Odense – Funen, Denmark
A Pilgrimage for Fairy-Tale Lovers
The island of Funen is known to the world as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. Possibly the world’s most esteemed storyteller, Andersen’s work – including beloved classics like “Thumbelina” and “The Ugly Duckling” – is more widely translated and read than anything except the Bible and the writings of Karl Marx, and his Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s world-recognized icon.
Odense, his hometown, is Denmark’s third-largest city. With a charming medieval core, it attracts fairy-tale lovers from all over. Born in 1805 to a local shoemaker and washerwoman, both illiterate, Andersen was an inveterate traveler whose battered suitcases are on display at the museum adjoining his childhood home, as is the fire rope he never traveled without, hanging it outside his hotel window.
Visitors can view original manuscripts (officials still await the return of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which disappeared some years ago) and letters to his close friend Charles Dickens. Also make time to enjoy the island’s bucolic rolling countryside, dotted with thatched-roofed farmhouses, orchards, country manors, and inns called kros.