“I’LL be your tour guide,” said this tall handsome man with beautiful brown eyes to me in front of the Odense Cathedral.
“Forever?,” was the reply that got stuck in my throat, as I felt the warmth inside me while my heart began beating too fast.
I am always giddy when we travel together, but this place was extra special since, Saar--my husband of four years--had once called it home.
Odense, which is named after Odin, the god of poetry, wisdom and war, is full of history and culture.
The Odense Cathedral, which dates back to the 1500s, is said to be the only example of Gothic architecture in Denmark. Gothic is defined as architecture prevalent in Western Europe in the 12th to 16th centuries.
Just a short walk will take you to the sculpture of author Hans Christian Andersen, writer of the fairy tales, The Little Mermaid and the The Snow Queen, which Disney adapted into movies and have been made more famous thanks to Princess Ariel and sisters Ella and Anna.
His other works—The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling and The Little Match Girl--taught the world about kindness and good values.
The city honors the author with a museum near his childhood home and a Fairy Tale Garden.
My husband had a great time seeing the places he frequented when he lived in this city. I was happy watching him very happy and imagined what his life must have been like in this beautiful place.
But we spent only a day in Odense, and ended it with a delicious dinner and some wine in the home of our friends Samuel and Maja.
The trip was meant to be spent with friends and family, so we stayed in Yona’s home, Saar’s aunt, in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen.
Yona took us to Europe’s longest, car-free or pedestrian street—Stroget, which was lined with shops and restaurants.
It was vibrant and alive with world famous designer brands, retail shops, all kinds of merchandise you can think of and the smell of good food. It was a tourist’s haven for souvenirs as well.
A visit to Copenhagen would not be complete without seeing the statue of “The Little Mermaid,” which has been in the capital’s pier since August 1913.
Inspired by the character created by Hans Christian Anderson, she draws hundreds of tourists daily and one has to go down some concrete steps to get closer.
She is a life-sized mermaid sitting on a rock, a character who fell in love with a human prince. Although the art work did not have distinct facial features, watching it evoked a feeling of sadness, making one feel her longing to be with her prince and as the song goes “to be part of his world.”
Next to fairy tales, Denmark has beautiful castles for tourists to explore.
Yona made sure I saw the amazing gardens of Frederiksborg Castle, located north of Copenhagen.
Boxwood shrubs recreated the royal monogram and the whole area included a fountain with sculptures of gods and goddesses, a pond and tree-lined walkways where people were sitting on benches, probably on dates, or were happily reading books.
Next stop was a castle immortalized in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Kronborg Castle, which is in Helsingor, features photos of actors who have visited it through the years to shoot movies about Hamlet.
In one of the castle’s crypts is Holger the Dane, a legendary Danish character who is said to come alive when Denmark is in trouble.
Walking around castles was sure mystical but to my son, Daniel, aged three, nothing came close to the magic that Legoland brought.
Billund is the headquarters of the Lego Group, a multibillion-dollar company built by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen, who decided to focus on making wooden toys in 1934.
‘Lego’ is from the Danish phrase, leg godt, which means to “play well.”
Legoland Billund Resort has a hotel for guests who want to stay longer. The main park has Miniland, which has miniature models of famous sites in Denmark; Duploland, Lego Ninjago World, Pirate Land and Polar Land, among others.
It also has souvenir items for all ages, and restaurants that include on its menu—the coolest Lego fries.
Our son hugged me and my husband and said “This is the best day ever.”
Seeing both my husband and son happy was the best. It was more than that, it was my fairy tale that came true.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 19, 2017.
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