Odense Blog: A Visit to the Home of Hans Christian Andersen

Welcome to my Odense blog! What in the world is Odense, you might ask? Well, a more accurate question is where in the world is Odense. It happens to be a city in Denmark that is currently home to my dear friend Tetris. Since we were in the neighborhood anyway, we popped by for a visit. Shenanigans ensued.

Tetris and I ride a tandem bicycle at Nordfyns Folk High School.
Tetris convinced me to ride this tandem bicycle with her. We made it around the yard once until I almost steered us into a tree. But it was still fun though. Photo by Daniel.

For those of you who followed along on my Pacific Crest Trail Blog, you’ll recall that I spent a lot of time on trail with another hiker named Tetris (her real name is Louise). She currently lives in Odense, Denmark where she is an instructor at the Nordfyns Folk High School. When I mentioned that we’d be traveling to Denmark, Tetris invited Daniel and me to stay in her apartment for few days. I hadn’t seen Tetris in ages and I couldn’t wait to see her.

Odense Blog Part 1: Hans Christian Andersen Tour

With a population of approximately 180,000 people, Odense is Denmark’s third-largest city. It is a fun little city with a vibrant pedestrian-only shopping area and lots of shops and restaurants. The old part of town is lined with brightly colored houses that date back to medieval times which are now protected by the city.

Odense is probably best known as the home town of celebrated Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The city of Odense has definitely capitalized on this fact and there are statues and sights all over town celebrating Hans Christian Andersen as well as characters from his stories. His childhood home has also been turned into the H.C. Andersen Museum.

During our stay in Odense, we walked around town and toured many of the statues. It was a fun way to get to know the neighborhood.

Odense blog: Just chillin' with the "Oceania" statue, located in front of Odense's town hall.
Just chillin’ with the “Oceania” statue, located in front of Odense’s town hall
Odense blog: Daniel and I share a park bench with Hans Christian Andersen
Daniel and I share a park bench with Hans Christian Andersen
Odense blog: This Hans Christian Andersen-themed children's park features characters from his stories
This Hans Christian Andersen-themed children’s park features characters from his stories
Odense blog: Tetris and Daniel would like to inform you that this is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen
Tetris and Daniel would like to inform you that this is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen
Odense blog: another random statue in Odense
Hey, what’s up there?

Odense Blog Part 2: Harry Potter Board Game Marathon

Despite the siren call of the Hans Christian Andersen tourist attractions, we spent most of our time in Odense at Tetris’ apartment playing the Harry Potter Board Game.

When I first met Tetris on the Pacific Crest Trail, she was reading aloud from a Harry Potter book to some other hikers at a picnic table in the Mojave Desert. Her love of all things Harry Potter has continued to this day, and during our visit she introduced us to one of her favorite wizarding pastimes: the Harry Potter Board Game. It is one of those cooperative board games where all players team up together and either everyone wins or everyone loses. It was super fun to play an we ended up playing it together THREE times.

After handing He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named to the jaws of defeat for the final time, Tetris somehow convinced Daniel to try on her winter snowsuit. If you haven’t been paying attention, Tetris is a petite Danish woman and Daniel is 6’2″. We were all rolling on the floor with laughter at the sight of Daniel struggling into a small ladies’ snowsuit.  Thanks for being a good sport, Daniel!

Odense blog: Tetris, Katrine and Daniel are very serious about defeating He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named
Tetris, Katrine and Daniel are very serious about defeating He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named
Odense blog: Oh hai there! It's a camera!
Oh hai there! It’s a camera!
Odense blog: Daniel gets talked into trying on Tetris' winter snowsuit
Daniel gets talked into trying on Tetris’ winter snowsuit
Odense blog: Come on Daniel - you can make it fit! Just try a little harder!
Come on Daniel – you can make it fit! Just try a little harder!

Odense Blog Part 3: Nordfyns Folk High School (Folkehøjskole)

One afternoon Daniel and I took the bus over to the Nordfyns Folk High School to visit Tetris at her place of work. The school is located way in the middle of nowhere in the Danish countryside so we got to see some areas outside of town as well. She gave us a tour of the school and provided a little background on what folk high schools are all about. We don’t really have an equivalent concept in the United States so it was really interesting to learn about.

Folk high schools are a Danish tradition of non-formal adult education that exists generally between high school and formal college or university. These are informal boarding schools that are typically attended by 18-24 year-olds (though there’s no age limit) for around four months or more. There are no grades or exams. The schools focus instead on learning life skills, independent living, building ownership in community, and personal development and focus to help orient the student’s future studies and life goals.
[Ok I’ll admit it, I stole this paragraph pretty much word-for-word from Daniel’s blog about our Odense visit (with permission). You can read it here: Day 127 – Odense, Denmark]

After the tour, we joined Tetris and the rest of the students and staff for dinner at the school cafeteria. The community was very welcoming to us and we really enjoyed our time there.

Odense blog: Daniel and are on our way to visit Tetris at the Nordfyns Folk High School
Daniel and I are on our way to visit Tetris at the Nordfyns Folk High School
Odense blog: This way to the Folk High School (Folkehøjskole)
This way to the Folk High School (Folkehøjskole)
Odense blog: This rustic cottage is on the grounds of the Folk High School. Incidentally, Tetris will be moving into it in a few months.
This rustic cottage is on the grounds of the Folk High School.
Odense blog: Tetris welcomes you to the Nordfyns Folk High School!
Tetris welcomes you to the Nordfyns Folk High School!
A photo of N.F.S. Grundtvig, the founder of the Danish Folk High School movement. Photo by Daniel.
A photo of N.F.S. Grundtvig, the founder of the Danish Folk High School movement. Photo by Daniel.

Odense Blog Part 4: Day Trip to the Island of Ærø

On our last day in Odense, Tetris and Katrine took us on a day trip to visit the Danish island of Ærø. The island is home to a few sleepy maritime villages that are very quiet this time of year. We spent a pleasant afternoon wandering streets that were lined with surprisingly old brightly colored houses. We lucked out with the weather and had gorgeous sunny afternoon to explore this quiet Danish island.

Boarding the Ferry to Ærø Island
Boarding the Ferry to Ærø Island
Bidding goodbye to the Danish mainland
Bidding goodbye to the Danish mainland
Delicious snacks on the ferry? Yes please!g
Delicious snacks on the ferry? Yes please!
Daniel, Tetris and Katrine stroll around on of the villages on Ærø
Daniel, Tetris and Katrine look like they are posing for an Island of Ærø tourism poster.
The ministry of silly walks, anyone?
The ministry of silly walks, anyone?
The colorful houses on Island of Ærø are charming (and very old)
The colorful houses on Island of Ærø are charming (and very old)
Town square in the village of Ærøskøbing
Town square in the village of Ærøskøbing
I really can't get enough of these charming houses
I really can’t get enough of these charming houses
This photo of Katrine and Tetris is possibly one of the most adorable things I've ever seen
This photo of Katrine and Tetris is possibly one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen
Uh-oh! Daniel and I have entered the Kysse Zone!
Uh-oh! Daniel and I have entered the Kysse Zone!
Lay one on me, baby!
Lay one on me, baby!

Good-bye, Tetris!

And thus it came to pass that Daniel and I had to bid farewell to Tetris and Katrine and move on to our next destination. We were on our way to Venice, which in hindsight turned out to be an ill-fated move thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy. Of course we had no way of knowing that at the time.

Many thanks to Tetris who let us stay in her apartment and also shuttled me around to the doctor’s office and pharmacy to fill my prescriptions and other errands. It was a lot like being back on the Pacific Crest Trail except for this time she got to be the Trail Angel.

One last hug good-bye at the train station. Photo by Daniel.
One last hug good-bye at the train station. Photo by Daniel.

Highlights of Tetris and Unicorn’s Escapades on the Pacific Crest Trail

And just in case you didn’t follow along on my Pacific Crest Trail Blog or would like a reminder of who Tetris is, I invite you to take this look back in time to some of the highlights from our PCT 2017 hike:

Where are we now?

Odense blog: We are in Odense, Denmark!
We are in Odense, Denmark!

Location: Odense, Denmark
Dates: February 5 – 10, 2020
Vagabonding Journey Status: Days 128-132

For more details on our vagabonding journey, see my previous posts:

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