The Happiness Inquiry

A teacher's quest to cultivate happy habits in her students

7: Hidden Treasures


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!

ruins from afar

ruins from afar

a closer look at the road

a closer look at the road


panorama of the castle grounds


A step inside through a tiny doorway–it was so hard to capture how totally awesome this was in a photo, unfortunately


the North Sea

Greg atop the wall

Greg atop the wall

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:

baby swallows--look at those eyes!

baby swallows–look at those eyes!

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.

Author: henrykat

I am a middle school special education teacher in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to receive a Fund for Teachers grant that allows me to spend a month in Denmark, considered to be the happiest place on earth. I hope to use my experience to inspire my students to make choices that will increase their personal sense of well being.

2 thoughts on “7: Hidden Treasures

  1. I wish I went with you bike riding. Well this day I went swiming ,with my friends it was fun. Any way the baby swallows look so cute

  2. That would have been awesome. 🙂 I’m jealous of the swimming! Lake Michigan and Humboldt Park are great for that in the summer, or even the Holstein Pool! Sounds like you’re having a really great summer and making the most of the weather and free time. Enjoy!

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