Traveling with Grace: Denmark Part 1

This week, Grace begins her visit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Special thanks go to JMM volunteer Harold Toppall for his transcriptions of Grace’s travel diary.

To read more of Grace’s travels, click here. 

July 24, 1950


Elsa Thorusen came in to see us this morning + Mr. Lindegaard phoned. We took Anne and Elsa to Elsa’s mother’s home in Gentofte. Then to Landmandsbanken to see Mr. Lindengaard get money. Mr. L. took me to a jeweler to get a new watch band. Then we went to the American Express Co. & Helene & I had a very good lunch at a sidewalk café across the st. I notice more people talk English here than in Sweden or Norway. We took a ride around the city but didn’t get out on account of the rain. Saw a number of pretty parks, the beautiful statue and fountain of Gefion & the Bulls (plowing Jutland out of Sweden) rode along the Langelinie, saw the Parliament, Raclshus, Royal Palace, Palace of Rosenborg, etc. Then back to the hotel where Mr. Lindegaard called on us & we had to dress for dinner at the Jergerisons.

When we arrived there at 6 o’clock we found a large American flag almost covering the front of the house. In the back a lovely garden, [es………..] pear trees, roses, etc. There were 45 people at dinner, all in evening dress (one servant did all the cooking & waiting), there were Danish and American flags & porcelain figurines on the pretty damask cloth, Royal Copenhagen chine & Jensen silver. We had a most sumptuous repast, fish, duck with prune & apple dressing, potatoes, 2 kinds of salad, home-made rolls, cheese sticks, 3 kinds of wine, huge raspberries, cream & later in the living room a huge cake, coffee, 3 kinds of cordials & brandy. All during the meal we kept drinking “skoll” & they made speeches in English & Danish complimenting us & they were very jolly and nice & very hospitable & there were [             ]. We left about 11, still raining & Mr. A. took us home.

July 25, 1950 

Mr. & Mrs. Thoneson & daughter called for us about noon & took us to Tivoli for lunch where we ate in the Divan Pavilion #2 (sandwiches, omelet with wine sauce & coffee & tarts & mushrooms). Mrs. Jergessen joined us there. We had American & Danish flags on tables. We walked about Tivoli, an amusement park covering about 8 square blocks in the middle of the city. Then visited a Royal Danish porcelain shop & Jensen’s silver store where we saw a beautiful display of table silver, jewelry, etc. & we bought some gifts for Hanna Lise Thomsen’s birthday. We rode out to the King’s Park where we saw the famous statue of H. C. Andersen. Tonight Mr. Lindegaard joined us at the hotel for dinner.

July 26, 1950

En route to Svendborg

Else & Hanna Lise came to say good-by this a.m. We went to the railroad station to get our food coupons-one for each meal of our sojourn. Started on our journey about 11. The Danish countryside in quite different from either of the countries just visited: flat, beautiful, sturdy old trees, an atmosphere of calm, security, & leisurely living. Many sleek, well fed cows, fields of grain, mechanical harvesters, windmills, darling little houses, long & low, painted yellow or orange with sloping red roofs & many thatched ones, potted plants & lace curtains at the windows, roads running straight between rows of trees & hedges. The towns are quaint with many half-timbered, thatch roofed diminutive houses (Anne Hathaway style) pretty country churches, the churchyard graves invariably decorated with flowers, the shops well stocked (barber shops have brass plates like shaving dishes hanging out as a sign, & in the country are many windmills. Cyclists are ever more in evidence here than elsewhere. We went thru Koge, Vordingborg (a long & beautiful bridge here toll free) Nykobing a very nice town where we had lunch at the Baltic hotel (most delicious crepes suzettes) then on thru Askobing, Maribo & Nakaskov where we sat in a pretty little park gay with flowers (huge beds of orchid, pink, red & white hydrangeas) & watched them set up a midway for the coming fair advertised as Montmartie (here we at the best ice-cream cones I ever tasted) & waited for the ferry to take us over the Longeldung [Spod……………].

The sun was setting when we got off & the landscape on this beautiful island with its charming country houses & beautiful gardens was suffused with rosy light. A quiet coziness & feeling of security & remoteness pervades the atmosphere. Another shorted ferry ride during which we had coffee & sandwiches took us to Rudkobing on the isle of Fyn, thence to Svendborg where we had reservations to spend the night at Klostergarden hotel. A young man on a bicycle escorted us to the hotel only to find it had been closed until further notice. The young man then went to get somebody who could speak English, who took us to another hotel but they couldn’t accommodate us (it was nearly midnight & we were all dead tired) so they called up a number of small hotels & pensions, finally sending us to a certain address but when we got there the man came to tell us someone else had gotten in ahead of us, but we could try at still another villa. Here again we were refused politely but Anne, who was getting pretty desperate, got out her top drawer Danish & pleaded, using me for a sob story, & finally we crashed the gate. Anne & I had one room, Helene another, Mr. A. slept on the sofa in the parlor. It was very nice of the people in the house to give up their rooms to us, especially since they had already gone to bed.

July 27, 1950

En route to Ringkobing

The lady in the villa served coffee, toast & Danish pastry on her sunny veranda overlooking the garden for breakfast & then we left about 10. Near the village of Kvaerndrup we made a slight detour to see a beautiful old castle “Egeskov” with wall-like hedges, battle mented towers, & a wonderful garden. Then we went a little further to see another old castle “Lykkesholm” the ancestral home & birthplace of our new friend Mr. Lindegaard, the bldgs.- are all dated – from 1470 to 1935. It is now unoccupied due to high cost of living. Passed Castle Brahetrolleborg home of the Reventlow family. We had lunch in Assens at Hotel Marcusson & then walked over to the ferry which took us across Lille Baelt to Aarosand. It was fair but very windy & they stretched a canvas across the opening in the boat to protect us. When we got to the other side & they dropped the canvas, it was like unveiling a lovely picture in the frame of the ship. Then on thru Haderslev, Halsted, Ribe (saw 10th century Cathedral and house where Jacob A. Riis was born with commemorative plate quoting eulogy by Theo. Roosevelt) Karde & many smaller towns across the island of Jylland or Jutland, largest in the Danish archipelago, arriving in Ringkobing in time for dinner. Had a walk up the street to look at the funny little shops & houses. After dinner they carried me upstairs to the bedroom as there is no elevator in Hotel Ringkobing.

July 28, 1950

En route to Skagen

Walked down 19 steps with Mr. A’s help. Another beautiful day. Thru Holstebro, Viborg (stopped to visit one of the most interesting & colorful cathedrals with painting of old & new testament characters) Hobro, Asllorg (a large town where Anne was born & where we had lunch at Hotel Phoenix) Norresundby, Salby, Frederikshavn & on to Skagen on the northernmost tip of Denmark with the Katlegat on one side & the Skagerrak on the other & came to the charming garden encircled Brondums hotel, with no steps so that I can go in & out at will. After dinner we walked up a little crooked street to see a beautiful big orange moon shimmer on the waves of the Kattegat.

July 29, 1950

Skagen, Denmark

Took a walk thru the streets of the town with Helene. This afternoon the countess Knuth (friend of Mr. Lindegaard) called on us & we had tea in the garden. She is a charming, plain old lady with pretty, fresh complexion, dressed in tweeds. She rode over & back on her bicycle, sitting straight as a dye. After dinner we took another walk admiring the gardens in the vicinity and a lady who was watering her flowers, give us each a [nosegay] of roses. We returned to the hotel & played bridge all evening.

July 30, 1950

Another beautiful day. This morning we visited the little museum in Skagen where we saw fine paintings by the Danish artists Michael Ander, his wife & daughter & Holgen Drachman. These pictures give a wonderful insight into the life & character of the people of this district as well as the aspect of the countryside. The Brondum family, original owners of the hotel, figure prominently in the pictures & the dining room, a handsomely paneled room with inset oil portraits all around the frieze forming an attractive border, also the original table & chairs & inlaid floor were brought over from the hotel & incorporated in the museum. There is also a beautiful garden with some fine sculpture.

After lunch we called for the Countess & her lady-in-waiting Mlle. Parire, a charming French lady & we went for a long drive. They showed us the prettiest vantage points for panoramas of the sea & several artists colonies. We drove along the hard beach for several miles, & to the northernmost tlip of Denmark where Holgen Drachman, poet & artist, lies buried, called the Greemen.

We went to the Countess’ most attractive villa for tea & ate off a wonderfully embroidered cloth give her by Dowager Queen Alexandrine of Denmark. We also saw the summer home here on the beach at Skagen where King Frederick & his queen spend several weeks each Spring, & nearby an old, old church half buried in the sand. After a delicious tea, during which we were all asked to sign the Countess’ guest book which she started in 1912, we took them back to the hotel with us for dinner & had a pleasant chat in the parlor afterwards.

July 31, 1950

En route to Aarbus

Rosenholm Castle. Via.

Left Skagen at 10 & retraced our steps as far as Aalborg. Not far from here we visited Rebild Park where each 4th of July Danes & Americans meet to celebrate with speeches & fireworks on a vast open field, the King & Queen & American Ambassador always attending, & here we had lunch at a very good restaurant.

Then we rode on to Randers where we were to have spent the night but instead decided to keep on to Aarbus, capitol of Jylland & Denmark’s 2nd city a very pretty town indeed where we spent the night at Hotel Royale. Upon arrival, we went to the Ruskov Hospital to call on Mr. & Mrs. Moller, sister & brother-in-law of Mr. Lindegaard who wanted us to come up to their apt. for tea but there were too many steps & we preferred to do some sightseeing. So, they got into the car with us & took us to see Rosenholm Castle which belongs to the old Danish family of Rosenkraur. We had to get special permission to drive in (saying I couldn’t walk very well) so when we arrived at the moat the Baroness herself (very much [b………..]) came to greet us & wanted to give me an armchair to be carried up the steps. I refused & she said she had great sympathy for me because she had bad eyesight & it was hard for her to get about. She wished us a pleasant hour in the chateau & then left us to a young woman, wife of the caretaker, who spoke a pretty good English & acted as our guide. Some of the outstanding features of the castle were: a beautiful private chapel, venetian embossed leather wall covering in the library, some fine French & Chinese porcelains, an old fashioned bathroom, some very odd clocks, gorgeous Gobelin tapestries, lovely rugs, ancestral paintings of the Rosenkranz who intermarried with Danish Royalty, we saw the bedrooms occupied by the King & Queen (they were once extremely wealthy & owned vast estates which have dwindled so that now they are glad to have visitors come in for a fee.) After taking us all around the house the young woman showed us her own apt. on the ground floor which was very attractive & in the Spanish styles.

Then we drove to a quaint old town on the coast, Ebeltofte, with houses dating from the 10th century many half-timbered, with small convex panes in the windows, & painted in various soft shades. Then we saw the Aarbus airport built by the Germans during the occupation (the prettiest roads in Scandinavia leading to it.) Then we took them back to the hospital & we had dinner at the hotel.

August 1, 1950

En Route to Odense, Denmark

Marselisborg – 1950 – Christmas Post Card. Via.

Left Aarbus at 12:30 P.M. after riding around this pretty city with its many parks, one of which was particularly well landscaped with many lovely flowers (the Gamle By is in it) + we rode along the Strandvej where there are many handsome villas + saw the beautiful Marselisborg Palace home of Dowager Queen Alexandrine + lunched at Varma a fine restaurant overlooking the Katteg at where an orchestra played good music. Then on thru Skandeborg, Horsens, Vejle, an especially pretty town- across a big bridge to MIddlefart (isle of Fyn) + on to Odense where we stop at the Grand Hotel (as good as its name.)

August 2, 1950

Odense, Denmark

Vintage poster, Odense, Denmark. Via.

We were awakened by the sound of childish voices singing many nursery rhymes from a Kindergarten across the street & this seemed quite an appropriate setting for Odense traditions. This morning we visited the home & adjoining museums filled with memorabilia of H. C. Anderson, a fascinating place. In our rotunda-like room are beautiful frescoes covering walls & ceiling depicting scenes from certain of his fairy tales, also many marble statues of him with different children to whom he is reading or reciting. Some of the objects noted: furniture & a few personal possessions of which he hadn’t accumulated much as he was always on the go, many of his drawings & letters-he wrote in German & English as well as Danish, a letter from Charles Dickens, pressed flowers Andersen had gathered in Dicken’s garden while on a visit to England; portraits & letters from his sweetheart Mrs. Collins & books he wrote & illustrated for her children, an old American dollar bill he rec’d from a young admirer who had heard he was poor, an umbrella, high silk hat, old trunk, rocking chair, a decoration from Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, & many original manuscripts. Even some name cards & concert programs he had kept. Also, many portraits & daguerreotypes of him at different ages.

Then we had lunch at the terrace restaurant of the hotel, after which we visited the Fynske Landsbyen situated in a pretty park. It is a sort of outdoor museum to illustrate life in a typical settlement of this part of the country. Cottages with antique furnishings, windmills, an old Kro or tavern, an old kitchen, real geese & cows & barn in a typical farm setting, & as everywhere else lovely flower gardens.

Then we rode out into the country to see an old manor house Langess that Mr. L. told us about, with fancy evergreen hedges, formal gardens & an interesting façade. Tonight, we dined at Brockinaus restaurant where a woman’s orchestra played first classic music & then for dancing.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


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