Monthly Archives: March 2015

Living with a Newborn in Sonderborg

A few days after giving birth I published a blog post about being pregnant in the Sonderborg area. But while being pregnant and giving birth is one experience, living with a newborn is a whole other experience!

Getting Home

We left the hospital 3 days after giving birth. Now, this is not normal as the basic expectation is that you stay in hospital for 24 hrs after birth, unless you require extra care (e.g. having had a C-section such as in my case). I feel a bit sad that not everyone gets the opportunity I got to stay in hospital for a couple of days and be supported in becoming a parent.

The care I got in hospital was excellent and I have not found that kind of support in the community as what I got from the nurses in terms of taking care of a baby but, especially, breastfeeding. I must admit that based on this decision I would not be too surprised if parents who would otherwise breastfeed give up when with a bit of support they could have successfully breastfed (if they wanted to, of course).

Leaving hospital was relatively painless. Once it was decided that I could leave (could get out of bed, had no fever etc) I was allowed to leave at my own pace. I am sure if I wanted to stay there too long I would have been moved on, but I was also looking forward to getting home and starting a new chapter.

Care in the community

Care in the community is, same as prenatal care, a two-pronged affair: support is mainly offered through your own sundhedsplejerske (health visitor). Your personal doctor is, however, also involved for medical checkups and vaccinations.

At first I was a bit confused as to what the sundhedsplejerske is. So let me set this straight: the sundhedsplejerske is not a nurse, or a doctor, or even any person who applies for the job. A sundhedsplejerske is a health care professional who has studied to become one (yes! there is a specific course for this, as facebook now constantly reminds me following me searching for more information!).

The sundhedsplejerske is assigned to you within days of giving birth and she contacts you herself in order to make arrangements for the first meeting, typically within the first week at your own home. During this meeting she will give you information leaflets on taking care of the baby, where to find further information if needed etc. She will also measure the baby and sees if you have any questions.

In my case the first sundhedsplejerske assigned was Danish-speaking who didn’t speak any English at all. Of course, good communication is very important as you often can get quite a lot of support from them. Luckily on asking to have someone else assigned who could speak some English this was quickly allowed and within 2 hrs of calling someone new was assigned. I have now also heard that you can also change your sundhedsplejerske if you do not click with the person assigned, so do make sure you feel comfortable with yours or else ask for a change. Nevertheless, I liked both the ones assigned to me (even if I couldn’t communicate perfectly with one of them).

What to do with a newborn?

So far I have been in work since the first day I moved to Sonderborg. So finding myself with whole days to fill did concern me! However, so far I have easily managed to fill my days with getting to grips with having a newborn, going to the shops for food, or going for walks along the water or to the forest (if you see me in town do say hi :D).

If you are interested, however, there are a number of other activities you can take part in that are not as ‘lonely’. First of all there are the ‘mother groups’ (mødregruppe) organised by the sundhedsplejerske, where they put you in a group with other mothers with whom you can go for walks, drop in for coffee, or go for lunch in town or anything else you want. So far, however, I have not been assigned a group as I have been told they are trying to organise an English-speaking group.

There are also other activities. The first I came across was babysalmesang (baby psalm singing). These meetings are, as the name might imply, organised by most of the churches in town. Now, I am not Danish Protestant (even though the churches organising these meetings are) but so far this doesn’t seem to be a problem. The group I am joining will start in April, so I cannot tell you much about what will happen, except that we will sing…psalms I guess? Do sign up early if interested, as there seems to be quite a demand and the groups get full relatively quickly.

Babysalmesang is probably OK for babies from newborn. For a bit older children there are also baby swimming classes. These are offered by different groups, including the Sonderborg swimming club (which recommends that the baby is 5-6 months old at the start). The classes are mainly to start getting the children used to the water. The music school also offers rhythym classes for babies. A new group will start in April.

Well, that is what I have found out about. Is there anything else baby-related I have missed?

Get a Traditional Thai Massage

Having a baby is tough on your body, not least your shoulders and back once you’re rocking and hauling him around. I, therefore, finally decided to make use of Michael’s parents birthday gift to me: money for a massage.

There are a number of places where you can get a massage in Sonderborg, with most of them seeming to be at a physiotherapist. However, I decided to go for something different: a traditional Thai massage. This is offered by a Thai lady called Nisa Rodphet. I called her on a Saturday and made an appointment for 1.5 hrs later.

The clinic is located on Ringgade. It is easy to find the building, but maybe less so the actual door as the first sign directs you to the basement but actually it is round the corner. Once you are walking out, however, it is easy to spot the place.

First impressions are that the clinic is actually part of the living space in her apartment that has been turned into a massage area. It is relatively well cut off from the rest of the living space so it doesn’t feel intrusive. However, it is less shielded from the road where, considering you are getting undressed, is a bit surprising. Also, if the next client arrives early there is less privacy than I expected.

Nevertheless the massage itself was really good (at least for my first Thai massage!). Nisa worked mainly on my shoulders, back, arms and legs, with a bit on my head/face as well. These areas are quite a bit looser now, which was the aim. Don’t expect the massage to be very relaxing though, as expected the massage is quite thorough, but it does feel good.

So if privacy is not your biggest concern (or having a sterile-clean location) and you fancy a Thai massage do try this place out. It cost 300 DKK for a massage, which is a good price for a massage in this area. You can drop in, but if you can it would be best if you call ahead to make sure she does not have other clients.

Planning a bike trip to Ærø

Spring is here and soon it will be more comfortable to enjoy the outdoors more again.

Ærø is a tiny island, around a 3rd of the size of Als, which is part of the South Funen archipelago of islands. It is well connected to Als via a ferry leaving from Fynshav 2-3 times a day. Also, once you get there, due to its small size, it is easily manageable by bike or even on foot (especially with the help of the free bus service). But how would you plan your trip?

Skjoldnæs Fyr, Ærø

Last year we went there for a two day stay. These are two route suggestions based on our trip depending on the time you have. For other routes read the last section.

One day on Ærø (cycle 16km or 36km)

Taking the early ferry at 7:45 ferry from Fynshav (every day except Sundays and public holidays), arriving in Søby, in the north of Ærø at 8:55, means that you can get a decent amount done in one day.

The route is 16km from Søby to Ærøskøbing and if you loop back on the bike it is 36km. If 16km is enough for one day you can take the bus back to Søby.

If you are doing the trip with turist-erria (as we did), grab the picnic lunch from Cafe Arthur just next to the ferry and get on your way.

From Søby cycle down cycle route 90 to Ærøskøbing along the east coast, getting great vistas over the Danish Baltic seas and the Ærø countryside. This is around 16 km and should take 1-2 hours at a leisurely but reasonable speed.

Once in Ærøskøbing park your bike and have a walk around town, to enjoy the town landscape kept intact since the middle ages. Grab lunch here in the centre of town – we had a really good lunch at På Torvet right in the centre of town. If you are not yet hungry (or you’ve had the picnic lunch) but want something sweet, ice-cream from På Torvet or Cafe Aroma by the harbour will probably hit the spot.

After a quiet lunch/snack and a walk around the town, get back on your bike and cycle the 10-15 km to Marstal along cycle route 92. This route is much flatter than route 90 and although around half of it is on gravel road, most of that is really nice to cycle on. Once in Marstal, if you have time, drop in at the Marstal Maritime Museum close to the harbour or, alternatively into Marstal church, which has votive ship models attached to the ceiling.

By now it is probably time to start thinking of getting back to the ferry. The best option to get the most out of your time is to take the bus at 16:08 from the Marstal harbour, arriving in Søby at 17:00, just in time for the ferry at 17:10. If you are using bikes do be aware that the bus will only take 2 bikes on each trip. You are now back in Søby, ready for a restful trip back to Fynshav after a very busy day.

Two days on Ærø

Two days on Ærø will allow you to experience the island at the more relaxed pace the island is probably meant to be experienced. It will also allow you to walk rather than cycle if that is the way you want to unwind.

If on bikes, start the trip as you would a one day trip, cycling from Søby to Ærøskøbing, stopping at pretty locations along the way for a rest, a picnic, or a quick look around the various shops and stalls set up along the way. Once in Ærøskøbing, rather than quickly rushing off to Marstal, we would recommend spending the night in Ærøskøbing, which is the prettier of the two. By now you are probably in need of a well-deserved break, so have a drink and a leisurely lunch, before checking in to your accommodation. We stayed at the holiday accommodation offered by På Torvet in the centre of Ærøskøbing.

Cozy cafe "På Torvet"

Once you’ve had a rest go on an amble around town to get your orientation and learn more about the town. We used the plan as set out in the book Byens Rundt, which took us round most of the streets with information on what we were seeing. If reading all the book and seeing all the sights this will take around 2 -3 hrs, especially if you get distracted by all the shops selling pretty items in town. If it is good weather you can also go for a swim in the beach off Vestre Strandvej. It was May when we went, but we still braved the ‘fresh’ experience!

For dinner you have a number of options. One of the options is to have dinner in one of the restaurants in town. Alternatively, you can do what we did on the recommendation of Gunnar, the owner of På Torvet accommodation, and grab a bottle of wine and a picnic and go see the sunset on the beach next to the beach houses before collapsing into bed for the night.

The next morning buy some rundstykke (Danish rolls) and pastries from the baker in town. Continue as in the plan for the afternoon of a one day trip, with a cycle to Marstal, which should take around 1 hour. During the trip you can make a short detour at one point to see a stone age Jættestuen (burial mound), which we would recommend just for the experience.

Once in Marstal you have the time to properly check out the museum, before having lunch. We had lunch in town, but for our next trip we have our eye on Fru Berg, a fish restuarant on the harbour.

After lunch, grab a bus back up to Søby harbour, even though it is still a while till the ferry is meant to leave. From Søby cycle up to Skjøldnæs lighthouse, which is around a 5 km trip. This is the first thing you see on the ferry when approaching Ærø from Als, so is a fitting way to finish your trip. Once there you can go up to the top to see the views all around. The lighthouse is in a golf club and, if lucky, you may be able to buy an ice-cream or coffee from the club house.

Cycle back to Søby where you can grab a hotdog or ice-cream at Cafe Arthur if you haven’t managed to buy one at the lighthouse and enjoy the last few minutes of relaxation before the ferry arrives.

Our trip to Ærø was sponsored by Ærø turist (ferry ticket), turist-erria (picnic pack and books on Ærø) and På Torvet (accommodation and lunch).

Two Years of Udo’s Fisk

Living on an island you would expect fish to be abundantly available. However, besides the supermarkets, which sell pre-packaged pieces of fish, fishmongers do not seem to be too abundant here. There is Cafe Brag, at times there is fish being sold from a boat (though not for a long time now) and, for the last 2 years(!) Udo’s Fisk.

Udo Fisk’s is owned by Udo Napierksi, a German who moved to Sonderborg a while back. Udo himself is in the shop every time it is open, offering advice on what to buy, how to prepare it and how to cook what you buy. We have been shopping there for the last 2 years and cannot believe we haven’t written about it. The shop always looks super clean and the selection of fish very decent.

This weekend marks 2 years since Udo’s fisk has been open. For this reason on Friday and Saturday Udo is offering ‘something for the palate’ to customers of the shop. So if you haven’t been there before do drop by. If you cannot make it then you can go any week on Wednesday-Friday 12-17:30 or Saturday 9:30-12:30. Do make sure to have some time to shop as the shop is often busy!

Oh. And you might wonder, what fish does he have? There is often a variety, but typically salmon (fresh/smoked) cod, herring, mackerel and Udo’s fiskefrikadeller (minced fish balls) are always available. However, every week there is also other fish, including once ‘dorado’, a very common Maltese fish that I miss! If you want to be notified every week of what is available you can also send a text to +45 5183 5323 to sign up to the sms-service where every week you receive a list of what is available. You can also order fish using this same number.

Here’s to many more years of Udo’s fisk!

Udo's Fisk selection

Poshing up Take-Away: Det Franske Hus

Having had a baby recently time is often at a premium and preparing food low on the agenda. Unless you have friends who bring food over (thanks!) or food stocked in the freezer this may quickly end up in a take-away bonanza. However, quickly you will probably get tired of eating pizza, sushi and/or Chinese.

One place where you can get something that bit different is Det Franske Hus. As the name implies, the place in Broager is run by a Frenchman, Thierry Manane and the aim is to provide good food for its customers. The regular menu on offer is not wide but it changes regularly: a weekly menu (Monday-Friday), a weekly fish menu (Tuesday-Saturday) and a monthly menu are offered. It is mainly for pick-up from Broager, but we were also told that for a charge of 150 DKK they will deliver to Sonderborg.

We opted for the weekly menu on take away last week: warm salmon mousse with fish cream and shrimps as starter, stuffed pork filet with baked leeks and rosti potatoes as main, and apple tart with apricots for dessert. You do not need to order all 3 courses and in fact we ordered 2 starters, 3 mains and 2 desserts between 3 people and got more than full.


The food came packed in aluminium foil dishes in a polystyrene box. All dishes had clearly marked information on how to warm them up (temperature and duration). It seems that some thought does go into this as the same temperature was required for all dishes, making warming up easy. Warming up times was between 15 and 20 minutes, after which the food was warm through very nicely. This is how the weekly take away offer is served. The other items from Det Franske Hus is offered as catering and is delivered warm and ready to eat with the appropriate china to serve it from.


We enjoyed all the food. I was particularly surprised by the starter, as it was not something I would have ever picked. The cabbage, in particular, was really nicely spiced probably with cumin, which is not something I would have thought of. The main was a decent piece of pork, though a bit salty, especially for my non-Danish mother who was visiting! The dessert was again really good.


You can easily order the food by calling them before 10 am on the day and you can agree a time to pick up (or organise delivery). Payment can be in cash or by bank transfer after you collect the food (they have no card terminal).

We were really satisfied with what we got. Furthermore, it is not only for daily food that the place is set up. It is, even more so I would say, set up to deliver food for special occasions. And in fact, that was part of the reason we tried it out: as a trial run for a special meal we have coming up. The trial run went smoothly so we will definitely be ordering more food from there!