Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Today is Alayna’s birthday, and we found the perfect place to celebrate. We picked up a rent car Monday morning and drove to the middle island of Denmark, Funen. Driving was uneventful, once Clay remembered he could once again drive on the right side of the road. After driving through little town after little town, we finally found Viby, and the bed and breakfast that has been our home for a couple nights. It’s called Moselundgaard, and it was built in 1750.

It still has the thatch roof, and is surrounded by beautiful grounds. Flowers, apple trees, blackberry bushes, a pond with lily pads and flowers, four cats, a Japanese dog, roosters and hens, and big, black, squishy slugs that the kids collected. Ick. Across the street is an old church with a cemetery where each headstone has its own little garden, tended by someone with a very green thumb. It was really beautiful, I wish I could read Danish and understand what they said.

The town is very small, only two or three streets, and most of the houses have a thatched roof. These look like hay piles about a foot thick, weathered and gray like an old lady’s hair, pressed into roof-shape. Alayna and I took a walk the day we got here, and encountered a friendly gray cat that flopped on his back for a belly rub. We saw an amazing variety of flowers, it is a real testament to those who grow and tend these gardens, knowing that come winter they will all freeze and die. Across the street is a mammoth German shepherd that hides behind a wall and jumps out and scares the pee out of you when you pass by. Michael, the owner of our B&B, assured us the dog is really very friendly, but we decided to keep our distance.

There’s an old windmill nearby, the kinds with canvas across the arms to catch the ever-present wind. The kind Don Quixote battled. We asked Michael about the wind that never seemed to stop. We first noticed it in Copenhagen, where it blew like crazy. Clay said it was either called a fresh wind (not as strong), or a strong wind, in the weather forecast. Apparently there’s always wind, it’s just a matter of what kind. Michael confirmed this, saying it drove some people so crazy they moved. It really makes it cold, even on a beautiful day like this was. We drove past a strip of trees that were all growing bent over to the side. From the time they were little saplings the wind had blown them, so all they knew was to lean. We imagine it must be very, very cold here in the winter. We passed a school bus stop that had a shelter that looked like a little igloo, covered on all sides. I can just picture the shivering kids all bundled in coats and mittens and hats and a backpack with the straps stretched as long as they’ll go to fit over all that bulk.

We visited a couple beaches, where we were one of only a couple families, since most kids are back in school, or we were the only crazy non-locals who didn’t know how stinkin’ cold it is with the wind. No way were we putting our feet in that water, but it sure was beautiful! At one beach we found a mother duck with her two baby ducklings following along, a crab scuttling along the bottom of the clear ocean, and jellyfish blobbing beside boats tied up in a harbor. The kids also found an old-fashioned see-saw that they spent a lot of time on.

We came across a campground near one of the beaches, and it had a playground as well (are you detecting a theme here? Playgrounds are great places for a family traveling around the world and needing a break from museums and sight-seeing!) Just like the others we’ve seen, this one had various equipment that would be illegal in the law-suit ridden US. It had four tire swings in a square, so that if the swingers were facing inwards they would all run into each other. It had a stand-up see-saw, a sit-down zip line, a huge red “spider web” to climb, and lots more. We hope we find a campground like this when we’re in our campervan in Australia, it was awesome!

Another nice thing about our B&B is that it has a kitchen we could use, and we are the only guests staying here. We’ve cooked several meals, including Alayna’s birthday dinner of linguini with “pasta ketchup”, meatballs, raw vegetables placed oh-so-elegantly on a plate, and the grand finale, a homemade birthday cake (the directions on the box were in Danish, so we got a translation from Michael). We bought a few gifts on the sly (two troll dolls with stick-up hair, and a tiny music box that played Happy Birthday), made birthday cards, bought some Danish flags and paper umbrellas to decorate the cake, and let Alayna do her thing with icing and silver ball sprinkles. It was perfect. She wore her birthday hat (the winter hat we bought her in Copenhagen) all day, her “birthday hat”, and she even got some party favors for the boys from the grocery store.

The kids are able to go out by themselves here, leaving our room to run around the grounds finding cats and slugs and having dagger fights. This freedom is good for us all, something they can’t do in the big cities. I’ve actually enjoyed washing the dishes and putting them away, “playing house”.

We did our laundry while here, and strung it all over the room. We had one line that just wouldn’t dry, so we took it with us while we drove to the beaches today. This horrified Alayna. It was the line holding our underwear. But hey, it sure did work. Those undies dried in a flash strung across the backseat with the windows cracked. We’re off tomorrow, back to Copenhagen to catch a flight early the next morning to St. Petersburg, and we’ll all have clean underwear, just in case we’re in a wreck.