Monthly Archives: October 2013

Weekend in Hamburg

Living in Sonderborg is great. However, every so often, I feel the need to escape to a bigger city, to get that “big city life” hit that I crave. Luckily for us, we can easily do this. Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, is a mere 2 hr drive away. Surprisingly, we hadn’t made the trip into town, although we have regularly travelled through Hamburg’s airport and train station. So when we had an unexpected free weekend, we could think of no better way of using it than to finally visit Hamburg.

Getting there

Getting to Hamburg from Sonderborg is easy. We chose to drive there. Unfortunately, due to road works on the Elbe bridge (and critical mass in Hamburg), what should have been an easy 2 hr ride turned into a 3.5 hr drive. Hopefully, with the works on the bridge scheduled to be finished by mid-November, there will be less traffic build up on the motorway.

Alternatively, you could opt for public transport. Trains go there directly from Copenhagen to Hamburg. We typically opt to take a bus to Flensburg and grab the train there, rather than taking the train from Sonderborg, due to the unfortunate train timings connecting the Sonderborg-Copenhagen and Copenhagen-Hamburg trains. If you opt for public transport and you are in a group, don’t forget the Schleswig-Holstein train ticket, giving you discounts for groups up to 5. This is especially valuable if you are going for a day trip, as the ticket can be used in both directions, making travel very cheap.

What to do

Having asked people for suggestions of what to do in Hamburg, the answer invariably came back as ‘shopping’ and ‘harbour tour’. However, that doesn’t fill in a weekend (though it can fill in a day). This is what we did and what we would recommend:

  • Museum of Hamburg: We typically enjoy visiting one museum in every town we visit. Our choice fell on this museum, as we always tend to find the ‘city museums’ a special gem that tend to be overlooked. This museums didn’t disappoint. We spent a happy 3 hrs in the museums. We found the audio guide particularly helpful, as it meant that we didn’t have to read, but could focus on looking. Oh – and don’t miss the train display, which is put into action most hours on the hour. Cost: 8 €.
  • Harbour tour: There are plenty of harbour tours on offer, mostly leaving from Landungsbrucken. Unfortunately, most do not appear to be in English, though we did discover that most have an English version at 12:00. Instead, we bought a day Hamburg transport ticket (10.40€ for groups up to 5) and took public transport ferry line 62 out around the harbour and back. We will be back, and we will take a tour next time, but this was a good alternative.
  • Elbe Tunnel: This tunnel, close to Landungsbrucken, was built in 1911. Amazingly, it is still in use, by both pedestrains and cars! Pedestrains can opt to take the stairs or the lift up and down, but the cars have only one option: lifts! They are put on a lift, around 3 at a time, at the top, transported down, they then drive across, and are put on a lift back up at the other end. At the moment, the tunnel is being renovated, so only one side is open. Since there is only space for one car to pass, the problem has been solved by cars being able to go in one direction in the morning and the opposite in the evening. At less than 500 m, the tunnel is well worth a visit, walk across, and a pop up on the other side to see Hamburg from the opposite bank of the river Elbe.
  • Altona Fischmarkt: Every Sunday, early in the morning, a market is set up at the Altona Fish auction hall. Well worth a visit for the atmosphere, or to grab a bargain. The brunch inside the auction hall, overlooking the hall floor, was also mentioned to us as something to check out. Unfortunately we were too full from the previous day’s dinner, so opted for food from the stalls outside.

Of course, there are plenty of other things to do. Walking around is a pleasure: Check out the lakes in the centre, and the garden Planten un Blomen, to the west of the city centre, as well as the historic sites like the Rathaus. And as most Danes will remind you: don’t forget shopping!

Where to stay

There are plenty of hotels in Hamburg. Unfortunately, more than 65% (according to were fully booked when we wanted to go, having decided on the Tuesday for the coming weekend. This meant that we had only a limited selection to choose from. So if price is an issue, do plan ahead. On the basis of recommendations by friends, we selected a hotel close to the lake. This meant that we could walk most anywhere in the centre, and we did do so.

Ambitious Waterfront Hotel in Sønderborg

The plans for the harbour front in Sønderborg does not lack ambition. One of the pieces of the “Gehry’s Masterplan” that has gotten a bit more concrete lately is the hotel and waterpark.


If built the hotel will be 85 meters tall with 18 floors. That means that from the top floor you will be able to see all the way to Aabenraa and Flensburg! Furthermore the current plan is that the top floor should be open to the public (crossing our fingers for this to happen). To get an idea of what the view will be like Zoom Film made this visualisation:

The hotel will have 210 rooms, conference facilities and – look at this – a water park both with space for fun and games as well as wellness and saunas for the well-off tourists.

Waterpark in Sønderborg

The building is design by Henning Larsen, one of Denmark’s architectural icons within the last couple of decades (or his company, Mr. Larsen passed away June 22nd this year). Henning Larsen Architects have previously made The Opera House and ITU in Copenhagen and The Wave in Vejle.

Read more about the project from:

Henning Larsen Architects
Press release from 2010
August newsletter

Football Golf – Yes that’s a thing

You probably haven’t heard of Footballgolf – but that is an actual sport and we have a 18-hole course right here on Als!

When my 10 year old, football-crazy nephew came to visit us this summer I challenged him for a game of Footballgolf.

The game was invented in Sweden not too many years ago and is more or less played like golf but instead of a small ball and an iron you just have a football – and a bigger hole. The international name is “Footballgolf” although in Ireland they have named it Footee. Here’s a video that explains the game (in Danish):

Als Fodbold Golf was started in 2012. It consists of 18 very different courses that each have a special “feature”, some of them are quite innovative and challenging. For instance hole number 13 has these gates where if you hit through the top triangle you get 2 kicks deducted.

Next to the course there is a covered area where you can eat your lunch or picnic. We spent about an hour and a half doing the course and we were very well entertained and we had hole-in-ones and giant blunders to tell about when we got home.

The price is 100 DKK for adults and 50 DKK for kids under 16 – kids under 5 play for free.

To play at the field you get the ball and score cards from Egen Put&Take lake at the address below.

Als Fodbold Golf
Nordborgvej 120
6430 Nordborg

Election is coming and you should vote

Local and regional council elections are coming up on Tuesday 19th of November and you should vote – yes you!

You get to vote on two things:

  • The local council (Kommunalbestyrelsen) that makes decisions about things like schools, roads, planning, culture.
  • The regional council (Regionsrådet) that makes decisions about higher education and health care.

Who can vote?

You are able to vote in local and regional elections if you are over 18, reside permanently in Denmark and if one of these apply to you. You:

  • Are a Danish citizen with an address in Denmark
  • Are a non-citizen who has lived in Denmark for the three years leading up to the election
  • Are a citizen of a EU country, Iceland or Norway, living in Denmark

So for instance if you have studied here for more than three years or are an EU national who just moved here to work – then you can vote in this election.

How can I vote?

You might be surprised to know that you can already go vote today. From the 20th August to the 16th November you can “vote by letter“. That means you can go to the Borgerservice office, show passport and the yellow sygesikring and give your vote. If you are out of the country you can also go to a Danish embassy or consulate to vote in this way.
Most people vote on the day of the election – Tuesday 19th of November. Depending on where you live you have to go to a specific location to vote. Here is a map of the voting places in Sonderborg Kommune. You can vote from 9am to 8pm on the day so you should be able to make it before or after work.
Screen shot 2013-09-08 at 8.05.25 PM
Bring your voting card (valgkort) that arrives in the mail and some ID (sygesikring, passport or EU driving license). On your voting card it will say which table you should go to collect your ballot.
Once you getting your ballots (one for city and one for region council) you step into an enclosed space with a small table and a pencil. You have to go in here on your own to ensure that you cast your vote in private. The voting ballot will be long with approximately 100 names on it. You need to put one (1) X next to either a party or a person. If you make a mistake you can get a new ballot.
Once your ballots are filled out you put them in the voting box and you are done.
Who can I vote for?

In Denmark you can vote for either a person or a party. Here is a page where you can see the results of last election in 2009.

The final list of candidates and parties is announced on October 22nd. In Sønderborg the parties you can vote for are:

Why should I vote?

Sønderborg City Council manages a yearly budget of 4.7 billion DKK regarding the kommune and in the election your vote is they way you can influence how this money should be used.