Today I took the long way round after dropping my youngest at school, the older two having already made it on their own for their early starts. Not having finished my morning coffee when the wee lass wanted off to catch her friends before the bell rung, I put it in a flask to take along. (No, not an alcoholic flask. Flask = thermos; my UK friends might be rubbing off, can you tell?) Repositing the lass with friends at school, I kiss goodbye and head off on my bike. I make my way via the neighborhoods that skirt Copenhagen’s northeastern suburbia to my destination – Bellevue Beach on the water in Klampenborg. You can also get here easily by train, but it is unbelievably beautiful weather this week and it feels good to be out of the rain. (Forgive me – my son is learning how to play America on his guitar and it just seeps in.)
Bellevue Beach in the morning after sommer holiday is a beautiful place to be. I park my bike. Head down to the sand. Take off my shoes. Listen to the waves. Finish my french press. By myself. There is little activity at this hour and the cool soft sand plus warm sun transforms this into the best damn cup of coffee in Denmark. For me. Right now. I stretch my legs and soak it all in. Maybe send a tweet to my husband just to rub it in.
Like the lapping tide, soon others join my frame of reference – in and out – in and out. A group of tiny littles donning their bitty backpacks follow a teacher down the path to the beach. Respectfully and orderly, the little tow-headed nuggets follow the trolley (wagon) to the selected spot, where they are allowed to remove their shoes and shed their small packs. Apparently it is still “summer rules” here as one little boy blue drops trou and relieves himself in the bushes behind the toilets. (It’s NOT a restroom here, don’t call it a REST ROOM. It’s a TOILET.) Freedom afforded sans packs and pee, exploration of boundaries ensues.
Nearby, a new pack of twenty-somethings disrobe and loudly enter the water, always brisk at first, eliciting whoops and yelps as they condition themselves to the temperature – able to enjoy jumping waves and splashing each other while flirting.
A runner makes her way down the center cement path that leads to the simple and beautiful towers that demarcate each pier and have defined Bellevue Beach since the 1930’s. Visaged by Danish design superhero Arne Jacobsen – then just only starting out in his own architecture business, the towers are iconic and well known up and down the Danish coastline.
The tiny school children have been reigned in again and circle their teacher criss-cross applesauce on the pier. A large clear tub of water has been solicited nearby, its intentions for today’s lesson as of yet undefined.
Solitary pensioners (retirees) make their way to and fro the beach for their daily constitutional dip in the Øresund. Their white robes match their greying hair and they seem to compliment the crisp Danish design in perfect accordance.
Further down the beach, large groups of kids from the local gymnasium (high school) pack down to the lawn above the beach. Proximity to the volleyball courts – adorned in the same blue and while Arne Jacobsen intention – apparently a high priority for their set.
I suspect that today’s forecast will slowly fill up all the available sand here, replacing the tern and gull tracks with flip flops, gilt birkenstocks or bare feet. The wind is slower today, not the gale forces that have hit us head on us the past few days, pushing us around on our daily bike commute to and from school.
As the sun inches towards its apex, bikinis and bellies reveal themselves. No bikini? No problem. Skivvies ok here. Or none at all. On a warm summer day, clothing is optional we have found – something that has definitely been an eye-opener for my American children.
“Go’morn!” The opener arrives for the snack shack where I have been borrowing a table in the sand, quick-stepping her way to begin her day, unlocking the door with efficiency. Soon she will fold back the wooden doors that shutter the windows and open her kiosk.
Dogs are officially NOT allowed on the beach here, but before the crowds and life guards arrive, I witness many on walk about with their owners enjoying the smells and simple joy of chasing the screechy terns, scattering them against the blue blue cloudless sky.
Sailboats, which can litter the horizon on a weekend, are sparse this morning and the few that are lucky enough to be out on the water on a day like today, become iconic on the beach backdrop.
The previous days’ wind has pushed layers of seaweed to shore and the water is not as clear as it has chance to be. But the lille skole children have found a purpose for it and the big bucket. With clothespins tied to strings and bits of deli meat, they dip their krabbe traps into the water near the pier. As always, I am impressed at the freedoms allowed such small children here in Denmark and while their technique has only garnered one specimen, I suspect crabbing is great fun in their day.
Music begins streaming from a large speaker set outside the kiosk – changing the vibe as the morning progresses. Sounds of what the afternoon will look like prompt me to move out closer towards the water. Sloshing waves under the pier’s wooden deck stairs are more my scene and I dip my feet in wishing I’d thought to bring a suit and not quite ready to bare it all here and now.
In the distance, beyond the blinding shimmer across the waves – Sweden beckons. Waves at us. I can see the huge Øresund bridge, which can take you there, far off. Turbines churn in the space between the bridge and my vantage point here on the strand. I think of my husband selling those turbines and I send him another pic. He is admittedly jealous.
Sand toys, shovels and sunscreen from late summer tourists continue to accumulate as towels are put down staking claims for parcels of beach.
I know that laundry, dishes and a myriad of other domestic engineering tasks await me at home. But this morning, I take my cue from the Danes and I soak it up. Turn my face to the sun. Put my head back for a moment and squirrel away the feeling. Right now. Fill up my bucket. Add this to my memory bank. Fill this body with Vitamin D. Like an animal building her winter reserves, I need this. I want this. I love this.
It’s Onsdag – that’s Wednesday in Danish. And usually I day trip virtually to places I’ve been, want to go, dream of. Today – it wasn’t virtual. It was visceral. Believe me when I say – Bellevue Beach is beautiful. Thanks for sitting with me in the sand for a bit. Cheers from Denmark! – Erin
Postscript: Linking up my sunny Wednesday post to My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase blogs #MondayEscapes. It is a little grey and dreary this morning in Copenhagen and hoping there are few of these crystal blue beach days left before fall truly sets in. Lots of amazing trip inspiration on their link up – go check it out – click on badge and play along! Cheers – Erin