Day 25, Monday August 3rd, Daugård, Magtebølle (Fyn)
Distance: 27.5 km
Weather: sunny, warm
National route 5
Bike: Daugård, Bredballe, Vejle
Train: Vejle – Tommerup
Bike: Tommerup, Magtebølle
When I leave the camp site, there is a steep climb. Oh, yes, I remember now, the zig-zag-up-and-down-road. Nothing changes much till Vejle. The route is very beautiful but also very tough.
It is already nearly afternoon when I arrive in Vejle. This is a large town (52.000 inh.), beautifully situated in the valley on the Vejle Fjord.
I realise that I can’t make Magtebølle tonight. I look for the station and buy a ticket to Tommerup Stationby, a place near Magtebølle. I’ve worked out which train I have to take from Vejle so that I can get to Jørgen and Ingrid’s ‘camp site’ around six this evening. I have a few hours to spare and decide to go into Vejle and explore. I get some information from the tourist office and enjoy wandering round the town for a bit. But quite soon I’ve had enough and take a train an hour earlier. I have to change in Fredericia and cycle round the town while waiting.
I get to Magtebølle at six. Jørgen and Ingrid are just about to go away. The reunion is nice but short.
“You remember the way, don’t you?” Jørgen asks. Oh, yes, I do. Luckily it is lovely weather so I need not sleep in the hayloft for the rest of the week. I did that last year because it was raining so hard. It was fine for two nights but now that I’m staying till Saturday and the forecast is good, my tent is much more comfortable.
Jørgen and Ingrid live in a beautiful, typical Fyn farm with four wings enclosing an inner square, half wooden, half brick, with a thatched roof (see:
(zie www.magtenboelle.dk). I take a shower in their house and zit near the tent for the rest of the evening.
Day 26, Tuesday August 4th, Magtebølle
“Day of rest”
Distance: 40 km.
Weather: sunny, warm
I look questioningly at Jørgen. “Little house?” I ask, “Which house?” Now it’s Jørgen’s turn to look surprised. “The little guest house behind our house!”
Even now the penny doesn’t drop. “Where campers can use the toilet and shower”, Jørgen says, “Weren’t you there last year?”
“No, last year I slept in the hayloft. Do you remember? I know nothing about a little house”. Then something dawns for Jørgen. “Yes, that’s right. The hayloft. But why was that?”
Well, I don’t know.
“Come on, I’ll show you”.
We walk to it and gradually the penny drops. Now I understand Ingrid’s remark last night. I asked her if I could use the shower and she said that was fine and that Jørgen had just turned on the hot water. I thought that was strange but can understand it now. She thought I was going to shower in the guest house! And I thought that I could shower in their house, like last year. I tell Jørgen and now all the misunderstandings have been cleared up. A moment later, Jørgen remembers why I couldn’t use the little house last year. “A friend of ours was using it for a few weeks, just when you were staying with us”.
I’m really pleased with this house, as I won’t have to go into theirs all the time.
Around ten o’clock, Anne-Mette Sørensen comes. She works at the tourist office in Assens, a little town on the west coast of Fyn. The three of us sit round the picnic-table near my tent and Jørgen has provided coffee and biscuits.
Anne-Mette is interested in my cycling stories and asks what I think of the cycle-route system in Denmark. She wants to know if there are faults or bottlenecks in it and whether everything is clearly marked.
I tell her my experiences and these are very positive. Of course, sometimes there is a sign lacking but, to tell the truth, in the three years that I have cycled here, it has hardly ever happened. And everything is very clear. I think it is just that much clearer and more complete than in Holland.
Very, very occasionally, a cycle path is almost unmanageable. You could say that that was a negative point, but you could also call it adventurous, depending on how you feel and how many kilometres are on the counter already...
Whatever, it’s not for nothing that I keep coming back here.
As Anne-Mette works in Assen, she of course wants to promote her district. Since the 2007 redrawing of the district boundaries, the Assens district covers a large part of South-West Fyn.
She has all sorts of tips for cycle routes and tourist attractions. I also get a pass which gives me free admission to a number of museums, and a free ferry trip to the island of Baagø. Wow, it feels like my birthday! This immediately determines my plans for the rest of the week. From Magtebølle, I’ll cycle one of the routes Anne-Mette has marked on the map every day.
“You don’t have to, you know”, Jørgen says when Anne-Mette has left. “You really wanted to go to the north of Fyn, didn’t you?”
Yes, that was my original plan. I haven’t been to North-East Fyn, from Bogense to Nyborg, including the Kerteminde peninsula. But I don’t mind changing my plans at all; on the contrary, it gives me a good excuse to come back. I cycled through the South-West last year, but had a lot of rain, and there are a number of routes in this area that I haven’t done. So, why not? Fun!
In the afternoon, I cycle to Odense, twenty kilometres further on. My cousin, Arjon, his wife and the children, Bertine, Gerjon and Erwin are staying there on a camp-site.
I have a nice afternoon and evening with them.
Day 27, Wednesday August 5th
Distance: 76.5 km (+ 1 hour’s walk)
Weather: sunny and warm
Regional route 71, Margueriteruten (= daisy route), regional routes 75 and 79
Magtebølle, Vissenbjerg, Bred, Aarup, Håre, Stubberup, Salbrovad, Assens, Gamtofte, Søllested, Glamsbjerg, Krengerup, Frøbjerg, Skalbjerg, Magtebølle
Fyn is called ‘The Garden of Denmark’. You can see why if you click here and see the photos I made this summer on Fyn.
Last year, on the morning of the last day of my holiday, I wanted to visit the nature reserve, Vissenbjerg-bakkerne (bakkerne = hills) from Magtebølle. Then I would cycle on to Odense to catch the train. Jørgen had told me there was a beautiful view over Fyn from there. However, as it was such bad weather that day so that there would be little to see, I decided to go straight to Odense and visit the Hans Andersen Museum, a perfect activity for a rainy day. I was not at all sorry I went, but thought it a pity that I had missed Vissenbjerg. “Next year!”, I said to Jørgen. Whether either of us believed it, I don’t know, but anyway, here I am again.
Vissenbjerg is only a few kilometres from Magtebølle and to the south of it, is Vissenbjerg -bakkerne. I leave my bike at the entrance to the nature reserve, where there is also a reptile museum. I’ll go there later, but first take a walk
Beautiful view across “Høj Fyn” (High Fyn) from Vissenbjerg-bakkerne
When I come back an hour later, I go to the reptile museum. Very interesting, but I’m glad the creatures are behind the glass.
I resume my route to the west by bike and come through the beautiful nature area, Brænde Ådal. From there, I don’t take cycle route 70 to the South, but the “Margueritruten”. This was an alternative recommended to me by Anne-Metten. The Daisy Route is a tourist route that runs through the whole of Denmark and is mostly used by motorists and motorbikes. Before there were cycle routes, it was also much used by cyclists. Even now, the route is still very good for cyclists because the roads are usually very quiet.
It is already halfway through the afternoon when I arrive in Assens. Assens is a nice harbour town on the Lille Bælt. Here too, picturesque streets with lovely timber-framed houses. Typically Danish, yet every town or village is different.
It is very nice to have free admission to various museums. Otherwise, for instance, I would never have thought of going to Willemoesgården, and that would have been a pity, as it has an interesting exhibition on the history of West Fyn. In 1783, the maritime hero, Peter Willemoes was born in this timber-framed house.
From Assens, I cycle back to Magtebølle. Just past Assens is Gelleri Sulegaarden. I want to visit that too, but have no more energy for it. Museums are nice, but two are enough for me in a day, especially if you are already cycling some seventy kilometres. No more impressions fit into my head.
Day 28, Thursday August 6th, Magtebølle – Baagø – Magtebølle
Distance: 70 km
Weather: sunny, hot
Regional route 79, own route
Magtebølle, Frøbjerg, Ørsted, Turup, Assens, Baagø By, Assens, Gamtofte, Turup, Vedtofte, Krengerup, Frøbjerg, Skalbjerg, Magtebølle
Another day with gorgeous weather! Ever since I have been in Denmark, everything has taken a turn for the better, both with respect to the weather as to my bike. Yes, my bike ... Since the last weekend in Sweden, it’s running like a well-oiled engine! Nothing more wrong with it! And don’t say it’s because the bike is back in Denmark, the country where I feel so at home too. No, this bike, bought in December 2008, has never been in Denmark before! But apparently it likes it here.
The plan today is to visit the island of Baagø. To do this, I first have to cycle to Assens again, as the ferry leaves from there. It only goes four times a day and I want to catch the 11.30. I now take a different route to Assens.
The ticket-collector comes along and I give him Anne-Mette’s letter which says I may travel free. The man reads it carefully. Although there is little text, he takes quite a long time and I see him frown. He mumbles something when he gives it back, apparently an “O.K.” I am suddenly reminded of an old television series: ‘Who pays the ferryman?’ I admit, a somewhat morbid association: this title refers to the old Greek myth, in which the border between the land of the living and the underworld of the god, Hades, is formed by the river Styx. The souls of the dead cross the river with the help of a ferryman. To pay the ferryman, coins are laid on the eyes of the dead. So the question in the title refers to the involvement of the person accompanying the dead body over the river.
I study the map and decide to go first to Baagø By. After a few minutes, I cycle through a small street with a couple of houses. I can’t see it on the map but, to tell the truth, I don’t understand the map very well. I’m quite good at reading maps, even if I say so myself, but this makes no sense. The harbour, where the ferry arrives, lies on the southernmost tip of the island. There is only one road northwards and it runs through Baagø By. I follow the main road, but it doesn’t seem to match the road on the map. A little later, I pass a church but I can’t find that on the map either. It shows a church just beyond Baagø By, but I haven’t even passed that little town. I cycle further northwards and suddenly the road stops. Not without reason, as it can’t go further because of the sea. I don’t understand. Did I go west then? But there isn’t a road there. And the sun is in the wrong place too. I must have cycled to the north. Of course there is a north coast, but I can’t be there yet by a long chalk, I haven’t even been to Baagø By! I don’t get it, cycle back and decide to pay the church a visit, I have to go to the toilet anyway.
In the church, I ask someone how on earth I could get lost on such a small island.
“This is where we are now”, says the woman and points to the church on the map. The church north of Baagø By. So I was at the north coast!
“Yes, but I haven’t been to Baagø By yet, how can I have missed it?” The woman smiles. “I don’t know what you imagine Baagø By is like (well, a lot; ‘By’ means town), but it’s only a few houses, you must have gone through it!”
Ah, those few houses on the street. Now everything falls into place. Goodness, how stupid. I cycle on, through Baagø By, and see a sign on a big farm, saying there’s coffee there. Well, I’m ready for that. The farm has a big barn with a lovely exhibition on the history of Baagø There is nobody there and I soon realise it is self-service, including payment. There is coffee, tea, cold drinks, ice cream, biscuits ... and a bowl to put the money in. This surprises me every time. The Danes are very trusting.
I sit outside at the picnic-table and wonder what to do the rest of the time on the island. I have been here less than an hour and have already seen half the island. It is almost one o’clock and the ferry only goes at half past three. Well, who knows what the east coast has in store.
I take my time, using part of it to try out the macro function on my camera. I have never really taken the trouble to work that out. A couple of wasps that are enjoying some spilt jam, are a good target. They don’t bother about me and eat on regardless.
After lunch, I cycle eastwards. There should be a ‘Naturskole’ here somewhere but I can’t find it, in spite of having had all the roads and sandy paths here by now. I’m beginning to doubt my map-reading skills a bit. I can’t ask, as I don’t meet anyone.
I give it up. I don’t understand this island, that’s it. I decide to visit the lighthouse in the south and then wait in the harbour with a book.
By now you may be wondering why nearly all the island names end in ø. This means ‘island ‘ in Danish. And that, of course, explains a lot.
Just past Assens, I come past Galleri Sulegaarden again. Now I do have the energy to visit it but it turns out to be closed. I see from the notice that it is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. That won’t be possible, as I have other plans for tomorrow and the day after. A pity. Next time!
Day 29, Friday August 7th, Magtebølle – Frøbjerg - Magtebølle
Distance: 21,5 km (+ 2 hours’ walk)
Weather: sunny, hot
Regional routes 79 and 75, own route
Magtebølle, Skalbjerg, Frøbjerg, Tommerup Stationsby, Magtenbølle
You can’t cycle round in West Fyn for a few days without climbing the highest hill!
The highest point on Fyn is in the area Højfyn and the ‘hill’ is called Frøbjerg Bavnehøj. Høj means hill and that is right for a hump of 131 metres. The Danes call their hills just hills, in contrast to the Dutch, with their Amerongse Berg, Lemelerberg, Sint Pietersberg, all of them lower than the Bavnehøj...
So today it was climbing. No real difference with other cycling days: in Denmark, notwithstanding the lack of mountains, you do nothing but climb and descend. Except for a few areas, Denmark is anything but flat and a day of 20 steep hills can be more tiring than half a day’s climbing one Alp, from which you can race down the other side.
I have already circled the hill a few times, as, if you have the choice after a day’s cycling ... the climb is not so bad and all the trouble is rewarded by beautiful views.
I also have free admission to ‘Danmarks FugleZoo’, a bird park near Frøbjerg. I feel like taking photos of all the birds and I do take many of them. It is a lovely park with many special birds.
After the visit to the bird park, I cycle towards Magtebølle again, a road I have traversed many times the last few days. Tomorrow I’m going home again and I don’t know if I really want to. I like it here.
Jørgen tells me the following story:
The Monument in Magtenbolle
A large stone stands in the centre of the village of Magtenbolle (opposite Magtenbollevej 90). The stone has an interesting history, because 3 bottles are placed under it, containing documents from 1932 and 1995.
The story is as follows:
On April 1st, 1995, the citizens in the small village of Magtenbolle celebrated its 700 years' anniversary. Magtenbolle was first mentioned in a document from 1295. Before the anniversary in 1995, some of the old people in the village said that, "to their knowledge", some information was hidden under a big stone everyone could see near a former outdoor meeting place in Magtenbolle.During the celebrations, the citizens decided to dig under the stone to see if something was hidden there. And YES! Under the stone, they found a bottle containing a document saying that the monument was raised on May 13th, 1932 by the village administrators and that the fundament was made by four men - none of them farmers. The document says that there had been some discussion on whether to raise this monument because of the crisis. Prices for food, cattle and sheep were very low, due to the global economic crisis in the '30s, with the resulting unemployment. A list of prices of agricultural products was also put in the bottle.So on April 1st, 1995, the inhabitants of Magtenbolle, having read this document, placed some advertisements, etc. in a second bottle which, together with the bottle and documents from 1932 and a third bottle with a nice handwritten list of all the inhabitants of Magtenbolle on that date, was replaced under the stone.Whether these bottles will be excavated on Magtenbolle's 800 years' anniversary in 2095 remains to be decided by the inhabitants then living there - if anybody still knows of the existence of this story by then...
At the beginning of the evening, I take a walk. Behind the farm, there is a hill (for a change) and Jørgen has promised me a beautiful view. When I am right at the top, I find a seat with a plastic-covered note on the ground, made by Jørgen and fastened with stones. It describes where you are and tips for further walking.
View to Magtebølle
And then I suddenly lie face down in the grass! Well, climb high, fall low. I was just walking down through the cornfield, carefree, and then a little way through a field, There are no grazers and grass, nettles and weeds all grow high. And there are holes which I didn’t see.
So there I lie, in the middle of the grass, on a lovely pheasant feather, which I can look at closely (I take it home). My arms, hands and left leg are less lucky: in the stinging nettles. My right leg is still in the hole but is still attached to me. The day before yesterday, my second cousins, Gerjon and Erwin, taught me how you can touch a nettle without getting ‘stung’.
I must practice a little more ...
Jørgen lets me use his computer and on this last evening, with sore fingers, I write a long mail home.
Days 30 and 31, Saturday August 8th and Sunday August 9th Magtebølle – Avernakø – Magtebølle – Odense – Zeist
Distance: 25 km
Weather: sunny, hot
Car: Magtebølle, Faaborg
Boat: Faaborg, Avernakø
Boat: Avernakø, Faaborg
Car: Faaborg, Magtebølle, Odense
Train: Odense, Utrecht
Bike: Utrecht, Zeist
Today, Jørgen and Ingrid, together with some neighbours from Magtebølle, are going to the island of Avernakø. It is a sort of village excursion, paid for by the sale of Christmas trees last Christmas. And I may come too! I have never been to Avernakø, so I can put it with my collection. The island lies under Fyn and above the island of Ærø.
There are six of us: Jørgen and Ingrid, the couple, Henning and Julle (their garden is also for campers), Poul, a somewhat older man, and me. First we must go to Faaborg to get the ferry to Avernakø. Jørgen and Henning want to go on their racing bikes and asked last night if I would go with them.
It feels below my status to go by car now with the ladies and the elderly Poul, but I wonder if it is not too much for me. It is about forty kilometres with lots of climbs and the time they want to do it in is much too short for me. I’m not really a cycle racer and would probably hold them up, so that we’ll be too late for the ferry. And the next one is five hours later ... As both men will come back by car, we travel to Faaborg in two cars. Poul goes with Julle and I go with Ingrid. It is a strange sensation to see everything you have cycled past during the last few days rush past.
On the way, we do some shopping to fill the picnic hamper and we get to the ferry just in time.
In the harbour on the west of the island, we rent bikes. Jørgen and Henning have their own and the others a rented bike. My bike couldn’t be taken as it wouldn’t fit into either of the cars on the way back.
The rented bikes have seen better days but we manage.
The island is long, from west to east, and consists of two parts, joined by a dyke. There used to be land between the two parts but it is so low-lying that it was gradually taken over by the sea, splitting the island in two. Julle tells me that, according to legend, Avernakø consisted of a very strict Christian community and another part that was less strict. As the young people wanted to go out in the weekend and there were no facilities in the strict part, they had to go to the other side for it. During the last century, there was no dyke, but the water was very low. The boys lifted the girls up and walked through the water to the other side.
We take the three o’clock ferry back as there is a train to Utrecht to catch this evening.
While we are waiting for the ferry, some people start to call out enthusiastically and point. I see a boat but don’t understand the commotion. Jørgen explains that it is the ship of the Danish royal family, so maybe the queen is sailing by, or the crown prince and his wife ...
We go back home by car. Henning has gone with Julle and Poul and Jørgen is in the car with us. We drive through Svanninge Bakker, a nature reserve above Faaborg, through which I rode last year, and stop for a moment at Trente Mølle, where there is a visitors’ Centre and a watermill.
I have my last meal with Jørgen and Ingrid, thus ending this special holiday. Jørgen takes me by car to the station in Odense where I take the night train to Utrecht.
What a holiday! And am I glad I didn’t go home after all, two weeks ago. Denmark has again given me an unforgettable time. I’ll be back!