01.06.2012 14 °C
There's no getting away from it. Denmark is a bit dull. There's nothing particularly bad about the place; the cycling infrastructure is good. The campsites are good. Everyone speaks English fluently. The country seems to be run extremely competently and the standard of living is high. It would probably be an excellent place to live, but for cycle touring the scenery just isn't up to much, the food is mundane and expensive, and unfortunately the weather's turned cold again so there isn't even sunshine to see me through. You need a licence to camp here, and it costs about £12, plus you need a licence to fish in the sea. There isn't really that much going for the place. You can sunbathe nude on most beaches if that takes your fancy, but it's a bit cold for that at present.
The food is very expensive, some things are double the price in the UK, however, I'm not sure if Denmark is particularly expensive overall. Petrol is much cheaper than the UK, campsites are similarly priced, and they are well spread about the country so finding one is seldom a problem. There is even a network of free and very cheap campsites for cyclists and hikers, however, to find them you need a book which costs about £15 so for the few days I'm staying it didn't seem worth it, and it's also in Danish. Cycling equipment is slightly more expensive than the UK but not much. Curiously, camping equipment is notably cheaper than the UK (or perhaps I just found a really cheap shop) and I was tempted to purchase a few items. I saw a set of securing straps for half the price I paid for them in Germany. House prices in the towns I looked were low compared to UK prices, but it's extremely hard to compare house prices across countries just by looking in a places. Of course, the Danes receive higher wages so higher prices aren't a problem for them, but shopping is pretty depressing for me, even more so because the supermarkets are dreadful and the food they sell extremely mundane. I suspect it's better in Copenhagen but I look back fondly on France, where even tiny villages had fantastic bread and cakes.
I've had a number of encounters with agressive dogs here. There seem to be a lot of dogs and few people keep them on a lead. Thankfully they all backed off when I stopped the bike and faced them but it's not really something I had expected here.
I haven't had any cycling companions up till now, and then on the way to Horsens I had two, one after the other. It's nice to chat to people while cycling and gives a chance to find out a few things about the country. One of the chaps I cycled with was planning a cycle tour to Bavaria, and he had a really cool bike; it was about a foot longer than a normal bike and had pannier racks built into the frame, rather than being bolted on as on my bike. This is a good design as the bolts are a weak spot and tend to work loose and strip the threads. The panniers he had were huge, about 50 litres each. He was also planning on using a hammock which is quite a good idea, as I've found putting up and taking down the tent extremely time consuming. Anyway, this chap told me about a free campsite that I could use and even took me to the start of the cycle path that led to it. It took a bit of finding - the cycle path had a map with the exact location and it was still hard to find - but it was an absolutely excellent spot with these superb shelters so I didn't need to use my tent. It even had a camp fire spot so I made my first camp fire on the trip and even managed to cook some burgers on it.
That aside the cycle through Denmark has been pretty mundane. There have been quite a few steep hills but no great views at the top. The scenery is getting better the further north I go but I can't see there being a fundamental change so am heading to the nearest harbour with a ferry to Sweden. I've been on the road over 4 weeks now, travelled almost 2000 miles and have yet to see any really superb scenery. The best was probably on my first day cycling, about 50 miles from my parents' house. The rest has been just a bit, well, flat.