I told Niels about my learning to fly and how much I enjoyed it. He decided to give it a try and now he too is a pilot. The club rents a nice grass strip and has two hangers where they house their two planes and the planes of its members. We had a great lunch. We started with herring, the we ate Rødspætte fish, followed by pork and brown potatoes. Like all Danish get-togethers their were musicians and songs that they sung and we all sang together. And aqvit. We had a wonderful afternoon.

Bet had to work on Sunday, but when she got home she still had energy for a hike. The snow was coming down and the visibility was less than a half-mile. Still Bet, Niels and I drove to the coast to hike on the Lønstrup sand dune mountain, called Rubjerg Knude. It was good exercise and it was beautiful out. I can say that, even though I am no longer a winter person.

In the evening we had a wonderful diner with Bet’s parents, Ole and Birte Breyen. They have lovely home in Hjørring. We had lamb for dinner, a rare treat for me. We had a good Italian wine with dinner. We talked for hours. During WWII Ole was a teenager living in Rome, where his father was the chief engineer for a battery plant. In 1944 the Allies bombed the factory and Ole’s dad survived when a air pocket formed around him as the walls collapsed. They returned to Denmark and Ole started medical school where he met and fell in love with Birte. The two doctors had a rich life together and eventually settled in Hjørring. Betty and I totally enjoyed the evening.

Tomorrow we will drive to Fredrikshavn, then we will take the ferry to Goteborg in Sweden. The next day, Wednesday the 8th of December, we will drop our car off at the Volvo factory and get a ride to the airport. Our flight leaves midday for Copenhagen. From Copenhagen we will follow the sun to Chicago. We will catch a flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. We will be home by about 10pm and be there for the holidays.

Bet and Niels Simonsen
IMG_2507: Bet and Niels

Posted by bill at December 6, 2010 12:15 PM

So very thoughtful of you to include me on your journey! Your sharing is appreciated immensely, and many people I'm sure are happier today because of reading your words. Best regards, Tristan

Posted by: Tristan Grobel at December 6, 2010 11:40 AM

I can feel the love in this post.

Posted by: Mickie Turk at December 6, 2010 06:31 PM