Day out Copenhagen: Medieval Lund

How about a pleasant day trip from Copenhagen which involves crossing an international border on a famous bridge?

I’m in Lund for the day, a city I’ve been meaning to visit for quite some time. With me, I have my iPhone, wallet and sunglasses. That’s all. Travelling super light today.

Copenhagen day trip Sweden

Lund is a lively university town just 40 minutes from Copenhagen Airport by the Öresund train. If the name Öresund sounds familiar, you may have seen the Scandinavian crime series The Bridge, which I hear is rather popular in the UK. The series starts out with a body being discovered on the Öresund Bridge, right on the Danish/Swedish border.

From 990, this is one of two towns vying for the title Sweden’s oldest. Die-hards will claim the other contestant for the title, Sigtuna, is really the oldest. Lund might be equally old, they say, but this part of Sweden belonged to Denmark in the 900s, so Lund was Danish rather than Swedish then.

As I’m neither Swedish nor Danish, I’ll stay neutral in that particular dispute. And whether oldest or second oldest, history is very visible throughout town, from the 10th century rune stones in the front garden of the wonderful open-air cultural history museum Kulturen, to the imposing cathedral from 1103.

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As I wander along main street, I’m in for a spot of time travel as well: men in medieval garb on horses similarly decked out, rides past, to advertise for a jousting tournament at nearby Hovdala Castle.

My favourite part of Lund, however, is wandering through the narrow cobbled streets with the medieval, colourful architecture.

Copenhagen day trip Sweden

It’s not all ancient history, of course. Lund has a lively art, café and pub scene, as one would expect from a university town. You’ll find plenty of places to enjoy fika, that ubiquitous Swedish tradition of socializing over coffee and cake. I try the rhubarb meringue pie (yum) at Patisserie near the cathedral. I also try the large, comfortable sofas outdoors at Kulturen, but only coffee this time; no room for any more cake.

There are numerous quaint and fun little shops as well. They draw me in, even though I’m not normally that interested in shopping.

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As the day turns to evening – a gliding transition during the Nordic summer – I’m reminded it’s time to cross the Bridge once again.

Have you been in Lund? Do you like day trips?

Mosi-oa-Tunya: the smoke that thunders

Victoria Falls

Happy Friday, folks – with another #frifotos-inspired post. The theme is fall, interpretation is wide open. And fall, of course, is much more than the American word for autumn. I’m in a splashing mood today, so I’ll choose one of my favourite features of nature, a waterfall.

And not just any waterfall, but the world’s largest: Victoria Falls on the mighty Zambezi River. Did you know waterfalls are classified by type? Not so surprising perhaps. Wiki lists 10 different types and Victoria Falls belong in the cataract category; the large, powerful waterfalls. Sprays from here can be seen a whopping 50 kilometres away on the Bulawayo Road.

I wish I had better photos to show you, dear reader. But there it is. This is one of my recollective posts, so we’ll have to settle for these scanned prints from the pre-digital era.

Victoria Falls is one of the world’s best-known waterfalls, forming part of the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, a very exciting part of the world. More facts?
Victoria Falls

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Victoria Falls was named in honour of the famous queen, by explorer David Livingstone, probably the first European to see this spectacle of nature. He was awed.

Livingstone statue, Victoria Falls

No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.

… and by thousands of Africans through the centuries, no doubt. Mosi-oa-Tunya is the indigenous name for this mighty force of nature, the smoke that thunders. A much more descriptive name of the world’s largest waterfall, don’t you think?

Victoria Falls

 

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Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

In retrospect: Border crossing in Africa

Crossing borders in Africa can be difficult, next to impossible – or easy as pie. Senegal was in the latter category. Back in 1996, at least.

border crossing in Africa

I spent a bit of time in The Gambia that year, and enjoyed it. It was an easy place to be.

One day, I met a group of fellow Scandinavians, all Swedes and Danes, on their way to Guinea-Bissau. ‘Ooh, what fun,’ I thought. ‘Never been there before. I’ll tag along.’

Easy border crossing in Africa

We first crossed the border into Senegal – easy as all that, as you might have gleaned from the photo above. We then continued through the Senegalese region of Casamance and reached the Bissau border.

Difficult border crossing in Africa

Long story short, I wasn’t allowed in. As it turned out, non-EU citizens required a visa for Guinea-Bissau, which I didn’t have. Sweden and Denmark had joined a little over a year earlier, while Norway had declined the invitation to join the European Union. Again.

So there I was, all by my lonesome, at the border, waving goodbye to my fellow travellers. Now what? Hitch a ride, that’s what. In the back of various trucks, all the way back through Casamance, to The Gambia. It was a bumpy ride, but I never felt the least bit unsafe.

My lack of success at the border naturally increased the little country’s attraction. I’ve been extra curious about Guinea-Bissau ever since, but still haven’t been. Looks like visa requirements has become even more rigorous lately.

Been in Guinea-Bissau? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

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The lighthouse at Colonia

Colonia lighthouse

I spent most of my very first day in Argentina… in Uruguay.

That’s right. One May morning many years ago, I arrived in Buenos Aires. A very early May morning it was. I found a hotel, deposited my pack and was back out on the streets before 6 am, looking forward to watch a new city wake up. In Buenos Aires, however, the locals took their time. It must have been near 11 o’clock by the time the porteños were out and about. But it happened quickly. From zero to thousands of busy bees in a matter of minutes.

Walking away from the city centre, I suddenly found myself at the port. And practically before I knew it, I went through passport control for the second time that morning (Argentina and Uruguay sat at adjacent, rickety tables in the ferry terminal – easiest and friendliest border crossing ever) and was on my way across the river to another country. To Colonia.

Colonia is a former Portuguese colony at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. The town was strategically important in the battle against the Spanish, and passed back and forth between Spanish and Portuguese hands for a few centuries. Today, Colonia is the oldest town in Uruguay and the city’s historic quarter was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1995, because it

bears remarkable testimony in its layout and its buildings to the nature and objectives of European colonial settlement, in particular during the seminal period at the end of the 17th century.

I adored ambling about the cobbled streets of this sleepy little town, such a different feel from the big city across the river. Colonia has pretty beaches, a sweet, compact little town centre, with quirky artisans’ shops (I still have gardening equipment I bought from Almacen La Carlota – wonder if the shop is still there), …

…colourful little cafés, indoors –

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… and out
Colonia cafe

And the lighthouse. Wherever I walked, I always saw Colonia lighthouse, a beacon and ever-present guide, for sailors throughout centuries – and for this jetlagged Scandinavian.

When I landed in Buenos Aires that morning, I didn’t know this little treasure of a town existed. By nightfall I was sad to leave. Next time, I’ll stay the night.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I love lighthouses. I’ve even slept in one. But that’s a story for another time. How about you?

Do you like lighthouses? Where is your favourite one?

 
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The Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

Family Fun in Carinthia

In the Austrian village of Nassfeld, adrenalin junkies can get their fix. So can the average 5-year-old and those who manage just fine without bursts of adrenalin, like me. This summer, take the Millennium Gondola up on Madritsche mountain for heaps of family fun.

Rodelbahn on Madritsche, Nassfeld, Carinthia, Austria

The Pendolino is a Rodelbahn – a luge on wheels. If you’re into roller coasters, this is the thing for you. I’m not. Yet, the Rodelbahn is the thing for me, too. You see on this particular roller coaster, you determine the speed yourself. If you want to whizz down the 2 km run at max speed 40 km/h, you can. And if you want to pull the brake during the sharp turns, you can. Perfect!

I must admit I used the brake now and then. I don’t think Matthias did. What’s more, he was cool enough to film the experience. Let’s join him for a thrilling ride.

Back at the finish line, a ten-minute walk up a steep hill takes you to the 480 metre long Flying Fox (zip line) for an even bigger thrill. Here are Sabrina, Marie, Agnieszka, Matthias, Leyla, Anna-Lena and Laurel, ready to take on the tree tops.

Flying fox (zip line) on Madritsche in the Austrian Alps

Flying Fox at Madritsche, Austrian Alps
Marie, the Flying Travelette

The Flying Fox course is part of a Rock Labyrinth with canyons, rock climbing and Klettersteig (via ferrata) in addition to the high ropes. For the youngest, there’s the Aqua Trail, a one-hour stroll on a pram-friendly path down to a gorgeous little mountain lake, with fun and games along the way. And a mountain top trampoline!

Mountain lake at Madritsche in the Austrian Alps
Aqua-Trail

For lunch, I recommend you sample the cheese at Tressdorfer Alm Schaukäserei. It’s a bit difficult to translate Schaukäserei – in essence it’s a small cheese factory, a showcase dairy. Rudi, the owner, guides us quickly through the cheese making process, then serves up trays of yummy Alpine cheese.

Tressdorfer Alm Schaukäserei in the Austrian Alps Tressdorfer Alm Schaukäserei in the Austrian Alps

Donkeys, hens and goats roam around outside the Schaukäserei, a veritable petting zoo up here on the mountain.

Tressdorfer Alm Schaukäserei in the Austrian AlpsTressdorfer Alm Schaukäserei in the Austrian Alps

My 10-year-old is asking why I, wimpy mamma, visited Nassfeld without her. She would have tried out everything properly, she says, and no brakes! She’d do the full-on Flying Fox and the Klettersteig. And, as she points out, she’s not too old for goats and donkeys. Only one thing to do, I suppose…

Family fun accommodations – and border jumping

In Nassfeld, I stayed at Falkensteiner Carinzia, a fab spa hotel just a few metres from the Millennium Gondola. Further up the mountain is the even more family-friendly Hotel Sonnenalpe – with the added bonus of being just a few metres from the Italian border. Not that there’s a physical barrier up here in the mountains. Still, it’s fun to jump across: now I’m in Italy, now I’m in Austria, Italy, Austria, Italy, Austria…

For an even more international flair, the Slovenian border is a few miles further along.

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If you go:

  • The above is what we managed to fit into our short one-day excellent adventure. There’s heaps more, of course, including 1000 km of trails, mountain biking (extreme or easy), panorama view golfing and all sorts of water fun on offer: swimming, fishing, river tubing, rafting, canoeing…
  • Nassfeld is located in Carinthia (Kärnten), Austria’s southernmost province, a half hour from Villach, a transport hub about halfway between Venice and Munich. (For a spot of shopping, I’m told Udine, just across the Italian border, is just the ticket.)
  • Ask at your hotel about the +Card, giving you free and discounted activities in the Nassfeld-Hermagor-Lake Pressegger region.
  • Costs: Rodelbahn: 7€ (5€ with the +Card), Flying fox/Rock Labyrinth: 22 € (19€ with the +Card) for three hours of fun

Disclosure: In Kärnten, I was a guest of Falkensteiner Hotels & Residences. As ever, opinions are mine, all mine.

Tressdorfer Alm Schaukäserei in the Austrian Alps

For more travel inspiration, head over to this week’s Travel Photo Thursday or Friday Daydreamin’.