Yesterday evening, Lars and I celebrated Sankt Hans Aften in Skagen. If you want to know more about this event, have a look here. These posts explain everything and also show pictures of other midsummer night celebrations.
It was our dream to go to the top of Denmark – the top of Jutland – to join the celebrations. The sunshine lasts longer there and thousands of people come together to drink, listen to the speeches, sing and look at the bonfire. There is a special atmosphere, especially in Skagen, that is hard to beat. So off we went.
We arrived in Skagen around 9 pm. The weather was perfect, sunshine, no clouds, mild temperature. People of all ages were heading to the dunes, most with blankets, cold beer and their dog and/or camera.
A band was playing and shortly after 9 pm, the speeches started. I even heard a short one in English, welcoming the foreigners and especially the German television team, who were filming everything on top of a huge dune. After one beautiful song and a long speech about the good life in Skagen, they finally lit the bonfire, the moment we had all been waiting for!
One more song – the midsummer night song – and most people started to leave the beach, including Lars and myself. One hot-dog and beer later and we were back on the road, carrying with us another beautiful souvenir…
On a cloudy Sunday morning in May, Lars and I went back to Belgium. We had a short stop in the harbor of Fredericia.
The town owns its name to Frederick III, who founded it in the 17th century. Fredericia is located close to the bridge that links Jutland with Funen. Since we cross this bridge very often, we had passed the town numerous times, but never took the time to stop there.
Because of the clouds and fog, the views from the harbor were quite limited. Normally you can see some of the towns on the other side (Funen), but that morning we only saw shadows. I converted the pictures to black and white, because I think it suits the atmosphere better.
The cathedral was built during the 12th century and is a perfect example of a Romanesque building. Wikipedia has a beautiful description of it:
The towers contain six bells. The oldest surviving bell was cast in 1456 by Hinrik Dobbran, a Melchior Lucas bell, the largest in the tower, from 1599, the smallest bell from 1770 cast by JN Bieber, a Jacobus Fr. Beseler from 1847, one from 1858 cast by PP Meilstrup the Elder, and one from 1869 by PP Meilstrup the Younger.
The organ facade is from the Johan Heide organ of 1635. Heide was a Flensburg organ maker from 1615-1641. He was an apprentice of the royal organ maker, Nicolaus, Maas. The organ has been expanded and updated many times. A new organ was built in 1973 by Frobenius and enlarged by the same company in 1994. It has 50 voices.
The main altar piece was painted by Ebbe Jehn Petersen.
The ship which hangs at the crossing is a model of the ship “Maria” by B. Cl. Jensen of Ribe.
In the restoration of the late 19th century the walls were complete cleared of the plaster layers. Unfortunately this destroyed many rich medieval fresco paintings that enlivened the walls of the cathedral before the Reformation. A painting of the Virgin and infant Jesus have been preserved in the nave and a pillar has paintings of Apostle Andrew and Bartholomew. St George and the Dragon are have been preserved in the north transept.
Several epitaphs from the past have been preserved in the cathedral. The oldest is was raised by King Valdemar for his son in 1231. In the south transept is the chapel of Admiral Albert Skeel partially in sandstone and fine wood carvings.
Once you are inside you are simply in awe for all this grandeur! Simply breathtaking!
You can visit the cathedral for free; if you want to visit one of the towers, you have to pay a small fee.
After our visit to the vineyard, Lars and I continued our drive to Esbjerg.
It’s the biggest town of the west of Jutland and one of the biggest of Denmark; it’s main economic activity is industry:
The city was once Denmark’s biggest fishing harbour, and the harbour is still an economic driving force in the town. Besides the fishing industry Esbjerg is also the main city for Denmark’s oil and offshore activities. Companies like Maersk, Ramboll, Stimwell Services, ABB, Schlumberger, COWI and Atkins all have offshore related activities in the city.
It was our goal to visit the maritime museum, but unfortunately it was closed, due to renovation works. So instead we went to have a look at a part of the harbor. Yes, I confess, I am not only attracted by the sea and beaches, but by (big) boats as well!
On Tuesday morning, Lars’s mother was feeling better, so Lars and I decided to make a longer excursion. We went to Jutland and our first stop was at a Danish vineyard.
Hang on… Vineyards in Denmark? Yes, and this is what Wikipedia has to say about them:
Despite its northerly location, it has been developing a wine industry since the 20th century that has benefited from global warming and the legalization of wine production in 1999. Today there are small vineyards in Jutland and Lolland growing various grape varieties, mainly Cabernet Cortis. In 2006 the twenty vineyards in the country together produced around 40,000 bottles of wine. In 2007, Danish wine gained prominence when a 2006 Don’s Cuvée sparkling wine from Skæresøgård Vin won a silver medal in the 2007 Effervescents du Monde wine competition.
Looks like global warming has at least one positive consequence! In the meantime, most of the bigger Danish islands – like Zealand and Funen – have vineyards as well. In total there are about 40 vineyards now in the whole of Denmark. Some of the people only produce wine as a hobby, others have made a real business out of it.
Lars and I visited Skæresøgård Vin. This is Denmark’s first official vineyard and it’s also the biggest. And the most awarded!
When we arrived we first got a tour in the winery itself.
It’s very simple. The first time we were there, I took a lot of pictures, but most of them sucked. So, I wanted to have a second chance and this time I went for black and white. Since there was a lot of wind, the waves were quite big!
The coastline of the northwest of Jutland is beautiful and spectacular, but also dangerous. It is actually one of the most dangerous coasts of the world; numerous ships wrecked here. If you want to see how cruel and devastating nature can be, you better visit the St. George Museum, which is right next to the main beach of Thorsminde. Another popular activity here is angling.
The Viking and I had a walk on one of the breakwaters and I really took my time to take my pictures. As you might have guessed by now, we like the sea! But when it’s really rough with a lot of waves, we simply love it! And I think this time the pictures are better! What do you think? Do you like the pictures?
Babette’s Feast is actually based on a short story by Karen Blixen. Maybe this name rings a bell, because one of her other stories was the inspiration of the movie Out of Africa. Anyway, Babette’s Feast was originally set in Norway.
The director of the movie, Gabriel Axel, traveled to Norway and visited the village where the story takes place. But he wasn’t pleased with it; he thought it was too idyllic. In order to accentuate the feeling of isolation in which the two sisters find themselves he chose the dramatic landscape of Jutland. This is the area of Denmark where you find the most spectacular landscapes: a coastline that constantly moves further inland, trees bent or shaped by the wind, buildings or even villages destroyed by the mighty dunes, …
As a backdrop he chose Mårup Kirke; this is a Romanesque church that was built in the 13th century. It was a very simple building, with only a nave and a choir. Axel asked his crew to build a handful of houses around it and this is where the biggest part of the movie was made.
Since Mårup Kirke was not far from Grenen, we decided to have a look there. The houses that had been built for the movie were gone and so was most of the church. The problem was that the church during many centuries had suffered from the constant erosion and the shifting sands. In the beginning of the 20th century, the church wasn’t used anymore and a new one was built in the nearby village of Lønstryp.
After a couple of severe storms in the second half of the 20th century Mårup Kirke was in such a bad state that the authorities decided to dismantle it. Only the walls are left standing now. The parts that have been removed have not been thrown away; they were put in storage. Until now, the authorities are not sure if – and where – the church will be rebuilt.
The ruins do attract a lot of people. That is probably due to its interesting background and history, but also because it was once used as a setting for Babette’s Feast. And let’s not forget the dramatic landscape!
This was the first Danish movie to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The two central characters are two sisters living in a remote village somewhere in Jutland. They are very much devoted to their father, who is the pastor of a small Protestant church and who is honored by the whole community. And although his daughters are very beautiful and have their suitors, they end up as two elderly spinsters, leading a tranquil life.
After some years, a French refugee, Babette, turns up and begs them to let her work for them as a maid and cook. Since she is somehow connected with the past of one of the sisters and since she has no other alternative, the two women accept her offer. The life of the small community changes completely, when Babette one day wins the lottery and decides to cook a real French dinner in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the father of the two sisters.
This is the trailer of the movie:
The Viking and I often watch this movie, especially when we come back from a trip to Denmark. Since we are both foodies, we are in love with the second part of the movie, when Babette prepares her feast. And when we have a bit more money, we would like to prepare all these dishes ourselves!
Of course, we asked ourselves where the movie was made. The IMDB simply says the west of Jutland, which is a huge area! Luckily, Wikipedia gave us a more precise answer to that question! But … between movie and reality, there can be quite a difference …
Photographing the backroads of Europe, exploring beauty and enjoying life at our own pace