Sticky Lego and Cardboard pizza – BUT WITH ELEPHANTS.
You’d think that a tourist destination like Legoland would have a pretty easy direct train or shuttle from Copenhagen. While it may in the summer (I don’t know), it does not in the spring. The train from Copenhagen to Billund (the city nearest Legoland) was 2 hours. From there we took a city bus to the park. It was pretty straight forward, just a bit of a hassle transferring with our giant duffle. Inside the park there were lockers where we paid 20DKK to store it for the day. Pretty reasonable, I thought, for a touristy theme park.
Legoland was pretty much as I imagined it. A kid’s theme park with rides and sculptures. I did love that the sculptures were animated and ‘came to life’ to tell the story of the set. We walked around the park looking for all of our favourite sets – Star Wars (Andre), NASA (Andre), Animal Safari (Me), Functioning mini-villages (Me) and found a few new favourites, like the peeing Lego dog (little did I know that a peeing dog would be a theme for this euro-trip).
The rides were all very kiddy – with the median age being 10 years old. All of the rides are included in the pass so we decided we should partake in a few! It’s always fun to get back into a juvenile state and shoot laser guns at giant Lego spiders, weave your way through a haunted house, and ‘swim’ with the fishes. One of the coasters was even a bit scary! But the real gem… was the ‘safari’ ride where we got to weave amongst African animals (made of Lego of course), including two giant elephants!
We were hungry and there were many options for food on the park, ranging from the popular pocket-dog to all you can eat buffets. We had both. And both… well… I wish I had nicer things to say. I think my biggest advice for Legoland is to NOT eat there. The buffet is absolutely complete garbage. Sure, that’s to be expected for a kids theme park, because kids are totally fine with dry hard pizza and plain noodles… but for $40CAN? I certainly expected an ounce of flavour.
As you can imagine, a theme park with bad food and 1000 kids running around is my nightmare. I kept my head down and tried to focus on the pretty impressive Lego sculptures around the park – but it quickly became too much and we decided to dash out an hour earlier than planned.
Andre had been to ‘the Lego House’ the year prior, which is more like a Lego Museum – cool sculptures without all the kids, he says. So he recommends that over Legoland for anyone not toting around tots.
We grabbed our bag, and took a taxi (same 100DKK as the bus) to the airport to pick up our rental car.
Small Town Living
Weaving through the countryside we found our way to Ribe (we pronounced it Rye-b, but it is actually Ree-ba). The entire area is sprinkled with adorable stone and wooden houses, and churches far too large for the population – as to be expected. It is a town that has been slow on the uptake of modern architecture, and I am thankful for that.
Our Airbnb was an upper loft on top of a yoga studio (owned by the owners of the Airbnb). They were away for the night but check-in was a breeze. Our room was spacious and inviting and we quickly made ourselves at home. We had to park in a free lot about 5 minutes away but that allowed us to get our first little tour of the town – and we fell in love instantly!
Cobblestone streets, historic buildings, plaques in memory of a dark history of witch burning – this place was a time capsule of cool. We decided we would settle into the room and get a recommendation for dinner.
As soon as I hit ‘send’ on my message inquiring about dinner options, I was asleep. It turns out Andre was too. We both woke up 3 hours later in the most comfortable bed we had experienced thus far in LIFE – 25 minutes past the closing time of every kitchen in the area. WE WERE STARVING. We Googled furiously to find something… but there was only one option. So! We hopped back in the car and headed to… Burger King, one town over. I suppose it was only a matter of time before we succumbed to a greasy American cheeseburger… but I am at least happy it was not without trying otherwise.
Brunch Platters and Other Instagrammable Moments
The next morning we INTENDED to get up early to explore the town, but brunch at 10am was all we could muster. A short 4-minute walk away was the #1 brunch place in Ribe. I checked instagram to see what others had thought and everything checked out.
Quedens Gaard Café og Krambod was in an old building and the décor inside seemed like it was probably original. It looked like a place grandmothers would get together frequently – right down to the little flowers in the vases, centered on each table. But it was cute – and different – and the staff was very friendly. We both ordered the ‘Brunch’, which was a big tray full of food – separated into type. It was almost like a build-your-own, but with the intention of eating piece by piece. It was an interesting brunch experience and, as someone who was once a child saying “mom, my peas are touching my carrots – I cant eat them’, I was over the moon. I took a flatlay picture for my instagram and all was well.
We settled up and took to the streets. We only had about an hour until our next plan for the day so we simply wandered through as many streets as we could and I snapped photo after photo of all the little nooks and cranny’s hidden between bricks and through doorways. As a travel blogger, I felt in my element.
Farmhouse Beer and Sheep
The goal was to go to a small family farm on the way to our big activity for the day, and get a tour. When we got there, though, we found out farm tours were only at 10am… BUT WE WERE BARELY AWAKE BY THEN. Oh well. There was a qiant but busy little restaurant and the farmer’s son-in-law (the husband of the restaurant server) made his own beer on the farm. Andre bought a bottle and we walked down the road to watch the neighbour’s sheep frolic around the field. A typical country experience I’d say.
I recommend for anyone in the Ribe area to check out Vester Vedsted Vingard.
Mad Flatts and clams
With a spare hour to kill (being that we didn’t get a tour), we decided to drive a few minutes up the road to Mondo. This was an island that you could only access a few times a day because the tide cut off the road in. There were large tractors pulling busses of people across when the tide was too high to drive.
We didn’t have time to do that full tour, but we did pull up along the coast and marvel at the vast expanse of mud before us. Clams buried deep beneath the mud could be seen in the thousands, and there were some trees holding ground.
A really cool thing to see in nature.
Back to My Roots: An Oyster Experience
Now it was time for the main dish of the day! Everything until now had been a happy time-passer but this is what we truly came for!
We drove to the small island of Romo and met our tour at a small wildlife center to get geared up. Rainboots, gloves, and buckets were the tools for success on this adventure, and I felt right at home as a little maritimer.
We drove 4km north on the island and parked along a dirt road. From there we walked along the Dyke and crossed over it where the car tracks were (they want to keep traffic down as much as possible so as to not damage the dyke that protects their island from storms. On the other side of that dyke was a smorgasbord of sealife sitting on the muddy banks of low-tide.
And we were off! It was a free-for-all. With over 700k cubic tons of oysters on just this portion of the coast, we were given free range to grab whatever we could carry in our buckets. But there were some tips:
- The oysters that were the size of half your palm tasted the best. Not too big, not too small.
- 1/5000 larger oysters have pearls in them. Up to you for the gamble.
- Choose some whose back-end was not curved as those will be easier to shuck.
- Rinse off as much mud as you can and pull off all the other little critters attached to the outside, so you can carry more.
- Wear gloves! Those little buddies are sharp!
I have to say, I was a little bit torn over the idea that they were alive and I was taking them from their home. I also was unsure at what point they died (removed from water? Cracked open? Swallowed? I decided not to google it). Aside from that, I had an absolute blast. I was sooo muddy, my boots were getting stuck with every step, and my hands were frozen and wet – but I loved every minute of it. The guide had set up a small ‘oyster bar’ on the mud where we could take some of our catch over and learn how to crack them open. He also had a lemon and a shot of homemade schnapps to chase the FRESH oysters down with. WHAT an experience that was. Highlight of the trip by far. Plus! The OCD and perfectionist in me meant that our oysters were very clean when they hit the bucket and the perfect half-palm size. I think we won.
We headed back to the center with our loot, cleaned up, and began cleaning and shucking our oysters. The staff there had ingredients to turn them into ‘gourmet oysters’:
- Apple pieces
- Pickled beets
They dressed them up and baked them in a brick oven outside in a shack, and we all snacked, broke bread, and drank bubbly juice.
After all was finished we took a quick drive to the nearby beach before heading back to Ribe. The beach was miles upon miles long and you could drive right down it. It was super compact and people were wind-boarding (with 4×4 skateboards) and ripping around on the sand. This was my first time driving out on a beach and it is certainly a place I’d spend a lot of time in the summer – the bon fires there would be out of this world!
Nothing Like Oysters to Bring People Together
We brought a few oysters back to share with our Airbnb hosts. They had gotten back from their weekend trip and welcomed us to use the kitchen with them. We had 12 oysters so we could all enjoy 4. They pulled out some sauces to go with our snack and we showed them how to shuck the oysters themselves. Line had never had an oyster before so it was fun to enjoy this experience together.
We spent the night chatting with our hosts (a young couple who met in China and traveled together before settling down here. He was from New Zealand and she was from Denmark) and snacking. They had made homemade granola and minestrone soup and we ate like kings and queens.
Soon enough, it was time for bed as we had to catch an 11am flight back in Billund (1 hour away).