Saturday, 18 August 2018

Kalmar Waterside Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 13.6 km (8.4 miles), terrain: flat, gain 39 meters

NOTE: I was lucky, and did this run during the annual Kalmar town festival!

Sweden is modernizing quickly, with free wifi everywhere, lots of cafés and restaurants with outside seating, tourists from all over the world. But provincial towns like Kalmar still retain their quiet, remote charm, and I love exploring the neighborhoods.

This route takes you through all the best sights in town, combining the downtown/old-town, the castle, the Kalmarsund waterfront and some unspoiled Swedish nature out along the Stensö peninsula.

So if you want to see Kalmar's best side, come along for the run!
The main square and cathedral during the town festival
We'll start the run in the heart of the downtown, at the main square, with the cathedral and town-hall. This is at the corner of Storgatan and Östra Sjögatan.
Along Norra Långgatan
Let's see a bit of the old-town while we're here, so go behind the cathedral to Norra Långgatan and run northeast the three blocks past tiny old houses to the old stone walls guarding the town from the sea. There is parkland here, and nice views over the water.

Now turn right to the next street, Storgatan and start running southwest down this main shopping street through the whole old town until you come to the smaller square, Larmtorget, with its fountain and bandstand. 
Now turn right on Västra Vallgatan and run the block towards the giant water tower and the old stone gate-tower in the city walls, the Västerport. This gate is one of the town landmarks, and has a great glass store and a beautiful café within its walls.
Västerport and the water tower
Run through the gate, exiting the old town, and cross the wooden footbridge over the town moat. The thing that looks like a palace across the bridge is really the town jail.
Running out across the footbridge
Across the bridge, turn left and run along the water to Stationsgatan, where you cross it to turn right and run through the bit of parkland to the big corner at Järnvägsgatan, crossing the railroad tracks from the nearby main station.

Run south into the city park with its pretty, little pond and the art museum and we will now continue following the waterfront until the turnaround spot in another 5 kilometers.

Once past the museum, stay close to the water as we approach the most famous Kalmar landmark: the castle, Kalmar Slot, at the 2-kilometer mark.
Kalmar Castle with fencing tournament
The castle has its origins in the first tower built in 1180. It guarded the town and harbor from pirates and enemies, and was one of the biggest forts in Sweden.

The Danes settled and occupied the southern tip of what is now Sweden, and Kalmar was the southernmost Swedish castle, and was the scene of various battles and sieges. Finally, the Swedes won out and conquered the Danish lands south of here, so the castle lost its importance and fell into disuse. It was restored to its present glory during the last century.

You can only get inside the castle if you buy a ticket, but you can at least run inside the first gate to get a closer look.

Now run out to the main entrance to the cemetery and run to its little, circular chapel, then turn left to get back to the waterside trail.
The waterside trail
Now continue running south through the parkland along Kalmarsund bay, past a first little beach, then past sports fields (volleyball, skateboards, etc.), another beach with a diving platform, and then around the backside of the Vikingarna marina, at the 4-kilometer mark.
The marina, with little fishermen's huts
Now cross the little footbridge, continuing southwards onto the Stensö peninsula. This narrow spit of land was formed by boulders pushed there by the last glaciers to come through the area, and is three kilometers long.

At this end of Stensö, there is a mini-golf course and a campground. Later there is just pure nature. Smell the pine trees, feel the breeze on your skin and enjoy the view out over the Baltic waves, we're in the Swedish countryside.
The Stensö shore
This trail soon joins into a bigger one, but at the turnoff for the next beach, turn left to get back to the eastern shore of the peninsula. Follow this trail all the way to the point, at the 7-kilometer mark. Enjoy the water view here, because the route will now leave the water for a while.

So, now follow the main trail that heads up north, through the middle of the peninsula.

Take the trail to the left when it splits off, to go through the campground, then head north, on the paved road, leaving the peninsula along Stensövägen. This pleasant street is lined by trees on the one side and by typical Swedish wooden homes along the other. This is our chance to get a look at how lots of Kalmar people live.
Typical Swedish house
At the corner of Stensbergsvägen, turn right and run two blocks to Stensviksvägen where you turn left to continue northeast past more pleasant homes with white picket fences.

Eventually, at about the 12-kilometer mark, you'll see a stone wall and further dirt walls of the castle defenses to the left, and lines of trees on the right. We're back at the cemetery, and turn to the right there at Skansgatan.

Run to the chapel and turn left and now basically follow the same way back to the starting point as we originally came here.

When you cross the train tracks again, you can just follow Olof Palmes Gata right back into the old town and you'll find yourself on Storgatan again.

For something different, you might want to turn right to then head northeast along Södra Långgatan back to the main square.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Denmark Biking Route Day 7: Haderslev to Flensburg

Click here for route map
Length 71 km (44 miles), terrain: light hills, gain 446 meters

Hey folks, it's #SummerFun time! This week, as a vacation from the normal blogging routine, each day we'll publish a short biking route in Denmark. Maybe it will inspire a few people to try something a bit different from their usual workouts!
This is our last day of biking through southern Denmark, this beautiful land full of thatched-roofed farmhouses and secluded beaches. We'll head south from Haderslev, on Jutland's east coast, and cross the border to Flensburg, in Germany.

We'll continue following Danish National Bike Route 5 southwards at first, but this section is no longer called the "Water Way" like yesterday, it stays inland. We'll ride through the countryside mainly, with only a few glimpses of water today. Later, we switch to National Route 3, continuing south as route 5 turns eastwards.
Watermill along the way
We first head westwards out of town, along the Haderslev Dam, a dammed-up lake that empties into the fjord. Once the route leaves town, it turns southwards. We'll cross a couple of highways, then bike past Slivsø, a lake with a little beach.
Later, we arrive at the first stop along the Baltic coast at Sønderballe Strand, a curving stretch of sand and boat docks. I jumped into the water here for a good cool-off.
Along Bike Route 3
You now pedal uphill to get into the plateau above, going through fields and villages, like Kiplev and Hølbol.

The last big Danish town of the ride comes up soon, Aabenraa, another harbor town on the end of its own fjord. 
Aabenraa town center
It's worth it to walk around the old town, and -- at halfway along today's route -- time for a break. 
Nachos and a Blackbird beer hit the spot!
I stopped into the church because I wanted to see an example of a typical Danish port tradition: sailing ship models hanging from the church ceiling. I've only ever seen that in Denmark.
In the Aabenraa church
Leave town along the waterfront, passing the giant marina. Now the route zig-zags a bit on its southward journey, avoiding the main roads and taking you from one village to another.

Finally, bike-route 3 hits Kollund Strand, on the Flensburg Fjord. Stop at one of the little beaches for a last swim and a great view over the water. That's Germany off on the other side.
Kollund Strand: that's Germany on the other side of the fjord
So now you follow the trail west across the border and past Flensburg's Wassersleben beach. 
The crossing back to Germany
Continue south past the shipyards and you'll find yourself at the town's cool waterfront, with its big collection of wooden ships and a wooden-boat restoration club. 

Old ships along the Flensburg waterfront
Hansen's brewhouse, right on the water, is a great place to celebrate the end of a great week with just as great food and beer. Enjoy!

Monday, 23 July 2018

Denmark Biking Route Day 6: Fredericia to Haderslev

Click here for route map
Length 88 km (55 miles), terrain: light hills, gain 506 meters

Hey folks, it's #SummerFun time! This week, as a vacation from the normal blogging routine, each day we'll publish a short biking route in Denmark. Maybe it will inspire a few people to try something a bit different from their usual workouts!

Today's route follows the east coast of Denmark's Jutland peninsula, heading south along National Cycle Route 5. This route is known as the Vand Vejen ("Water Way"), and for good reason. There are plenty of bays, beaches and hilltop views out over the Baltic Sea to the east, with regular spots to swim, which is great on a hot day.
Fredericia cannons
We're starting in Fredericia, the old fortress town on the water, surrounded by deep moats and high walls. Originally, I had planned to take the train home from here, but I had gotten into the biking groove so well, and the weather was still holding, sunny and warm, so I decided to add-on another two days and bike back down to Flensburg, in Germany.
And the Fredericia town center
This area is the crossroads of Denmark: where the east-west highways and railways cross the north-south ones in Jutland. So at the beginning, we'll be crossing a variety of roads, freeways and railways, until we get past nearby Kolding.

But no worries: the bike route keeps us away from all the traffic.

Leaving Fredericia, we head directly westwards, crossing car route 171, then two freeways and a railway. There are also some industrial parks nearby, so this is one of the least scenic stretches of the whole week-long trip.
Gudsø Vig, secluded and shallow!
But as soon as you cross the railway, you leave all that behind, just west of Taulov. You now head through beautiful hilly woodlands and come down to the water's edge for the first time, at Gudsø Vig, a wide bay. I took a side trip into the hamlet of Gudsø and rode down a cow-path to the water for a quick swim. I had a little beach all to myself, but the water was so shallow, that I could only float a few centimeters above the bottom.
Kolding students
From Gudsø, it goes inland for a while, through more beautiful woodland, then comes down to the Kolding Fjord before entering the Kolding old-town. Here's another place to take a nice break, in the lively downtown, with half-timbered houses and a castle. I was ready for an ice-coffee break there, on the main square. There were a lot of students in their white caps walking around. When students graduate, the get to wear the hats for their last weeks. A nice tradition!
Picnic spot along Kolding Fjord
To leave Kolding, you first head south past the harbor, then head east to follow the road along the south side of the fjord. Soon you turn off onto a foot/bike trail along the water's edge, going by local beaches and picnic areas, the whole time with views of the fjord. There is one big hill to climb, where I had to push the bike, but I was rewarded with an enchanted little woods at the top.
The enchanted forest
From there, it heads east via little country roads to the Stenderup woods, with beautiful trails along meandering streams. It then heads downhill past a lagoon to follow the Baltic coast again, at Bjert Strand and Binderup Strand, then Grønninghoved Strand. 
Beach cottages at Binderup Strand
There are plenty of spots to swim or to rest with a cold drink.
Time for a beer break at Binderup!
At Hejlsminde, there's another little beach before you go inland and, from that point, only see the water from the hilltops.
And at Hejlsminde, time for another swim
When National Bike Route 5 reaches the Haderslev Fjord, it turns west to head along the rise above the water towards the town of Haderslev.
The main square in Haderslev
Enjoy this pleasant town, with the Torvet -- the market square -- lined by outside restaurants. I had a great burger and craft beer at RAS. A great way to end a hard day! I then rode south of town to a horse-farm B-and-B, Louisenlund, where a wonderful breakfast awaited me the next morning.
At the B and B, an ex Danish Army Bedford truck, now used as a party truck for graduating students, pulled up, and the driver stayed the night. The trucks are rented by groups of graduating students, to take a tour through town, driving to each student’s place, one after the other. And at each house, they then have to drink, of course. The driver said he works for a company with 30 such trucks, and they are only used for about 10 days a year, at graduation. Another nice tradition!
Training the jumpers at Louisenlund