BLAST OFF: Bornholm, Denmark

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August 31st 2009
Published: September 19th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Bornholm Travels

We traveled all around this Island, I tried to remember some of the paths. it's so quick to go from one side to the next!

Bornholm, Denmark
8/23 - 8/31

Sunday, the 23rd we arrived in Bornholm by a huge, luxurious ferry. The ride from Sweden was only about an hour, and then we were met at the front of the harbor by Freja (19 yrs) and Nena (17 yrs), our next wonderful couchsurfing hosts. They live in an incredible, old, Danish house with Freja’s mother Ilse. Nena is actually an exchange student from Venezuela, so already it’s obvious how open and loving this family is to travelers and new cultures.

When we got to the house, which was only a five minute drive from the harbor, Ilse had lunch all prepared for us. The Mama energy here is like a thick, warm, fluffy, home stuffed pillow to cuddle up in. Haha! And after eating lunch we all got in the car and took a tour of the Island. Bornholm is about 30 kilometers (15 miles) at its widest point, and the perimeter is about 120 kilometers (60 miles) - people bike it often. So, we got a quick tour of some of the surrounding cities, and they are all tiny and quaint with the original Danish house style and material. There are tons of little harbors and you can pretty much see the coast from wherever you are, and if not then you’re driving through the middle of the Island which is either beautiful forest or farm land dotted with windmills (old and new ones).

On our first tour of the Island we drove to Hammersus, which is the other Castle that Phoenix has been pulled to for a long time. It was massive, and it is so crazy to think about what it was like so long ago. Right now it’s in ruins, but still the structures that remained were impressive. It over looks the coast, set on the cliffs. Wow! One of the more impressive things in Bornholm for sure. We then drove to Gudhjem, which is another little harbor town, and Ilse bought us all ice cream! As we ate it on the rocks, over looking the Balitic Sea, I felt so peaceful and realized that as I am traveling that I am meeting other parts of me that I haven’t before - not only in people, but in the grass, rocks, wind, water, everything. It was truly a beautiful feeling.

As we drove, I noticed along the
Phoenix at Hammersus CastlePhoenix at Hammersus CastlePhoenix at Hammersus Castle

I love the archs in this shot. Her dress and the window
roads, at the edge of farm properties it is common to see little food sale stands with different produce. And they each have a little money box for you to contribute to when you want to buy something. Wow, wonderful.

The next day Ilse took us with her to Svaneke, at the other side of the Island. She had a work meeting there and we walked around to explore the city, before she bought us the BEST ice cream I’ve EVER had - seriously. But Svaneke is another incredibly quaint town with a beautiful little church and some of the prettiest grave plots I’ve ever seen. With flowers and little hedges around the plots. We learned that, unless someone is alive to take care of them, they will actually reuse the grave after about 25 years. They don’t remove the old coffin; they just put the new one on top since everything is pretty much reduced after 25 years. With that, we also learned that the graves of Phoenix’ distant family are probably not around anymore.

But with Ilse’s unbelievable help in searching for Phoenix’ family, we were able to contact her Papa’s great cousin! And he lived
Nene and Freja!Nene and Freja!Nene and Freja!

At Hammersus, with our new hosts!
only a few minutes away in Rønne (where we are staying). So on Tuesday we made our way to Ole Lambrecht Olsen and his wife’s house! Wow, they were so nice and had such an incredibly strong Bornholmian accent. Our Denmark hosts have all been in different regions, which each have their own dialect of Danish. In Bornholm the Danish is very unique and sing songy, especially among the older population. Honestly, it sounds a lot like the language that Lilu speaks in the Fifth Element! But they were very welcoming, and shared their photo albums, stories, tea, and yummy Danish pastries. They don’t know Phoenix’ Papa, but she thinks she saw a picture of her Great Grandmother in their album!

After our visit with them, we set out on the bikes that Ilse and Freja lent us, and headed to Hasle. There was supposed to be a tattoo shop there that we wanted to do a price comparison to the little shop in Rønne. It wasn’t there though, so we just sat at the harbor and had a few beers, talking, catching a non-stingy jellyfish, and taking in the fact that…We’re HERE! We’re in Bornholm, on our Europe
Jumpology in front of HammersusJumpology in front of HammersusJumpology in front of Hammersus

Taken by Ilse, seriously the best jumpology photographer. This was achieved on the first try!
adventure! WE’RE HERE! Ahhh, yes. Oh, and biking is probably one of the more prominent ways of getting around the Island. There are bike trails through the forest leading from one city to the next. That was such a beautiful ride. Freja told us that they thought about filming The Lord of the Rings here, since it has all the appropriate scenery, but the Island is too small! That’s how beautiful it is here.

That evening they took us to their summer house, which over looks the Baltic Sea and has access to the beach. As the coals warmed up for the BBQ, we all went down to the beach and got in the water (accept Nena who is way too used to the warmth of Venezuela!). It was definitely chilly, but so clean and refreshing once you get used to it. The water is slightly brackish, and you can see to the bottom which is so impressive! Dinner was delicious of course, and we played some music while the Freja cooked the meat. Phoenix and I bought s’more makings to share a little American culture, but they don’t have graham crackers here, so we used Digestive cookies instead - very similar. It was a hit! Such a splendid night with a dreamy sunset over the sea.

The next day was a relax and catch up one. Phew! It’s so important to have those every once in a while, while traveling. But we did go down to the center of Rønne and talked to the tattoo lady there again. She is such an interesting character! Very rough, with dreadies, tons of tattoos and loud, assertive voice. Almost coming off as rude, but obviously has a loving heart and curious sense of humor. We wanted to see if she would lower the price she gave us the other day of 500 dkk ($100) each for the tattoos we’ve been planning on getting for a while. We know that Denmark is an extremely expensive country for Americans, but we just think it would be so great to get them here! Bornholm is probably our favorite place so far, and what a cool place to carry that tattoo from. So, she roughly offered to lower it to 300 dkk each, which was a great deal! We excitedly took the offer and set up an appointment for Friday at 1pm! Hooray!!
Gudhjem I believe? Gudhjem I believe? Gudhjem I believe?

Beautiful. I think the first interaction with the Baltic so far.

Then we planned for the next day, which we would be heading to Christiansø, another Island that is even smaller with only 100 people living on it! Supposedly it’s a must see. It would cost a bit of money for the ferry and to camp there over night, but we were assured it would be worth it. After some calculating of our daily budgets we discovered that we’re doing really well financially and that we could totally afford that AND the tattoos. So, Thursday morning we got up nice and early and walked to the bus stop, then to the ferry! We decided to take a Dramamine, which we figured was non-drowsy…but it wasn’t. We passed out on the ferry! Then struggled to stay awake when we got to the cute little Island. Since we only had 24 hours on the Island, we really wanted to take it in, but felt like sleepy zombies. So we set up camp, got on our bathing suits and set out determined to wake ourselves up. Ha! We chickened out at our first swimming spot, had every excuse in the book! So walked around the perimeter of the Island, which can be done in half an hour. There is a swimming area on the connecting Fredricksø Island, which is just a short bridge-walk away…and we couldn’t make anymore excuses. Phoenix was the pioneer and the first to jump off the diving board into the chilly, clear Baltic…but I followed after a couple of minutes of trying to Psych myself up. Again, very chilly at first, but incredibly refreshing after 30 seconds. How can you deny the experience of swimming in the Baltic Sea?! We tried for a while to get a good jumpology shot while jumping off the diving board, being we were the only people even considering getting in, haha! She got a nice bruise on her leg from slapping the water repeatedly for a good pose in the picture!

The Island used to be used for military purposes, so there are still cannons, old armories, and a prison where anti-governmental writers and thinkers were sent. But mostly the buildings are inhabited by people now, who have had to be on a waiting list for YEARS to get in there. It’s governed by an Administrator and they are almost like their own little country. During the day the Island is swamped with
Gudhjem icescream special!Gudhjem icescream special!Gudhjem icescream special!

One scoop of your favorite flavor, then soft serve, and a chocolate dip!
tourists that outnumber the actual inhabitants of the Island. But the last ferry out of Christiansø is at 5pm, and then everyone leaves and it’s just the few tourist that spend the night and the rest of the actual town members. We took a nap until that time, and woke up to walk around more and watch the sunset. Oh WOW…what a sunset it was. Then back to our little camp area and to sit on one of the many stone walls lining the coast of the Island to enjoy the extreme bliss and peace of such a secluded Island. We didn’t spend much time in the tiny town with one street, but we did just wander around listening to the birds and star gazing.

We woke slowly the next morning and packed up the tent that Ilse had lent us. Our ferry would be leaving at 11am, and then we would have to rush to get a ride to our tattoo appointment. The morning there is magical as well, since there are really only a few tourist that spent the night it’s again, mostly the locals. They enjoyed the music we played while waiting for the ferry to
Gudhjem HarborGudhjem HarborGudhjem Harbor

All the little harbor towns looked similar. Always the quaint setting
arrive. Then when it did, we rode on the top deck the whole time back to Bornholm. It was so beautiful, and not nearly as windy as the ferry ride from Sweden!

It took about an hour and a half to get back to Bornholm, so we were worried we wouldn’t make it to the appointment in half an hour. We frantically looked for the bus stop, but no busses were coming soon…so we stuck out our thumbs! And within a few minutes we got a ride. He, Thomas, was only going to Hasle where he is the Harbor Master. But after chatting with him and finding out that he had been tattooed twice by this lady (she IS the only one on the Island!), he drove us all the way to Rønne! We arrived at 1pm sharp. Ohhhh life you are so magical and perfect!

Tussetosen, which is her nickname that has something to do with a slang term for tattoos and/or ink, was ready for us. God, I wish I could have the whole interaction on film. She is SO intimidating and rough, grabbing the template we had drawn, pulling our feet and positioning everything how
Thank you Ilse!Thank you Ilse!Thank you Ilse!

She treated us like princesses!
she wanted. Hahah! But we just remained open and loving with her and quickly learned that it is just how she loves and her humor. She tweaked the design just a bit, making it more beautiful and Phoenix was up first. So the tattoos are two halfs of a heart, on our feet. When we cuddle, we match up our legs and feet in a very particular way and decided to put these half of hearts on our feet so that they match up when we hold each other. Also, hers is a blue water color, which represents my energy, and I have a red fire color that represents her. They are so beautiful! She did such a great job, and made them better than we imagined them. Regardless of how rough a mover and a shaker she is, she has a delicate and skilled hand…”One of the masters!” she says, and that “You can never be THE master. If you think you are, then you obviously are not”. A wise woman indeed!

It was really a wonderful experience to share with Phoenix. We held on to each other, smiled, and dove deep into each other’s souls. Ahhh, truly a blissful experience I will cherish. Now the challenge is to keep our feet clean while traveling! We aren’t supposed to wear shoes for 4 - 8 days…a difficult task when we’re supposed to start hitchhiking again soon to get through Germany and on to the Czech Republic to meet up with Chris and Pavel! So, she did such a good job and was so nice to schedule us in when she had a full day that we decided to give her 700 dkk, instead of 600. But she absolutely refused, and instead only snatched 500 dkk from our hands! Demanding that “I don’t do that to good people, No! No no! And you will get the cream for free!” Hahaha! I love her! So instead of paying 1,000 dkk, we actually ended up paying only 500 dkk for the both! About $100! That’s actually a good price even for tattoos done in America!

When we got back to our lovely Bornholm home, with stories of Christiansø and our tattoo adventure. Then we set to work making them dinner. Usually, Phoenix makes the yummy Italian meal from scratch, but this time I asked her if I could do it.
Beautifully kept burial plots!Beautifully kept burial plots!Beautifully kept burial plots!

I think the stones make it so much nicer. And you can rake them into amazing patterns, like a zen garden.
I have never made my own red sauce, and I’ve seen her do it enough times that I really wanted to try. And so she made a cheese cake while I made the pasta! She wanted to make her family’s cherry cream pie, but they don’t have Condensed Milk here…so instead it was cheese cake. Which was DELICIOUS! And my sauce was loved as well! Such a great feeling to make food for people and have them really enjoy it. I want to learn how to make more things to share.

Oh! I just wanted to share about Freja and Nena’s adventure at school that day. It was some kind of welcome back, spirit week that they do every beginning of the school year. The elements familiar to me were dressing up in themes per year, Freja’s 3G (seniors) theme was the military, and I think Nena’s (2G) was hippies and tye dye. And so they played games and ran races at the school, each grade competing against each other. But the totally bizarre parts were that the races and games included beer chugging (the legal drinking age is 16 in Denmark)! And as the kids ran around falling over themselves, they also pushed each other into a hug pool of once-water-now-everything-else-liquid! And THEN to top it off, the fire station sent a fire truck to traditionally douse them all in foam! HAHAHA! That sounds so fun, and so very foreign to what we do at US high schools.

On Sunday we decided that it was time to finally figure out a way off of Bornholm to continue our travels. We were supposed to only be there for a couple of days and now were there for a whole week, haha! So we went down to the nearest harbor with the goal to find an adventuring sailboat to hitch on, to get to Germany. The weather was kind of windy though, and the first boat we asked with a German flag said it would be a miracle to get a ride - not only because the weather was bad, but because no one would want to take the responsibility for us. That kind of let the wind out of our sails a bit, but we decided that we LOVE miracles and so we would continue to try to make one happen. So as we’re walking down the harbor
Making Licorice Candies in SvanekeMaking Licorice Candies in SvanekeMaking Licorice Candies in Svaneke

A traditional method, which we got to sample from...still warm candy!
we see none other than Thomas the Harbor Master that drove us to get our tattoos! He was substitute Mastering for the Rønne harbor I guess, such a small world-island. He gave us a few suggestions as far as which boats were leaving soon and seemed safe, one being a large Dutch boat. Now this boat was a big one, almost looked like a tug boat. But this boat was personally owned by Alex, who is from The Netherlands and has been traveling around the Seas for 5 years now. He just so happened to be leaving that coming Tuesday and said we were welcome to come with him! He was actually heading to a tiny, spectacular German island called Hiddensee, with no cars and 9 kilometers of beach. What could be more splendid than a free ride to a spectacular island? He seemed very nice and safe, and we made sure to get his boat name and number, and let Thomas the Harbor Master know the plan. Hooray! A Miracle!

So that means we had two more days left in Bornholm with our incredible host family. Funny enough, on our last day there Ilse found another Lambrecht, right down the street from us. So we went to visit him and his family, and they somehow connected us to his father who has a bunch of Lambrecht family tree information. So we eventually met up with him and he told us that one of the cemeteries that we had looked at already DID indeed have a Lambrecht head stone still. So we decided to go check it out and found it…I don’t know how we missed it the first time. But Phoenix finally got to find a headstone with her Papa’s family’s name on it, and she etched it like Indiana Jones.

Then came Tuesday morning, the weather was warm, no clouds and no wind! We were SO excited that we had manifested a boat ride to Germany! Alex wanted to leave at 6am, so we made sure to be there at 5:45 with Ilse by our side to wave us goodbye before jumping into the Baltic for her morning swim. She is seriously one of the sweetest and most giving people I’ve encountered, and we watched her swim from the deck of the boat as Alex readied it for cast off. Then we waved to her and her to us as we slowly scooted out of the harbor as the sun rose above the picturesque vision of our beautiful Bornholm. Ahhh, what a blessing and perfect day.

…or so we thought!

We stayed out of the deck of the boat for a few minutes, giggling about how the waves were getting a little bigger but it was fun to kind of surf them. We hadn’t yet put it together that we were going to be taking on these waves the ENTIRE ride. Alex didn’t seem worried since the forecast was beautiful - less than one meter high waves and 4 km winds, these big waves must just be a little patch. NOPE! The forecast was SO wrong. Alex showed us the rest of the boat and where we should go IF we felt sea sick. Well, within 5 minutes of being inside the boat we felt the need. The first round of vomiting didn’t seem so bad, Alex said it was normal to be sick for the first two hours and if you still were sick after two hours…well then you aren’t really cut out for the sea.

Phoenix and I both are not

In Svaneke, it is the best honestly. She got Strawberry and Fig.
cut out for the sea life. Within the first hour I lost count at how many times I threw up. And since we hadn’t eaten anything since last night’s dinner, it didn’t take long before we ran out of bile and dry heaved to the point of almost crying in misery and pain. The room that was supposedly the spot that rocked the least was a little bedroom with two bunks, a sink, and a bucket. The windows were two tiny port holes that were under water 90% of the time as we battled 3 meter high waves from both the front and side of the boat. Quite a few times we had to hold on so as not to fall out of the bed, where we gripped each others’ legs while trying desperately not to move any more than necessary. The puke bucket, on the other hand, DID manage to tip over - luckily there wasn’t much in our stomachs to fill the bucket.

Alex would come and check on us every hour and to apologize for the unexpected weather, but just turning my head to look at him made me sick. Going to the bathroom was a

I got Blueberry and Chocolate!
torturous event all together. In order to feel comfortable enough to move you had to wait until you had just puked - you know that momentary feeling of relief after. Then you would have to dash to the bathroom with the little strength you have after dry heaving for hours, go potty, and then stumble back to the bedroom. By this time the sickness is back and you had to puke AGAIN from moving around. Ridiculous!

Also, Phoenix and I are really so sensitive to each other that if I have to puke it only takes a minute for her to be sick too. One time we were actually puking in the SAME bucket at the SAME time! Hahaa! I managed to take a few videos of the scene during a few post-puke-relief moments…no vomit footage though. But wow, the complete helplessness of the situation was incredible. There was really nothing we could do but try and wait out the torturous 8 hour hell ride. My methods of maintaining were repeating a mantra, deep breathing, not moving, trying to sleep, and thinking of the slaves that were shipped overseas by the hundreds, and were trapped for months in a much more horrible setting than us.

Eventually, we pulled up to the dock at Sassnitz, Germany. We actually had to change course to avoid the waves as much as possible. But the good news was that this was a more hitchhiker friendly location, being that it actually has cars, busses, and trains. As soon as we had some strength and food in us, we made a sign for Berlin, said our goodbyes and thank yous to Alex, and made our way to the road. Of course just being off the boat made us feel better, but we were still VERY low on energy, and the movement of the cars passing us still had some effect on our stomachs. So after an hour or so of holding some signs for a couple different locations, we decided to check the bus and train routes.

And thus concludes the adventure for Bornholm and Denmark!

If I could sum up Denmark in a few words: sweet air, friendly people, English speaking, bikes, folk music, beautiful historic buildings, crazy awesome language, ladybugs, Bornholm Rocks.

Additional photos below
Photos: 97, Displayed: 38


House in RonneHouse in Ronne
House in Ronne

Most of the buildings are actually in wonderful condition, which is probably why I took a picture of this one.

21st September 2009

Such an honest & accurate description
of that infamous boat trip to Sassnitz. Boy oh boy. BTW I found somebodies shawl afterwards. It came in handy to polish some brass :-)
21st September 2009

How did you find the blog! That's so cool. Yeah we realized that we left that behind, but figured it was perfect :) Glad you've been able to use it!
22nd September 2009

What a wonderful story!
Oh thank you so much for sharing your adventures in Bornholm! From the wonderful way to which everything kept coming together to the torture of the puking (oh you poor chicas!!), I was a captive audience for this story. I truly felt I was traveling with you as you recounted your stay. What a memorable time this will be for the both of you.
25th September 2009

Thank YOU so much!
I really appreciate you enjoying it! It sometimes is questionable if all the work is worth it, but when I hear comments like this I totally get motivated to keep going. :D So thank YOU!

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