Category Archives: General

Restaurant Alsik

Restaurant Alsik is the main restaurant at Hotel Alsik, open for lunch and dinner every day for hotel guests and visitors. Situated with great big windows overlooking the water it is very spacious with amazing views.

It has been a long time since we wrote anything here (kids…you know!) but I have now been to Hotel Alsik 3 times: for dinner with a friend, a lunch date with my husband and a family meal (with a 4 and 2 year old) and I have been impressed each time. It is really a restaurant that lends itself well for all such occassions: cosy atmosphere for the lunch date, relaxed atmosphere for the dinner with a friend, and quick and cheerful for the family meal. It’s amazing that one place can offer all this at once!

The food

The food offerring is very simple: a dozen or so dishes, all at 99 DKK. I am not convinced that all dishes deserve the same price tag (some definitely deserve more!), but it does make it really easy to select the one you like without focussing too much on price. Together with my companions I have tried a variety of dishes and would likely order each dish again, although my favourite is most likely my first one: the BBQ.

The service

Relaxed, unobtrusive but always present. You get free water, (warm) bread and butter, all of which are topped up if required. What’s not to like?

The atmosphere

As hinted above, the big windows and high ceilings make the restaurant really bright and airy. The acoustics are good too, which is important when we have our kids in tow as we don’t want to annoy other guests more than necessary. There are different types of seating too: typical restaurant tables, tables with armchairs, others next to the big windows with great views, and also some next to a fire place. Really something for most days where you want to have a bit of low-key celebratory dinner.

Will we be back? Absolutely!

Taking the Danish Indfødsretsprøve

One of the requirements for getting Danish citizenship is passing a test on Danish culture, society and history aka indfødsretsprøve. Since this was the only requirement I had missing in order to be able to apply for Danish citizenship I decided to go for it in the November/December session.

The Test

The test consists of 40 multiple choice questions, of which you need to get 32 questions, ie 80%, right. The test is done twice a year – in May/June and in November/December – in exam centres all over Denmark. The test is paper based and printed in quite big letters – my test paper consisted of 10 sheets for the 40 questions. You are then asked to make a cross in the box next to the correct answer.

35 of the questions are based on the ‘teaching material’ published by the Udlændige, Integrations og Boligministeriet in 2015. This material is divided into 4 chapters: Danish history (and themes related to Danish culture), Danish Democracy, Danish Welfare State and Denmark and the World. The last 5 questions are based on ‘current issues’ i.e. happenings in the newspapers over the few weeks and months before the test.

Preparing for the Test

The most simple way you can prepare for the test is, of course, to read the 148 pages that make up this material. However, I found it difficult to get my head around how to prepare by reading this very information-dense material. So I went out to look for other resources.


The main external resource I found for preparing for the test is the website After paying for the site you get access to different kinds of tests, depending on the membership type you go for. I opted for the standard pakke, mainly as I wanted longer than 7 day access but was not as interested in the ‘nice-to-have’ features of the complete pakke.

I found this website a good way of preparing. I particularly liked the tests where you can see which date regions you are not strong in and which pages of the book you need to re-read. There are also a couple of things that can be improved, such as the very systematic way most questions related to dates are set (which meant I could guess which date is correct without reading the question). Nevertheless, a good resource, not least because there isn’t much else out there.

I should also say that the test questions seemed to be harder (or more specific) than in the actual tests. More realistic questions (though less comprehensive resources) are listed below.

Other Resources

One resource I came across unexpectedly which had questions closer in difficulty to the actual test was an IQ test based on the indfødsretsprøve. Consisting of around 200 questions, it goes through most of the relevant areas the indfødsretsprove focuses on. Going through the questions now I can recognise a number of questions that were also in the actual test.

Of course, past tests are also a good resource. Most major Danish news outlets publish the test on their website after the actual test is done, encouraging readers to try it out. These are the tests on TV2’s website:

After the Test

Once the test is over the next step is finding out the result. The Sonderborg test centre sent me an sms the day after the test was done in the afternoon, letting me know whether I had passed or not. The certificate indicating that you had passed could then be collected from around 2 weeks later from their premises.

And that was it! With this final requirement in place I could now apply for Danish citizenship!

Det Sønderjyske Køkken

Det Sønderjyske Køkken is a cafe located in Sonderborg’s tourist office on Perlegade. The cafe, owned by chefs Jesper Kock and Sune Axelsen, focuses on portraying food inspired by the local area.

The first thing that you notice on arriving is that premises in which the cafe is located are very big. The first time we visited soon after they opened I felt the place was too much like a school canteen. However, visiting again recently I was very happy with the changes; the booths on the side with sofas and the screens make for much cosier areas even if the room itself if huge. The big windows onto the walking street over one whole wall also means that the place is very light and airy (and especially good for Danish mothers leaving their prams outside as they can see their babies very easily).

The food menu itself is quite simple. It focuses mainly on vegetable dishes, with a few staples like Pariserbøf and Solæg. As is to be expected, cakes are also a focal point, inspired by the Sønderjyske Kaffebord.  The food I have tasted has all been very well made, and at decent prices.

Besides being a regular cafe they also focus on events either for the local community or to showcase local food e.g. they had Christmas food making workshops for children in December and I can see a Sønderjyske kaffebord event coming up in March.

Whether for a quick coffee, a relaxed lunch with friends, or a more full on event, if it is local produce and local recipes you are looking for, this is the place you should start at.

Sønderborghus for Children

Sønderborghus has really stepped up their offerings for children in the last few months, with regular activities available for children from birth to 13 year olds. With our (now 2!) kids in tow, we tried out the age appropriate activities for them.

Baby Mandag (0-2 years)

The first Monday of the month from 9:30-12:00 is baby Monday at Sønderborghus, aimed at parents on parental leave and their child. The first half is generally a talk or activity for the parents, while for the second half we moved into the workshop for a craft activity to do with your kid (it was footprint Christmas cards when I attended) and a chat with the others.

I really enjoyed the session I went to with my then 2 week old. During my first parental leave in 2015 I found I lacked open drop-in events for parent and child, where the interest of the parent and a chat with other parents with babies of different ages (as opposed to the age stratified mother groups) were available. Good to see an opportunity for this now.

Familielørdag (2-13 years)

We went to this event with our oldest child, who’s 3. Every Saturday the workshop in the basement is open for a drop-in creative session between 10:00-13:00. Every Saturday has a theme, which you can find on the Sønderborghus website; the day we went we did paintings with tape and acrylic paints. The creative session is pre-planned and all the materials already prepared for you to just drop in with your kid and have a go, with pointers and support from the staff if needed. Once a month a bigger event with a theme such as Carnival is held.

Again, a very enjoyable time was had. It is the perfect activity especially for a wet Saturday with not much else to do. We would urge you to support this initiative of Sonderborghus to offer something different for kids. If you want to know the specific offering for a session check out the website. Both sessions cost a very fair 30 DKK for the craft supplies. Do remember to take an apron or old clothes though, unlike us!


Floorball: For Women

Sonderborg’s floorball club, the Vikings were advertising the setting up of a new team for women in the new year. The first training session was yesterday, so I decided to go along.

What is Floorball


Floorball is a type of floor hockey, where two teams with sticks try to get a holey plastic ball into opposing goal nets. It is mostly popular in Scandinavia, having been developed in Sweden in the 1970s. I had never heard of it before moving here, but it seems to be a common sport played in schools, so most Danes know the basics.

First Training Sessions

The first training session was, I would say, a success. We were 22 women in ages from older teenagers to (according to Sonderborg Floorball Club) 61. The participants varied from what looked like quite experienced players to at least one person who had never seen a floorball stick before (me!). We first did some basic exercises, walking with a ball and passing a ball back and forth between us, before being divided into 4 teams and playing some short games between us.

Want to Join?

If you are over 15 (and a woman) and you’re looking for a sport (or something to do on a Monday evening!) I would encourage you to give floorball a try. The club has all the equipment needed, so all you need to do is turn up. Being a fairly new thing also means that there will be other people in the same boat as you and, hopefully, we can all get better (and fitter) together.

Training sessions: Mondays 19:00-20:00 at Kløvermarkhallen

If I had to say something about my experience, I quite enjoyed it and will definitely be back. It is, of course, very Danish, which means that there was barely an introduction, I still have no great idea how to hold the floorball stick (or how to select one) and no one told me their name (unless asked directly…a couple of times)! I hope that over time I will learn all this. But anyways, don’t let this scare you off! It’s all part and parcel of getting along with Danish people in Danish spaces. So it’s all good!

Other teams

Sønderborg Floorball Club has three other teams which are Youth 7-11, Youth 13-15 and a Senior Team for men. You can try and contact the club via the website if you are interested in one of these teams.

Review: Cafe Figo

Next to the bigger Broggeriet, Ib Rehna Cairo and Marcellos, on the main square, there is a 4th cafe that we often forget about for some reason. We haven’t been to Cafe Figo since this trip for brunch three years ago. So when a friend suggested we go there for a catch-up dinner yesterday and had good words to say about it, I decided to go with her suggestion. And I was not disappointed!

The Cafe

Cafe Figo is much smaller than the other cafes on the main square. When we arrived for dinner on a Friday night with no booking, there were only 2 tables available. The rest was completely full, with a number of bigger groups. This augured well for the place, especially as everyone seemed to be having fun.

The main downside of that is probably that the place was very loud. Sometimes I could not hear what my friend was saying, and she was sitting right across from me. I could see a few panels on the ceiling that looked like sound-absorbing panels. But I would say that they need many more of them!

The Service

The service was very friendly and with a smile continuously. Even in a very busy restaurant. I would say it was perfect when we visited! Present when needed with barely any effort for grabbing their attention but not overbearing. Either they have very good selection processes or very good training processes. I was very impressed.

The Food

I expected similar food here to the other cafes, which can sometimes be a mixed bag. Following my friend who visits regularly, I opted for the pasta; she had the chilli pasta and I had the salmon pasta.

Both pasta are served with a salad. Now, I am not the biggest fan of cafe side salads as I often find them an uninspiring mass of a lot of salad leaves, some tomatoes and cucumbers, and then some other addition that often doesn’t work together. So when i saw the plates coming with equal amounts of pasta and salad I was sceptical. I loved this salad though! It had the right amount of leaves (which were not too big) and tomatoes, together with some raw onion and grains for some crunch, feta for a salty tang, and a dressing that was just right. I actually finished the salad while still really enjoying it, rather than having gotten bored of it.

The pasta was also quite good. It had one downside: very salty! Now, this is a common complaint of mine in Denmark, and my friend who has been there plenty of times said this is not normally a problem. We didn’t say anything at the time (as we were enjoying things too much), so we didn’t give them the opportunity to rectify things, but based on the rest of the service I saw I have no doubt that they would have been very gracious with it.


We should really stop overlooking this place and opt for it as a first choice much more often. The prices are also slightly cheaper than the other cafes. To be honest, I have no idea why we skip over it so often. However, considering it was quite full, maybe it is us who have not gotten the memo about how great this place is!

And sorry, no pictures. I started eating the food before I thought about it, and then could not stop!


Improving your Swimming with Sonderborg Swimming Club

I have a small confession to make. Up to this year I couldn’t swim ‘properly’. Well, if swimming to you meant getting safely from point A to point B in water as it used to do to me then, yes! That I could do. But if swimming meant I had to know how to breathe, how to angle my arm and how to move my feet then, no! That I had no clue.


Now you might associate swimming lessons with school children. And that might be so if you come from a country where swimming lessons are standard. But if you come from a country like mine where you learn how to swim with your parents, most of whom don’t know the right technique either, and where the teaching mostly consist of being placed in water and encouraged to stay afloat then, no. They are not.

Luckily for me Sonderborg Swimming Club offers adult swimming classes. The classes are offered in 3 levels: beginners, little experienced, and experienced. After some emails back and forth I opted for the little experienced as I could float and feel safe in water but had no technique.

I started swimming lessons in September this year. I unfortunately had to miss a number of lessons but other than that I am very happy with what I got. I can now tell you what crawl, back crawl and breast stroke is like, and I can even do a decent imitation of what they should look like.

Will I win any medals for my swimming? Most definitely not! But I am now safer in water than I was before and that can only be a good thing. So if you are looking for something to try in the new year, or if you know someone who would like to improve their swimming, do check out their sessions. Registration for the new season starting in January opens on the 20th of December at 12:00. It seems that children classes are very popular, so if you have children you may also want to keep an eye out for those ones.

The image in this post is from SKS’s Facebook page.

Raising Kids in Denmark: Things that have Surprised Me

Our son turned 6 months recently and this has led me to think a bit about things that have surprised me since his birth. Some of these may be the result of my lack of experience of babies, but some of them I think are more related to Danish culture.

Temperature taking

In Malta body temperatures are normally taken under the arm or in the mouth. However, I was very surprised to find out that body temperatures are taken rectally! Any other temperature taking is very suspiciously looked upon. And this is not only for babies! If calling the hospital they will ask you for a rectal temperature…and wait for you on the phone till you give them one! Isn’t this a bit intrusive and traumatic to do to a child who is already feeling unwell? I have also been wondering if this is only Danish or also done elsewhere.

Traditional vs Latest Research

The WHO issued recommendations in the early 2000s (I think?) that babies should be on an exclusive breastmilk/formula diet for 6 months. However, Denmark still used the 4 month cut off when our son was born, and this seems to be a very popular thing to do. This year in March, however, new regulations were issued by the health department. These regulations are now on board with other recommendations, such as no cow milk before 1 year old.

So maybe late, but the recommendations are changing slowly. I would say that I have found that Danish society is very traditional rather than necessarily going with the latest research in other areas as well such as the benefits of bilingualism (have had a lot of negative comments on this!), and the boy/girl divide (boy/girl clothes and toys and playing with others of the same gender). Does anyone else get this impression?

Mother groups

Mother groups are quite a big thing in Denmark. When having a child some of the common questions are: do you have a mother group? Do you like your mother group? I can answer yes and yes to those! Which is good, as people seem to expect my mother group friends to turn into ‘friends for life’!

The way mother groups work out has been quite surprising to me though! A mother group is a self-organised group of 4-6 mothers with kids born around the same time. The groups are put together by the health worker. We host group meetings at our own houses and we offer food to the other mothers when they come to ours. First time I was up for hosting a mother group meeting I worried a lot about offering food that can be eaten one handed. However this does not worry Danish mothers it seems. Food is invariably Danish bread with toppings. The child is often just put down so the mother can eat. I tend to put in one-handed eating practice!

Luckily an English-speaking mother group has also been started, where I can relax a bit more and there is more one-handed food eating :D. Also, this group has children of a much wider range of ages, meaning that I could get advice from older-children mothers (and feel useful for the younger ones). If you are a new English-speaking mum in town and would like to meet others do request to join on this facebook group.

Learning Danish – the Lærdansk Sonderborg Way

One of the blogposts that has had most interest in this blog mentioned the inauspicious start I had with applying for Danish lessons at the kommune. Inauspicious or not, I did manage to start learning Danish in January 2012. However, having been to Danish lessons for three years on and off, I must admit that it has only served for me to become more and more disillusioned with the whole process.

Let’s Start with the School

In Sønderborg the kommune pays for foreign students to learn Danish at Lærdansk Sonderborg. Essentially, this means that the school has a monopoly in the area. In practice, this means that the school will get money from the kommune regardless of the quality of the teaching, so there seems to be no benefit in investing in improvements. And when I talk about improvements, I am not referring to smart boards and the like, but improvements in the actual quality of teaching.

Quality of Teaching

Where do I start?

Probably one of the biggest downfalls is that there is no emphasis on the basics. People at very different levels are in the same class, all doing the exact same work. E.g. when I started Danish, there were people in my class who had started Danish 3 months earlier. This meant I never got the basics. And there were still people joining 3 months after I did. In fact, I never ever heard the alphabet in class! This lack of basics means that it is next to impossible to understand the more nuanced areas of the language.

This is combined with an education system where there is no progression between one lesson and the next. It is not a course programme that builds one lesson on the previous, such that you continuously build on previous knowledge. Instead, what you get is 10 minutes about nouns one day, and 10 minutes about nouns one month later. And you would have probably missed the first 10 minutes because you hadn’t yet been put in the class.

The Teachers

During my time at Lærdansk Sonderborg I have been with three different teachers. I can sum up these teachers in this way: One came to class completely unprepared (but made sure we had fun). One came slightly more prepared (but was palpably disinterested in most of the students). And the third printed a lot of papers to give out, but there was no obvious explanation as to what we were being given and why. Teachers playing on phones, leaving the room, or showing us films with very limited if any follow up discussions all happened on regular basis.

That said, I have heard of some very good teachers on the grapevine too. Unfortunately, these seem to be very much the exception rather than the rule and I have yet to come across one.

What did I Expect?

What I expected when I started classes is the following:

  • I expected to learn something new every time I went to class. I expected this to be following some input from the teacher over and above being given a worksheet and being told to get on with it.
  • I expected the teacher to come to class prepared with a clear plan to make sure that the students are slowly but surely building their knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and confidence in the language.
  • I also expected homework that helped us consolidate what we had learnt in class, if we so wished. When I asked for this I was told “You don’t have time for it as you work”.
  • I also expected students who were there primarily for the learning (although making friends is an added bonus). This was something that, overall, was true.

Of course, it could be that my learning style is completely unaligned with the Danish teaching style. However, by speaking to a lot of other foreigners, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Or you might say I am expecting too much. After all, the school is free so I should be thankful for whatever I am getting. However, it is not free. I am paying for it from my taxes. You are paying for it from your taxes.

My Danish teaching has not all been this uninspiring. The best (in an, admittedly, poor pool) was with a private teacher through work. It is, obviously, not completely comparable, but the things that really helped were that the teacher asked me where I felt that I needed help, and listened to me by setting clear goals, and an emphasis on ensuring that I had understood what I had done by setting consolidation work. This rarely (if ever) happened in Danish classes at Lærdansk Sonderborg. No questions (or apparent interest) in where we needed help, and a topic was only tackled in one individual task rather than in a more holistic way.

Where am I now?

After 3 years of being in the system, spending most of the time not actually attending lessons, I have now passed my Prøve i Dansk 3 exam in November/December. This is the exam taken at the end of the course that shows proficiency in Danish to a B2 level according to the Common European Language Framework. You might, therefore, say that I reached my aim. However, I would say most of what I learned I learnt from a private teacher, my work colleagues, and from the Netdansk online teaching system, rather than the teaching actually at the Sonderborg Laerdansk school.

A version of this blog post was sent to the school around the time I decided to stop attending classes, with clear information that I was happy and willing to discuss my issues with them in order to make things better. Unfortunately I never received a reply besides that it would be forwarded on within the school.

Rock and Roll Christmas from the tax minister

It is not everyday we see a Danish minister of government bring out the rock and roll guitar. But the current minister of tax, Benny Engelbrecht, loves to sing so he decided to create a Christmas greeting in the form of a music video with his hobby band “Benny and the True Taxmen”.

Benny Engelbrecht is from Adsbøl outside Gråsten and has played music for many years. After becoming minister he has also jumped on the stage, most recently in Gråsten at the Apple Festival.