The trip was wonderful in so many ways, the Rhine Viking River cruise was a terrific start. The towns and villages we stopped at were picturesque and historical and the people so very friendly from Cologne to Bamberg. We needed more time to fully take in all the sights and sounds.
In February, I tried to contact a small museum near my great grandmother Kirsten Nielsen’s home town of Voldum, Denmark. No one in my family had visited the area for over 50 years. After many attempts, and with the help of an intern in the mayor’s office in Aarhus, a phone call initiated a response. Language was the barrier at first, but translating my emails into Danish really helped. The little museum, in 86 year old Tove Tendal’s home, agreed to open on Saturday, when we would be there. And then shortly after a museum volunteer notified me they had located a relative descended from my great grandmother’s brother, who never left Denmark. That was more than I imagined. My first purpose was to see if the house of which I had a photo, was still standing.
My husband Doug and I pulled up to the little museum in Aarhus, and to my surprise American flags were on the mailbox. Inside were eight relatives and a TV crew from a local news station! My Danish TV moment! We were welcomed enthusiastically and shown memorabilia and genealogy charts of the Nielsen family dating back to the 1700s. A lovely Danish pastry brunch was served and we moved on to sights in town, namely the beautiful church and my great grandmother’s home, still standing. Added to, and planked over, but still there since the mid-1800s. It was truly an unbelievable thrill to see it with new-found relatives.
Judith Pateman/Douglas Licks. Viking River Cruise: Rhine-Main Explorer + independent Europe touring, Spring 2012