We are Diedrik and Sofie, a Belgian couple who departed Belgium in 2019 and now call Bornholm our home. In 2020, we made a significant transformation to an old school building constructed in 1888, originally serving as the local community school until the 1960s. Our project involved substantial upgrades and enhancements.

At the suggestion of our local friends, we embarked on a new journey in July 2020, offering three charming apartments to friends and paying guests during the summer season. This marked the beginning of the Den Gule Svane story.

For Sofie, this endeavor was a nostalgic return to her roots, as her father’s Mogensen family hails from the island. She cherished her childhood vacations spent with her Mogensen relatives on Bornholm.

I was born and raised in South Africa and transitioned from being a lawyer to becoming a wine educator (www.europeanwineacademy.org). Bornholm piqued my interest when I stumbled upon a book about the history of Burgundy in France. It revealed that the name ‘Burgundy’ originates from ‘Burgundarholmr,’ an Old Norse term for the island of Bornholm, meaning “Island of the Burgundians.” In the early medieval times, many Bornholmers left the island, possibly due to a mini-Ice Age, and settled in the lower Vistula river region, now Poland. Facing threats from Atilla the Hun’s forces, they gradually migrated westward, through Germanic lands and into Roman Gaul, ultimately establishing the Burgundian kingdom west of the Alps in the Rhône valley. These ex-Bornholmers initiated a wine culture there, contributing to Burgundy’s reputation in Western civilization. We’ve all heard the term ‘a real Burgundian’ used to describe someone who enjoys life, food, and wine!

Just imagine, if a renowned producer of the world’s finest Pinot Noir in Beaune, Burgundy, traced their family lineage back to the 1st century, they might discover their ancestor was originally from Svaneke!

Sofie, a certified chef and baker, offers a Continental breakfast service for those who order in advance (details provided later).

Now, why ‘The Yellow Swan’? When we arrived on the island and strolled across the charming wooden bridge leading to Arnager harbor, we were captivated by the sight of two graceful swans serenely gliding in the sea. “Impossible,” I thought. Swans in the sea? Surely, they had been blown off-course from the Thames and found themselves here by accident. However, we soon learned that due to the lower salinity of the Baltic Sea, swans are a common sight in this area. Swans have become a symbol of the island, blending seamlessly with its diverse wildlife and lush greenery.

Despite our proximity to the small local airport, we occasionally spot deer grazing in our garden. Not to mention the hares attempting to breach the fence surrounding Sofie’s vegetable garden or the pheasants darting across the lawn. And did you know that not far from us in the Almindingen forest, you might encounter a remarkable creature crossing the road: a European Bison (we may not have Africa’s ‘Big Five’ on the island, but we do have ‘Bornholm’s Big One’)! For me, the swans will forever be synonymous with Bornholm. And as for ‘yellow,’ our house is adorned in the traditional Danish yellow hue known as ‘skagengul.’

Is everything here absolutely flawless? Well, nearly so. Like most older houses, Den Gule Svane is situated close to the road. During the daytime in the summer months (when most of our guests are either at the beach, cycling, or sightseeing), we do experience increased traffic. Additionally, living near the small local airport means that in the summer, our local plane (a twin-engined turbo-prop plane, fondly called Sofie’s ‘Dinky Toy Plane’ – with seating for only 38 passengers) occasionally taxis in our direction for take-off.