Tag Archives: car

Parking in Sonderborg

Back in Malta parking was always an issue. Malta has the fifth-highest number of vehicles per capita in the world as of 2009, with 607 motor vehicles per 1,000 people. Combine this with a top-ten highest population density in the world and, as you may imagine, parking is a bit of a nightmare. No wonder we spend a good chunk of our driving lessons learning how to parallel park our car.

When we bought our car last October, one of my main concerns, as a dutiful Maltese national, was “where do we park the car?”. Luckily for us, there is parking right behind our apartment block for residents and, so far, we have not had any problem finding a space. However, in the centre, things are not always that easy. However Sonderborg has a handy map of parking spaces around the city centre, indicating whether a spot is for long-term parking (langtidsparkering) or short-term parking (korttidsparkering).


To be honest though, so far we have not had any problems finding parking. However, do be careful as some parking areas are private with diligent parking attendants, so make sure you stay within the designated time limit if one applies.

Car skid training

Practice your skidding at Sønderborg Køreteknisk Anlæg

I learnt to drive on the nice, warm, dry island of Malta. Where the sun shines 300 days a year, and the water never freezes. Driving lessons do not focus on how to avoid skidding on ice. However, I am now in lovely Denmark, where it rains on around 50% of the days and the average temperature in February is 0 degrees Celsius. Needless to say, such skills have gained significant importance! So I took a ‘glatbanekursus’, or skid training course on a wet track to get some practice and gains some confidence.

Car skid training by Iben Jacob-Nielsen

Such courses in Denmark are art of every new driver’s course prior to passing the driving test. However, you can also repeat the course once you have a driving licence, to refresh your memory, as well as to challenge your abilities a bit more. In Sonderborg, such courses are offered at Sønderborg Køreteknisk Anlæg. Having seen the course offered through IDA, the engineering society, I decided to have a go.

The 4 hour course consisted of, first, a brief run through what we would be doing. Then we quickly jumped into our cars to start the actual driving: braking, slaloming, swerving and other manoeuvres. For the first half we drove on dry tarmac, getting comfortable with our own cars, before we got to the water-soaked part of the track.

If you have never done such training I would definitely recommend it before your first winter. It will probably not stop you from skidding, but will give you the peace of mind that you have been there before and managed to get out of it OK. The instructor, Kaj, was also very friendly and OK with having Michael along in my car for translation. And if you have already done it? I am sure you can get something out of learning how far you can push yourself and your car!

The course is offered in Danish so you either need to be proficient in that or have someone Danish drive with you.

Photo by Iben Jacob-Nielsen from Din Køreskole.

King of the Road

In London the King of the Road is probably the pedestrian who crosses the road at random, particularly in the centre. In Malta it is the motor vehicles who hurtle down the roads like nobody’s business. In Denmark? My vote goes to the bicycle!

Tweed Run 011

Denmark being such a flat country makes cycling the transport method of choice is small towns like Sonderborg. You can probably think of cycling as something of a national sport. It knows no boundaries.  You see old ladies, style conscious teenagers, foreigners and Danes alike and also parents with a couple of kids in their carrier.  Everyone owns at least one (two or three?) bike.

However cycling doesn’t become big in a vacuum, as other countries have lately started to discover. A cycling culture arises because the facilities are right for cycling. This is true for Denmark. Bicycle stands are available all around you. Bike paths, often separate from the main road, also cover much of the road network. The paths are also decent, and more importantly, they are cleared when it snows! All in all, cyclists have a good life here.

Of course, if there is a king, there must be a pauper. Well, car being cars, they probably come a close second to the bikes. This leaves pedestrians at the very bottom of the pecking order. Why do I say this? Well, let me just say this one point. You need to look out when crossing the road on a green light – because cars crossing your path probably have a green light too! Not a very comforting feeling now is it?

Sleep the way to your destination

We have already written about travelling to and from Sonderborg, either within Denmark or abroad previously in this blog. However, one way of travelling that we hadn’t mentioned was travelling with sleeper trains.

We ‘discovered’ the night trains by accident while looking for saver tickets on the Deutsche Bahn website. The service, known as City Night Line, connects a number of European cities during the night: you go to sleep in one country, and arrive refreshed the next morning ready to discover your destination.

From Padborg or Flensburg you can get on a train straight to Prague, Basel or Amsterdam (with stops in other places including Berlin, Frankfurt, or Cologne). Having discovered this possibility we couldn’t pass it by, so we hopped on the train to Prague for an Easter break, leaving Padborg at around 22:00, and arriving in Prague the next day at around 9:30.

On the train there are a couple of sleeping options, from 4-6 person couchette compartments, to deluxe 2-person cabins. On this trip we tried the 4-person couchette compartment going there and an economy double cabin coming back. As would be expected, the double cabin was more comfortable than the shared couchette. However, since the other two people in the couchette compartment got off in Berlin, we had the cabin to ourselves for most of the trip.

So how was the experience?

This was my first time in a sleeper train. I wasn’t sure how much sleep I would actually get. However, although there is quite a lot of bumping around at certain stations as the trains are reconfigured (the train leaves Copenhagen with cars meant for Prague, Amsterdam and Basel), having around 11 hours on the train means that you can get ample sleep. Both of us are pretty heavy sleepers and both got decent sleep but people who sleep lighter might have trouble falling asleep. We would consider these trains another time if we are heading in one of the directions of City Night Line. Waking up to the views of the train running along the river Elbe was worth it just on its own!