Pedal from Copenhagen to Helsingør During the Summer Solstice
Every June 23, the Danes celebrate the summer solstice (they call it St. Hans Eve) pagan style, carousing and lighting bonfires along their beaches.
When my fiancé and I visited Copenhagen, we biked through the festivities, logging 56 miles along Strandvejen, the scenic coast road studded with baroque and rococo villas, white-washed cottages, harbors, and Victorian-era wooden jetties.
We cycled through the silvery light, stopping as we pleased. In the town of Skovshoved we passed the distinctive oval canopy of the Uno-X gas station, a functionalist masterpiece designed by Arne Jacobsen in the 1930s (above). We paused to rest at Rungstedlund, the home, now a museum, where Karen Blixen (under the pen name Isak Dinesen) wrote Out of Africa. Reaching the Louisiana Modern Art Museum, we detoured to the beach to get a glimpse of works by Calder and Miró in the sculpture garden, as well as a shoreline view of bonfires being ignited. Back on our bikes, we passed the thatched-roof cottages of a succession of fishing villages that served in 1943 as departure points for Danish Jews being ferried by fishermen across the Øresund, the sound separating Denmark from neutral Sweden.
Then came a curve in the road, and the verdigris spires of Kronborg Castle in the town of Elsinore loomed into view. At Brostræde Is, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, we scarfed down cones of vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry jam and a chocolate-covered marshmallow. Excessive, you say? We needed sustenance for the ride back. A train could’ve taken us (and our bikes). But the haunting solstice sky still beckoned.
This appeared in the August/September 2014 issue.
To take the train back to Copenhagen: Hop on the R-train at Helsingør St. to Klampenborg St., transfer to the S-Train C towards Ballerup St., and finally get off at Kobenhaven H.