Monday, April 30, 2007

fish and ships, language learning on the sly, and any flavour you like as long as it's licorice

The Sights

If you're looking for touristy action in Ebeltoft, the Frigate Jylland, the world's largest wooden ship and last screw-propelled steam frigate, is worth a visit. The ship has been dry docked in Ebeltoft since 1984 where it has been continuously restored.

In 1864, the Jylland scored a tactical victory against the Austrian-Prussian fleet in the Battle of Heligoland. (The Austrians had war ships? Who knew?)

Built in Copenhagen between 1856-1860

The crows nest of the main mast is 20 square metres.

The lion on the coat of arms on the stern symbolizes Jutland (Jylland).

The goddess Ran, wife of the Norse sea god Ægir, acts as a figurehead on the prow. Her crook and net served to catch drowning sailors.

After browsing in the Frigate Jylland gift shop for a while, I asked the nice young man at the counter if he had a brochure in English for my dad. Just out of habit I spoke German until I realized that the poor boy didn't have a clue what I was saying, unlike his German-speaking female colleague who had taken our money when we arrived. When I switched to English he caught sight of the Canadian flag dangling from our camera bag and said "Ooh, are you from Canada? Which city? Vancouver?? I'm a big ice hockey fan, I love the Vancouver Canucks!" Which made me wonder if I had said I was from Toronto would he have shouted "How about them Leafs, eh?"

More watery fun was to be had at the
Kattegatt Centre, an aquarium and education centre in Grenå, about a half hour drive from Ebeltoft. The centre gets its name from the Kattegat, a bay in the Baltic Sea, and the main focus is sharks. We saw sharks of all shapes and sizes and learned an awful lot watching the great underwater show.

After cautiously dipping my hand into the "touching pool" I can now proudly say that I have patted a small skate on the head (prickly on the top and slimy on the bottom in case you're interested)and lived to tell about it. Boy do those things have personality. I swear I saw the little guy smile.

At one point, Boy11 got eaten by a giant crab. He says it's not as bad as it sounds.

The Language

I was pleased to find out that if you're fluent in English and German, written Danish isn't all that hard to figure out. Speaking and understanding what's being said is the hard part but I'm sure that would also come fairly quickly with some intensive study.

Since my kids know two languages already, they weren't afraid to just dive right into another one and we had lots of language learning resources right at our fingertips. We learned the days of the week and how to talk about the weather from the free local newspaper. If you've never read Garfield comics in Danish, you really should give it a try. I, of course, grabbed all the supermarket flyers I could get my hands on (Oh, the supermarkets! But I'll get to those later. I'm still swooning.), using the pictures to figure out the names of all the different foods and household items, both familiar and foreign.

It seems that many people in Denmark speak German. And even more speak English so we had no trouble making ourselves understood. I actually felt a bit ashamed not being able to speak more of the language than "Hej hej!" (hello hello!) and "Mange tak!" (thank you very much) because even though we all know how much I like to whine and complain, I do believe in doing as the Romans do. Next time for sure.

The Food

We didn't know what to expect on our trip, so as well as bringing along four sacks of firewood, we took quite a bit of food with us. Next time we'll just take our empty stomachs because the supermarkets in Ebeltoft were just awesome. We did all our own cooking and shopped every couple of days, trying something different each time. There were five supermarkets alltogether, three discount places, including Aldi, which is a German company, and two larger markets with everything you could ever imagine. We were totally blown away by the quality and selection (Germany take note!), and tickled by the name of one store: Kvickly

For some reason, the boys and I cracked up every time we said it and left the accent challenged Mr. M not really getting it at all.

The Kvickly's slogan is "Hvad skal vi have til middag?", meaning "What's for dinner?" and boy, do they ever have good dinner stuff. Good breakfast and lunch stuff too. Wikipedia says that the Danes traditionally eat a lot of meat and carbohydrates and you can read about the reasons for that in the link. We did see a lot of meat and poultry for sale, as well as a huge selection of breads and pastries. And tons of pålæg, cold cuts and spreads for the smørrebrød. Green asparagus, lettuce, avocados, cucumbers, carrots, beets, onions of every variety, apples, cherries and plums seemed to be the fruits and vegetables of the day. We noticed that the Danes like to spice things up with lots of fresh herbs, creme fraiche and curry sauce. Tex Mex is also an up and coming trend. And don't forget the versatile potato, a Danish staple. In fact, the Danes love their potatoes so much that instead of saying "I'm a lucky duck." they say "Jeg er en heldig kartoffel" - "I'm a lucky potato."

Being of an adventurous nature, we had to try the famous røde pølser - shockingly red sausages. They were, um...interesting in a weird sort of way. People with textural issues should beware.

eat at your own risk

Oh, and did I mention the cheese? Danbo, Samsø, Danish Blue,
Havarti, Feta, Port Salut! Cheese poetry. Yum.

Last but not least we come to my arch enemy: licorice. It's all over the place here, secretly flavouring things you (or I) don't want to be flavoured with licorice: vodka, ice cream, marshmallows, innocent looking candies - you name it, it comes in licorice in Denmark. Believe me, those salty licorice candies are very, very scary. And sometimes they'll even go the distance and torture you with salmiak, licorice's even scarier cousin. Of course, if you actually like licorice as much as the men in my family do, Denmark is heaven.

I wish we had had more time to explore all the delicious Danish food. How better to get to know a country than through its cuisine?

Thanks for a great time, Denmark. We'll be back!



At April 30, 2007 9:34 p.m., Anonymous Maribeth said...

Wow, that looks like so much fun! And you pictures are wonderful of the ship. So glad you had such a good time.

At April 30, 2007 9:42 p.m., Blogger Angie said...

I think it's so cool that you are raising your sons to be multi-lingual! They will thank you, if not now, eventually!

The crab photo cracks me up. I rate this post excellent! :)

By the way, licorice also is my arch-enemy. I can't think of a more polarizing issue, except maybe Hilary Clinton... (You know, "love it or hate it.")

At April 30, 2007 10:10 p.m., Blogger PapaScott said...

When we lived in Minnesota, we loved to visit Thunder Bay (on our annual Lake Superior tour). MamaMaus said that Canada was like America's Denmark. Everything there was a little more loose and relaxed (except for the beer stores). And more expensive.

At April 30, 2007 10:42 p.m., Blogger Cathy said...

My father would absolutely love it looks exactly like his kind of trip (the food; the sea; the ships)...we are having another Tall Ships festival here in Halifax this summer and it will supposedly be the largest one yet.

I hope all is well (I hear you've been ahving some very warm weather! :)

At May 01, 2007 8:29 a.m., Blogger Andrea said...

I love your blog. I always learn something. And now I want to go to Denmark! A large grocery sounds like heaven!

At May 01, 2007 10:36 a.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

Excellent post and lovely photos! I had to laugh out loud when I read the supermarket name: Kvikly!! Ahhh. And the salmiak!! O-X always stocks-up on these candies and lollies when in Holland. I get an immediate gag effect. Yuk!

At May 01, 2007 11:51 a.m., Blogger Haddock said...

Denmark is a great place and I've been there a couple of times. Most of the bacon in England comes from Denmark, I've never been able to find any when I have been there. Perhaps they export it all to the UK? :)

At May 01, 2007 5:32 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

Wonderful, informative pieces on Denmark. Being from just across the narrow strait east of Copenhagen, I have been to Denmark many times, but you seem to know more facts than I do! A very enjoyable read, indeed.

At May 01, 2007 8:19 p.m., Blogger smashedpea said...

Heh, I have licorice issues, too - though not so much with the Danish stuff. Having grown up around Hannover, we took many, many trips to Denmark and its licorice was always a highlight for my sister and me. Though I still prefer the good ol' Katjes Katzen Ohren. Oh boy, I'm getting homesick just thinking about those....

My issues are more with the licorice available in Canada, sorry to say. Twizzlers? Gag. The cherry ones?? Why, oh why are they even available???

Anyway :)

At May 01, 2007 9:57 p.m., Blogger CaliforniaKat said...

I'd be terrible in Denmark, I hate the taste of licorice...don't know why. I would like to stick my head in a golden crab though. :)

At May 02, 2007 12:21 a.m., Blogger hexe said...

I love going to grocery stores in foreign countries too! Sounds like a good trip for everyone!

At May 02, 2007 1:28 a.m., Anonymous ian said...

hi christina,
great photos - they make me want to go back to see a bit more of a country which doesn't get much play.

btw, if **you** want a chuckle, check out the "searches which coughed up this blog" on the bottom of my sidebar.

the last one: I swear it's true!

At May 02, 2007 6:46 a.m., Blogger Kim/Thomas said...

ooh such info! I love port salut cheese..and i love all the tidbits...the crab really cracked me up..and thank you i needed that!
glad you had such a great time!!! was the hot tub for mr. mausi??

At May 02, 2007 11:05 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

A FABULOUS post, Christina, and so informative (with humor) as always! You know me--I LOVE licorice, so save some for me the next time you go. :)

At May 03, 2007 3:29 a.m., Blogger Kim and Victoria said...

Great post. Thanks for all the pics and info on Denmark.

At May 03, 2007 11:31 a.m., Blogger EuroTrippen said...

I love reading about your adventures in Denmark... we're hoping to make it there later this year, so this is like a master class to me. Oh, and I can't wait to try røde pølser!!

At May 04, 2007 3:45 a.m., Blogger susan d said...

The grocery store reminded me of the Danish side of my family, the Vicks. Did you run across any Vick people in Denmark?

At May 04, 2007 4:13 a.m., Blogger Julie said...

That crab picture is cool!

At May 05, 2007 5:02 p.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

love all of the pics. The boats remind me of what is dry docked in SF on our last visit.

Loved all the pics and the crab pic especially, how did he do that?

At May 09, 2007 2:29 p.m., Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

"Screw-propelled steam frigate?"

Now *that's* what I call a "renewable energy resource."



At March 22, 2010 7:10 a.m., Blogger evision said...


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