Because we live nearly right on the sea, forest school here for my daughter takes place on the beach or on the ocean just about as often as it does in the woods (lucky girl, right?). We’ve always loved a little waterside time as a family, so Denmark’s plentiful seaside towns, many of them close to Copenhagen, have really given us lots to do on weekends. Gilleleje is a favorite of ours for days when we need something other than just the beach.
Our daughter’s perspectives after forest school really made us approach these towns in a new way – all of the sudden, beach days aren’t just about swimming and sunshine (though we like that too – ahem, Hornbaek, ahem). These days we’re more apt to learn from her rather than she from us – telling us what lives in this type of water, what might be under the rock, how you can take out fish eyeballs and other handy lessons for life…
In fact, as a reward for earlier good behavior we told her she could pick out a souvenir from the shop on the water that we like to visit. It’s the kind of place that makes me want to buy yards of different cables and ropes meant for sailors, even though we don’t sail… After passing by a few toys, she settled on a crab fishing rod that made her beam with delight (so much so that she even insisted on sleeping with it – i removed it though after her eyes quickly shut on the ride back, afraid as any parent of anything resembling a rod close to an eye – I’m not quite that Danish yet…). As we didn’t exactly know how to use it, we didn’t catch anything though she had a blast trying. Since that day, she brought it to school for show and tell and the whole class subsequently went out to use it, they even had a crab themed week, and now she can catch them like any pro on the circuit.
Also at the top of list to things to get in Gilleleje are the children’s nets. Fishing, butterfly catching – these things are all purpose and no respectable Denmark-raised child is without at least three of these (!). To make summer sweeter, there was also a great strawberry stand set up which ended up being the perfect dessert to eat right then and there on the harbor.
Gilleleje is a laid back town, known for it’s earlier fishing industry, but also for its significant history during WWII as an escape point for rowing out to Sweden. A small marker commemorates that, though most people pass it by, in favor of the lovingly kept traditional homes and fresh fish and chips on the water.
Further down the dock, there’s a place where children can race crabs, getting into the mucky water to fish them out and send them down the race chute. I’m not sure how the crabs – or PETA – would feel about that, but it was great to see kids just being kids. Getting dirty, getting excited, getting fresh air…The sun didn’t go down until about 10 o’clock. Summers in Denmark are such that you might have to throw a vest on against the chill, but all of these other things still make it feel like summer just the same.
If you’re heading to Gilleleje, best sure to also check out the Denmark Derby post on Gilleleje as well for more tips!