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A coastal country

A column devoted to those brave "first-time" internationals in Denmark.

Photograph: Visit Denmark (Michael Lindvig, Lindvig photography) / Visit Vesterhavet (Flying October)

Text: Dominic J Stevensen

If a country's outline, coastline, or unfathomable shape had a casual observer or a geographical obsessive eating from the palm of its hand, indeed, it was Denmark. I found it exciting to look at on maps (a beautiful thumb and all its additional parts) a bewitching body. I lived here. Where nothing was too far away, everything reachable, accessible, a spectacular world on the doorstep.

Denmark had a peninsula – growing off Germany as if it were the most breathtaking bulbous appendage – many islands, both large and small, bridges connecting them to the rest of its brothers and sisters (or else for trips to deliver visitors there or inhabitants to and fro) as well as neighbouring Sweden, and beaches aplenty for its less than six million residents. No beach was ever packed - they were all free to use, and there appeared to be almost endless space for such a small country. In short, Denmark could breathe.

With the sea so nearby, with spectacular bridges and views of the islands/peninsula from over on the other sides, you could never be far from something that caught your attention. It was a flat, open, thrilling land with a structure like nothing else, and the wind and rain were never far away. The lack of mountains was more than made up for by the unfathomably pretty beaches and coastlines. Granted, it was cooler than most of Europe and with many people sun-seeking for their annual holidays, it made sense that Denmark was a secret treasure trove, a series of love letters to the earth yet to be uncovered. Freedom was everywhere.

Denmark invited natives, expats such as me who lived here, and visitors and holidaymakers from beyond, not obsessed with sunshine and heat, to bask in its inconceivably elegant beaches, vistas, and majesty, the unpredictable weather affecting every moment. Secret magic murmured, lay around every corner here. Having recently ventured a short distance to Trelde Naes and unearthed sights and space as if we had made our own special discovery, we were again stunned. In a nutshell, this was the country we had moved to, what we had hoped for, what existed in the unlikeliest locations. We had encountered peace for not the first time during our new life in Denmark.

I was curious how the average native Dane saw it, as in my past experiences, I had found those who lived in a special place didn't tend to explore it, appreciate it, or even know many of its charms. Did they cherish the wonder surrounding their lives? Time alone would deliver that answer to me.

"The lack of mountains was more than made up for by the unfathomably pretty beaches and coastlines."

I had thus far become acquainted with several holiday spots along the west coast of Denmark, both north and south of Esbjerg. I knew the bridge that connected Fyn to Jylland, had been to some of the beaches on both the peninsula and the country's central island. My experiences of Zealand were thus far limited to a trip to coastal Copenhagen some years earlier. The smaller islands also appealed and would bring their own unique gifts, further treasures to be taken on board over time. The very idea that so much lay out there, within our grasp, both to inspire and learn about, was entirely thrilling.

The sea whispered tales of Vikings, further Scandinavia beyond, past and present, and what was yet to come. The ever-perplexing Danish weather sometimes made you feel the earth and its waters had collided with the sky and heavens above, where one ended, and the other began no longer being discernible. The coastline of Denmark, its obscure weather system, the endless mystery, and magic for such a small but perfectly scattered flat land was scarcely comprehensible, a prize for adults and children alike, a place to fall in love with repeatedly, a country apart from others.

Here were some of the whitest, sandiest, and most pebble-laden beaches I had ever witnessed. The waters can be intoxicating shades of green and blue, as clear as exotic seas and their white sandy beaches of countries continents removed from our own.

The curves of her body were exquisite, the (coast)lines traceable, contours designed to hike, to wander, to follow where they went until every beach had been visited, every inch of her body explored, covered. Denmark's shape was desirable beyond any other, possessor of a charm I had not known in a country before.

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