Island of Funen, Denmark: Egeskov Castle (Slot)

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I have been completely dreading writing this post simply because Egeskov Castle is properly huge, at least, once you count all the gardens and outbuildings.  I think I said the same thing about the National Museum of Denmark, but at least that was just a museum.  Egeskov Castle is not only  a castle, but has museums, games, and other attractions – similar to Osborne House, which I loved, but really, Egeskov puts Osborne House to shame (although it doesn’t have the bed Victoria died in).

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We were greeted at Egeskov (which is the sort of place you need a car to visit, as it appears to be miles from anywhere) by signs featuring the current owner of the castle – the eccentric Count Michael who has an apparent love for Segways and armour.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that, though the admission is a pricy DKK 180 per person (about 22 quid, but sometimes it’s best not to think about the conversion rate), presumably so he can afford the finest Segways money can buy.  (I kid, I’m sure he’s already wealthy, plus there’s undoubtedly a fair amount of upkeep involved).

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Unsure of the best place to start, we did the only sensible thing and headed straight for Dracula’s Crypt.  As far as I can tell, there’s no actual connection between Egeskov and Dracula, Bram Stoker, or anyone else relevant, so the whole Dracula’s Crypt is essentially just a hokey tourist trap, but I don’t have a huge problem with that.  It was full of drunken Germans when we arrived, and is basically just a dark room with a coffin that I believe is motion activated, though we managed to avoid tripping it.  The Crypt is incongruously plunked in the middle of a motorcycle museum that we pretty much skipped over, because I feel pretty meh towards motorcycles.

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In addition to motorcycles and cars, there was also a big Falck Museum.  I initially hoped Falck was Danish for folk or something, but it turns out it is a brand of trucks (?) that seems to have a virtual monopoly over emergency vehicles in Denmark.  Or maybe it just is the Danish name for an emergency vehicle?  I think I definitely missed something in translation, but there were some great mannequins in this section.

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The pink car shown here is a lady’s car that was driven by Woodrow Wilson.  It’s not particularly relevant to anything, I just feel like it’s the sort of thing you might want to know (assuming you’re anything like me).

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We could spy the castle across the water at this point, but it proved to be surprisingly difficult to get to, which is perhaps the point of a moat.  It involved going through a barn/museum, which gave a history of the castle starting in the 1800s, but it was difficult to focus on reading in the midst of wax figures with mustaches bigger than their faces.  From there, we had to cross over a ravine, but were still on the wrong side of the castle which gave us the chance (forced us to) walk through the extensive gardens.  There was an old hedge maze which looked amazing, but is not open to the public, and a random giant gold ball, but I was most charmed by the squirrel topiaries.  I mean really, squirrel topiaries!  Delightful.

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Before the entrance to the castle (which was finally in sight), we came upon the old Gate House, which now houses the dress collection of one of the 19th century Countesses of Egeskov.  I adore old dresses, and was more than happy to spend some time perusing her collection, especially as it involved going up spiral staircases.

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The highlight of the collection was undoubtedly the (partial) gown once owned by Marie Antoinette, which they wisely chose to display in a room with a mock guillotine and severed head.  I like the way this Count Michael (or probably the curator) thinks!

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Having at last made our way over the drawbridge into the castle, we were rewarded with an eclectic collection of taxidermy and other miscellany from around the world, including a “magical” foot stool (on top of the cabinet to the right).

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Most of the rooms were decorated as they would have been in the late 19th century, but the Great Hall is noteworthy for containing a pair of portraits with the kind of eyes that follow you around the room, and Count Michael’s suit of armour, which was only made recently, but is based on medieval armour.

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I’ve talked about my fascination with dollhouses quite a lot on here lately, but the one at Egeskov makes most other doll houses look like a pile of puke (just like Lil’ Lisa!).  Titania’s Palace (as it’s called) was created by a British artist and craftsman who built it for his small daughter so the fairies in the garden would have somewhere to live.  As it took him 15 years to complete it, presumably his daughter was no longer little nor believed in fairies by the time it was finished, but it’s still a nice story, and a gorgeous dollhouse.  The rooms are almost unbelievably intricate, and full of literary references.  In case you can’t study it in enough detail through the glass over the rooms, the video in the adjoining room gives an even closer look.  There was an older British lady in there watching it with me, and we both kept emitting little awed gasps throughout.

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The attic is home to more toys, though none so impressive as the dollhouse, as well as some pottery, and a curious little wooden man who sleeps under the rafters, as there’s some sort of legend that if you disturb him, bad shit will happen (I’m sure it’s more poetic than that, but you get the idea).

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There were many more gardens that we could have strolled through, but we had a long day ahead of us, so we headed straight to the Yew Maze (I think.  There’s also a Larch Maze, which is presumably like larch on oak to get out of).  I don’t think I ever actually found the centre, I just ended up wandering back out again after a while.  If you are wearing a skirt or dress as I was, might I advise you avoid exiting via slide?  Just like the super fun happy slide in Mr. Burns’s mansion, this slide also had a dark side, as it was really really slippery and caused my dress to ride up, which resulted in terrible thigh burning that lingered for days (too much information? I’m only trying to be helpful!)

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There are quite a few other activities at Egeskov that we didn’t partake in, as some of them cost extra.  There’s a playground for children, and some kind of Tree-Top Walk, which would presumably have resulted in me clinging to a tree in terror, and…a Segway jousting course!  You get to wear a breastplate and carry a lance, which you can aim at various obstacles in the course.  It wasn’t so much the cost that deterred me as the fact that everyone who went on it had a crowd of people standing around gawping at them, and I don’t do well with attention from strangers.  I’ve no doubt it’s a grand time if you’re not shy though!

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We saw a number of cafes around the place, most of them serving hot dogs (ick), and even chips mixed with chunks of hot dog, a concoction known as Pølsemix.  Fortunately, you could get chips sans meat, as well as a variety of exciting looking ice creams.  Although there were several gift shops, only the one at the exit was open during our visit.

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Overall, whilst I was disappointed that there wasn’t more information on the history of the castle (I’m still ignorant as to why and by whom it was built), it was nonetheless a pretty great attraction.  I don’t know if Count Michael is to thank for all the quirky touches, but if it is, he seems to be the sort of person I would get along with (which is saying something, as I hate most people).  I’d love to see more history and relevant information on the castle, but I’m still going to give it 4.5/5.

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