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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The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 2, 17 July 2018: Christiansfeld to Aabenraa (42 km; 71 km in total)

2018 07 17 Christiansfeld to Aabenraa (42 km)

Perhaps today was a foretaste of what was to come, at least weatherwise. It was hot, even for Denmark (southern Jutland). The country was already in drought and total fire bans were in place. We did not notice it so much today, given the undulating farmland and smooth bicycle paths hereabouts.

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The day was mainly about getting used to being on the bicycle again for a slightly longer time and sorting out our riding rhythms. Having grown up in Denmark, she loved the flats. One could pedal all day in one gear without stopping. If there was a slight rise – which the Danes tend to see as a challenging climb – she would get a run up and be over the top in no time through momentum.

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I loved the real climbs, so even with a Danish hillock, I would change down and get into a comfortable rhythm for the climb. I also like to stop frequently – for a photograph, a drink, a piss, a minor adjustment.

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Brief though they may be, such stops can be frustrating for another rider. So she rode in front and I behind. At times the gap between us was larger, at times shorter, for she could stop, rest and wait for me at a time of her choosing.

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We found an old-style Danish hotel: Sølst Kro was directly opposite the roll-on-roll-off port facility in Aabenraa. The price was not old-style. Then again, a bargain in Denmark is unexpected. It was 800 Danish kroner, plus 100 for breakfast – or over 100 Euro.

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