North to Northwest

This was the second day of our 2015 vacation and we were going sightseeing in the northern parts of Jylland. From our base in Brønderslev we drove north to Frederikshavn on the Kattegat coast. I have spent a lot of time in Frederikshavn during my time in the navy. On the petty officers school outside town, on the naval base and on different ships. Maybe I have talked too much about it, as Tim, who have never visisted the town, now wanted to do so.

We arrived in Frederikshavn from southeast, and made our first stop at the Bangsbo Museum. Unfortunately we were too early and it wasn't open yet. Instead we walked around the premises and looked at the buildings and the gardens. The museum is an old manor, with a manor house and some outbuildings, that all are part of the museum. In the garden they of course grow flowers but also herbs, especially herbs from old days that were used to cure different illnesses.

From Bangsbo Museum we drove past the former petty offcers school, today used for basic training of naval personnel. Our goal was some hills called "Pikkerbakkerne" south of town. From this place you have an amazing view of the town and Kattegat. When I was in the navy, this was a closed military area, but today, except from a small fenced in area that still belongs to the navy, everything is open to the public, and some old German bunkers from World War II are turned into a museum. Some of the old guns are still there, and you can visit different bunkers, like the command bunker, the hospital bunker, the interrogation bunker, crewbunker, 6" gun bunker and so on. Behind the museum building is a parking lot, and on this lot we found "Lappedykkeren". This is an old training "ship", thats always been placed on land. When I first joined the navy it was placed on the then Naval Basic Training School on Sjælland. Today the area serves as a refugee camp for Syrian refugees. On this ship we were taught how to throw a line, how to tie knots on a hawser, how to moor a ship an so on before we were sent to the actual ships. Unfortunately Lappedykkeren (which translates to "The Grebe") was in a bad shape. Rusty and unpainted. I took a picture with my cell phone, and posted it on Facebook, and within 10 minutes I had more than 100 likes and 60 comments from old naval personnel, most of them pitying the ship.

When we were done at the museum we drove down to town to take a walk. We parked the car and walked past "Krudttårnet", an old powder magazine from 1690, now serving as the town landmark. Frederikshavn claims to have the longest main street in Denmark, going all the way from Ålborg to Skagen, but that was in the old days. Nowadays a freeway has replaced the old road, and Danmarksgade in the town center, has been made a pedestrian street. And here I have to brag- I know what pedestrian street is in Flemish: Voetgangersgebied in The Netherlands, Winkelwandelstraat in Belgium. Anyway, we walked down this street, so I could show Tim the bars I hung out in, when I was in the navy :-). Before walking back to the car, we passed a statue of the most famous Danish naval hero, Peter Tordenskjold, who did some of his fighting out of Frederikshavn or rather Fladstrand as the the village was known aduring the Great Northern War (around 1710 to 1720).

Having returned to the car, we continued north, heading for Skagen, the northernmost town in Denmark. Just south of Skagen we visited what is left of The Sand-Covered Church which was last used in 1795 when it was too covered in sand for the congregation to clear away at services. It's still worth a visit though. We continued north of Skagen to Grenen. You can't get further north in Denmark than here. From the parking lot we took the small "bus", Sandormen, which are wagons pulled by tractors, who took us to the end of the land. This is one of the few places in the world, where two oceans meet, in this case Kattegat and Skagerak. The light up here is rather special, which already the so-called Skagen-painters, found out in the late 19th century. 

When we had walked into the low water and had had a foot in each ocean at the same time, we walked back to the "bus" that took us back to the parking lot. Our next stop was the fishing town, Hirtshals, on the north west coast of Nørrejyske Ø. If you have read other travel stories on this page, you will know that Tim enjoys aquariums very much, and in Hirtshals you can visit "The Nordsøen Oceanarium", an aquarium with fish from the North Sea. Like many aquariums of the world the entrance fee was quite high, and when we left the aquarium an hour and half or so later, we had decided that it had not been worth the money. The ocean tank was great, but that was about it. Oh yes, and the softice I ate deliberately in front of Tim who loves softice, but has lactose intolerance so he can't. I guess that once you have visited so many aquariums, as we have, you will be spoiled!

We left the aquarium and headed south for another visit to Store Vildmose. On our way out of town we visisted the local lighthouse. Along the way south we passed Børglum Abbey, a premonstratensian monastery and one time bishopric from the 12th century, even if the name dates back to 1000. At that time the place was a large, royal farm. Today the monastery is a museum, but as it closed 15 minutes after our arrival, we decided not to visit. We therefore continued as planned to Store Vildmose, but just as we arrived in the area it started to rain heavily, so we cut the visit short and returned to Brønderslev. We had our dinner at the same Chinese restaurant as the previous day.

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