31 May 2010

sunshine island

i spent the weekend on the island of bornholm, a danish island in the baltic off the south coast of sweden. the little island is nicknamed sunshine island because it gets the most sun in all of denmark, and is a popular tourist destination, especially for germans, apparently. the place is incredibly quaint and cute, like what comes to mind when you think of danish stereotypes: windmills, long slow roads, fields of flowers and wheat and butterflies and bees, and, of course, an omnipresent coast. the island is known for its smoked herring, which didn't disappoint. unfortunately it was a bit on the cold side for swimming, so my friend dice and i satisfied ourselves with hours and hours of biking instead.

unlike the rest of denmark, bornholm actually has hills. after months of biking in flat, flat copenhagen, this was an exhilarating change. as my bike only has two gears, it was kind of a bitch to get up some of them - especially with a pack full of cameras and books on my back - but with a tailwind it was fun and with a headwind it was, well, rewarding to at least zoom down the other side. it had been a long, long time since i had flown that fast. and we flew for miles. i think we biked sixty kilometers on saturday, a first for me.

we took a train from copenhagen to ystad in sweden, where we caught the ferry to rønne in bornholm. dice is a little tired but stoked for the adventure.

on our bikes, we had to wait in line with the cars to board the boat. vroom vroom!

can't you just smell how sweet? by 10 a.m. we were already outside of the main town on bornholm and poking our noses around.

so bornholm has these round churches that are special for the island. i thought this was one but it seemed more like a military building than a church. in any case, it was a round tower.

this is what the inside looked like at the top. i love open rafters...

bike paths plus tailwind plus sunshine plus sweet-smelling fields in bloom equals bliss. dice is taking it all in at full speed.

it was really, really, really good to be in nature with no thoughts of a city anywhere nearby.

lots of forest and wildflowers!

the first town we stopped in was nexø. for such a little place it looked pretty industrial. here the wind was blowing too much for our liking, so we continued pretty quickly.

there were some really great clouds on saturday (see the heart?). and the sun was such a pleasant surprise!

the amount of cuteness concentrated on this island is just incredible.

we stopped for lunch on saturday at the smokehouse in svaneke. the smokehouse was fully functioning and you could watch them take the herring out of the ovens. they had mackerel and eel, too, but i chose a herring for lunch.

smoked herring, chives, radishes, raw egg yolk, rugbrød, and butter.

first you remove the head, then the tail. then take out the backbone...
this much i learned from the sign on the wall while waiting in line to order.

with the egg yolk and chives on the bread. so salty, soooo delicious.

 the atmosphere inside the smokehouse was so cozy and inviting. the walls were black but there were these huge windows and big wood tables, and the rooms were full of people talking and laughing over fiskefrikadeller (fish meatballs), beer, and aquavit.

then of course we had to stop for local ice cream...

sunset over gudhjem, where we crashed for the night in the forest.

yellow was definitely the color of the weekend, even when the sun wasn't shining (like sunday morning).

more of a little harbor.

and a little library.

i think if i were to move back to denmark i would want to live on bornholm. having grown up in a tourist town, i'm sure it would get annoying in the summers with all the vacationers, but the rest of the year i can imagine being so peaceful. i love the sense of community on an island. i like that people - well, i mostly noticed it with other bicyclists - greet each other on the streets there and the simplicity of the place. bus number 7 drives around the whole island. i think we could have biked around the entire island if we had planned for that, but three-quarters of it was definitely satisfactory! i didn't want to stray from the coast; it was so comforting to constantly have the ocean in sight and within earshot. 


geneviève said...

oh gosh yes living in bornholm would be the best. you could bike everywhere and eat smoked herring and raw eggs every day. can i come too?

geneviève said...

ps - the sunset over gudhjem picture where you camped is my favourite. such a good spot you picked. the soft golden sun is so gentle looking and lovely.

maya said...

yes please. we can dwell in one of those lovely split-level homes with a chimney and eat smoked fish every day.

oh, and actually we didn't camp right at that spot - it seemed safer to sleep in the woods (off the beaten path) but that little patch of street had the best view of the town, one of those views that renders everything cohesive.

Anonymous said...

I love it
I should move there for the rest of my time in denmark - whats there to do in Copenhagen when you're gone anyway...