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Trip Report Cycling in Denmark, land of burgers and bread

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Before I describe the trip, it is probably worth telling you a little about our perception of Denmark. The country is made up of an archipelago of islands between the North Sea and the Baltic. Home of the Vikings, they gave the world King Canute (and his fawning advisors), Harald Bluetooth and his electronic communication system and Hans Christian Anderson and his tales. Despite having virtually no oil, coal or iron ore they have one of the world's highest GDPs and are generally some of the happiest people in the world. The population is roughly 6 million people and the population density is roughly half that of the UK.

The islands are flat, with good public transport links and the bread is very good (i.e. makes British, French and Italian bread look like rubbish), though other foods were OK. Over 50% of all journeys in Copenhagen are by bike, given that they also have great public transport that means that journeys by private car are way down, and it shows, the streets are devoid of cars and there are very few fat people about. The currency is the DKK which, during the trip conversion was 10 DKK to the £1. The DKK is linked to the Euro which this year is well down. We generally spent £70 to £100 including breakfast every night. Hostels looked cheaper but once linen was included they hit the same price mark.

The reason I and Mrs Bilbo came here was to ride bicycles around the “inner sea” following a ring of islands from Copenhagen anti-clockwise and back to Copenhagen. We have been to one other part of Denmark (Jutland) once before and know the odd Dane in the UK.

Copenhagen is a small city with most buildings in the centre at are only 5 or 6 storeys though in certain areas 10 storey modern buildings are being built. Public transport is based around buses, trains and Metro. Like a lot of Danish cities it is being dug up for more Metro to be installed. Since the British burnt the place down (twice) around 1810, this limits how old the buildings can be, however the medieval core road pattern has been partially retained in or around a range of small canals. It is a good walking city and a great bike riding city. We visited no large avenues or parks (though some large parks do exist) which means that lots of things are close together.

In preparation we had booked to fly into Copenhagen from Manchester, pre-booked the first night in Copenhagen and hunted out bikes to hire for the trip. Since the place is so flat their standard bikes are pretty poor, with 3 gears and reverse peddling giving you a brake, we struggled to find the more normal 18+gear hybrids we prefer. In the end we got a great deal from “rent-a-bike-copenhagen” http://www.rentabikecopenhagen.dk/ for local bikes. We also borrowed the Rough Guide to Denmark from our local library. If you are coming to cycle in the city there are some specific rules you need to learn,. But there is not a feeling of being rushed along in bike "charges".

Packing for warm bike trips is normally easy, you take a lot of linen, old clothes to throw away and the odd waterproof. This year the weather in UK and Denmark had been terribly cold so for once we had to put multiple fleeces in the packs as well. We take all out luggage with us and normally just book the next hotel that morning. This only gave us one (small) problem throughout the trip.

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