We made our way out of Hamburg as fast as we could. It was already well after lunch, and I still had several hundred kilometres of driving ahead of us. As we were a little short on time, we stuck to the Autobahn, which surprisingly was free. It was flat and agricultural, with not much to see from the motorway.
I checked fuel prices before crossing the border, and it seemed that on average Germany had cheaper fuel than anywhere north of here – so we filled our tank. We left the motorway, thinking we’d be smart and find a cheap fuel station. To my genuine surprise, there was a queue of other vehicles doing the same. There was even an enormous shopping complex catering to Danish tourists to buy cheaper goods. It turned out that the fuel we bought wasn’t all that much cheaper than the average price in Denmark, thanks to this station being above average expense for Germany. I wonder why I bother sometimes, but I guess every € counts.
Our fifteenth country of this trip! As usual, there was very little indication that we’d crossed international border, other than the road signs being slightly different. Slowly, the scenery changed, and it started to feel more agricultural, and greener. It also felt like there was more forest and trees here – a little more rural.
And then we hit our first pig farm, and were both very nearly sick from the intense smell. I’m generally pretty fine with smells, but this was so thick and dense that you could taste it when you breathed through your mouth, and I actually had to fight back the feeling of being sick. We closed the windows, but the smell was already inside. I was starting to worry that it would linger in the fabric of our home. It took minutes of driving before we were able to clear the air.
I guess like most boys (and probably girls, too), I grew up in love with Lego. It was generally the present I’d receive for Christmas or birthdays, and I still have fond memories of playing and building with it. We often went to the Christmas displays of various Lego constructions, so the concept of intricate sculptures is not a new one.
I was a little torn about visiting Legoland. I knew that it was a theme park for children, but with a Lego ‘theme’. I knew that as an adult, I probably wouldn’t have that much fun. But, I couldn’t drive past and not visit. Making the decision harder was the rather expensive entry price – roughly €60 each.
Thankfully, I read that the gates opened 30-minutes prior to the rides closing, and anyone could enter for free – and this is what we did. For reference, the rides close 90-minutes prior to the park closes, giving a solid hour-and-a-half to race around the park. This is why we had to rush from Hamburg, as I knew that it would take at least 90-minutes to see it all. Fortunately, I read the closing time wrong, so we actually arrived an hour early, giving us enough time to have dinner. While the entrance might be free, you still have to pay the 50DKK (€8) for the car park – it’s fine for us, getting free tickets, but a little steep if you’re already paying potentially €120 for the two of us to enter!
It wasn’t really fair visiting after spending the previous evening in Miniatur Wunderland. We were also tired from a long day driving, and a late night last night. So, with those caveats in mind, my first sights were somewhat underwhelming.
The first section you see is Mini World, which is Lego recreations of various cities. After seeing the incredible miniatures last night, these appeared incredibly amateur. We decided to come back to this later on, and rush to see the rest of the park first.
There were some small Star Wars dioramas set up, showing a scene from each of the six movies. It was pretty cool, even seeing hordes of whatever the creature that Jar-Jar Binks is called. Again, these recreations were limited to what could be built using lego, so they were never going to be as accurate as what we saw last night. It’s just an unfortunate fate of timing that we saw these two back to back, and in this order. Had it have been the other way around, I’m sure we’d have been far more impressed.
There was also a giant X-Wing on display, and curiously, it was a 1:1 scale replica of the Lego X-Wing set (9493, if it matters). At first, it looked really crudely built, but I kept forgetting that it wasn’t an X-Wing replica, but the replica of the Lego X-Wing. Then the small details really shone, like the tiny Lego logos on the top of the nubs on top of the blocks. The stats were epic – 5.3 Million blocks, 20 tonnes, and 4-months for 32 full-time builders!
There was a queue of children jacked up on Mountain Dew, so we let them attempt to destroy the inside of the model, and kept on with our extreme sightseeing™.
I laughed at the Duplo, because everyone knows that cool kids don’t play with Duplo. That’s for babies.
There were some of the more modern worlds represented, like Ninjago. Maybe it’s not so modern, but it’s certainly long after I stopped playing with Lego. I was starting to get a feel of what Lego Land is going to be like – a bunch of small rides, accompanied and decorated by some Lego creations.
The same held true at the wild-west Legoredo Town, with some splash mountain rides, and wild-west themed sculptures made out of Lego. I don’t really remember wild-west Lego, either – did I forget? Or is this also something new?
The castle world of Knights Kingdom was a little more familiar (my first Lego set, to my memory, was an enormous castle). You guessed it, a ride (this time a roller coaster, with a top speed somewhere around 60kph) and some Lego accompaniments.
Another Lego creation that was new to me was Polar Expedition. There was an extreme roller coaster (65kph), but there were also some real live penguins! This was almost the highlight for Risa.
A friend asked if it was possible to stand on a brick of Lego in Lego Land, and if the experience was better/worse than normal. I think the key element in the experience of standing on a brick of Lego is the surprise factor, which I wasn’t able to recreate. Simply standing on a stray block of Duplo was irritating, but not especially painful.
There were also several other Lands, including something with mummies, a Pirate Land, Vikings, and something eerily similar to Indiana Jones. The creations were pretty clever, and somewhat humorous, but a little too few and far between. Some of these sculptures are showing the signs of wear, with fading, which I can only guess comes from UV damage.
Again, expectations have to be set. I had to remind myself that we had free entry to what is essentially a family orientated theme park – and no time for the rides.
We spotted a series of famous international buildings, including Wat Pho in Bangkok, the White House in Washington, Osaka Castle, in Osaka (of course), as well as Kronborg Slot in the north of Denmark – which we’ll visit in a few days time.
We now had a little under 30-minutes to explore the Mini World, which turned out to be a lot bigger than first glance indicated. There were a few different neighbouring countries represented here, including Amsterdam and the canals/windmills of Netherlands.
But, our personal favourite (call it bias) was of Bryggen in Bergen. We still remembered it quite clearly, and they’d done a reasonably accurate recreation of this cool old section of town.
They provided some of the stats for the builds, too. The German section contained some 2.5 million bricks, which they estimated would take a single (experienced) builder some 12 years to complete construction. Kind of quashes hopes of recreating in the spare bedroom (we could never afford living in London).
Unsurprisingly, they had quite a few Danish locations on display, including quite a lot from Copenhagen. We’ll also have to compare Nyhaven once we visit in a few days.
Also really cool were the giant towers of the world, which were all built to the same scale, giving you a great visual representation of just how epic they are. Even though I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower, I always forget that it’s actually quite tall. Seeing it standing side-by-side with these monsters shows just how tall it really is – and how ridiculous the Burj Khalifa must be.
The park was meant to close at 9PM, however, we were still freely walking around at 9:30. The crowds had started to thin, and the shops were now closed, however we didn’t hear any ‘you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here’ type announcements on the PA. I’m guessing we would have been ushered out eventually, however, we’d seen all we wanted to see, and were once again exhausted and ready for bed – luckily there was a free park just around the corner by the horse racing track.
It was somewhat more miserable today than yesterday, with grey skies and cold wet winds. I’d read as much as I could about Denmark attractions, but without taking major detours, there wasn’t that much we wanted to see. We’d just seen Denmark’s second most popular sight, and were headed to its number one site – Copenhagen. We’d certainly make the effort if we felt it worthwhile, but we weren’t going to drive for a day just for the sake of completeness. That said, just a short drive west of Billund was the town of Ribe.
Lonely Planet told us that it’s one of Scandinavia’s oldest towns, with a cathedral and cobbled streets that date back nearly 1200 years.
It was a cute little town, with some seriously leaning buildings, and cute pastel shades. It was quite refreshing that outside of the main street, there was next to no advertising – just original looking buildings. I often wonder what the residents think about living somewhere that is constantly being photographed by tourists. Does it feel like an invasion of privacy? Or do they feel pride that it’s so well liked? I think I’d feel uncomfortable with so many people walking by and photographing my house.
Anyway, the old church was quite unusual, and not for the mix of materials that made up the exterior. Inside were some quite modern mosaics and stained glass windows, created by an artist less than 50-years ago. They weren’t your usual style of artwork, which was both confusing, and also refreshing.
It was a pretty town, and I’m glad that we made a little effort to see something other than Legoland and Copenhagen while in Denmark. That said, just as the next wave of rain hit, we were back in the car and making our way towards Copenhagen.
I think I mentioned it before, but I didn’t realise that Denmark was made up of several large islands. We crossed over to the central island, Funen, and continued across to the larger island, Zealand, via a rather long and expensive toll bridge. Next stop, Copenhagen.