This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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In Prague, 48 hours

prague-148 hours in Prague meant 48 hours in a glamorous old-bank-turned-hotel. And good thing too it was glamorous, as I did not see anything else of Prague than what I glimpsed from the cab window on my way in and out of the city, both times after sunset.

I did not really visit Prague, even if I geographically spent two days there. The airport was confusing and the lounge was possibly the worst one I ever visited. Does this count as a travel bucket list item or not?
prague-2(Prague, Czech Republic; November 2018)

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To the lighthouse (and then the spa)

vejlefjord-3The lighthouse at Vejle fjord was much easier to reach than the one in Virginia Woolf’s novel. I recall it took the family ten years and a death in the family to finally set sail and arrive. Whereas we simply walked across the grounds of the old sanatorium and followed the path down the beach.¬†vejlefjord-1The Vejlefjord sanatorium was built for wealthy Danes to “take the airs and waters”, especially if they suffered from tuberculosis (or “consumption”, as it was called back then). Today there still is a rehabilitation center, but it has given way to spa now installed in the new building. Two visits later I am still too consumed by the experience to manage one single photo from the inside. But imagine this: a simple, Japanese-inspired layout with natural stone and wood, lots of natural light, a forest sauna accessible by a walk outside (even throughout the winter), a hot outdoor pool, turkish baths and aromatherapy saunas and sound baths and light baths and meditation and yoga and spa treatments and free herbal tea and a healthy buffet and to top it all off: a thalasso spa with a salt sauna. One can easily spend 6 lazy hours without having the time to try everything offered.

Hence, no photos. Maybe I will manage during my third visit?
vejlefjord-4(Vejlefjord Spa, Denmark; November 2018)

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Is Denmark really Nordic at all?

silkeborg-5The more time I spend here in Denmark, the more I am struck by how it is not really much like the rest of the Nordics. Instead of fells or mountains, Denmark is (nearly) flat. Copenhagen, with its bicycles, canals, cobblestone streets, beer, waffles, and rain reminds me of the Netherlands. So do the roads and many smaller towns, as well as how houses are built. The forest is nothing like Nordic, impenetrable, shrubby spruce or dry, lichen-covered pine. Instead there are airy beech forests like in central Europe, with dead leaves rattling under one’s shoes; and pine and spruce plantations where trees live in rows or are, at the very least, standing far apart with a clean, green moss floor in-between.silkeborg-4What is Nordic about Denmark is the language. And perhaps the setup of the social-democrat welfare society. Income tax is among the highest in the world, but schools, healthcare, libraries, child care, elderly care, you name it – are nearly or completely free of charge.

But hiking in Denmark is far away from rambling through the shrubs in Finland and closer to the tidy forest walks in the Netherlands or northern Germany.
silkeborg-3(Silkeborg, Denmark; November 2018)

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Blissful ignorance

trainrailsWe tend to think forest walks are peaceful and soul-nurturing. And yet possibly we walk in a war zone between two tree populations, or past trees that are screaming out (chemically) because they are being eaten by insects, or just among incessant chatter by chemical signals in the air or between the roots.

Ignorance is bliss. Indeed if we knew all this we would think forest walks quite stressful.

(Silkeborg, Denmark; November 2018)

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Snow and silence

molsbjerge-1No, this is not Canada. It is West Denmark, as high up as one can get. That means a mere 137 meters above sea level. And no, this photo is not from January. It is from late October, when we suddenly had a week of frost and snowfall. Except for on that particular day I am convinced that only the Mols Bjerge microclimate had proper snowfall and it was because we were there, in anything but winter hiking gear.

It was cold. It was wet. It was quiet. We stopped for knapsack lunch at a hikers’ shelter and wished we had brought matches to light a warming fire. The blue tits fluttering around the fireplace probably wished the same. I wished I had brought brandy for my tea.

On the path through a parkland we encountered a woolly cow and her baby. They were dressed for snowfall and frost. I was not. My woolly base layers, fleece gloves, and scarf were still back in Finland (how could it ever snow in Denmark in October?).

When I was not thinking of how cold I was, I could feel the silence creep under my skin. There is enough Finnishness in me to need to feel it from time to time, feel the silence of Nature under my skin. And there is no better time than winter, when even the birds have nothing to say to each other.molsbjerge-2(Mols Bjerge, Denmark; October 2018)

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In Antwerp

antwerpIt was October. And it was +25C in Antwerp. For those using the Fahrenheit scale, +25C means the treshold to proper summer heat. I walked across town, from the railway station to the hotel, at 10 pm at night. It was me and couples, walking arm in arm or hand in hand, taking a late-night shopping stroll or returning home from a weekday dinner in town. Antwerp is a cozy town for romance.

Unfortunately for me, Antwerp means work, every time. Even on balmy late-fall nights.

(Antwerp, Belgium; October 2018)

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Finally: the beach

jyllandbeachAfter wandering through a military area, stumbling into deer hunting ground, and being attacked by baby ticks, a picnic lunch by the beach seemed like a good idea.

A word of newly discovered experience (and warning): people really do add any and all kinds of tracks in Wikiloc. Perhaps the one we followed was an effort to trick foolish random hikers such as ourselves.

(Sondervig, Denmark; October 2018)

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By the pond

brandemoseThe pond in the Brande backs makes me think of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Perhaps it was more shaded by forest, but the size and tranquil feel is right.

Like with so much in Denmark, this is not the original, natural state of the environment. Brande’s heather moors and wetland were exploited for peat still just a century or less ago. The people dug such a deep hole that when they stopped working it filled up with water.

I try to not think about how this pond is man-made. Instead I try to think of Thoreau’s words: “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”

(Brande, Denmark; October 2018)