As a result of taking a “green” travel quiz, I learned just enough about a small island in Denmark to pique my interest. The question was: “According to Norse Mythology, this is the island in Denmark where Odin, the Norse God, learned Seid Magic”. Of course, I answered Faroe Islands. Wrong! The actual answer is an eco-utopia called Samso Island. Now I was on a mission to find out more about this unique island.
In 1997, The Danish Energy Agency sponsored a national contest to select the off-shore island with the best plan to become 100% energy-sustainable within a 10-year time frame. The results have been amazing.
Samso Island is located 9 miles off the Jutland Peninsula and a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland (Hou port). Although this island has formed a forward thinking social energy revolution, many travelers say a trip to the island is a trip back through time. The island has a population of about 4,300. There are 21 wind turbines that power the island, providing enough energy for the island and more. They sell leftover energy to the mainland for a profit. This island is completely self sufficient. The introduction of these renewable energy projects has led to new markets and new well-paying jobs. Samso inhabitants now embrace a lifestyle that has stimulated their economy, improved their way of life, and kept their environment clean.
When visiting Samso you will need to bring your hiking boots and an eco mindset. You will also want to rent a bicycle to explore the area. Public transportation is also an option; the regular bus services are run by an energy-efficient telebus system where buses drive on request.
The first place to visit to fully appreciate what this island is all about is the Samsø Energy Academy where you will learn more about the results of the island experiment and “green technology” in general. Located in the Town of Ballen, a picturesque harbor village, this academy is a perfect example of building while leaving no carbon footprint.
One unique option when visiting Samso is to experience the Prairie Wagon Holiday. Take a few steps back in time and tour Samsø at a slow pace as two Norwegian Fjord horses pull your prairie wagon around the island. Then spend your nights at permanent camp sites with other “prairie settlers”. They even provide a modern electrolux propane fridge on site which is essential for the beer that goes with the barbeque!
Next on the tourist route is Brattingsborg Manor, located in a park in the south of Samso. The manor was built in the English style in 1871-98. The main road passes the park and leads on through a wooded area to the coast. It is open to hikers and cyclists during daylight hours from June to August, and it is an extremely popular location for country walks. The “Vesborg Fyr” lighthouse to the south acts as a landmark.
The largest hotel on the island is the Ballen Badehotel with 37 rooms. This hotel is open seasonally April to Oct. All rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs and have free internet access. There is a seaside golf course nearby and the hotel will book golf packages for you. Their restaurant is considered the best on the island, offering classic Danish and French cuisine prepared with fresh, quality ingredients from the local farms and fishers. Most of the food is organic; locally grown produce growers thrive as the local people try to avoid imported produce grown with oil-based chemical fertilizers. In the summer months, you can usually hear a live orchestra playing in the courtyard to accompany your meal.
If you are looking for a nostalgic, relaxing, and healthy break from your daily hectic routine, Samso Island is just the place for your next eco-vacation.
Written by Carla Scott for EuropeUpClose.com