Denmark–Legoland, Lalandia and Beyond
THE GREAT thing about a road trip is you can travel almost anywhere, five hours (or less), and find yourself in a completely different landscape, different country, different world. Denmark is considered part of Scandinavia, but when we drove there it felt less like Sweden and more like Nebraska in the middle of The Netherlands. Flat as a postage stamp, Denmark’s countryside is quilted with swaths of phosphorescent green fields, dotted here and there with quaint thatched homes reminiscent of Frodo and the Shire.
Farms cover 63% of Denmark’s peninsula—the kind of dry arable land made for agriculture. No surprise their soils have been cultivated since 3,900 B.C.!! (Denmark has been inhabited since 12,500 B.C., somewhere around the end of the Paleolithic Period but who’s counting right?).
Denmark stays ‘green’ another way, giant wind turbines, on land and sea. They make the most of their natural resource—wind. Twenty-eight percent of electricity runs on the stuff of kite’s dreams—clean and efficient and free. Denmark has installed more than 90% of the world’s offshore wind turbines. (In case it ever comes up in Quiz Cross.)
Denmark is also home to Lego. The word comes from leg godt, meaning ‘play well.’ The toys are innovative, efficient, cubic and well…a lot like Denmark. Lego is still a privately held company and has been since 1949. Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter and the inventor of Lego, made his motto, det bedste er ikke for godt, meaning, “The best is never too good.” (And anyone who has bought Mega Bloks knows he’s right!!)
We spent a day at Legoland in Billund, the original theme park for Lego. “Everything is awesome” there, (but not quite as awesome as the San Diego Legoland.)
We also spent a day at nearby Lalandia, Northern Europe’s largest indoor water park. I thought I was used to the Euro way of doing things, but the locker rooms were a shocker. The lockers were stacked three narrow rectangles high, hundreds of them. At six o’clock when everyone with a tattoo and bikini was told to exit the pool (that was everyone), we were stuffed like cannoli into the space of single floor tile to dry and dress. I was trying to pull on underwear and jeans over my still damp skin, sweating from the heat, while one woman’s hair kept dripping down my back. Ewww! (The way Jimmy Fallon says it.)
Lalandia thankfully had other family friendly attractions. Maggie loved the cable trampoline jump. And ice-skating was nice, until we froze like popsicles in the minus 5 degree indoor rink–we had dressed for a water park, not the Arctic! After twenty minutes we exited and bought their overpriced hot chocolate. I think they were onto something.
The free indoor playroom was big fun–a jungle gym filled with balls and climbing equipment. We let Maggie play until we were sure she was ready to conk out for the night then drove home to our rented cabin close to the parks.
Seeing as the hotel options were limited in Billund (pop. 6,000), I felt the much-advertised cabins were the way to go. They weren’t bad actually…three bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, free internet. It just didn’t include towels or bedding or toilet paper. We rented linens and made our own beds (and bought toilet paper) and for three days took out the trash and recycling. Somewhere written in the small print (in Danish) must have been the extra charge for heat, water and electricity. The charge was shown courtesy of our TV screen the day of departure, in English. If we ‘disagreed’ with the charges all we had to do was track down whomever at somewhere and make a big point of nothing. We paid the charge.
Our high-roller weekend (with more skin than a show in Vegas), ended in the capital city of Copenhagen at the Marriott. Ahhh…I love you Marriott!! We used our points for a free night and slept on fluffy pillows, bathed with full-sized towels, ate a delicious breakfast and had toilet paper—it’s the little things.
Located in the heart of down town Copenhagen, right on the water, we felt somewhere between a dream and a Hans Christian Anderson tale—Denmark’s most celebrated author. Copenhagen’s stunning cityscape is reflected on the water—neoclassical architecture mixing with modern high-rises, surrounded by promenades. We strolled past Tivoli Gardens down to the famous Little Mermaid Statue, enjoying every second of every sight along the three-mile stretch. I fell in love with the colorful homes built along waterways with brick sidewalks and bridges stretching past regal houseboats.
We also made it a point to visit the Christus statue in the Church of Our Lady, located in a not so nice area of downtown. The statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen is something of a shrine to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since it’s replica (made in 1838), stands prominently overlooking the grounds of Temple Square in Salt Lake City Utah. Seeing the original up close was a treasured moment for us and for our dear friends The Strauss family, who joined us during our Spring Break excursion.
About an hour outside Copenhagen is this 14th century castle gem…Egeskov Slot. Moat and all, it’s said to be Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castle.Denmark is an incredible country filled with much more to do than time to experience. I’m glad we drove, not because we ate at McDonalds three times, but because we got to see more than flying would have afforded and we got to experience the Øresund bridge—a 5-mile expanse of steel and miracle engineering. The bridge is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe!