Some island hops before we sadly say ‘farvel’ to Denmark

RØDVIG 

Thursday-Sunday, August 23-26, 2018

After an amazing week of friends and festivities we sailed out of Copenhagen. Like many visitors, we, too, felt as if we could have stayed for a much longer time. Yet, we vowed to return, which eased the pain of seeing our home for the past week disappear in the distance. 

By now the steady stream of sunlight and favorable forecasts from summer had transitioned to a mix of weather systems. We seemed to be alternating between easy cruising and dodging stormy weather, causing us to seek out shelter in ports offering not only secure tie-ups but also an element of interest, which is how we picked our next destination, Rødvig.

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Good winds made for an easy traverse of 33 miles, and within 6 hours we docked alongside amidst a blend of fishing boats, wind farm tenders, and other cruisers like us (JUANONA is on the opposite dock from the big red boat below)A quick perusal of the one-street town reminded us of an earlier Rockland, Maine with its underpinning of a working waterfront overlaid with a few cafes and shops serving seasonal tourists. 

One of the main attractions offered a step back in time. Actually a GARGANTUUM leap:  the coastline is noted as one of the few places in the world to actually touch a world-changing event. To get there you simply had to walk a couple miles along a bluff. 76EF8FC4-08E7-4C95-9884-B521CEF84DC2In doing so we passed by underground bunkers one mile long and 59 feet deep from the Cold War. Active from 1956 to 2000, they served as another reminder of how these countries, unlike the USA, physically feel the tension between the USSR and the West. Another time we may have taken the hour-long tour of the Stevnsfort but opted instead to stay above ground and keep moving back in time.

In addition to fishing, the earlier inhabitants of this area mined chalk and limestone; and we spotted several structural remnants –a cement factory

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and two quicklime kilns–

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of this once-thriving occupation. 

We finally reached the point, where three friendly cyclists told us exactly how to locate the desired spot, which, in hind sight, we realized we never would have found on our own.

Descending to the shoreline

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we scurried up some rocks to the right and stood in awe looking at the cause of the demise of the earth’s dinosaurs over 65 million years ago! 

The view? A horizontal line varying from two to four inches wide of so-called fish clay.

The composite? Dead dinos and other creatures along with debris The cause? Dust (from a 10-km meteorite crashing into the earth along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula) and ashes (from the colliding of India and Asia causing volcanic eruptions) blotting out the sun’s warmth, soon rendering two-thirds of all species extinct.

CFC5B023-8EF0-41F6-9E7D-1E5748B6D834The cliffs of Stevns Klint (‘klint’, Danish for cliff) run just over nine miles long and over 130 feet high, presenting a water view of soft clay (composed of limestone shells from algae) topped by hard limestone (thanks to remains of moss animal skeletons that lived on the seabed) interspersed with black lines of flint and topped by 20,000 years of glacier debris. 

Separating the white clay from the white limestone is the thin, gooey, gray-black strip discovered by a scientific, father-son team, the Alvarez’s, in 1978. With a composition of no signs of life and a high level of iridium, an element rare on earth but common in space, Walter (a geologist) and his father Louis, a Noble Prize winner in science, connected this thin line to the meteor and the dinosaurs’ extinction. 

After oohing and ahhing while touching the damp clay we climbed back to the top, only to step into a more recent time, an 14th-century church.

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Part of it fell into the sea in 1928 due to erosion but is now safe to use. We only peeked in as a small wedding ceremony was going on.

Not wanting to make the long walk home, we considered returning to the harbor via a local bus. We soon decided using our thumbs gave us more options; and, within ten minutes a car – the first to pass us- stopped to pick us up. The driver was not only friendly but also the ex-mayor. He had just officiated at one of the 300 weddings held in Rødvig annually. Which explained why we kept seeing matrimonial groups during our weekend there.

One other interesting site sat outside a Thai restaurant.

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Having seen a lot of these painted by artists in 2010 I asked the proprietor where he got it. Not quite understanding his answer I believe the elephant originated from a similar group, basically an event raising awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant. The elephants were then auctioned off with proceeds donated to their conservation. At least, that’s my translations of his answer…

MØN

Sunday-Wednesday, August 26-29, 2018

By Sunday, the storm passed and we left Rødvig for another geological wonder:  the cliffs on the island of Møns.

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A brisk sail ended with 5 miles of pounding into the wind and short steep seas, making us grateful to reach the tranquility of Klintholm. Over the course of the afternoon and evening other boaters joined us to wait out a forecasted storm. Which arrived as predicted the next day.

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But, it didn’t stop us from hopping a bus to explore several sites around the island. Two being churches from the 13th-century, and both sporting murals and frescoes by the Elmelunde Master, and later carefully restored.

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Thankfully the Fanefjord Church provided a helpful chart so we actually understood what we were looking at.

One of the frames caught my eye: ‘Careless words during service’.

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It made me chuckle as I could so believe my doing the same. I also knew some good friends, one recently deaconized (if that’s the correct term), who most likely would have added my name under one of the women…

Located in what is called a fjord (a pretty flat one at that) this church was quite large and impressive for the relatively small population it had served;

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but, the harbor served as a safe trading spot for the Hanseatic League who obviously believed in giving thanks for getting rich.

Having walked to the site in pouring rain we knew a wet slog back to the bus stop awaited us. Yet, exiting the church we noticed a sign pointing to a Stone Age site less than a quarter-mile away.

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We headed up the road, stopping where a sign indicated straight ahead was the Crøn Jaegers Høj (Green Hunter’s Mound) or Fanesalen (Fane Hall), a long barrow named after a legend of King Green and his wife Fane. However, peering through the gray skies across a farm all we saw was a field ending with the beginning of an arbor. As we kept staring all of a sudden we saw what we had thought was a row of trees morph into large boulders punched into the sides of a long earthern mound.

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Although we couldn’t enter, a plaque described the interior as holding three burial chambers. Rectangular stone coffins possibly held one individual each, placed in their passage graves with, what is thought, representations of the sun and light via white flint found in each coffin.

If we looked like drowned rats before entering the church, our route back to the main road only enhanced our sogginess. Yet, it was worth trying for a ride. And, the first car that passed us actually stopped! Two older women on their way to the grocery store assured us it wouldn’t be a problem depositing our wet bodies on their car’s seat. A short ride later we found ourselves sussing out potential lunch items at the store and joining a young German couple backpacking via their unique bike-for-two. I didn’t envy their ride or accommodations in this weather.

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Within an hour we caught the bus to another church where we saw a repeat of the first church’s paintings while also getting a chance to dry out some.

The next day we headed in the opposite direction to experience the geological wonder of this island:  the Møns Klint, soaring white cliffs similar to those at Dover on England’s southeast coast.

Hearing from several cruisers that the museum associated with these cliffs was expensive, we decided to pay the entrance fee anyway based on recommendations from other cruisers, one being a geologist. And, we were glad we did. The explanations increased our understanding of what we experienced in Rødvig and our exploration of these cliffs.

Needing to kill time before the museum opened we headed for the cliffs. Once we descended 497 steps (but who’s counting) of the wooden staircase,

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we now stood at the bottom of these impressive white cliffs seen from sea two days prior.

After a few photos…

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a stroll along part of the four miles of rocky shoreline…

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where we tested the clay

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and spotted lines of flint…

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We returned to the stairs and back up we went, albeit slightly slower.

At first the museum appears to be fairly limited in scope, however the slide shows on computer screens and accompanying displays easily led us through the complex evolution of Møns Klint. That, alone, was worth the price of admission.

Millions and millions and millions, okay, gadZILLIONS of minuscule creatures named coccoliths formed this white chalk. The chalk is separated by horizontal lines of flint, which sat 1.5 feet below the seabed. Surprisingly there still isn’t an explanation of exactly what caused these black lumps to morph into flint, which occurred irregularly.

The museum showcased one of the most prevalent dinosaurs of the area, the mosasaurus.

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We had passed a fossilized head when entering the museum’s lobby,

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and saw a mosasaurus’ tooth considered a ‘treasure trove belonging to the Danish state’ according to the Copenhagen Geology Museum. 

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Like many fossils in Denmark this tooth was found by an amateur fossil hunter on July 25, 2007.

A small room off the main exhibit area highlighted the importance of chalk in our lives. White chalk is very pure limestone, the latter being calcium carbonate or CaCO3. From cement (which requires 82% limestone) to gum, we depend on this sedimentary carbonate rock. And, one startling realization for me was not only how often we used this resource but also that it is a finite resource. Yet, another reminder of how much we are gobbling up our round ball we inhabit.

Another room found on the next floor showcased some of the bizarre critters that lived during the Triassic Period*. Interactive screens explained some of each dinosaur’s unique features.

*I’ll attempt to explain the three different Dinosaur periods comprising the Mesozoic Era: The Triassic, 237-201 million years ago (mya); the Jurassic, 201-145 mya; and, the Cretaceous, 145-66 mya. The Møns Klint’s chalk was formed 150 mya.

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One of the first in this period was the Coelophysis (seen above), a carnivorous dinosaur with hollow bones suggesting they were warm-blooded. The hollow areas were either filled with air (like birds) or marrow (like mammals). I don’t care what these creatures had or the fact they probably ate small reptiles and amphibians. I just know I wouldn’t want to have run into one of these nine-foot tall animals.

 

Interspersed around the museum were fun activities, some appealing to even big kids.

 

In the gift shop another opportunity presented itself for a portrait shot. And, with that, we walked back into the 21st century. Well almost.

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A short bus ride took us from the frightening world of things that could munch on our bones to one where a fairytale setting offered a place to soak up the serenity after the imagined horror of becoming a dinosaur’s meal.

We mistakenly entered the private courtyard of Liselund Gammel Slot, a Danish ‘castle’ (really a manor and its grounds). Named after the French owner’s wife Elizabeth, this beautiful estate was built in the late 18th century.

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We soon found ourselves in the public area complete with the large manor, now opened to visitors,

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guest cottages, such as the one complete with an aristocrat posing, 

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and sublime landscapes of tranquil ponds and velvet lawns. 

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Catching the same bus driver home, we spent another evening with a cruiser friend, Nicholas, whom we first met at the beginning of the summer in Kalmar, Sweden. Since then we had enjoyed spontaneous meet-ups in Visby, on the Sweden’s Gotland Island, and in the Stockholm Archipelago at an anchorage in Utø. This time he introduced us to some of his fellow Brits sailing these waters:  Richard and Linda on s/v SEAHORSE OF THE SOLENT and Malcom and Joanne on s/v LADY HAMILTON. 

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Needless to write, it’s always been wonderful to share time with Nicholas and any other cruisers he’s met.

VEJRØ

Wednesday-Friday, August 29-August 31, 2018

Paul and Gwyneth on s/v BLUE ORCHID whom we also had met early in our summer cruising told us of the lovely, yet ritzy island of Verjø. This property had been bought and developed by a wealthy Dane and the buildings and amenities certainly lived up to its reputation.

Typical Danish architecture lent itself to the restaurant (we only got breakfast rolls and coffee, the cost of the latter making me almost spit out the brew) and lodge…

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And was echoed in a bunny warren Peter the rabbit would have deigned to inhabit.

 

We rode mountain bikes provided free of charge (or, more to the point, included in the docking fee…) which took us past farmlands of sheep and hogs to decorative, yet functional, greenhouses.

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Noticing blackberries along the way we picked some but didn’t manage to save any…

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But I returned the next day in the rain to collect some for our fruit larder.

Poor WiFi aboard but free laundry (always a welcome amenity) and a luxurious shower and bathroom facility made up for lack of easy Internet connections :)

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Plus, we could sit in the lodge just a short walk away where the signal was stronger.

We were glad we stopped, happy it wasn’t crowded (allowing for four loads of wash),

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and now we are ready to leave Denmark on a fresh breeze to reach Germany and exit from the Baltic to the North Sea.

Next, back to the Netherlands (well, eventually)…

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