Most of the travelogues in this website describe experiences in cities and populated areas. This was natural due to the train being my preferred mode of travel and that time was limited so I prioritized the urbania where the train dropped me off. Getting out to see the countryside was not often convenient unless there was a specific destination and a mode of transportation to get myself there.
But for my Labor weekend 2002 trip to Odense, I made a vow that I would devote some time to the Danish countryside. The island of Funen (or Fyn) was renowned for its wonderful farm landscape and rural atmosphere, dotted with lots of charming and quiet little towns. I knew that Sunday afternoon would be ideal, because most Danish cities and towns were quiet on Sundays, with most shops and museums closed. So, in conjunction with a trip to the center of Funen to visit Egeskov Castle, I figured it would be ideal to do a walkabout in the country and enjoy a warm sunny day.
There was an hourly regional train that ran from Odense in the north of Funen to Svendborg on the southern coast. It was a one-track run with the town of Ringe sitting in the middle where the north and southbound trains passed. So, my plan was to stop at Kværndrup roughly nine kilometers south of Ringe, visit the Egeskov complex, and then walk back to Ringe to take the return train. The signs shown in the first photograph were located outside the Egeskov complex, so I had already done more than a mile of my trek.
Kværndrup was similar to several of the towns or boroughs I would pass through, similar to what we called in the US a 'one-traffic-light town.' It sat at the intersection of two country highways, and its center was little more than a handful of corner markets and gas stations. The rest was residential, combining old red and yellow brick rowhouses with more modern and more pastel colored stucco single-family homes. But wandering about three hundred meters in any direction from the junction led out outside the town limits. I only saw a couple people outside, either out walking the dogs or in their gardens working. Seemed like every house had a garden.
The road toward Egeskov could not have been straighter. About two kilometers of straightness, with limited walking space. The traffic on the road was very light, in fact I recalled more bicycles passing by me than cars, and most of the bikers were seniors. The next town was a long ways away, but these seniors were chugging merrily away like the ride was effortless. As I learned throughout my Danish adventure, the bicycle was very much a way of life.
On the contrary, the seven-kilometer road was decidedly different -- hilly and curvy. Still it was a major bike road (the little bicycle highway sign on the first photo was an indicator -- bike highway #55 went to Ringe). There were more cyclists on the road than cars, and a lot of the cyclists were in-shape seniors. Good thing, too, as the cars treated the hilly, curvy roads as a rally race. The huge embankments on both sides of the road probably made the drivers feel more invincable.
The countryside, as shown in the second photograph, was breathtaking indeed. I saw mostly open farmland through the walk, interrupted by the occasional house and man/woman working in his/her private garden. There was a borough called Volstrup I passed through, but the houses were so spread out I presumed it was just an administrative division, I saw no real town center. I passed only a couple farms, like the one in shown, but the farm smell was pretty strong, so I moved on swiftly.
There was one place where I encountered an unusally great deal of activity. A patch of forest about one kilometer outside Ringe drew roughly a dozen carloads of people to its walking trails. Most of the people were in forest, while a few others set up a makeshift picnic area in an open dirt patch. One thing I found odd was that nearly every car I passed was a station wagon with a cage in the back, and inside the cage was a huge dog. Each dog growled and barked excitedly as I walked by, and by the time I passed the last car all the dogs were engaged in a howling contest among themselves. They didn't stop until I was well well out of sight.
It took me about an hour-and-a-half to reach Ringe from Egeskov, and as I expected the town was taking Sunday off. The main square, shown in the third photograph of a statue in honor of Erik Eriksen, was virtually silent as were the side streets and alleys. They were not totally empty, as the three town bakeries were open until four PM on Sundays, and the pubs were just beginning to open, but most of the people were staying at home or were enjoying their Sunday elsewhere.
I wandered around the town a bit, and found a marshland to the west called the Ringe Sø that contained walking and biking trails. This marshland was clearly once a large pond, but had grown in so much that neighboring farmers use it as grazing land for their cows. Several denizens were out on the paths.
The two major landmarks of Ringe are shown in the fourth and fifth photograph -- the former being of a 17th-century Lutheran church, the latter being of the City Museum. They were right next to each other just outside the main square, but of course both were closed on Sundays.
About four in the afternoon was when I reboarded the regional train in Ringe and headed back to Odense, having spent a marvelous day in the Danish countryside. I always believed that a long walk on a sunny day was good for the soul, and this walk confirmed that feeling.
Trip taken 1 September 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin