On the Viking trail

It was an easy bike ride from our campsite on the outskirts of Ribe in Denmark to the famed VikingeCenter. We had heard good things about this popular Danish tourist destination but were a little worried that it would be very child focused (nothing wrong with that) and maybe not aimed at adults at all.

Smell that Viking smoke!

However, we were soon reassured that it held heaps of appeal to anyone who has an interest in the history of the Vikings.

Actors and hundreds of volunteers live and work as Viking characters during the summer months

From the moment we arrived we were taken back to Viking times – the cooking smells, the noise of people doing various crafts, the dim interiors of the huts, the heritage animals, and the full range of buildings reproduced to be as close as possible to homes, farms, sheds and workshops that would have been seen in Ribe 1300 years ago.

Preparing food that would have been eaten 1300 years ago
Solid but plain furniture
Woodworking with tools around in the Viking age
The buildings were surprisingly solid

We spent a very pleasant few hours wandering round the massive site and especially enjoyed the market area and of course, the Viking boats and boat making workshop.

Demonstrating how chain mail was made
Heritage animals – the cows were beautiful

In the barn

Two of the youngest volunteers living a Viking life for the summer
Loved The naturally dyed wool

Examples of Viking boat building

Fishing tackle Viking style

We had a little bit of lunch in the cafeteria and were astonished at the prices – around AUS$25 -$30 for two very average filled rolls. Water was only sold in single use bottles and we were refused tap water!

Weapon making workshops

Inside another house where actors and volunteers demonstrate Viking life
Visitors could have a go too

Some of the volunteers live in tents like these

More craftwork

The altar in the replica Church

In the late afternoon we cycled into Ribe – a really enchanting town with an interesting Cathedral, cobbled streets and gorgeous Medieval buildings.

The architecture in Ribe was varied and interesting

Established around 710 AD, Ribe is the oldest existing town in Denmark (and actually in the whole of Scandinavia) and was right at the centre of the Viking era.

More of Ribe’s ancient architecture

The city began as an open trading market on the north bank of the Ribe River where it runs into the North Sea. Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Germans, Frisians, English and other cultures all brought goods to exchange here.

The river is no longer navigable by large craft but smaller, shallow draft vessels can still reach the town centre

There were many pubs and cafes in the centre of Ribe

One of our first stops was Ribe Cathedral which was founded in the Viking Era and completed in the middle of the 13th Century and was the first Christian church in Denmark.

Ribe Cathedral – with various elements of the building from many different eras

It has been restored, expanded and decorated repeatedly. As it stands today, the Cathedral is the best preserved Romanesque building in Denmark.

While we were looking round the Cathedral organ music suddenly filled the beautiful interior which was just lovely.

The graceful interior of Ribe Cathedral

Just across from the main entrance of the Cathedral we stumbled upon a strange looking building which we discovered housed the remains of a monastery refractory which existed between 1145 and 1217 AD.

Monastery remains

The refectory was one of the first brick buildings in Denmark and came to light during excavations between 2008 and 2012 which also revealed 83 Christian graves from the Viking era.

Visiting Ribe was a great introduction to Viking culture and history although eating out and even having a beer in the pub proved to be outrageously expensive ($25 for two small beers)!

Enjoying a beer after sightseeing in Ribe

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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