Driving on the Autobahn in Germany is a special kind of stress with speedsters whizzing by you on the left and container trucks chugging slowly along on the right. Like most things, I like to stay centered, but when driving here, it means playing a lot of road hopscotch. I’m always amazed when passing from one country, like Germany, to another like Denmark, that the scenery doesn’t change much, but the culture does. Such close neighbors, but still, there are differences in outlook, in pace of life … in speed limits. I think how fast people drive says a lot about their pace of life.
When I finally arrived at the hotel Scandic in Sønderborg, Denmark, I was pretty tired after the drive from Meissen. I settled in, and then made my way to the restaurant in the hotel. I checked out the menu while waiting to be seated and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The prices were outrageous, like a Schnitzel for 209 €. I said something to the host, and he mumbled something unintelligible, and I left. I went to the front desk and asked about the prices, and the desk clerk pityingly directed me to a grocery store. I drove there, with a hungry-headache that made me just one more straw away from tears. I looked at the produce and saw carrots for 50 € and then I thought, nooooo, this just can’t be. I saw crazy prices everywhere. Finally, I had a suspicion and asked an employee what currency they used, Euro or something else? And lo and behold, Denmark uses the DKK, Danish Krona, with a seven to one exchange rate with the Euro. My panic slowly dissipated. I’d had visions of going broke here in Demark, but alas, a silly mistake on my part. Lesson learned: just because a country is part of the EU, doesn’t mean they use the Euro.
The first site on my agenda in Sønderborg was the 800-year-old Sønderborg Slot, or castle, which resides on lovely grounds, with paths to walk and a view of the harbor and beach. The inside rooms are filled with antiques from an era long ago: swords, pottery, clothing, textiles, toys, silverware, etc. The museum awards visitors with a view into Prussian-Danish life from medieval times when it was used as a fortress to the 16th century Baroque era when it was a royal palace. Some of the highlights are:
- A 15th century medieval guardroom which displays metal suites of armor
- A 16th century kitchen with open fire cooking stove
- A 16th century Chapel of Queen Dorothea, both the oldest Renaissance room and oldest princely Protestant chapel in Scandinavia
- 17th century tapestries in the Tapestry Room
Up and coming: a 20th century wing will open in 2020 showcasing times from 1920 until today.
Another must-see in this area is the Dybbøl Mill and Battlefield in Dybbøl. It’s a beautiful memorial of a very important battle that took place here. For more information about the battle, click here. Stone markers show where men fell in battle, and there are monuments erected for the victorious. The windmill nearby is a beautiful specimen even Don Quixote would admire. Larger than life, it juts out from the surrounding green hills and stands as a proud symbol of this great kingdom of Denmark. There is a recreationist park where people can pay to partake in a “real” battle with canon fire, guns and period housing.
Sønderborg is a country-style, short- break kind of place steeped in history and well worth a stop.
If you want to book a trip here, follow this link: Sønderborg !