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Tue Jul 14 2015: Gateway to Scandinavia

It's always exciting to visit a new country!

Today we're riding into Denmark. We know nothing about Denmark. Neda says, "I think it's a kingdom". I thought it was a state, and that there was something rotten there. And also there are pastries that are named after the people. But other than that, nada.

Passing through Hamburg, we visit Neda's high-school friend Tamara

It's going to be a long ambitious riding day today, partly because we've planned to stop in nearby Hamburg to have lunch with Neda's high school friend Tamara. I left the girls alone to chat and ducked into a grocery store to stock up on supplies for our northern leg of our journey. We had heard that Scandinavia is very expensive so I'm trying to cram my topcase full of inexpensive, non-perishable items, but Germany isn't exactly cheap by North American standards either.

The value of the Canadian peso has plummeted vs the Euro since the beginning of the year, and it's reflected in every credit card statement as we've tried to adhere to a strict Euro budget and still the Canadian cost has increased by almost 20%!

Which makes it the *perfect* time to go riding in the most expensive place in Europe... :(

Riding across the bridge to the German island of Fehmarn

It's perfect riding weather, about 20C and the sun is out. It's very rare that we feel like we're in the right place at the right time, but I think we're timing our Scandinavia trip perfectly!

Quickest way to get from Germany to Denmark is to take a ferry

To save some time, we're crossing the narrow strait between Puttgarden, Germany to Rodby, Denmark. It's a 45 minute ferry ride and at €47 each, it's more expensive than gas to ride around the long way. So I purposely don't do the mental conversion rate while handing my credit card at the terminal. Sticking my head in the Scandinavia.

Trying to catch a quick snooze on the ferry before arriving in Denmark

We're in Denmark! New country!

It's been a while since we've ridden into a new country. because all the countries in Scandinavia are in the EU, it feels a bit anti-climactic not having to get our passports stamped and filling in vehicle importation papers, but we always look forward to spotting the differences between each new place and where we've been. I radio Neda and asked her of her first impressions of Denmark. She replied, "There's a lot of blonde people here"...

More cost-cutting measures - Copenhagen campsite

We've been very spoiled the last few months, being hosted by friends and family and staying at the odd AirBnB place, but we're going to make a conscious effort to camp all the time since the weather is so nice.

Cooking on our new stove

We've been thinking of getting a camp stove for a long time now and after seeing Andy and Ellen's Jetboil and reading up on it, we figured this was the best option for us. Neda cooks oatmeal and brews herself tea every morning, and we can make pasta, rice, couscous, soups and stews with it. This has quickly become one of Neda's favorite pieces of gear that we carry!

Our collapsible bowls also make for good frisbees. But I don't think Neda approves...

Boat tours along the Christenhavns Kanal, the spiral-topped building of the Børsen (Stock exchange) in the background

Copenhagen isn't actually a destination, we're merely passing through to ride onwards to more northernly countries, but since we're here, we ride into town for the day to quickly check it out.

Famous Copenhagen building, the Christiansborg Palace

Hanging out by the canals

Copenhagen rider enjoying the nice weather

300-year old buildings now house restaurants and stores

We didn't do our food planning right and had to stop into a fast food place to grab a quick sandwich (ScandWich?) while walking downtown. If Central European prices are about 1.5X higher than Canada, then Denmark is easily twice as expensive. No more eating out anymore.

On a positive note, *everyone* speaks English here, so we don't feel too bad about not brushing up on our Danish before coming here. I found out later than Scandinavia is defined as the countries that share a common heritage and language, namely Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. But not Finnish because as we found out in Hungary, Finnish is a Uralic language. So interesting that stuff we learned in Hungary is now helping us understand Scandinavia!

Canals everywhere!

We didn't really know anything about Copenhagen before coming here, so I was surprised at how extensive the canal system here is. King Christian IV was so impressed with Amsterdam that he employed Dutch architects to recreate the system of canals within Copenhagen's walls.

Nyhavn waterfront is Copenhagen's most famous tourist site, lined with colorful 17th and 18th century townhouses

Danish enjoying a sunny day outside

The plastic dome is called the Dome of Vision. Inside is a climate-controlled botanical garden
and it's also used to hold events like concerts, exhibitions and lectures

Statue of Neptune outside of the Stock Exchange

Walking back to the bikes, last look at the Christenhaven Kanal

Getting ready to hit the road

We're leaving later and later in the day. Sunset tonight in Copenhagen is at 10:45PM, but it's never perfectly dark outside because the shallow path of the sun means it's always lurking just beneath the horizon all night long. Since I'm a night owl, this suits my Circadian Rhythm perfectly and I feel so spoiled being able to wake up at 10AM, starting our travels in the afternoon and not having to feel like we're burning precious daylight!!!

Goodbye Copenhagen!

So Denmark, you really weren't that rotten after all!Despite the high costs, we're feeling pretty pumped about exploring Scandinavia! What else is next?

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