On Saturday, Greg and I took our first long bike ride since arriving to Denmark. Cycling is my primary means of transit back in Chicago, but I admit I haven’t missed it much since arriving here. I’ve been enjoying the slower pace of walking everywhere, especially since there’s novelty everywhere you look! That, and I don’t really know my way around, so walking makes it easier to figure out your way as you go, versus having to pull over on the bike constantly and consult with street signs and google maps. 😉 Anyway, back to biking! So yesterday we set off for the Mols Bjerge National Park, about 18 miles away from Aarhus, which has the cutest insignia posted everywhere, btw:
The ride was very intense for my Illinois riding standards, aka: there were HILLS, which is actually what the word “mols” means. My legs are definitely feeling it today, but we survived and had a pretty cool experience, and I took some video going up and down the hills and through the woods for the documentary. We planned on exploring many areas of the park, but in the end we spent a couple of hours at a 14th century castle and then it was time to head on home!
The castle ruins were awesome, and you access them by walking for 30 minutes down the longest (rockiest) medieval road in Denmark. The structure served multiple different purposes throughout history. It was originally built by King Erik Menved in the early 1300s after a peasants’ revolt, presumably to show everyone who was boss. Thanks to it’s huge size and easily-defensible road and bridge leading up to it, it was very difficult to attack—or escape from. He ended up using it more as a prison, where he would lock up anyone who said anything negative about his rule. He even locked a man up once who later became King of Sweden! Oops… Here are some pictures of the road, the ruins in the background, and then up close. Pretty neat!
The truth is, though, that after all that awesome exploring and all the beautiful views, my favorite part of the ruins had little to do with the actual landscape or architecture. No, my favorite part was the walk to the bathroom. As I neared the little outhouse back on the mainland, I was suddenly bombarded by a dozen or so swallows, swooping overhead and even in front of my path. I’d never seen them so close! They were catching insects and calling out to each other as they did so. I was utterly mesmerized by their agility and their beautiful colors. Here’s a video, which barely captures it but gives some idea of what it was like.
After standing there for a few minutes (Greg wandered off in search of an ice cream), I noticed that they seemed to be occasionally returning to the very bathroom building I was headed towards. Upon closer inspection, I discovered several nests under the gables of the roof and lo and behold—one was occupied by three ADORABLE baby swallows!
Photo or I’m making this up:
So today I am grateful for hidden treasures; the kinds you would never discover if you didn’t stand still for a few moments and let nature show you something truly special.