Up early this morning as one of the fellows that Mandy and I met on the Camino, Hans, is a Dane who lives not far from Steen’s. We arranged to get together to reminisce about the hike. Hans was kind enough to drive from his house in Middlefart to Vejle to pick me up and off we went to his place.
Once there I was greeted by a very friendly, middle aged, portly golden retriever. She is Hans’ sisters dog that he is tending while she travels. We sat down to have a bite to eat with some coffee then headed out for a hike. What else would two people who met on a trail do? The weather wasn’t particularly good, but the gray skies held the forecast rain in abeyance, at least for the most part.
We were able to walk straight from his house out along the peninsula that juts out from the town into Little Belt. The path was alternately wonderful with other sections that were nothing but mud. Reminded me of the first day I slipped in the mud on the Camino. Fortunately this time I did not fall, though I had one very close call, but managed to get my balance. Didn’t want to return from another trip with yet another broken bone.
The path was up and down and all around and overall quite delightful. We stopped at a charming bench to have a bit of Danish pastry and enjoy the view. Back on the path we passed a large place that was Hindsgavl castle. Then further on along the harbor we passed a working boat repair facility and a cute little structure built like a ship’s wheelhouse where we might have been able to hear the underwater noises of the local porpoises. No luck.
We walked along the working harbor seeing a small Danish naval vessel and a fishing boat off loading a jovial group of old men who appeared to be friends having gone out fishing for the day. Onward we went to a little local fish market where Hans bought some smoked salmon and fish salad.
We walked through the old section of town with the typical charming buildings and streets, which is what I think of as the “real” Denmark. Back at the house we sat down to enjoy the fish before driving back to Vejle.
I then had the task of packing up the last of my things and the enjoyment of sitting down to have a light supper of traditional smørebrød. To say they were fancy is an understatement. Certainly delicious. And you can see why they must be eaten with a knife and fork. Finger sandwiches they are not.
And then on to the sad part of the day, the saying of goodbye for now. Peter and Steen drove me out to Billund to spend the night at the airport hotel, as my flight leaves very early in the morning. I got checked in and they helped me to the room with my bag then it was we said our “farvel”. Home tomorrow.
But what a joyous trip this has been. Spending Christmas in a country I love and feel is my second home with family and friends I adore. Their gracious hospitality over a busy time of year is unmatched. And spending days with my dear, dear Danish dad Steen has been priceless, as they say. He has taught me so much over the course of our friendship. How a caring teacher can totally change a life. How a loving family ought to be. How to maintain a friendship over many years and miles. How to love someone who isn’t really family as if they were. How to view the world from another nation and culture’s point of view. How to age gracefully and view life with so many years behind you and perhaps not many in front. Dearer to my heart he could not be. I just hope to see him again soon.