Monthly Archives: August 2012

Gendarm Path: Around ‘Broager Land’

The Gendarm Path (Gendarmstien) is an 74km long route that follows the coastal border between Denmark and Germany. We plan on walking, running and cycling the path in chunks. This blog post covers the length from Sønderborg via Vemmingbund around the peninsula of Broager Land and back to Sønderborg.

My parents had rented a summer cottage in Vemmingbund 8km from Sonderborg so early on the Sunday me and a friend jumped on our mountainbikes and cycled towards Vemmingbund to meet my dad at the cottage. The path from Sonderborg to Vemmingbund is easy to cover on a mountainbike without being too difficult. It took us about half an hour to cycle that leg.

Setting off on Gendarm Path

From Vemmingbund the first section is tarmac road as there is a section of The Gendarm Path not right on the water here. Then you turn left towards the water going through Gammelmark Strand camp ground before you make it to the water. This is the first difficult section as you have a bit of beach, a narrow path and a steep set of stairs to climb.

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Once you’ve carried up the bike the hill continues so onwards and upwards!

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As you go along here getting up on the hill you get magnificent views of the area. However I was lagging behind at this point so there is no photos to show you the great view.
We continued up and down steep hills until at the top of the last hill before we made it to Broager Strand camp ground.

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Here Jan got a flat tire so while him and my dad changed inner tube I could take some photos. I attempted to do a 360 Photsynth image from here but unfortunately it turned out a bit dark:

With a new inner tube in place we could continue down the slope and onto tarmac again. Again we had a short detour inland before going back down to the water and through the forrest called Kobbelskov. After Kobbelskov we got all the way down to the water with a section of the path on the beach with fairly big stones. Not an easy place to cycle but interesting challenge as long as it was not for too long.

We continued until we reached a parking lot and took bearings of the situation. The path we just came from can be seen behind Jan. He looks concerned about the beach section coming up.

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From here on around the bend of the peninsula the Gendarm Path follows the beach with soft sand, medium and big stones and sections where you have to climb over big rocks. Not easy with a bike so we opted for the easier route inland again until we were past the wind mills. Here’s the beach path we did not follow.

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At Skeldemark we went back down to the water again and now we got a short section riding right on the beach with fairly even sized stones so it was doable to stay on the bike and keep moving forward.

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At a point on the beach the Gendarm Path took a turn to the right across a field. The inhabitants of the field didn’t seem too fussed about three guys in bright lycra outfits so we opened the gate, got our bikes in, and closed the gate again. We gave the cows a wave but they were not really interested in us as we rode across their field.

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We followed the Gendarm path inland to Gammelgab (Literally translates to ‘Old Yawn’) which looked more cozy than the name implies.

We went back down to the water for another patch of beach and gravel road riding through the courtyard of a farm and then across another cow field before we made it to Brunsnæs.

From here it was an easy drive to Broager with a single hill that was too steep for any of us to drive up.

In Broager we left the Gendarm Path and turned eastwards towards my parents rented cottage in Vemmingbund. Here we left my dad and Jan and I continued home to Sønderborg.

Route stats

  • 3 and a half hours excluding breaks
  • From Sønderborg and back was 50km
  • 370 elevation meters
  • See and download the route from Gpises or Endomondo.

The route is really great. I was amazed at the scenery and bike challenges I have on the door step here. As a mountainbike route it is really challenging with the various surfaces and hills.
This section is great for doing on foot without too big a load or on mountain bike. Other types of bikes will probably have problems.


Historic Tilting at the Rings

As we have written previously, tilting-at-the-ring (better known in Danish as Ringridning) is a popular sport in the south of Denmark. Nowadays, riders gallop towards a ring suspended on a rope and try to catch the ring on a lance they carry. However, this sport has a long tradition, and is to be expected, changes have occurred over the years.


During the summer, there are displays of historic tilting events at a track right by Sonderborg castle. During the weekly occurrence, one of the tilting families of the region (participation in this sport seems to be a family tradition) takes part in a re-enactment of such tournaments from days gone by on a small scale.

When I went to check it out I had expected to see a similar display to that seen at the modern tournaments, just in costume. However, I was surprised to finally make sense of statues of cocks standing in the middle of the course! In fact, rather than only grabbing rings from suspended ropes, the riders also attempt to grab rings that are suspended from the cocks’ mouths. Seeing the riders in action it was quite clear that this is no longer a practised tradition…the riders had infinitely more problems grabbing these rings than the more ‘normal’ ones!

Unfortunately these displays only occur in Danish school holidays (which end in the beginning of August in Denmark), so apologies for writing about it this late in the season. However, if you are visiting the area, now you have an excuse to come again next year!

Gendarme path sonderborg

Hike or Bike the Gendarm Path

The Gendarm path, known as Gendarmstien in Danish, is the former border guard patrol path between Denmark and Germany. It was in use from 1920 until 1958, where each gendarm (or border guard) had a specific section of the coastline to patrol. They would walk along the water as best they could and thereby created a small walking path.

By Bent Rasmussen
Picture by Bent Rasmussen – used with permission

The Gendarm path is one of Denmark’s best know and popular walking routes and follows a very scenic landscape along the coast of Flensborg Fjord. The full length of the path is 74km from Padborg in west to Høruphav on South Als.

Gendarm Path Sonderborg

Trekking the 74km s not something we planned to do at one go, especially in our unfit state! However, walking the path is a good way of enjoying and experiencing the natural beauty of the area. So our aim is to get through all the path in smaller chunks.

This is our progress so far. We will add more as we cover more of the path:

  • Sonderborg – Horuphav: Hiked on 23rd September 2012. Easy path through open fields and forest, with views over Flensburg fjord. You can walk closer to water, but if you follow the marked path this does not happen much. Buses running from Sonderborg to Fynshav or Kegnaes and back stop close to the start of the Gendarmstien in Horuphav, making it a pleasant Sunday trek on a nice day without having to backtrack.
  • Sonderborg – Vemmingbund: Biked on 23rd July 2012. Beautiful views along the water’s edge. If you are not much into hills, the path along the water is easily manageable (from someone who abhors cycling up hills with a passion) and you can walk up the hills if you prefer. However, if hills are your thing you can knock yourself out on the various side paths. Perfect on a warm summer day as the sea breeze keeps you cool
  • Looping Broager Land peninsula: A mountain bike ride with lots of different vistas and road conditions, through forests, over beaches and fields.

If you are interested in following the trail yourself, the tourist centres in the area have developed a leaflet with maps of the path divided into 10 manageable chunks. The leaflet is only in Danish or German, but a map is a map so you should be able to find your way around. The path is also well marked on the ground with small wooden poles with a blue border guard on them.

Gendarme path sonderborg

Sonderborg2017: My experience

Ever since we moved to Sonderborg in November last year, the city breathed Sonderborg 2017 and the hope of getting the European Capital of Culture title. Yesterday was decision day and, unfortunately, the decision did not go Sonderborg’s way. It was a disappointing result after all the hard work put into this bid by so many people.

In the last few weeks I had become actively involved in this bid. I was asked if I would be interested in being part of the team presenting to the jury and answering questions from them yesterday, giving the perspective of a newcomer. I felt honoured and said yes.

Regardless of the result, I do not regret the time I spent preparing my speech, in rehearsals, and researching all that I could to be prepared. I could see the enthusiasm and belief of the people involved, and it couldn’t fail to be infectious to all around.

I first met some of the jury on Thursday during their lunch with young representatives of the city. I thought they got the point then of what we have been doing here, and left satisfied. On Friday, following our presentation, we got some tough questions, but nothing we couldn’t tackle I thought. All that was left was the final decision, and it went to Aarhus.

Undoubtedly Aarhus can deliver a European Capital of Culture, but will this have as big an impact on many people as it would have in Sonderborg? I think not. I look forward to see what comes out of this for our region. The ball has started to roll, and it cannot be stopped!

We support Sonderborg2017

Earlier this week we wrote about our support for the Sonderborg 2017 bid. However, we are far from alone! These are some other people saying ‘Jeg støtter Sonderborg 2017’ – I support Sonderborg 2017

in Sonderborg:

at Danfoss Universe:

in Germany:

on the BMX ramps:

on the motocross track:

Culture Capital Jury Visiting Sønderborg

The jury deciding who will be Denmark’s European Capital of Culture 2017 is making the decision tomorrow, Friday at around 4pm.

Before that 4 members of the jury visited the two contestants; Aarhus and Sønderborg. Yesterday it was Aarhus, today it was Sønderborg.

The jury had spent the night at Dyvig Badehotel and they started their tour by visiting Danfoss, the biggest employer of the area, where they met with Jørgen Mads Clausen, and some of the local Danish politicians as well as Torsten Albig the Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein. Read more about that in Der Nordschleswiger (in German).

After that they took the bus with museums director Peter Dragsbo who told them about the area’s history, architecture and culture.

The bus took them to the art centre Augustiana where they met with 40 German and Danish artists and discussed the local art scene.

Lunch was had on the good ship of Shalimar where they talked to local people, including Ann, so I’m sure they were well entertained 🙂

And when they returned to port the BMX guys from Flensburg were practicing their jumps for Sonderborg Culture Night tomorrow:

They moved on to the former shelter now known as X-Bunker to hear about the projects that take place there. By now they had to be coffee thirsty so at Rønhave Plads they were offered a real Sønderjysk Kaffebord with too many cakes to try.

From here they moved on to Dybbøl Banke and on to Alsion where they met and heard the symphony orchestra practice.

And that was it for the visit for the jury to Sonderborg. Tomorrow it’s on to the big finale in the Ministry of Culture in Copenhagen where both cities will have a last attempt at swaying the jury to honour their home town with the title of European Capital of Culture.

Sonderborg is sending a small team to Copenhagen to present and amongst the mayor, artistic director and cultural director is Ann, to tell her story of how she moved to Sonderborg! How cool is that?


I went to see this small delegation off at Sonderborg Airport where the new local airline DAT had been kind enough to sponsor the flights for all the delegation.

Cross your fingers for them doing well and go see the declaration of the winner Friday at 4pm at Town Hall Square.

Picture of boat by Chistian Have. The first two pictures in this post are used without permission from the photographers – I’m in the process of asking the rights holders.

Sonderborg Culture Night Programme 2012

This is one of the biggest events in Sonderborg and will draw loads of people out into the streets. It is the 15th time there is a Sports and Culture Night in Sonderborg. It has gotten progressively bigger over the years and this year more than 100 sports clubs and other associations are taking part in one way or another.

The activities during the night take place across the centre of Sonderborg, where the different organisations have been allocated a spot and time slot for their presentation. A few organisations are doing the events in their own facilities so you have to go to their building (club house, church etc.).

Highlights are:

  • Announcement of European Capital of Culture 2017 at 4pm at Town Hall Square
  • Parade from three places starting at 5pm ending at Town Hall Square at 5.30pm
  • Fireworks over the water at 10.35pm
  • Sending 1700 runners off at 10.55pm

Here are most of the locations:

The full Danish programme is found as PDF here. The text, times and locations mentioned below are our translations/interpretations from the Danish programme.


17.00-17.25 Gymnastics Show by Midtals Idrætsforening
17.25-17.50 Gymnastics Show by Idræts SFO Sønderskov Skolen
17.50-18.00 Aerobic Show by Sønderborg Aerobic Klub
18.00-18.20 Jumping Gymnastics by Vidar Gymnastik og Kampsport
18.20-18.35 Rhönrad (Rolling wheel) by TS Sønderborg
18.35-18.55 Karate show by Ashihara Karate
18.55-19.05 Winner is announced from the ”ZeroCup” boat race
19.05-19.25 Get in Line Linedance
19.25-19.35 Aerobic Show by Sønderborg Aerobic Klub
19.35-20.05 Gymnastics Show by DGI Sønderborg Egnen
20.05-20.25 Taekwondo Show by Taekwondo Chung Un
20.25-20.35 Aerobic Show by Sønderborg Aerobic Klub
20.35-20.50 Rhönrad (Rolling wheel) by TS Sønderborg
20.50-21.10 Line Dance Show by Sønderborg Line Dancers
21.10-21.30 Contradance Show by Sønderborg Contradance
21.30-22.00 Music and Song by Randi & Bjarne
22.00-22.20 Dance School Youths Show – Randis danseskole
ca. 22.25 The runners assemble on Søndertorv
After the race start: Tattoo by Sønderborg Garden

Fireworks over the Sound

22.35 big fireworks show over the water. Launched from Sundgade on the Dybbøl side so you will probably get the best view from the castle.

Sønderborg Castle – The Knight Ballroom

17.00-17.30 Classic music by skilled students at MGK
17.30-18.15 Matrix Quartet playing performing Schubert, Shostakovitch and Dvorak
18.15-18.45 The Choir of North Als (Nordalskoret)
18.45-19.30 South Danish girls and boys choir (Sønderjysk pige– og drengekor)
19.30-20.00 Choir by Ældresagen
20.00-20.15 Violin and cello duo performing Bach and R. Gliere
20.15-21.00 Quartet performing Haydn, Carl Nielsen, Edvard Grieg and more
21.00-22.00 Swinging jazz by Opus 2.

Town Hall Square/Rådhustorvet

14.30-15.00 Michael Vogensen playing
15.00-16.00 Music School pupils
16.00-17.00 Direct connection to the mayor for results from the jury verdict and Jeppe Rapp entertaining
17.15-17.30 Nordals Choir
17.00-17.30 Parade with Gråsten Garden and Sønderborg Garden
17.30-18.00 Fashion Show part 1
18.00-19.30 Ray Darwin – Jamaican reggea music
19.30-19.45 Award ceremony from integration council
19.45-20.30 Fashion Show part 2
21.00-22.15 Rock concert with Hardinger, Thorup and B-Joe
22.45-00.00 Pink Floyd Lovers

Rønhave Plads

17.00-?? Jazz Festival/Concerts

Steps in front of castle

Sønderborg Yacht Club
17.00-22.00: Demonstrating boats

Sebbe Als
17.00-22.00: The oldest viking ship replica sailing in Denmark is based in Augustenborg. They would love to have more members to join on their sailing trips.

Swimming Club Sønderborg
19.00-20.30: Playing water polo in the harbour.

15.00-18.00: Some sort of sail boat competition between the marina and harbour of Sonderborg.

Other places in town

“Ice Rink”
15.00—20.30 Street handball competition

Night Race
22.35-23.30 6km run with 1700 participants. Starting in front of castle.

Sct. Marie Church
21.00—22.30 Come-and-go concert with song, guitar and sax

Art School/Sønderjyllands Kunstskole
16.00—21.00 Exhibit of an artist

German library/Deutsches Museum Nordschleswig
19.00—22.00 Open for visits. Tour of the permanent collection at 20.00

Tilting at the ring museum/Ringridermuseet
17.00-22.00 Open House

VUC Sønderjylland
17.00-21.00 Open House

Free Masons/Den Danske Frimurerorden
17.00-21.00 Open House

The Little Gallery/Det lille Galleri
17.00-22.00 Enjoy paintings and live jazz

Odd Fellow Logen
17.00-21.00 Open House

Radiomuseum/Sønderjyllands Radiomuseum

Lutheran missionary/Bethania
17.00-21.00 Music and evning song

And more…

You can also go visit the stalls of all these organisations:

Bridgeklubben ”Enigheden”
Dybbøl Efterskole
VUC Sønderjylland
Sønderborg Bibliotek
Sønderborg Skyttekreds
Metal Sønderborg
Catena Logen
Sdbg. Hjerneskadeforening
Dansk Handicap Forbund
Brand og Redning Sønderborg & Pionertjenesten
Sundhedscentrets Rehabiliteringsteam
Dansk Røde Kors
Dansk Vandrelaug
Hjernesagen Aabenraa-Sønderborg
Business College Syd
Sønderborg Modelflyveklub
Sønderborg Sportsdykker Klub
Sønderborg Linedancere
Børns Voksenvenner
Eckersberg Børneuniversitet
Sønderborg Bloddonorkorps
Venstre i Sønderborg kommune
Venstres Ungdom
Kirkens Korshær
Sdbg. Sports og Helsecenter
Sdbg Teakwondoklub
Amnestys Lokalforening for Sønderborg og Sundeved
Konservative vælgerforening
Mølleparkens Plecenter
Taekwondo Klubben ”Chung Un”
Kræftens Bekæmpelse
Dansk Folkeparti
Kegnæs Friskole
Sønderborg International School
Ligeværd Sønderborg
Alsalsa Dans
Alssund Golfklub
Apoaf: Apopleksi/Afasiramte
De Tyske Foreninger
FOA Sønderborg
Folk og Forsvar
Gigtforeningen Sønderborg
Socialistisk Folkeparti
Ung til Ung i Sønderborg Kommune
Tangoforeningen La Cunita
Colclear Implant Forening
FDF Sønderborg

A Countryside Metropolis Song

The local musician and multiartist Richardt Nielsen of Rich-Art has written a song about what it means to be part of a countryside metropolis.

The lyrics are in both Danish, English and German and celebrates the diversity and joy of bringing people together. The video above is shot walking down the street with young people from Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Latvia.

Kan du sige ja til at være dig selv
Også når du kommer fra et lille sted
Kan du mærke dit hjerte banker nu
Det er så nice for vi lever nu

A countryside metropolis
Metropolis and countryside

Hej ved du godt din stemme lyder fedt
Europas tag det løfter sig lidt
We all believe in the human kind
With understanding we will change our mind
Wir werden alle wunder sein
And the capital of culture 2017

© Richardt Nielsen 2012

Richardt has done a lot of interesting projects in and around Sonderborg (as well as in rest of Europe) usually working with young people and the influence of music and singing.

We support Sonderborg2017

This Friday (24th) is the big day when the decision on whether Sonderborg or Aarhus will be 2017 European Capital of Culture is taken. All the work of the last 3 years to bring this title to Sonderborg comes down to these days: the jury visit to Sonderborg on the 23rd of August and a presentation and question round on the 24th in Copenhagen.

The S2017 team has been working very hard to make what was at first a very far-fetched dream into reality. It has become more tangible through the active contribution of the citizens in the community. Getting the title and the large scale event that it is will further reconnect the community and make people proud to be a part of it: look at what the Olympics has done for the UK!

Sonderborg acutely needs this title to put itself on the European map. However, even more importantly, Sonderborg needs this title to ensure its future. At the moment 8 out of 10 young people who leave the area do not return and are not replaced as the dichotomy between city and countryside is seen an unbridgeable. But Sonderborg has the facilities, energy and drive to show the third alternative: a countryside metropolis with the benefits of both worlds. To achieve this goal the time to act is now; in 10 to 15 years it will be too late!

Show your support

Actively show your support by liking the S2017 facebook page and encourage your friends to do the same. To make it easier, we have added a ‘like’ link to the S2017 facebook page here, so no excuses:

If you feel that you need to inform yourself further about this process you can go to the S2017 website or visit the S2017 shop on Perlegade in Sonderborg.

You can also participate in the events organised in the week leading up to the decision. During this week, events will be going on every evening in front of the town hall. This will all lead up to a live transmission of the press conference stating the jury’s decision on Friday at 4pm, as part of the Culture Night Celebrations.

And of course, some luck never hurt anyone, so don’t forget to keep your fingers crossed!

Visit to Dybbol Historic Centre

Dybbol Historic Centre tells the story of the 1864 war. During this war the Danish border was pushed northwards as the land around Dybbol was won by the Prussians. It was only during a referendum in 1920 as part of the reparations of WWI that the land came back under Danish rule. This war had a significant effect on the area that is still felt to this day.

1864 soldier

The 1864 story is told in a number of ways. First of all you get to watch a video about the war. I was surprised that the first part of the video focussed on the war movements and where the trenches where, before we got to why the war was being fought. I guess that most of the visitors are Danes and Germans from the area who already have very solid knowledge of this war, which is why this explanation is not critical. On the plus side, getting the commentary in English on my headphones was not a problem at all.


Following the video you are directed to a diorama of the Danish trenches. I liked that the background on the 4 people in the diorama were given a background, explaining how they got to be there. In this background you also got information that one of the guys was 35 and was there as a ‘paid replacement’ for someone’s son. This information made it that much better in providing the emotion of the war.


However, you don’t only get to hear and see what the war was like, you can also experience the story in the outside area. With events organised throughout the day, such as shooting of guns and a telling of the story of a soldier. You can also make pancakes on an open fire and make bullets, as was done during the winter special opening.

A visit to this site is a pleasant way of spending a morning. From the 1st of April to the end of October it is open daily from 10-17. During winter there are special winter events on specific weekends.