On the road in Southern Zealand – Vallø Slot

Flatness and prettiness are not mutually exclusive. Hard to imagine, but in flat as a pancake Denmark dramatic landscapes, pretty castles and beautiful nature are abound. I have not had a chance to travel extensively in this little country yet, well except from my postcard-perfect Bornholm and Zealand, but there is a lot to explore, especially if you have a car.

Somehow travelling in Denmark is not very attractive when you start doing the math of the crazy high transport / hotel / food prices. It has always been easier, read cheaper, to explore another European country, than venture out into the Nordic landscapes. Despite that, Zealand, where Copenhagen is perched onto, holds many day trip destinations.

Yesterday was one of the exceptionally beautiful winter days, when the sun was shining brightly and the winter air, though chilly, was refreshing. Carpe diem! Stevns Klint here we come :) But before we reach the beautiful cliff that made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list just a few months ago, we took a picturesque route to get to our destination.

Margueritruten – my favourite road sign of all!

Margueritruten – remember this word and keep your eyes open for this sign when you want to turn your road / bike trip in Denmark into a beautiful experience. It is my favourite sign to find on the roads and whenever we are driving by I have made a funny habit to say “Oh look Margueritruten!”. This little flower will guide you to the most beautiful sights in Denmark taking you through small country roads, seaside drives, fields and just pretty nature. There is an iPhone and Android app and Politiken has made a travel guide for all the routes. So take your pick.

Following our Marguerit of the day we set the course towards Stevns Klint, but took a small detour by Vallø castle.

Beautiful scene from the Danish countryside

Vallø Slot is not one of the big landmarks of Denmark and up until now we did not really know about its existence. But just one look at it put this castle on our beautiful-Danish-castle list. Yes, we do keep such a list, albeit in our memory :) It is not very imposing such as Kronborg or Frederiksborg, yet it has such a charming composition. Red bricks, round tower, moat running around, small bridges are all charmers.

Vallø Slot – main entrance

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The castle dates back to 1579. The verified rumour has it that it has been built to house Danish noble women, very posh indeed. When you walk into the inner courtyard, take a moment and observe the main entrance door to the castle. The luxury looking golden plate has resident names on it. Yes! Some people get to call this castle home today. Certainly a fancy address to have.

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Our royal portrait :)

Sød som jordbær, aka Hanne, and I posing in the park :)

I love round towers. This one here immediately went to the top of my favourite list. Just look at those faces gazing at you. I have never seen such a combination before. I wonder who these people are, but they definitely give a certain charm to the building.

The lonely balcony – charming from afar, heart-pounding when you come closer. Not sure how firm that structure is.

Small pond by the castle

It is a very nice detour and definitely provides for a quieter experience than the usual trio of Rosenborg – Frederiksborg – Kronborg. Though by the castle there is a park, which has become a favourite with dog owners, so expect to see much commotion in that area.

Next up is Stevns Klint, a beautiful piece of nature that is many million of years old. To be continued…

Photos © Andreas Eriksen & Ani Movsisyan

On a Layover in Prague…

It was love at first sight. Prague just has that effect on you especially if you arrive by train and get off at the central station.

Walking towards the oldest square of Prague, the charming Staroměstské náměstí

Walking towards the oldest square of Prague, the charming Staroměstské náměstí

My first encounter with this charming city was a couple of years ago in the deep autumn, where the sweet smell of roasted nuts and trdelnik was in the air, the city was dressed in pretty autumn colours, Christmas markets were starting to pop out and there were lot, I mean LOT less tourists.

The word romantic must have been created for Prague, the city is oozing with charm and loveliness. Unfortunately the beauty has its price. The endless crowds of tourists, that is intensifying by the day does not make it easy to have a peaceful, let alone romantic getaway in the Czech capital. But don’t despair there are always roads less travelled.

My second visit to Prague was just a couple of months ago as I was on a layover flight from Armenia. My husband and I had a few short hours to spend in the city and didn’t miss our chance to hop out of the airport. It just takes 30 min and a few EUR by the airport express bus and you find yourself amidst all the beauty and charm. Our flight landed pretty early, which means that we had the city to ourselves for a few hours before the flocks of Chinese, Spanish and other nationalities flooded the center.

Our first stop was the main square, with its beautiful old buildings and the famous astronomical clock.

Staroměstské náměstí – Old Town Square

The Astronomical Clock – an intricate wonder from the 15th century. Every hour hundreds of people gather in front of it to enjoy a couple of minutes of beautiful show. A good idea is to get there 10-15 minutes before the hour strikes to grab a prime spot. If you like to see the city from above, then make sure to go up the City Hall Tower, the view from there is very pretty.

Prague is a city where you always need to look up. There are so many intricate details on the buildings that they will make your head spin.

Powder gate – marking the entrance to the Karlov Most from the Old Town. The hour was only 9 in the morning, but the crowds were insanely large.

Before reaching the Charles Bridge to the right there is this little viewpoint

Karlov Most – Charles Bridge. The prettiest bridge of all. It is the main tourist draw and no wonder why.

The Prague Castle

Prague bridges

Prague bridges – spanning across Vltava river, they give such a charm to the city. This idyllic view was taken from the Karlov Most.

Trdelnik

Savouring our trdelniks – gotta admit they taste much better in the autumn cold than under the scorching heat of the summer. But we couldn’t resist the temptation.