Vikings, a famous author, and Michelin stars – Denmark Part 1 – September 2016


Published: December 14th 2023

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It was a long drive, but we finally entered into Denmark without much fanfare (a small checkpoint where we were asked standard questions and were laughed at – more on that in later blogs). It almost seemed as if the landscape changed instantly – lush green pastures all around. We made a stop so the little man could stretch his legs – yes, we are travelling with a young one. Our destination was RIBE- not that far across the border.

Now to be very honest we had very little expectations of Denmark. And as we have honestly found over and over and over – the less expectations the more memorable when you truly enjoy something. We arrived. The parking was not easy – you had to use this card and we honestly could not really figure it out and the parking itself was also super limited and full of rules. The town itself was is the oldest in Denmark which to a degree was fairly clear. Old buildings, stoned roads, and a WALK THROUGH the GAMLE STAN AREA just seeps with age. I booked a room at the HOTEL DAGMAR (built in the late 1500’s) and the interior and rooms definitely


Green pastures for the little man

showed this. First, we had to deal with one of the few booking issues I have ever had with hotels. Apparently, I booked the room for one person (according to them) and even though you could easily fit the three of us in the room I had to pay almost double because we had two adults. Left a super bad taste, but then again it really is what it is, and we got over it quickly. Time to explore.

Directly across from the hotel was TORVET SQUARE with the RIBE DOMKIRKE CATHEDRAL. An odd cathedral to be honest. Lots of paintings that were almost comic like which was a first for us I would say. Nevertheless, a nice church and a CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE CATHEDRAL was rewarded with some really nice views as the sun was going down (there were a lot of stairs, and these are getting harder and harder with an almost 1 year old). You could really see a long way with Esbjerg in the distance (did not visit). We made some friends at the top (baby friends) before we headed down and explored the town. A ditch was built around the town, which turned


The face when you put him in the car all day

into a moat, which turned into a canal that is now lined with boats and creates a very tranquil and peaceful scene. Quiet waters, a setting sun, kids fishing, and a coolness setting in on the town just created this magical moment – one of our more memorable moments. We headed back to the RESTAURANT AT HOTEL DAGMAR since it looked like the nicest around. A couple of local brews from Ribe Bryghus (a brewery in town) were really nice. Followed with a fish lightly fried (decent) and what I would consider to this day one of the best chicken burgers I have had. It was a deep-fried chicken breast with curry (yes curry) with apples and avocado and fries. It was phenomenal. You probably could argue it was more just because we were really hungry, but to this day I remember that burger. We do have a child now and I guess what you do at least once a day on vacation is find ice cream (that is our family tradition I guess – not sure if everyone does this). Off we went and soft serve dipped in chocolate, waffles and hot chocolate with a dollop of soft serve,

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Interior of the cathedral

and a milkshake was found and consumed. Much more than we bargained for, but I think after ordering it all we realized the shake/ waffle was a packaged deal somehow. Oh well – sometimes lost in translation results in extra ice cream and sweet goodies which no one has ever complained about.

Breakfast at the hotel was fine. The RIBE VIKING CENTER was next on the list and since it was still sort of summer the VIKING VILLAGE was still open. Generally, these “village recreations” are nothing more than a building or two with a pot and a pan and a person or two lounging around in old time costumes with a cow lounging around. This was not the case here – this was a full blown village with any and all types of buildings and rooms they may have had. A full scale kitchen with fires going. Blacksmiths making swords, farmers with their animals, and shipbuilders with an archery teacher thrown in for good measure. Definitely what seems like a very real depiction of a Viking village with lots of detail. If Everest did not have PTSD from the camel licking him in India, then he definitely had some flashbacks

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Some very unusual art for a cathedral

when the cow at this center got a hold of him.

As is always the case, 24 hours or less was our limit in Ribe (this was a pretty magical experience) and it was time to continue exploring THE VIKING LEGACY in Denmark. JELLING was up next for all things Viking. The JELLING STONES being the main attraction, including HAROLD BLUETOOTH’S STONE. A stone from the 11th century with inscriptions about his parents, his “visit” to Denmark, and his conversion of the Danes to Christians. A stone throw away are a couple GRASS COVERED BURIAL MOUNDS (if you have not read about these, they are quite fascinating – we recently (7 years later) visited the burial mounds at Uppsala. A small ROMANESQUE CHURCH on the grounds were visited before we headed over to the KONGERNES JELLING MUSEUM. The museum had a pretty cool replica of HAROLD BLUETOOTH’S STONE – it being colored in all different colors to highlight each section of the stone. A really detailed and informative museum with displays and interactions that definitively made this stand out as one of the better non-art museums we have visited. Lunch at Design og Coffee consisted of cider and beer and a couple

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paninis and sandwiches. As will be seen later this was one of our favorite food trips. The food just always seemed good and fresh no matter where we ate. This was a simple little sandwich shop where we sat outside and enjoyed the goodies. They had a little scooter outside, so I had fun with the little man zipping back and forth at “neck-breaking speeds”. In reality we probably would have lost a race to a tortoise.

As with all Nordic countries the country consists of islands. In Denmark I believe it is a less pronounced just because the entire country consists of these larger islands connected by bridges. FUNEN ISLAND was crossed onto via a fairly long bridge, and we made sure to STAY AT AN INN IN ODENSE. We headed over to the Munkebo Kro Inn and after check-in we soon realized we might be the only people there. With a creature running around we try and check-in before sunset now. As it was right about that time we ran across the street and played and had fun on this patch of grass right on the water. It seemed no matter where we stayed there was always water and boats

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Taking a rest on the stairs up to the top

around with a pretty setting sun (and in this case traps for whatever sea creature they were catching there). We had a harder time finding a local restaurant, so we drove a couple miles to the next town over and had dinner at the Tornoes Hotel. We sat outside (it got fairly cold) and enjoyed the house wine and a pilsner with tomato soup, chicken with bacon in a creamy mushroom sauce, and cold salmon with whole boiled potatoes and chives. Why would you not have salmon in this part of the world? At the time the whole boiled potato served with fish seemed odd, but now after having travelled to most of the Nordic countries I realize that this is very normal.

Breakfast at the inn the next morning confirmed that there were in fact other people there who stayed the night. We headed into ODENSE with the main destination being the HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON MUSEUM. A tribute to the famous Danish author with SUITCASES, ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS, and a plethora of other things HCA. Exhibits about some of his famous stories such as the Princess and the Pea helped to explain things to the 10 month old (not really). Pictures were taken,


The canals around the town create a special setting

books were bought, and stories were told. EATING AT A CAFE IN ODENSE was next up – brunch at UBN ONE. As was becoming a trend, we started with a couple Odense beers followed by a stacked salmon sandwich on pumpernickel bread with fries (pretty good) and an omelet with pork belly (really more like bacon), with a salad and olives (ok).

Funen is sort of known for their ISLAND CASTLES – HOLCKENHAVN CASTLE was our choice. We got there and were able to make it to the inner part of the castle (after crossing a moat) and found it deserted even though all the doors were open. So, I guess no castle tour for us! We made our way around the castle grounds, and it turned out really nice because apparently the leaves come off the trees in September in Denmark. So we were under these beautiful trees that showed their colors with leaves all over the grounds. We had a blast with the little man taking pictures and throwing leaves. He was in heaven with all the crunchy leaves and the dirt. So, I guess JUNE THROUGH SEPTEMBER is the perfect time to visit.

Our hotel for the


Found this dock for the little guy

night came to us, and would only have been known to us, because of our travel books – FALSLED KRO in MILLINGE. So out of the way and middle of nowhere that there is no way we would have known about this under any normal circumstances. As usual we booked it the day of (may have been the day before in this case). I am sure people come here for many reasons, but for us the main reason was the FALSLED KRO RESTAURANT – the opening act to the main event. The hotel room itself was pretty pricey and I really had second thoughts about booking this – in our travels (especially during those years) I had some pretty strict pricing guidelines on places we stayed at, and it had to be some pretty extraordinary circumstances for me to break it. I guess the circumstances were met. We pulled in fairly late after our castle experience. All I remember is that it is this inn with nothing else in sight. Check-in was easy and trouble-free, and they even had a little baby cot in our room. The room was inside this little courtyard with beautiful tilework in the bathroom and a


Crawling and having fun

gorgeous bed. We had a little time to explore the grounds before dinner so we went for a walk and needless to say we ended up at water. We sat on a dock as the little guy was splashing in water (as I held him) that probably approached a freezing temperature. But he just kept going and going. He was wet head to toe (me as well) but seemed to have the time of his life. We headed back and got ready for dinner. We started out in the courtyard right in front of our room with champagne and an amuse bouche with the little guy in his car seat. He did not last very long. This car seat was such a game changer for us through these dinners (see Austria blog for Steirereck). Soon we were moved indoors for our 6-course Almanac tasting menu at another Michelin star restaurant. We got the following:

– delicious bread w/ honey butter and a couple other butters – codfish and cabbage w/ oysters, lemon and salty red currants (good) – turbot and lobster w/ carrots, verbena and elderflower. Can truly tell you that up to


Kids still being kids

this point we have never heard of the turbot fish but over the years this fish has showed up on many of our menus (good) – veal tails and truffle w/ beetroots, fermented garlic and cep compote (entire dish was covered in very thinly sliced beets – really good) – duck and fennel w/ gooseberries, young onions and blackcurrant (really good) – Danish and French cheeses (you can order as much as you want, but then again there is only so much cheese you can eat). The knowledge of the servers about each cheese was incredible. – red peach and raspberry w/ hazelnuts, vanilla and praline (we were pretty full at this point, but it was still delicious)

What a meal. The little guy slept through 90% of it. He woke up for dessert and then was all over the place, but we kept him busy with sugar and puffs and he had the full attention of the waiters who were amazed at how good he was. He got a little rumbunctious at the end, but the restaurant was somewhat empty by then.

And that was


We did love this little town

our stay at a pretty incredible and somewhat unknown inn. On our way out the next day we drove by FARMHOUSE after farmhouse and a landscape filled with orchards. And just to show how truly “odd” this place is there is a JELLING ORM (VIKING REPLICA SHIP) @ FARUP LAKE that just sits there in the middle of nowhere for what seems no good reason. Last but not least to conclude the first three days in Denmark we drove across THE GREAT BELT FIXED LINK – an 11 mile bridge connecting islands. Quite a feat of human construction (you definitively pay for it). And so, part 1 of Denmark ends. Good – completely out of left field this was just an awesome experience driving through all these little villages with water everywhere – the food was awesome. Fresh and delicious – even the most basic of sandwiches. – the unexpected surprises around every corner – beautiful sunrays coming through a dark medieval kitchen, fall in September, surrounded by water every night, Vikings and old squares – unexpected Michelin starred inns in the middle of nowhere



Local brews

other than our issues at the first hotel very little to nothing to complain about. – gas is insanely expensive

Advice – enjoy the Vikings and the little towns – Denmark will take some planning. I know normal people plan way ahead – we don’t at all. This is a very expensive country so when travelling on a budget you probably need to research things ahead of time.

Definitely quite a few things we were able to check off our list books – Falsled Kro, Odense, the Viking legacy, the great belt fixed link, Jelling, Funen, and Ribe. So, 355 down and 5,426 to go.

Til’ next time from little town Denmark


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