Esbjerg to Copenhagen by bike: Kolding to Odense

We rise at 9:00 for our first breakfast on Danish soil, a lovely buffet of cold meats and cheese, as well as fruit and cereal. I then spend 40 minutes on the phone troubleshooting servers, during which time dark clouds sweep away the earlier sunshine.

At 10:30, we head off on to the streets of Kolding for a quick tour of the city. The main attraction is the former royal castle of Koldinghus, located very near to our hostel, beside a lake. Strangely, there are dozens of school kids sitting all around the castle, dressed in very peculiar disguises (reminds me of the pyjama village yesterday). The funniest are a couple of guys dressed head to tow in green leotards.

After sheltering for a few minutes during a torrential downpour, we head to the nearby station to enquire about tickets for tomorrow. We’ll need to take a train from Nyborg to Korsør as there is no cycle route at that point. However, we’re assured now that tickets can be bought on the day, so we’ll worry about that tomorrow. Children in costume are pouring out the station, meanwhile, on their way to the castle.

By about 11:45, we’re heading out of Kolding, up a long and gradual climb that the Danish man on the ferry had warned us about. An hour later, as I struggle up the increasingly steep slope, I realise that my rear tyre is totally flat. I have no idea how long that’s been the case, as I did not notice any sudden change. The extra weight of the panniers combined with the gradient has clearly masked the puncture for several minutes, at least.

That’s the first puncture of the trip, and indeed the first puncture I’ve had in many months. We’re back on our way again after about 20 minutes and soon we’re crossing the Little Belt Bridge from Jutland to Funen.

As we reach the town of Middelfart, we decide that this may provide our only chance of a meal before Odense. We eventually find a McDonalds, having got rather lost while trying to follow directions on a roadside advert. It turns out that a lonesome tall chip within the photo indicates the direction of the nearest restaurant.

After lunch, Route 6 takes us over undulating hills and a few small villages until we suddenly reach a thick forest. Here, for the first time, the tarmac road we have enjoyed is replaced with a track of mud and grass. The signposting also suffers somewhat, with unclear arrows, hidden signs and missing directions.

However, we outwit all the trap signposting and reach our hotel in Odense at 19:00. There, we’re met with a slightly arrogant man who complains that he’s been waiting for us all day (even though we’re within the advertised check-in hours). He lets us lock up our bikes in his garden, and then disappears.

Only then do we make our way up to the room. And it’s the most depressing room imaginable. The decor is dull, the ceiling’s low and there is not even an ensuite bathroom. There’s a shower at the end of the hallway, but it’s full to the ceiling with building rubbish. However, there is one more downstairs, and that one is usable. Along the hallways, there are buckets of water in place of fire extinguishers.

We sit down for a few minutes to decide whether it’s worth trying to find another hotel in this town (after all, we have not made any payment yet here). However, just as we decide to do so, I remember the bikes. They’re locked in the man’s garden, and his barking dog stands between us and them. So we must stay put for tonight.

Instead, we agree to spend as little time as possible at the hotel. We find a large pizzeria for dinner and then go to a small but lively pub for an after-dinner pint.

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