South of the border

The first time I met the expression in the header was in 2000, when I drove on Interstate Highway 95 from Santee in South Carolina to Raleigh in North Carolina (I-40 on the last part). All the way along I-95 we saw signposts advertising "South of the Border". We didn't know what it was then, but as we approached the state line, we discovered that it was a roadside attraction. We didn't visit then, and hasn't since. So this article is not about the roadside attraction, but about our journey from Varde to Sønderborg on the island of Als on Jylland's east coast. On the way we actually were south of the German border for a couple of hours.

From Varde we headed south once more in direction of Ribe, staying on larger roads though. South of Ribe we headed west on smaller roads. On our easter trip in 2014, we had visited the small island of Rømø in The Wadden Sea, and Tim wanted to do that again, espcially the drive on the 6 miles long causeway from the mainland to the island. And so we did. In 2014 we just crossed the island from east to west and back, but this time we turned north and headed for a very small village called Juvre. Here we looked at the characteristic farmbuildings of Rømø, including Kommandørgården, an old farm that used to belong to the captain of a whaling ship. Today it serves as a museum, and among other things they exhibit the skeleton of a sperm whale.

From Juvre we headed south to the other end of Rømø, where you find Havneby (literally Port Town). From Havneby a ferry will bring you to the German Island of Sylt further south. We just looked at the port though, and took some pictures of the surroundings before heading back to the mainland. Once there we headed south again on small roads near the coast. Here we entered, what we baptized "Ballum Country", as many villages in the area are called something with Ballum in the name. We drove through Vesterende Ballum, Østerende Ballum, Rejsby Ballum, Buntje Ballum, Bådbøl Ballum, Husum Ballum, Mølby Ballum and Nørrehus Ballum. We also passed Ballum Lock and Ballum Lock Inn. Finally there were no more Ballums and we got to Hjerpsted, which has a rather nice church. Next stop was in Højer further south. Højer is a smal town in the Tønder Marsh and its famous for it's locks, it's sausages and for being one of the places, where you can enjoy the phenomenon called Sort Sol (Black Sun), when large numbers of starlings gathers in spring and autumn, before moving south or north depending on the season. "Large numbers" typically means up to half a million birds in a flock. If it exceeds that the flock breaks up i two.

Our purpose was not to watch Sort Sol as it was the wrong time of the year. So after having made a short stop at one of the locks, we headed for one of the sausage factories. The factory has a small shop, and I wanted to buy some of the famous sausages to bring home with me. The shopkeeper adviced me not to though, as she didn't think it would be wise to eat sausages that have been in a hot car for three days. So in stead we bought some gift sets of rock salt and a grater, to grate the salt. We brought the salt home for presents and left the place sausageless. Then we continued to the German border in the small town of Rudbøl. The actual border is in the middle of one of the streets, so one side of the street is in Denmark, while the other side is in Germany. After crossing the border, we headed south.

Our goal was a small village around 25 miles south of the border by the name of Bordelum. We had been there the previous year, looking for a Holy Well. We also found a well, but now I wanted to make sure it was the right one. Which it turned out to be. From medieval times and a couple of hundred years forward, the white mud from the well was assumed to have healing powers. Some researchers think that this small village during the German Iron Age was the main town or capital of one of the many small countries, that later became Denmark, but do not agree on which people may have lived there. This small village can boast of the remains of two pagan vés (shrines) which is exceptional in any case and espcially for such a small place. Well, as we were right about the well, we didn't stay long, but headed north towards the Danish border once more. This time we crossed the border at a very small village called Pebersmark. It consisted only of two or three houses.

We passed through Lille og Store Jyndevad (Little and Great). The etymology of Jyndevad is supposed to be Jydernes Vadested (The Jutes Ford). Jyderne was one of the many tribes inhabiting Jylland in the migration period. For some reason it was this people who lent it's name to the whole peninsula - Jylland (land of the Jutes). From Jyndevad we continued east to Kruså (another border town). From here we drove along Flensborg Fjord through Kollund, Sønderhav and Rønshoved til Rinkenæs and Alnor. The weather was sunny and we enjoyed the view of the many sailing boats on the fjord. We crossed Egernsund and via the Broager Land peninsula, we drove through Dybbøl, and crossed Alssund to Sønderborg. We had booked a room in a Bed and Breakfast north of town, but as it was to early to get our room, we decided to drive aound the island.

Our fist goal was Kegnæs Lighthouse which I remembered from my childhood's maritime safety broadcasts.  The lighthouse is a bit from the coast and not very tall (ony 18 meter -  60 feet) but stands on a hill, so the light from the lantern is emitted from a height of 32 m (105 feet). You could walk to the top of the lighthouse, but as mentioned before, we don't want to pay to climb stairs. We continued our drive on the peninsula before we drove across the very narrow isthmus that connects Kegnæs with Als. We continued through Mommark, where I have been quite a few time, in connection with my job, as my school collaborates with a similar school there (I actually went there once again in October). From Mommark we headed north through Fynshav, where a ferry is connecting Als with Fyn and further north to Nordborg. Nordborg is a rather large town (for a small Island town) with more than 6.000 inhabitants. Nordborg is also home to Danfoss Group, who apparently owns most of town and it's surroundings.  Danfoss is a rather large company with 24,000 employers worldwide and a 34 billion Danish kroner (5 billion dollar) annual turnover.  We also passed the science park, Danfoss Universe, but we found the building to ugly to visit :-).

Instead we returned to Sønderborg and our B&B. We got our room which had a refrigerator which influenced the plans for the next day's trip. After having relaxed we drove into Sønderborg and had dinner at an Indian Restaurant. Tim loves Indian food, and we had been looking for an Indian restaurant for most of the trip. The food was excellent and service was great, so we returned to our B & B and room well fed and happy.

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