Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Steph's Travel Log - Love & Denmark 1991

Me, in front of Legoland.

I was a young 22 year old woman in 1990, stationed in Bad Hersfeld, Germany. I say woman because I was feeling like I was missing the boat in the romance department. I was also an MP, a Corporal, working at the MP station as a desk sergeant. In that regard, I wore two hats and not too many saw the woman underneath the MP brassard.

Most of 1990 was a blur. In March, my aunt came for a visit with 3 of her friends and we sojourned from Paris to Berlin in my 1984 Toyota Corolla. (A big upgrade from my 1975 Fiat, but that’s a story for another time.)

Legoland, Billund, Denmark.

In June, I moved to Bad Hersfeld, home of the 3/11th ACR. All those Cav Scouts! Still, my heart longed for a deeper relationship. Dating was getting old.

In August, I went to the Sergeant promotion board and did well. I also had a disappointing dating relationship with a Cav officer, so I did what any normal woman would have done – I swore off men for the rest of my life.

That lasted a month. In October, I went to Butzbach, Germany to attend a leadership school and I met – him.

My love, at Legoland.

He was in my class. He was tall – his height the perfect compliment to mine. Soft, sensitive eyes, and sandy blonde hair. Sigh… Physically, he was everything I wanted in a man. If only he would notice me.

Surprisingly, I got noticed - during our field exercises and long lunch lines. He was also in Bad Hersfeld and drove for the Colonel. He’d been coming to the MP for 6 months to dispatch his vehicle and we’d missed each other by 30 feet. We had our first date on our weekend pass from school. Since I had a car, I took him to Pizza Hut in Giessen.

Copenhagen's Rathaus.

Our leadership school only lasted a month, and we went back to Bad Hersfeld in Nov. 1990. Over the course of the next four weeks we fell madly, passionately in love.

What an exciting adventure – falling in love in Europe! Germany was full of old world ambience and charm. Everything was an adventure. We went on volksmarches, concerts, visited Berlin, and even visited old friends from my first duty assignment in Munster. While there, we went to the Kris Kringle markets during the Christmas season. It was cold, but those times hold fond memories in my heart.

On Christmas Eve he asked me to marry him. Drunk on love in the arms of my lover, well, of course I said “Yes!”

The next year was fun, but also a bit more demanding of us. He got deployed to Kuwait between June-Sept. I had a major operation to remove a cyst in my face. And then he came down on orders to leave. Our planned wedding for 14 Feb 1992 was moved up to Nov 1991.

Actually getting married in Germany in 1991 was time consuming. It took a good 6 months to process paperwork and we didn’t have the time. Then we heard of Denmark. In Denmark it only took 4 days and $100 for the marriage license. We booked a train from Bad Hersfeld to Nykobig, Denmark, got leave, and raced off like runaway lovers eloping for the thrill of being united in a more permanent way.

Yes, I was married in Nykobig, Denmark on 14 Nov 1991. Like most of Europe, it was overcast and drizzly, but we didn’t care. We were in love.

Denmark is made up of a series of islands (406 to exact!) and Nykobig was on a the island of Falster. It’s most famous landmark is the Czar’s cottage – a building constructed by Peter I, so he had a place to stay when he went on his European progresses.

We stayed in a nice hotel with a very urban look. The furniture was straight out of Ikea – smooth and sleek. During our stay we visited Legoland in Billund, home of the original Legoland, and we saw the sights in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen's royal place, where the Queen lives.

Copenhagen is indeed the jewel of the Danes. The architure is definitely different – exotic, with swirling steeples and towers. We visited Copenhagen’s town hall, the royal palace, and the docks where we saw several cruise ships.

The royal place, you ask? Yes, Denmark has a constitutional monarchy. Her Queen is Margrethe II, who came to the throne in January 1972, when she was 31. She was born in April 1940, a week after the Nazi’s occupied Denmark. In 1953, the Danes amended their constitution, allowing women to ascend to the throne. Good for the Danes! Margrethe is very popular and admired in Denmark.

Our wedding was actually a civil ceremony in Nykobig’s rathaus. (Rathaus is the town hall.) We were married by a judge. Our marriage certificate is in 5 different languages. How cool is that? In true Danish equality, if my husband wanted to talk my surname, he was given the option.
Most Danes speak English which was nice because we didn’t know the language. They were also very friendly – especially to Americans. Danes are generally easy-going, laid back people who strive for equality in all they do.

The Danish flag is called the Dannebrog. It fell from the heavens to the feet of King Valdemar who was inspired to win the war against the Estonians in 1219 which made the Danish nation.
On our honeymoon we had an opportunity to try Tuborg, a Danish beer. It was fabulous – much like a German beer. In fact, the Danes have a long, rich beer making history. I highly recommend a Tuborg or a Carlsberg if you can find them.

Ah, Denmark, the country of my marriage. I’ll always have fond memories. I’ve enclosed some pictures taken during our stay.

Falling in love and getting married against the backdrop of romantic Europe is one of the most treasured times of my life. I felt uninhibited - free to live and love without the scrutinizing eyes of my family or his upon us.

Us, on our wedding day at the Rathaus in Nykobig.

And today? On 14 Nov 2009, we’ll celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. I hope you’ve enjoyed my travel log of Denmark – and love.


Celia Yeary said...

STEPH--ahhh, how wonderfully sweet and romantic. You have certainly led a unique life, and now I've learned even more about you. I remember the Scandinavian cities and places you mentioned--lovely places, most easy to walk around in and explore.Congratulations on your wedding anniverary--you're very lucky to have such a nice husband, and he is lucky to have you. Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Steph ~ oh, thank you, for your love story. I always ask couples about when and where they fell in love. It just swoons my heart.
Congratulations on your anniversary and many, many more.

Maggie Toussaint said...

You are such a romantic in combat boots, Steph! How wonderful to have had such adventures in your "youth". I enjoyed the travel log and the photos.

and happy anniversary, early! We just celebrated ours this month.

Maggie Toussaint
the Book Spa - relax and unwind

StephB said...

Aww, Maggie, Happy Anniversary to you, too. Thanks for popping in Celia and Savanna. Denmark will always hold special memories for me. You usually think of Paris or Italy as European places for love, but Denmark is the ultimate for me.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Beautiful blog, Steph and a lovely love strory! Congratulations on your anniversary!! My parents were married in Nov like you and had a honeymoon in wartime Blackpool. It's all romanitc... sigh.

Thanks for sharing, Steph!

Linda Banche said...

What a great post. I love to see real happily ever afters.

StephB said...

Lindsay, I know November isn't a popular month to get married, but when you're in love it doesn't matter what month it is. hehe. Thanks, Linda.

LK Hunsaker said...

Steph, it's a bit eerie how similar our road to wedding stories are! "swore off men forever" LOL. I'll bet a lot of us have done that at least once. ;-)

We did November, also, for similar reasons.

StephB said...

hehe, Loraine. November rocks weddings for me. Funny about the swearing off men. I find if you swear off something, it usually comes to you shortly thereafter.