Skagen is a really cute town. There are about 8000 people here and the main industries are tourism and fishing. It is Denmark’s major fishing port and is visited by more than two million people a year, many on board cruise ships.
It has been a fishing port since the Middle Ages, until towards the end of the nineteenth century impressionist artists were attracted to the incredible natural light and the life of the village. They became known as the Skagen Painters and works by these artists are on show in the Skagen museum.
For a small town seriously north of nowhere it is impressive to have Kroyer, Ancher, Monet and Pissarro all on show.
Mooching is a favourite pastime. Wandering aimlessly through supermarkets, bookstores and homeware stores can give you a pretty good inkling into how people live…and dropping into the local pubs.
We had been spoilt. The weather had been beautiful up until we wanted to hire bikes. We held off until late morning but finally bit the bullet, grabbed our raincoats and bikes and set off for Grenen, the point where the Skagerrak (North Sea) meets the Kattegat (Baltic).
We took the Sandormen (tractor-bus) to the point and watched as the seas crashed into each other. John was mesmerised.
To our delight a couple of seals frolicked in the water in front of us and then decided to launch themselves on to the beach. It was magic.
Our ride back to Skagen was challenging. The wind was gale force. I did get an opportunity to take a picture of the Vippefyret (tipping light), a ‘lighthouse’, the next iteration- the white lighthouse and then the Greylighthouse.
We headed back to the hotel for a rest. There was plenty of time and plenty of light for lots more riding adventures.
Just south of the town is a large green space in the middle of which is a 14th century tower. It is all that is exposed of the Den Tilsandede Kirke – the church of Sct. Laurentii, the rest is buried as a result of sand migration which began in the 16th century and reached the church at the end of the 18th century. The congregation had to dig their way into the church when they wanted to attend services. It was finally closed by royal decree in 1795.
John wanted to see Solnedgangspladsen- of course he did. Doesn’t everyone??? OK Directly west of Skagen only a few kilometres, is Gl. Skagen – Old Town. Apparently it is the place to go to enjoy a spectacular sunset. We were too early, it was only just after eight and sunset was to be 22:22. Still we had to check it out. Many of the old buildings had been restored to their former glory and are magnets for the well heeled. It was lovely. We found the sunset platform, a table and indulged in a well deserved cold beer.
It was time to ride back to the hotel, have our prepackaged deli dinner and ride back to the Vippefyret where the bonfire was set up.
We arrived back at the hotel. John went to get the keycard. ‘Oh Shit! My bag!!!’ He had left his bag at the place with the very long name. Initially I volunteered to ride back. It was only twenty minutes. No, we will get a cab. (Small tired brain thinking -much better idea!) Reception closed at seven so no help there. We were at a loss. One of the guests, Frank from Zealand, volunteered to take us out to the little kiosk where we hoped someone had handed it in. They had and John got his phone, watch and reading glasses back. We were so greatful to Frank.
Midsummer, Sank Hans Aften, is celebrated all over Denmark by lighting bonfires, but the one at Skagen attracts thousands and this year Princess Marie, sister-in-law to Crown Prince was to give a speech. We arrived around nine. OMG the crowd! Where did they come from?
It was wonderful. Of course we couldn’t understand the speech or the songs but it was a privilege sharing such a fabulous cultural experience. A brilliant ending to our sojourn to Skagen.