Monthly Archives: April 2012

Launching Sebbe

Sebbe Als is a ship built on a real Viking warship found in Roskilde Fjord. It spends the harsh days of winter in The Naust (a low building at the water edge) on Augustenborg Fjord, during which time it is repaired and repainted. Every spring it is then put back into the water and taken to it berth in Augustenborg harbour, where it is docked for the summer season. Below is our experience of launching Sebbe back into its natural environment.

9:20: We arrive at The Naust. “Pirate” Kim is already busy preparing the ground for Sebbe’s exit. We find the other group members in the back room having their breakfast.


9:40: The troops are gathered in front of the Naust. Steen, the chairman of the independent society that owns and operates Sebbe (and its sister ship Ottar, which was launched a week earlier) welcomed everyone and we started getting ready for putting the ship into the water.

The first task involved lowering the ship onto pieces of wood over which it could then be rolled the 10m into the water. This is necessary as the ship is raised on wood during the winter. A lot of rocking, moving and balancing is required at this stage, though not much effort on the part of the general troops.

Camera Roll-220

10:05: Sebbe is ready to roll. All the troop are aligned on each side, one at each oar hole. We are ready to push, pull and tug Sebbe over the rollers and into the sea. “En, tooo, TRE!” says Steen. A lot of huffing and puffing. But Sebbe refuses to move. We try a couple more times, before a slight change of tactic gets Sebbe rolling.

10:20: Sebbe decided to stop moving. Plan B is required. This involves the use of a pulley system to help us push Sebbe into the water. The pulley is set up

10:30: Plan B is ready to be put into action. The troops are back on each side of the boat. “En, to, TRE!”. After a couple of false starts Sebbe starts to slowly make its way close to the water. Until the pulley system starts breaking down.

10:45: We revert back to Plan A. Sebbe is halfway out of the Naust and are ready to head down the slight slope. While using the changed tactics used earlier, where the back of Sebbe is levered upwards as we push, Sebbe slowly makes its way towards the water.

11:00: Success! Sebbe is in the water. The time it has taken this year appears to be close to a record. The larger number of people helping out certainly helped. Sebbe is tied to the bridge off to the left while we all get a well-deserved drink.

Click for panorama of Sebbe going into the water

11:20: Although the big job of pushing the boat into the water is done we still need to put in the fittings, including the floor boards and the oars. While we were busy relaxing “Pirate” Kim had already started, and soon the rest of us go to work carrying things from the Naust to the boat, while others sweep inside the Naust.


12:30: Sebbe is all together now! Another well-deserved break for lunch that two of the members had gone off to buy for all the rest of us. As befits a Danish lunch we had rugbrod with different toppings (and cake, of course!).

13:20: There is only the last job of the day left: getting Sebbe to its “summer home” in Augustenborg harbour. As the mast will be put up in the harbour we need to row it over to its berth. We all take our places and rowed it we did.

13:55: Sebbe is in its berth. Our day of Viking work is over.

Sebbe is berthed in Augustenborg harbour next to her sister, Ottar. You can see both of them as you cross the road on the bridge dividing the harbour.

Lessons learnt: Driving in Denmark

When I first moved to Denmark I had driven Michael’s mum’s car a couple of times. However, so far I had never driven on my own (probably as Michael doesn’t trust me!). So when this week I had to drive to another work site for a meeting I was both excited and apprehensive.

The ‘Car’

Since this was a work trip I took a departmental car. I thought I would get a car, but no! I actually got a small van! My first time driving alone in Denmark, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road AND my first time driving a van. It didn’t help matters that the van was clearly not designed for short Mediterranean girls!

Lesson? Definition of a car is not universal!

The Motorway

Before moving to Denmark I had only driven back home in Malta. Now Malta being so small  means that we don’t have motorways (the national speed limit is 80 km/h). So this time was the first time driving on one for me! It wasn’t as harrowing an experience as I thought it would be. Being able to count the cars that passed by during my ‘motorway experience’ on my fingers probably helped.

Lesson? If you want motorway practice the new Sonderborg-Kliplev motorway is probably a good place to start!

The Fog

I was meant to drive the ‘car’ back to work in the morning. Just as my luck would have it,  we woke up to severe fog all around us. It was the worst fog I have seen so far. I was slightly heartened by the fact that in Sonderborg the visibility was at around 100m. Unfortunately things only got worst the further away from Sonderborg that I got, with visibility down to maybe 20-30m at most in some areas. It was my first time driving on this road, making things a bit more scary.

Lesson? Fog in the Sonderborg area can be quite bad. Be careful!


Light by Night, spring 2012

The first late night opening in Sønderborg’s shops is tomorrow Friday the 29th. Most of the shops in central Sønderborg will be open till 10pm (unlike normal closing at 5pm).

The streets will be lit by oil lamps and two live bands will be walking around in the streets. The jazz bands Blæserbanden and the local Bosse4Brass will roam the streets playing groovy vibes. Michael Vogensen will play at Rådhustorvet from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

Several of the shops will have special offers, events or competitions during the evening.

Review: Danfoss Orchestra Spring Concert

Danfoss Orkestret, though not an orchestra technically, is a 38-man brass band that is quite well-known in this area. Towards the end of March we had written with information on how to get tickets to the Danfoss Orchestra Spring Concert. Did you check that out? I really hope you did.

The music selected for the spring concert was mainly British, with some famous ones such as Yellow Submarine and When the Saints Go Marching In, to some unknown songs to us. There was also one Danish song, keeping everyone feeling involved.

But on to the exciting stuff. During the concert we had a congo line brass band making its way onto the stage, a ‘disorganised’ abandonment of the stage and, last but not least, a conductor in a kilt. And, yes, he confirmed that the rumours about kilts is true! We even had a bagpipe and drum group join and close the show with the orchestra.

I did not know what I was expecting, but I was certainly not expecting this. What was missing in quality (and that was not much), was more than made up for in enthusiasm, fun and just sheer joy of the players (and the audience). I now know exactly why tickets are said to be grabbed within hours of being made available to the public. The standing ovation the orchestra received at the end was more than well-deserved.

Sønderborg – Here You Can Build Your Own Future

Two young guys, Kim Groth and Fynn Laue, have spent the last four weeks running around town, jumping in the freezing water and flying high to make shots for the profile video you see above.

During the production they kept a video blog which has been an entertaining look behind the scene.

We asked Kim and Fynn a couple of questions.

Where did you get the idea from to make this video?

We were hired by the Sønderborg community and ProjectZero to make a kind of promotional movie about the city.
When in pre-production we talked to a lot of key-people and interesting folks. Then we took all the information we got and wrote the voice over that made the basis for the movie.

Was it expensive to make and how did you finance it?

Compared to our other projects it is the most expensive at the time being. We were paid for making the movie but had to pay car-rental and buy new gear by our selves.

What languages is the video being translated into?

English, German and Danish.

Did you learn something new about the area during filming?

Oh yes!! Inspite of living here for more than 18 years now, we found that there still was a lot of stuff we didn’t know about. The skating hall for instance.

What is you favorite spot in the city?

The beach! It is so peaceful and the best place to make hard decisions.

I enjoyed watching your video blogs – did it take a lot of time to produce them?

About 3-4 hours per vlog.

What are your next projects?

We have no fixed plans for upcoming projecet, but you can always see updates on Fynns facebook page for upcoming movies or small project-updates.

Women’s Handball

When the national team in football is doing badly Denmark’s favorite spectator sport is handball. Especially if the team is doing well as in 2011 when 3 million Danes (60% of total pop.) watched the European Championship finale. Danes will say that the sport is invented in Denmark but that’s not completely true. In any case it is today the third most played sport with 119,000 players nationwide, only surpassed by football and badminton.

This weekend we were again lucky to get our hands on tickets to a match by the local professional sports team. Last time it was the men’s football team in freezing Haderslev we went to see, this weekend it was women’s handball in Aabenraa.

The local team, SønderjyskE has been playing in the 1st Division in the last season and the game we went to see was in the qualifying round to make it into the best league Håndboldligaen. (The handball league system is quite complicated.) The team they were playing were Aalborg DH, a team that is pretty good and beat SønderjyskE last time they met.


After presenting an oversized team jersey and raising it on the back wall the players ran onto the court and the game began.

We had good seats from where we could see the whole court and like a tennis match watch as the game went from one end to the other in fast pace.


SønderjyskE got ahead from the start so that ensured a good atmosphere in the arena. Every time there was a goal or another short break in the game the sound system would boom with schlager music like Lost Souls and Tørfisk.


The local team stayed ahead throughout the game and at one point had a 12 goal lead before they let off their best players and slacked a bit. The end result was a comfortable 35-29 victory to the home team and they are well on the way in the qualifying round.


I’m surprised how much I enjoyed both this game and the last football game, because I’m not really into watching sport except when there are the big tournaments. If I were to compare the two experiences I’ve had watching the local pro football and handball I prefer the handball. The game is faster (both on court and total time at event), it’s indoors, the arena is closer and the beers are cheaper.

Just Released: Per Vers: Bli’r Ved

What do you do if you have a segway, two marching bands, a cool car, 30km of unused motorway, a helicopter and a camera? Well the Danish rapper/poet Per Vers had this and made this spectacular one-shot music video.

Per raps about keep going. He’ll keep going “longer than Run DMC, till he has more back hairs than Run Jeremy”.

The M51 motorway connects Sønderborg to the rest of Europe’s motorway system. It opened two weeks ago but before that we ran on it and some people cycled on it.

Viking for a day – Help launch a viking warship

Spring is in the air and if you had been living around Roskilde Fjord some 1000 years ago you might have been preparing a warship for this season’s raid. Luckily you don’t need a time machine to experience this because we have a local viking ship in Augustenborg.

Sebbe Als, as the boat is called, is built as a replica of wreck number 5 found in Roskilde Fjord, where it sank sometime in the 11th century. It is a fast warship with a long and slim body with 24 oars and a relatively large sail. It can fit up to 30 people.

The ship is owned and operated by an independent society (PDF in English), who built the boat in the period 1967 – 1969, a few years after the finds in Roskilde. The ship, which was launched and named Sebbe Als in 1969, was built according to the drawings of the original ship and by using the same tools as the “old vikings”.

You can take part

Every spring Sebbe is checked, repaired and prepared for the season and this is where you can get a taste for what it’s like to work with a boat like they did in the age of the vikings. There are two dates coming up where you can go see the boat, meet the people building and sailing the boat, help out and maybe even join the crew.

21st of April starting from 9am Sebbe is getting a new coat of paint on the bottom. Come and get up close to the ship.

28th of April at 9am Sebbe will be launched into the water. This is done purely by manpower so they can use any help they can get in pulling the 2 ton boat in the water.

Sunday Ann and I cycled out to see if we could find the “naust” where the boat lives in winter and at the end of a gravel road we found it. Two very friendly ladies were painting a smaller boat called Ottar outside and they were more than happy to give us a tour of the facilities. The tranquility of the place was amazing we had brought a lunch pack with us so enjoyed that while soaking up the sun and enjoying the atmosphere.

Read more about the boat on To get to the home of Sebbe Als look for Hesselvej 10 by Augustenborg. To get there on bike it’s a nice 20 minute bike ride from central Sønderborg, in a car you need to follow this path and park by the manure tank. Check the map below for the exact location.

Photos by Steen Weile, chairman of Sebbe Als.

Vintage shopping in Sonderborg

Isabella Thordsen is a 20 year old blogger from Sønderborg who has gained a big audience for her blog about fashion and her finds in secondhand stores in Denmark, Germany and London over the past three years.

Lately she has been going from one success to the next. Last year she received an award as best talent in Danish fashion blogging. In January of this year she launched a webshop with vintage clothes. The past Saturday she broadened the business by opening up a showroom where people can walk in and try clothes a couple of days a month.


It is very admirable how she at a young age has turned her hobby and passion into a business and full time job. And it is quite gutsy to open a niche shop for vintage clothing in a small place like Sønderborg. But combined with a webshop and all she got going for her she will probably pull it off.

We went to see the showroom on her first opening and it’s a cozy place she has created full of quirky and smart objects and clothing.


Check Isabella’s blog and webshop for when she opens the showroom for visitors.

Review: Odinsvej B&B, Sønderborg

Michael’s family was visiting for the weekend and they needed somewhere to stay. The place we had previously stayed at was already booked. We were suggested this B&B in Odinsvej instead. These are our thoughts.


The B&B is located to the south-east of Sonderborg in a residential area. Its location makes it perfect if you have a car and are looking somewhere outside the city centre where you can easily reach the forest or take a walk by the sea, or drive to the city centre. However, it is a bit impractical if you are relying on walking and public transport for all your needs, or thrive on being within walking distance from the city centre.


Compared to Bed and Breakfast Sonderborg, the sleeping quarters are quite small. If you envision your stay as a lot of lounging around in bed, this is probably not the place to go to. However, if you need a place to stay while exploring the great nature close by it is more than adequate.

However, if the bedrooms are small, the large living areas more than make up for it: a large kitchen dining area, a big and light conservatory, a cozier study, and ample terraces and gardens makes it perfect if you want to spend time with the others you are with rather than holed up on your own. This made it perfect for this family weekend in a way that the limited shared living quarters in the B&B Sonderborg would not have been.


The place is equipped with most of your requirements on such a trip: decent bathroom(s), well-equipped kitchen and the peace and quiet of living in a house on your own (the owners do not live in the same building). The place is not quite a bed and breakfast, as there is no cooked breakfast offered, but you can easily make your own toast, and are provided with ample tea and coffee.


Perfect for a family trip or trip with friends when you want to spend time together. Maybe less so as a romantic getaway. If you like being within easy reach of the great outdoors (forests and the sea in this case), it could be the place for you as well.