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Sunday, 01 January 2012

Cycling through History in Denmark - Page 2

Written by Dale Fehringer
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Legends of Trolls

By our second day of cycling we were on to Denmark’s system of cycling paths, and we were able to enjoy rolling along in the warm sunlight, past tree-lined roads, tidy farms, and well-kept villages.  Today’s ride was a little longer ride (41 miles) across southeast Zealand.  We took in the picture-perfect roses, fragrant sweet peas, and delicate peonies and stopped for lunch in a grove of trees where we ate olives, bread, and cheese purchased that morning at the farmers’ market in Koge. 

In the afternoon we took a wrong turn (my fault) and wound up in the picturesque coastal town of Praesto.  The bad news was my error cost us an extra 12 miles of cycling; the good news is we were able to enjoy the beautiful Præstø Fjord, which for centuries has been a Danish vacation site.  We saw swans swimming in the coastal waters, which Hans Christian Andersen must have seen, too, because he was in the area when he wrote “The Ugly Duckling.”

Back on our bikes (and back on track) we cycled on to Naestved, our destination for the night.  There is evidence people lived in this area as far back as 400 BC.  The town that now stands was founded in 1135 by the Benedictine monks. 

Scandinavia is filled with legends of trolls, which are generally held to be large, ugly, and dim-witted.  Such a legend is associated with the hills outside Naestved: 

Dale Cycle FieldsThe troll Fladsa couldn’t stand the sound of Naestved’s church bells, so he filled a sack with sand and set off for Naestved to bury the churches.  But there was a hole in the sack and most of the sand ran out. As the sand leaked, it formed the Mogenstrup ridge near Naestved and the highest hill in Naestved was created when the troll threw the last bit of sand at the village.  (Source:

Borreby Castle

Day three was a scenic 38-mile ride across the south of Zealand, following the coast in the morning and meandering inland in the afternoon.  We stopped for a lunch of fish cakes in the coastal village of Bisserup, and then cycled through fields of wheat, corn, and barley.  In the afternoon we came across a field of strawberries being picked, and stopped and ate a few – freshly picked from the field, warmed by the sun, and incredibly juicy!

BorrebyWe took a side tour to Borreby Castle, which was built in 1556 as a defense against invaders.  Access is via a drawbridge, and the castle is surrounded by moats and equipped with scald holes and loop holes (vertical slots to shoot arrows through). 

Borreby Castle was the setting of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale (What the Wind Told About Valdemar Daae and His Daughters), told through the perspective of the wind, in which a nobleman and his three daughters bought the castle and then squandered their time and money and wound up with, “Nothing to eat and nothing to burn!  It was a hard lesson they had to learn!” 

We spent the night in the port city of Korsor, which since the 13th century has been an important defense and transportation port on the “Great Belt” between Denmark’s islands.  We had dinner at Madam Bagger’s restaurant, named after Hedevig Bagger, a local who in the 1700s became the first woman in Denmark to gain status as a postmaster on her own right (not inherited from a spouse).

(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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