Monday 9 October 2017

PHOTO DIARY: Skagen, Denmark, June 2017

The two days we spent in Skagen, the most northerly town in Denmark, were some of my fondest moments of the entire holiday. Skagen doesn't have much going on, but what it lacks in things to do, it sure makes up for in stunning nature. Beautiful beaches, moon-like sand dunes, and sand swept buildings, it was finally time to enjoy the summer element of our summer holiday.


The drive from Aalborg to Skagen is relatively quick, and before we'd even checked into our glorious beach house, we headed over to Skagen Art Museum to check out the late night opening. This was the only 'cultural' thing we did in the town and I'm glad we made the effort to visit because the museum is a special place amongst Danes. During the end of the 19th century, Skagen became the centre of one of the most famous artist colonies in Scandinavia, due to the local scenery. The colony became part of an international phenomenon but by 1900, their influence on Danish art had started to fade. The museum exhibits art from this short period, and the seascapes and portraits really are stunning.

We checked into our beach house which was without a doubt my favourite Airbnb from the entire trip. Packed full of stunning Danish furniture and design, the house oozed everything I love about Danish interiors. I wish I lived there! We hopped on the bicycles that came with the Airbnb and cycled into town for dinner Kokkens. As Skagen is a coastal town we really wanted to eat lots of fish and the restaurant did not disappoint. The set menu was beautiful and the meal really stood out for its fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked in a uncomplicated, yet delicious way.


First stop on our beach day was Den Tilsandede Kirke, a 14th century church that has slowly become covered in sand. The sand drift started around 1600 and reached the church by the end of the 18th century where the congregation had to dig their way into the church when they wanted to attend the services. In 1795 the church was closed as the struggle to keep it open became too great and only the tower remains visible today.

We headed into town for an early lunch at Skagen Fiskerestaurant, a fish restaurant on the harbour. The restaurant floor was covered in sand which felt a bit gimmicky but my portion of fish and chip was fantastic so I won't complain too much.

After lunch we headed north to Grenen, the most northerly part of Denmark and mainland Europe. Grenen, is a unique natural phenomenon due to two seas, the Skagerrak and the Kattegat, colliding to create a 30 km long spit. Known as Skagens Odde, it is one of the largest spits in the world. We caught the Sandormen bus from the car park to the spit where we watched in awe as the waves from the two seas crashed together. It was a strangely magical moment and something I'd been looking forward to the entire holiday. Despite this being the most visited attraction in the whole of Denmark, there was something peaceful and mesmerizing watching nature do it's thing. Maybe it had something to do with the seals what were keeping us company, or because we'd seen paintings of this very area at the museum the previous evening, but whatever it was it felt special. I went for a paddle and was surprised that the water didn't feel colder. Swimming is banned here due to strong current but standing with my feet in two seas at the same time is an experience I won't forget.

We spent a few hours walking through the dunes, and enjoying the sea breeze. We stumbled across the Skagen Bunker Museum, a remnant from WWII; Holger Drachmann's grave, the tomb of the famous Danish poet and painter; and Grenen Art Museum. Once we made it back to the car park we had a look around the Jørn Utzon designed Skagen Odde Nature Centre, and made our way back into town via a series of lighthouses.

The first lighthouse we cam across was Skagen's grey lighthouse, it was built in 1858 and with a height of 46m, it was the tallest in the country until 1952. The views across Skagen are fantastic, and you're able to see the spit at Grenen more clearly. A short drive away, you'll find Det Hvide Fyr, Skagen's white lighthouse, and the first lighthouse in Denmark. It was built in 1747 to replace nearby Vippefyret, Denmark's first bascule, i.e. a rudimentary lighthouse that was used to help steer ships away from Grenen. The white lighthouse was eventually replaced by the grey lighthouse, but it was restored in 1960 and is now used for temporary exhibitions.

Back in town we had a look around the shops, stopping for tea and cake in Krages Bageri, and ice cream in Ismageren Skagen. The ice cream is Denmark is some of the best I've ever had.

After our stroll through town we were back in the car, driving south, to Rubjerg Knude, an area of sand dunes along the west coast, and the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1899 and is located on top of dramatic Lønstrup cliff, overlooking the sea. The effects of sand storms and erosion have meant that the lighthouse is long closed, and is expected to eventually fall into the sea. However, the dramatic scenery makes this a popular tourist spot and you're still able to climb to the top for incredible views across the moon-like dunes. It's a bit of a walk from the car park but absolutely worth it for the outstanding scenery.

Before we made it back to Skagen, we had a run around Råbjerg Mile, Denmark's largest expanses of drifting sand dunes. With the sun setting and there not being anyone else present, there was something incredible spooky about walking these dunes alone. With some hills being over 40m high, you could easily get lost here. I definitely felt like I was somewhere far away from Denmark.

Back in town we discovered that all the restaurants had stopped serving dinner, even though it was only 9pm. We grabbed some supplies from Netto and cooked up a delicious meal of Danish meatballs and vegetables. It was the night of the UK election results so we stayed up for as long as we could, which was a terrible idea as we had a very early start the following morning.

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