Monday, August 29, 2016

Denmark - Legoland and Bindesbølgård Farm Holiday

Here's my catch-22: I seem to only have time to tend to my blog when I don't actually have much to blog about. When I am busy with interesting stuff worth blogging about, I don't have the time to write about it. Such was the case on this trip- though I enjoyed the front end of the trip, the plastic-fantastic fun of Lalandia and Aquadome, I enjoyed it because the kids were happy and occupied, which left me with oodles of time to relax, write and read. (On this trip I was reading a book called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I really enjoyed it.)

So to play a bit of catch-up: on Monday of our trip we went to Legoland.

I had contacted Legoland ahead of time about my calf injury and they had a wheelchair waiting for me! Apart from having a wheelchair, I also feel very spoiled when I travel to places like Denmark- everyone speaks English and we don't have to make much effort. Even as we arrived at Legoland, I asked the young guy at the gate "do you speak English?" (I don't like to be presumptuous) and he looked at me like that was the most idiotic question and said with a smirk "of course!'

My favorite thing about Legoland is just looking at the villages and towns crafted out of millions of Lego bricks (even when I am not wheelchair-bound, I don't really do rides.)

I think the Danish Legoland may actually be smaller than the San Diego one, but it is the original, so of course we enjoyed it. I am generally happy just people-watching in new places anyway. One thing that really fascinated me about the Danish legoland- people brought their dogs! So many dogs (and not just pocket dogs.)

After Legoland we spent one more night in our cabin at Lalandia. The next morning we had to check out by 10am but still had access to Aquadome for the day. We decided to give the kids a full morning of waterpark fun before heading on to our next destination, a one night stay at Bindesbølgård Farm.

I had found the farm just randomly via, simply searching for reasonable accommodation in the Legoland vicinity. Seeing as we only had a cabin at Lalandia for two nights, and that was a splurge, I just wanted an interim night that would not break the bank. Naturally, I was intrigued by the description, as we harbor a fantasy of country life. As well as the fact that a farm usually involves animals, which my kids like more than anything. The farm stay seemed very reasonable, so I booked it without doing a whole lot more research.

(... on the way to our farm, we took a little drive and ended up in an amazing 'deer park." The deer were everywhere and came to eat leaves from branches we extended to them! )

Then, on to the farm!

The farm ended up being one of the highlights of our trip and I would highly recommend staying there if going to Legoland or Aquadome. There was a huge play area with pedal carts that the kids rode up and down the country lane, a trampoline, a spaceship! and animals (including three very friendly kittens).

Our host took us on a horse and cart ride through the scenic countryside.

Overall I think the farm stay impressed everyone in the family as much, or more, than the other trip activities. Pity it was just for one night!  But Copenhagen awaits.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Denmark- day 2 : Lalandia and Aquadome

Day two commences with an early rise, a buffet breakfast at our hotel in Kolding, followed by a 40 minute drive to Billund, our destination for the next few days. Once again, I enjoy the burnt golds and deep reds of the landscape along our drive.

Lalandia is a kind of holiday 'resort' right next to Legoland in Billund, Denmark. Though we have been to Legoland in San Diego many times, the original park and home of the Lego factory has been J's zenith for a long, long time. Seeing as there were no rooms available in the Legoland hotel, Lalandia seemed like the next best thing on this pilgrimage (and from looking at the photos, this is some consolation prize!)

With a self-catering cabin reserved for two nights, we roll up to Lalandia at 10am. Though we can't check in til 3pm, we have access to the Aquadome and Monky Tonky land from 10am.

My first impression of Lalandia is that we have hit Vegas for kids. The interior is just like the Venetian hotel with fake skies and mock buildings. Though this type of thing is not exactly my cup of tea, the kids' excitement is infectious. (They have not been to Vegas, so aside from other theme parks, this type of thing is quite novel, particularly for a hotel.)

Lately, I am becoming acutely aware, as I see my children approaching my height and their impending teens, that the clock is ticking on this kind of amusement. That may be a good thing, I can just hear some of you say, but I am happy to share this with them as I know it probably won't be long before their interests shift and they will no longer be excited by such 'simple'  pleasures (and sharing them with mum and dad nonetheless.) Incidentally, I have been telling them that I think they, like me, might actually enjoy the city break exploration even more than this front-ended 'kid-stuff.' We will soon find out.

So, Aquadome is our destination for the day. Billed as Scandinavia's largest indoor waterpark, this is another plastic-fantastic playground of pools and waterslides and mock beaches. I am completely OK with this! I don't think there is an actual beach in the world I can spend five mid-day hours on without frying some part of my (or my kids') body to a purple crisp. Having spent 32 years in Los Angeles desperately trying to escape the sun and heat, this plastic beach experience suits me just fine. Also, the water is warm! Can't say that about los Angeles beaches either.

Another thing I really like about this place, is that most of the women, all ages, shapes, sizes and varieties are wearing bikinis (so maybe not captured in my photo, but seriously, I spent most of the day happily people-watching.) Here, this is not the sole 'privilege' (or should I say comfort) of the taught-teen or yummie-mummy. I like my children (and me) being in an environment where bodies appear varied, normal and equal (fascinating people watching!)

After a day at the proverbial beach, we get the keys to our cabin, a lovely, immaculate, scandi-chic, 2 bedroom cottage in an immense estate of similar, but varied holiday homes. We love the simplicity, order and efficiency of our temporary abode and settle in for the evening with a dinner of rye bread, pickled herring and a requisite Carlsberg beer.  (*though I usually avoid gluten and grains in general, when I travel or visit someone's home, I like to eat like a native and try everything new. My general dietary practices seem to support occasional deviation.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Off to Denmark

I have been planning to get back to regular blogging for a while now.  (I think I say that at the start of every post.)  We take a lot of fun day trips that I always intend to share and then I get so busy, it's just easier to post a few pictures on Facebook.

But alas, something is not working on my phone and I can't post to Facebook anymore. I guess that is just the impetus I needed to actually tend to my blog.  

So,  what better way to start this new commitment to chronicling, than with a week-long family trip to Denmark?

This trip has been a long time in the making. J, our lego-obsessed 10 year old, has been asking to visit Denmark for many years. By late June we still hadn't planned a summer holiday for this year and were not sure there would be a lot of  reasonable options.

With the very initial suggestion of a holiday,  J jumped right in with a vote for Denmark. A quick search for flights revealed they were actually quite reasonable but only a few left, so we decided to go with it.  Done. Ryanair, we are there.

Then I started looking for accommodation. This was not quite looking so reasonable. Oops. Oh well! Using a combination of, and however, I set us up for 7 Nights,  at the best prices I could find,  in various spots across Denmark.

Our plan was to spend the first half of the trip in Billund,  front-loading the activities that the kids would be most excited for: Legoland, naturally, as well as Lalandia and Aqua zone (Scandinavia's biggest Waterpark.)

Then after three days in Billund,  we would head to Copenhagen for the activities that I am most interested in. Can you imagine if I tried to do Copenhagen first? I don't think I would get a moments peace.

On the suggestion of a good friend who just visited Copenhagen, I downloaded a copy of The Year of Living Danishly in preparation for travel. I really enjoyed this account of an English couple relocating to Denmark for work and sharing their subsequent cultural observations.

Unfortunately last weekend, I tore a muscle in my calf (the medial head of my gastrocnemius to be exact.) Aside from derailing my recent foray back into a regular pilates practice,  I was very worried this would completely derail our holiday.

On the suggestion of my same resourceful friend,  I was encouraged to contact Ryanair about reduced mobility service and I must say that was by far the best customer service I have experienced since moving to Ireland! I quickly had a wheelchair lined up for transport through the airport,  so I'm hoping that my week of rest and a less arduous airport experience will allow me more mobility later on. 

My Ryanair customer service worked perfectly on the Dublin end of the trip,  but not quite so good on arrival in Copenhagen. Nonetheless, I navigated the airport by crutch and we got to our rental car.

Our destination for the first night of our trip: a town called Kolding. It is a 2 hour drive from Copenhagen and a half hour to Legoland. On the drive I got to admire the beautiful Danish landscape.

We arrive to a lovely family room,  on the top floor,  in the eaves of the Saxildhus hotel,  smack dab in the center of town. 

We forgo the hotel's dinner buffet in favor of a family friendly restaurant,  called Budapest, recommended by a lovely girl in  our hotel. 

Dinner was good, reasonably priced (which I did not expect in Denmark) and the service was fabulous. Also,  when you order a beer in Denmark,  its REALLY big!

We followed dinner up with a nice stroll around the town. We were very surprised by how quiet it was,  considering it's a Saturday night,  mid summer. This was certainly not Temple Bar!!!

Though the light was low and the town was sleepy,  I enjoyed snapping a few pics in the dark.