Day 6 – Last day
Tuesday 10th August 2021
Today is the last full day from the original schedule. There’s an outside chance we might stay an extra night, but that was always going to be dependent on whether we had a good reason to do so, like a visit to Julie’s school. The last time we spoke with her, Julie indicated it may not be possible because of the different activities they were planning at the school, which would make such a visit logistically impossible.
The original plan for today, in the meantime, was for a second day trip to Copenhagen. Unfortunately, the weather for today just wasn’t going to make that a fun experience. We figured this out last night already. Since there was lots of rain forecast for the entire day there, we bit the bullet and resolved to give a second trip to Denmark’s capital a miss.
As a result of last night’s decision, today was an extremely slow start. We effectively had nowhere we needed to be by any specific time, so we both enjoyed a long lie in. I think it was gone 10am before we eventually got up.
Something we did want to achieve today was to pick up a couple of small souvenirs to take home to Sandy and Joey. This turned out to be more of a challenge than I would have liked. The nearest town to us where we might achieve such a goal is Odense. It’s a short drive from here and a large enough town to present us with some options, so we piled into the car and off we set. Before making it all the way into the town, we stopped at a nearby Maccas in the hope they were still selling breakfast. Alas, they weren’t, so we had to content ourselves with brunch instead.
The next deceivingly difficult challenge was to find somewhere in Odense to park the car. There are plenty of paid parking options dotted around the town, but I especially wanted to put the car into that same underground parking complex from a few days ago. That way we’d be right in the middle of town and wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time walking. My hips were already starting to whine at me from yesterday’s 11km of traipsing around the city, and I was not relishing the thought of a re-run today. Note to self: don’t forget to swallow a couple of diclofenac before leaving the guesthouse next time. Doh!
To cut a long and frustrating story short, about forty minutes, several road work blockages and at least three complete circuits around the entire city later, we actually gave up on Odense altogether and decided instead to head down south to Svendborg. Yes, seriously. Parking would be a little easier there, and we’d stand a chance at seeing Julie again when she was out of school today. It would also allow a little more time for the wet weather forecast for this part of the country to run its course, leaving us with a drier experience.
We made it to Svendborg and were literally just a couple of streets away from Julie’s house, when she finally responded to Jae’s messages this morning. Evidently, she didn’t go to school today at all and was instead in bed ill with a high temperature. The idea to stay an extra day in Denmark, and to possibly visit Julie’s school, was hereby well and truly put to bed.
Since we were here anyway, we swung past and said our goodbyes remotely – us from the car and Julie hanging half out her window. It was the best we could hope for under the circumstances. During normal times, we might still have gone up to the front door for a goodbye hug, but in these pandemic times that was of course never going to be an option. With a final urge from us that Julie go back to bed and rest, we pulled away and made our way into town.
I found a quiet backstreet as close to Svendborg town centre as I could to park the car. This turned out to be literally around the corner from where I had pulled the same trick the other day. We spent the next hour or so walking aimlessly around a near deserted Svendborg, popping into the odd shop here and there and mostly window shopping. We were largely playing a game of dodge the downpour, finding little overhangs and other safe havens from the intermittent rain.
The radar showed the rain was now finishing up, with the promise of Svendborg being bathed again in sunshine for the remainder of the afternoon. This allowed us to complete our mission of picking up a couple of souvenirs to take home with us. For the most part, however, we were simply pontificating, with no real purpose anymore.
Jae had a hankering for another frapachino from the local Maccas, so we passed through the drive thru. Alas, for whatever reason, the voice behind the screen seemed unable to take the order, claiming not to be able to service this particular request. We could have persisted, but I think we’re both just so tired now, we sort of gave up and continued.
Since we’re just around the corner from Julie’s house anyway, we decided to drive past and record ourselves saying one final goodbye with the house in the background. Jae duly sent this to Julie, who actually replied not long thereafter. Alas, Jae had her finger over the mic while holding the phone, so most of our emotional farewell speech was all muffled and indecipherable. Oh well, at least the idea was a good one, if not the execution.
With mixed emotions, or just plain emotional because of the exhaustion and everything else, we headed north back towards the guesthouse. We’ll chill here now for the remainder of the day and reflect on what was a very successful week to Denmark. Tomorrow morning we’ll try to pack and leave as early as we can. The sooner we leave, the sooner we’ll be back home.
So, let’s just do a quick recap.
Day 1: The day of arrival after a gruelling 9-hour road trip. We had an emotional first physical meeting with Julie, and we got to visit her, her little sister and her parents.
Day 2: Visited the Hans Christian Anderson Museum in Odense with Julie.
Day 3: Julie took us on a guided tour of her hometown of Svendborg.
Day 4: Visited Egeskov Castle.
Day 5: Day trip to Copenhagen, taking in Tivoli Gardens, Strøget & Nyhavn.
Day 6: Chill out day with a failed visit to Odense and one final visit to Svendborg.
I’m not sure I would call it an especially relaxing holiday per se, but I can with certainty say I completely enjoyed myself. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending quality time with Jae and visiting one of Jae’s very best friends. I’ve learned a lot about Jae over the past week. Hopefully, she’ll have also seen the lengths I’ve gone through to connect with her and to respect who she is and what’s important to her in life. Jae has been on an amazing journey over the past couple of years. For much of that time, I’ve been on the periphery and tucked away in my office behind the computer screen. It has been quite an eye-opening experience to fully expose myself to who this child now really is.