An overnight stop at the town of Middlefart on Funen (Fyn), Denmark, found us strolling down the Old Harbour docks.
We were very fortunate on this particular evening because Henrik had just arrived aboard Jagten Nordstjernen (Yacht North Star) and he was filled with enthusiasm! Brian and I paused to admire the ship, and were soon invited aboard for a tour! Thanks to Henrik for sharing his knowledge and welcoming us aboard.
The Nordstjernen is the second oldest ship in Denmark, and still sailing! It was built in Middlefart in 1872 and used primarily as a cargo vessel throughout Denmark. Since 2006, the Nordstjernen has been continually undergoing restoration. First, by philosopher John Engelbrecht who took interest in the ship. The ship was deemed worthy of historical preservation. Now, the Nordstjernen is owned collectively by a group of volunteers, the North Star Friends, established in 2013. Members of the North Star Friends volunteer their talents and finance the restoration and continued sailing of this ship. There are presently 100 members! For 200 DKK/30 USD anyone who is interested may obtain an annual membership. The Nordstjernen will be used primarily as an educational vessel; to share the history of this ship and how it is sailed and maneuvered. This summer, the Nordstjernen will finally receive new sails, a great achievement by the North Star Friends and those interested who have donated to the cause. If you would like to learn more about the Nordstjernen, check out the North Star Friends' website at: nordstjernensvenner.dk
Henrik really made our stop at Middlefart worthwhile! He also informed us that this area of water known as the Lille Baelt is home to the largest population of marsvine
. "Little whales," Henrik explained, "you can take a trip on the touring boat and they guarantee you to see a marsvine. Well, there are so many!" Marsvine translates to porpoise. We'd spotted three upon our approach to Middlefart. The Lille Baelt, as we'd soon learn from the tourism guide, is also well known for snorkling, diving, and spear fishing. There is even a diving trail complete with underwater, informational signs! During summer this area flourishes with tourists enjoying the sea. Henrik suggested yet another tourist activity. "Bridge walking," he said and pointed to the railroad bridge crossing the Lille Baelt. We'd sailed beneath the bridge, it has a 33-meter (108-foot) clearance. "It's very popular, you must book tickets far in advance. It's a 2-hour walk over the bridge." This bridge walking idea wasn't clear to me from Henrik's description. Why bother walking for 2-hours to cross the bridge? Then, the tourism guide explained that the walk is over the TOP of the bridge; harnessed into the rails. If it weren't rainy, windy, and foggy we'd might have lingered for this activity. The only other place in the world to do a bridge walk is in Sydney, Australia. Added to the bucket list! But really, Denmark remains on the bucket list as we are getting a mere sampling of what this country has to offer!