Danish Chronicles – Coastal journey ● Life is beautiful although your shoes might explode
Life is filled with surprises, although we tend to forget this.
Our faith in the future is ripped apart by embarrassing images that tell a story of bombs, of hunger, of sudden escape. We pretend to be incredibly busy with work, family, food shopping, but deep down we know that it is fantastic to be surprised. For the author of this blog, the best presents are given by Nature: you think you have seen it all across our old and charming Europe. You think you have listened to the Parisian streets, you have walked the elegant London paths, and you have run on distressed Tuscan country roads. I am not sure what I was expecting before coming to Denmark. All I know now, though, is that these first weekends here on close to the Baltic Sea have presented me with such incredible and unique episodes of beauty, and they led me to appreciate again that life is beautiful and travelling gives you invincible wings.
The first part of my magic coastal itinerary stretches for some 40 kilometers and is called Stevns Klint. Denmark reaches a maximum of 41 meters here: the ground is filled with fossils as reminders of eras that are long gone but not forgotten, and the path you are walking on dates back to some 60 million years ago. If you stop for a moment, you can nearly see the Alps, the Apennines and the Himalaya raise out of a dancing underground. Volcanoes must have fun, you assume. Suddenly, though, this great party gets to a dramatic stop: all beings are gone and vanished and you did not even have a chance to say good bye. Above all, dinosaurs got really uptight regarding the whole situation: famous for their conservative personalities, they never came back. Screw the dinosaurs. You will agree that parties are often ruined by the arrival of someone that is not exactly popular: in our case, ultraviolet solar radiations stole the invitation to to the ozone barrier that, as a reaction, decided to dissolve; CO2 makes its appearance on the scene disrupting many guests’ plans, above all the plants; the Arctic ocean splashes into the Atlantic causing temperature drops that erase any chance of surfing for the Ammonites. Some great scientific mind adds another element to this scene: a 10-kilometer-wide asteroid allegedly crashed onto Earth at a speed of 100,000 kilometers an hour causing quite a stir.
I like to think of Stevns Klint as an ante litteram blog. Chalk forms the base of the cliff: if you touch it, it stains your hands, but do remember that the dust on your fingers is made up of microscopic shells from tiny algae which lived in the sea at the same time as the dinosaurs (screw them!) ruled the Earth. If you are lucky and you can spend some 32 hours at Stevns Klint (I was not so lucky), they say it is possible to find the remains of sea urchins, shark’s teeth and belemnites (those who have never heard of them go out of the classroom now). In the upper layers of the cliff one can see hard limestone with many wavy layers of dark flint nodules. The limestone is made up of the remains of the colonial skeletons of tiny animals known as bryozoans. Between the soft chalk and the hard limestone lies the thin layer that reminds us of that ruined party. I am not a geologist, as most of you know but I have a personal theory regarding the events that created Stevns Klint: 60 million years ago something causes the disappearance of most of the creatures on earth. Some say it was a huge meteorite, some blame raising temperatures. I object: think of the names of those creatures. Would you invite someone called Bryozoan to your party? I wouldn’t.
On one of the highest parts of Stevns Klint there is a church called Højerup. It was originally built in the 12th century. Those clever engineers built it right at the top of the cliff, hoping that the good god and the shiny Providence would keep it up against the fierce natural elements. Ah the dreamers. In 1928 obviously part of the church and the graveyard around it fell down into the sea. Optimists like me think: “It stayed up longer than it could possibly be imagined”. In order to soften our hard souls, some came up with a legend stating the each Christmas Eve the new church jumps a cock stride inland. A cock stride. How far can a cock jump, I wonder.
During the second part of my coastal itinerary I drove from Møns Klint, on the Island of Møn, towards Nyord. While I was walking on the pearly beach of Møns Klint, I felt free, in a distinct and utter way. Walking in the water, with the Baltic sea rolling peaceful in front of me. To get there I climbed some 660 steps down (that part was fine) and upwards (that was challenging), but I would have walked a million steps to arrive to that End of the World. In my head one quotation from one of my favorite Italian writers, i.e Alessandro Baricco: “You can hear the sea, like an endless landslide, like a eternal thunder amid a storm whose origin was unknown. It did not stop for a minute. It was tireless. If you look at it, you realise how noisy it was. That infinity becomes loudness, like a wall of sound, like a blind scream. You cannot turn the sea off, when the night is burning”. My soul burnt of joy: life is made up of diamonds, and it shines, and it laughs.
Nyord is another Danish Island like to Møn through a narrow bridge filled with fishermen. They are not always there, but while I was driving at 30km/h to take some photos (very clever idea), the bridge looked like a Christmas tree full of those green hats and high boots that can look fashionable only on fishermen.
Until the Sixties, a postal boat was linking the two islands. Sometimes, though, it was not big enough to carry everything and the poor animals had to swim beside it to order onto the other shore.
On Nyord two events are worth telling: a funny one and a romantic one. I will start from the funny story, because I bet you want to see how I made a fool of myself in front of the local Danish community. Basically, one of my runners exploded. Here the full picture: some time ago, while I was still in Hibernia, I bought a nice pair of runners. According to the tv ad, these shoes would give you a bum worth of a model. I bought them because I was addicted to that ad, but also mainly because I liked their colors: pink and white like a lobster. Nyord is a very tiny place, so I decided that my ballerinas would be enough to walk around and I therefore left the lobster runners in my car, at a terrifying temperature of 27C. After having ice cream, coffee and cake at a local shop that also sold an incredibly variety of liquors (from Italian limoncello to grappa to Dominican rum) after checking out the octagonal church, and after the romantic event I will tell you about in a minute, I went back to the car and heard a small explosion coming from the boot.
My friends are never tired to listen to my “car adventures” (that, by the way, include the dislocation of my registration plate and my gear), so I did not get too upset about the noise. Besides my car there were some bikers, looking at me as if saying: “Do something. That car is alive”. I approached the car laughing nervously. I opened the boot and one of my runners had esploded, or better imploded. The cushion that should have given me an ass worth of a model was simply nowhere to be found anymore. Things like this can happen to me only. I know. I am so proud of it.
Before making a fool of myself in front of a bunch of Danish bikers, I saw a movie on one of the beaches which welcome you just before you get to Nyord. At first I thought I was on my own, then I turned around and I saw there was a couple a few meters away from me. He was tall, blonde, and as gorgeous as a god. She was wrapped up in elegant Muslim clothes and was stunning. They were throwing water at each other. They were laughing so much, probably saying: “Look at that idiot whose runner is going to explode”. They then got closer and hugged each other. Would you like to have a love like that? Pure. As light as the wind. In my head, an old song from some years ago: