The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 3, 18 July 2018: Aabenraa to Flensburg (53 km; 124 km in total)

The first few kilometres out of Aaberaa turned out to be one those roads that simply happen from time to time. A pure delight: a single lane through farmland and hills, completely to ourselves. You never know when such roads appear: it depends as much on how you feel and the time of day as the road itself. But they stay in your bodily memory, so much so that I can recall them years later.

We continued through parts of the peninsula that leads to Sønderborg, where we had ridden many years ago. Already we had to find our own way, using our phones, occasional maps printed on boards and other means to find a route suitable for bicycles. It would be good practice for the rest of the ride, since much of it was not sign-posted.

Later in the day, we arrived in Gråsten on the Flensburg fjord. Now we followed the coast route to the German border, looking out over the fjord that led to the ancient Hanseatic cities and its Baltic trade. Much mythology surrounds Flensburg, with romantic images of small white houses clustering the old port area.

But we were somewhat thrown by the town. Why? It is full of Danes! After crossing the small cycling bridge into Germany, with its many small pillars from different eras marking the border, we expected to enjoy the passage into Germany. But everywhere we turned, people spoke Danish. There was even the stunning Flegaard: just across the border, it sells Danish products, has Danish signs and uses Danish staff. But the items are subject to German rather than Danish taxes. So Danes flock to them. The catch is that the prices are perhaps a little cheaper than Denmark, but still higher than German prices. I simply could not figure it out.

Our accommodation for the night was a puzzle. We had booked ahead due to the holiday season, but the mysterious ‘Werkzimmer’ gave its address only after booking. We soon found out why: it was a spare room backstage at a grungy concert hall in the industrial district. Nylon sheets and some dope-smoking and heavy-drinking fellow guests – who also made use of the share toilet – saw us pack up an hour or two later and find the Altstadt Hotel, which still had a room to spare. Soft? Perhaps. But we slept well after a simple dinner in our room.

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