WAVES AND HAVENS OF HALSNAES
When you think of Denmark, beaches aren't usually the first thing that come to mind. Unless you visit the municipality of Halsnæs. Located in Sealand, you're never too far from the water; the Kattegat Sea is to the northwest, the Ise and Roskilde Fjords are to the south and west, respectively, the Arresø, (largest lake in the country) lies to the east. And almost the entire northern coast of this lovely landmass is rimmed with one heavenly stretch of sand.
Although the shorelines are a bonus, our primary purpose for this trip is to be part of our son's Lovefest. He married his Danish sweetheart a couple of years ago in LA where they live and now they are uniting both families to celebrate their marriage. And it's happening at her family's summer house in this region's quaint community of Liseleje.
Founded in 1784, this once fishing village has evolved since its 19th century beginnings to a popular tourist haunt and place for seasonal home-owners. Pencil-thin laneways weave throughout this township and host the cottages, some which are painted jet black and trimmed with white, others that are soft pastel tones, topped with thatched roofs.
Some are nestled into forest groves, others alongside pastoral fields and a few of the fortunate (like our daughter-in-law's family's) perch high on the bank overlooking the sea. All funnel into a small hub where a few shops, a couple of restaurants and best-ever bakery can be found.
Arriving a day before the festivities begin, provides us with a little luxury time to scout about and explore. From Liseleje we motor southwest along R47, a quiet coastal route that hugs up to a string of beaches that I can't begin to pronounce; Hyllingebjerg, Nødebovejen, Gråstenvej - all gorgeous strips of sand, lapped by white-tipped waves.
Historic towns are interspersed along the way; the quiet hamlet of Hald, the region's oldest fishing village of Kikhavn (circ 1561) and the pretty peninsula enclave of Hundested.
"Let's stop for some seafood," my husband suggests. "After all, this harbour town is known for all its underwater life." He's correct. As well as being connected via ferry to the towns of Kulhuse and Rørvig, Hundested is a sanctuary for both fishermen and seals.
We discover that the name originated from royal seal hunts that took place on Hunderevet, a nearby reef. Although there's still the occasional sighting, most of these mammals now live further out in the Kattegat Sea. While sharing some fish and fries, we gaze out at the deep blue in hopes of glimpsing a black bobbing head. No such luck today.
Our next landmark on this tourist trail is Lynæs, a little village located at the tip of the headland where a kayak and surf center lures the adventuresome. It was here, back in 1898, that inventor, Valdemar Poulsen, created the magnetic recorder and arc converter for radio transmission.
"Technology has come a long way since then," Brent says, as he gets out his IPhone and Googles our next destination.
Route 40, takes us inland, where we bisect farmlands and cruise by historical manors. Located between Arreso Lake and Roskilde Fjord is Frederiksvaerk, and our next stop. Bridges span the many canals that flow throughout this seaside oasis, hence its moniker of 'Little Venice.' Although once, and still evident, of being an industrial compound, the arts aspect of this community continues to grow. In the 16th Century King Frederik V established a cannon foundry, which has been converted to a cultural centre today. Here, we're able to trace its roots back to 1760 when this house served as a cannon foundry, supplying the Royal Danish Army and Marine with cannons and accompanying weaponry.
After our Danish history lesson, it's time to move on. If we continue travelling R40, we can check out the hills of Olsted. And by going east, we'll be on the lakeshore town of Vinderod where, not only bird, but beaver watchers love. In 2009, eleven of these busy builders were released in North Sealand, a few of which have constructed several dens along the shoreline of Arreso Lake.
Or we could take a real short cut and head due north. A cycle-friendly route cleaves through the interior of this landscape and links up the two bodies of water.
All routes sound tourist-worthy, but we're running short of time today. "We should go for option three and get back to help out set up the summer house for the Lovefest," Brent suggests. "And if there's time, we can always hit the beach!"
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