Denmark

Apologies for the long silence on this blog! A lot has happened in the mean time: I have left Norway after nearly 10 years, and moved back to the Netherlands after more than 13 years abroad! I’ve moved in with Michiel, in Rotterdam – exciting times!

I’ve taken my car with me, so last week we drove from Oslo to Rotterdam. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we managed to spend 3 wonderful days driving along the west coast of Denmark, which was so much fun! Here are some photos…

We took the ferry from Langesund to Hirtshals, arriving in the evening. We spent that night in Lønstrup, a small village about half an hour south of Hirtshals. It was REALLY windy, impressive to watch the sunset and crashing waves from the beach and dunes at the coast.

The beach at Lønstrup

We climbed to the top of the dunes, but it was SO windy that I didn’t want to stay there – I thought we might actually be blown off by the wind…

Windy view from the top of the dune, we didn't stay here long as I was afraid we'd be blown off - the wind was that strong!

Lucky panorama of the sunset, with a bird silhouetted in front of the sun…

Sunset panorama - I love the silhouetted bird, lucky shot!

Michiel on the narrow path that followed the dunes. There wasn’t much beach left at the bottom of the dunes, coastal erosion is a big problem here.

Michiel on the path following the dunes

The light was so beautiful that evening, I took a lot of photos!

The light was so beautiful that evening!

Flowers at sunset

Michiel enjoying the fantastic views

A very happy Hanneke in her element: beach, dunes & wind!

I was really enjoying being at the beach in the wind :)

We followed a path to another stretch of the coast…

The beach at Lønstrup - or what is left of it, erosion is a big problem here

And watched a beautiful sunset, and big crashing waves!

Sunset and crashing waves

The next morning we drove a short distance south of Lønstrøp, to a big parking lot from where you can walk to Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse – a really impressive place. This is from the start of the walk…

The sandy path leading to Rubjerg Knude Fyr (Lighthouse)

And here we had reached the 60 m high sand dune – and felt like we were in the Sahara!

Climbing the sand dune - you'd think we were in the Sahara!

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was built in 1900, but in more recent times it was threatened by continually shifting sands as well as coastal erosion. There used to be a couple of buildings next to it, which used to serve as a cafe and museum. In 2002, everything had to be abandoned due to the sand swallowing the buildings. The two smaller buildings were eventually removed, and only the lighthouse is still standing. It is expected to fall off the cliff in the next 15 years, but until then, it is a really impressive place to visit and experience the power of nature!

Approaching Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse at the edge of the cliff...

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse threatened by continuously moving sand

The views in the other direction are really impressive – it feels almost surreal to be on top of this huge sand dune and look out towards Lønstrup and the surrounding countryside!

Surreal landscape and views from the top of the sand dune

Couldn’t help myself, I had to take this really cheesy photo…

Michiel and lighthouse ;)

Later that day, the weather turned cloudy and even rainy, so I didn’t take a lot more photos. We spent the night at Nymindegab, these two photos were taken the next morning right next to our hotel…

Near our hotel in Nymindegab

Jetty in Nymindegab

Our last stop on the coast was Rømø, a Danish Wadden island that can be reached by a bridge (or a causeway rather). We had some amazing cakes in a coffeeshop / antique shop, and drove around the island. At some point we wanted to go to the beach and looked for a parking place – we didn’t see any though and suddenly we were driving ON the beach! The beach is huge here, and they let cars drive on some parts of it. A bit strange, but quite fun!

I know neither my dear Subaru or me are ‘sexy-model-on-fast-car’ material, but I still like this photo!

On the island Rømø you can drive your car on the beach - quite fun! Neither me or my dear Subaru are 'model-on-fast-car' material but I still like the photo :D

After our visit to Rømø we continued into Germany and home to the Netherlands the next day. It was a really busy week, but I was glad we were able to spend some time exploring Denmark’s west coast – we both want to come back at some point!

Modena

After San Marino, we spent two nights in Modena. We were there on Easter Sunday and Monday, which meant a lot of places were closed. When we arrived, we went to the nearest restaurant (across the street from our hotel) for lunch. It was full of big families having Easter lunch, but they managed to squeeze us in. Modena is famous for its food, and we weren’t disappointed… We started with this amazing fish starter…

Amazing fish starter

Then Michiel had gnocchi, and I had the seafood risotto. It was all really good!

Wonderful gnocchi in Modena

Afterwards we went to the city centre of Modena – this is the central square Piazza Grande, pretty empty on this Sunday afternoon.

Piazza Grande in Modena

Modena cathedral is a curious mix of styles – I was most impressed by this window made of stone!

Windows made of stone in the impressive but slightly strange Modena Cathedral!

We walked around the town with its colourful houses…

Colourful houses in Modena

Before returning to our “castle” hotel – really nice place actually, just outside Modena.

Our 'castle' hotel

The next day we decided to visit the Ferrari museum in nearby Maranello. It’s not that big, but it was surprisingly fun!

The surprisingly fun Ferrari museum

I have to admit, quite impressive…

Ferrari museum in Maranello

On Monday evening it was nearly impossible to find a restaurant that was open and not fully booked. We ended up in this crazy-ugly-seventies restaurant (look at that painting behind Michiel!) which had a smoker’s room and gave out bibs with the seafood pasta. It was actually quite a funny experience, and the food was good!

Seafood pasta came with a bib :D

Our visit was a bit random due to a lot of places being closed over Easter, but we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the regional food. Next stop: Venice!

San Marino

After a wonderful couple of days at Cinque Terre, we got back on the road and drove to our next destination, which was actually another country: San Marino! The reason I wanted to go there was (as has happened before… ) one photo I had seen of the city of San Marino located on a 750 m high hill with great views over the surroundings – it looked magical!

Our hotel was right on top of the hill, and after dropping our bags we went to enjoy the views – they didn’t disappoint!

Admiring the views from San Marino

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon with wine and pizza on an outside terrace…

We spent a long time having drinks and some food at a restaurant with an outside terrace with amazing views

Then at sunset we walked we walked up to the Second Tower to enjoy views of the First Tower. That magical view I had seen in the photo…

The First Tower (or Guaita fortress) at sunset

As dusk fell, all the lights came on – magical! You could see all the way to the coast at Rimini…

As dusk was falling, the lights came on - magical views!

The castle was beautifully lit, what fairytale views…

What a view... you could see the coastline and boats at sea

The next day we explored the city. First, we went to visit the First Tower, from where we had this great view of the Second Tower (yes, exactly the opposite as the photos above!).

The second tower seen from the first tower

And the other way around again, haha… We bought combination ticket to visit almost all the monuments in town. The Second Tower had an exhibition of  weapons, from medieval to modern day. It was interesting, but we found the obsession with weapons in San Marino a bit strange. There’s a lot of shops selling knives, crossbows and guns (from toy ones to real ones…).

And vice versa, first tower seen from the second tower :D

I just couldn’t stop taking photos of the views…

Another view of the first tower

Michiel on the town square…

Michiel at the town square

We also visited the Palazzo Publico (the town hall), which had this incredibly beautiful Chamber of the Grand and General Council…

The incredibly beautiful Chamber of the Grand and General Council in Palazzo Publico (the town hall)

It was a cloudy day, but I loved the rays of sun peeping through the clouds, lighting up the hills around San Marino.

Nice views, and nice sun beams!

In the evening we had a really good dinner – what a great day! We were leaving the next morning, but when I saw that the sun was coming through the fog every now and then, I knew there would be some good photo opportunities. So we went back to my favourite viewpoint, and got treated to these views – a fairytale castle in the sky!

Fairy tale views of the castle in the clouds!

Nice way of saying goodbye to San Marino!

We really enjoyed our visit to this mini-country-on-a-cliff!

Cinque Terre

After Torino, we drove further southeast to Levanto. From there we drove some winding roads up in the hills until we reached the tiny village of Legnaro. The owner of the B&B that we booked came to meet us at the parking lot, to take our luggage in a tiny car, because the streets of the village are too narrow for normal car. This was the B&B, isn’t it beautiful?

Agriturismo Costelletta in tiny Legnaro

It’s called Agriturismo Costelletta (also easily bookable through booking.com), and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting Cinque Terre. The owners are super friendly and the breakfast is fantastic! (And no, I am not getting paid to say this – I just liked it that much)

The first evening we had a picnic dinner on the outside terrace. When I saw how pretty the sunset was turning out, I quickly grabbed my camera and ran back to the parking lot. From there you have this great view of Legnaro and its church, and all the way down to Levanto and the sea. So pretty!

The view from the parking lot, with the church and village of Legnaro and all the way down to Levanto and the sea

The sunset just kept getting prettier, and more colourful…

Fantastic sunset colours

And then all the lights came on in Levanto, and the church of Legnaro was beautifully lit. Magical view!

View just after sunset, magical...

The next day we took the train from Levanto to the furthest of the five villages in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore. It was a warm sunny day, we were a bit overwhelmed by the crowds of tourists, but Riomaggiore is really beautiful!

Our first stop in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore

I loved the view of the colourful houses on the cliff, with the blue sea surrounding them.

The colourful houses of Riomaggiore

After visiting the village, we hopped back on the train and visited our second village: Manarola. We climbed up the graveyard, which we had almost to ourselves, and which had the best view of this beautiful village:

The second village we visited: Manarola, so pretty!

We continued by train to the third village: Corniglia, which unlike the other villages is not by the sea. From the station we had to climb 33 flights with 382 steps to get to the village – quite exhausting in the warm sunshine! We bought a sandwich for lunch, and then we started walking to the next village (Vernazza). From the first part of the walk you have really nice views back at Corniglia…

And the third village: Corniglia

Here from even higher up…

We walked between Corniglia and the next village (Vernazza), here looking back at Corniglia from above

Here we could see Corniglia on the cliff, and Manarola further away in the distance.

Spectacular views from the walk, Corniglia on the cliff and Manarola in the distance

At the highest point of the walk (also roughly the halfway point), there was a cafe and someone had made this fun cross-section / information sign about the walking path of Cinque Terre.

Fun sign summarizing the paths of Cingue Terre, from the halfway and highest point between Corniglia and Vernazza (Prevo)

We continued towards Vernazza, on paths surrounding by cacti.

Michiel on the path, with lots of cacti!

Our first view of Vernazza – spectacular! Those views made the long, sweaty, exhausting walk more than worth it!

Our first view of Vernazza - spectacular!

Beautiful, beautiful views…

Vernazza and Italian flag

Beautiful Vernazza

In Vernazza we had a well-deserved ice cream which we ate in the port enjoying this view…

The port of Vernazza

We laughed at these funny tourists going on a boat trip…

Funny tourists going on boat trip ;)

After a while we took the train to the final of the five villages: Monterosso al Mare. A nice village, but not as picturesque as the other villages of Cinque Terre.

The final of the 5 villages: Monterosso al Mare

On our final day in the area we stayed around Levanto, which is a really pretty town with way less tourists – well worth a visit!

Colourful boats on the beach at Levanto

The waterfront promenade in Levanto, which we almost had to ourselves…

Levanto waterfront promenade

We really enjoyed our visit to Levanto and Cinque Terre, beautiful area! I would love to come back and do some more hiking there. There were hiking trails going through the village that we stayed in, which also went through several other hilltop villages in the hills above Levanto – would make for a great walk!