Sunday, March 14, 2010

So, what’s Aarhus really like?

Since we had a car (and no CPR number=we were forced to behave like tourists), we took some time to discover the nice things to do in and around town. We ate out in a relatively unexpensive but nice place, enjoyed James Cameron’s Avatar (in English and Na’vi with Danish subtitles), visited a bunch of Danish design furniture stores (fascinating stuff!) and walked around the parks, the sea front, etc.

Aarhus is a cute town (about Boulder or Annapolis-size) with a lot of brick houses and several churches, right by the sea, and is actually a main harbor for Denmark-think large docks and gigantic cranes. A role it has been serving since around the 7th or 8th century when the Vikings settled down here. Aarhus was their main port of call for their trips to Iceland, Greenland, and beyond (Disneyland?)... The main harbor is now next to the downtown area, with a more marina and fisherman’s wharf type of place to the North (a place where we’ve been told we can see dolphins). The South has a long beach, which makes for a nice area for jogging and sea kayaking, right in front of the Queen’s summer residence, and before a nice and enchanted forest (that is, when it’s not icy everywhere!). On the first time we were there the sea was frozen so there were little icebergs and all. We went back yesterday and that was all melted. An inspiring spot indeed, it’s like trading Boulder’s mountains for Aarhus’ sea front, and we’re not losing much in the process! Just complementary realities...

The big tourist attraction of Aarhus is its reconstitued ‘old town’, called ‘Den Gamle By’ in Danish. It’s like an open-air museum with plenty of houses from all around Denmark dating back to as early as the beginning of the 16th century, that got saved from destruction by being dismantled in their original location and then by being rebuilt in a corner of the botanical gardens in Aarhus. There are even a couple of water and wind mills! Houses were reorganized into what now looks like a real typical small town, with unpaved or cobbler stone paved streets, complete with reconstitued homes and shops inside the buildings. So it’s really like a history book come to life. Q even talked with a guy who was building wooden barrels inside one of these places. Q was there on an awesome sunny day, which made the reds and yellows of the outside of the houses look fantastic. And in the cold of winter, no tourists! A few school kids, but mostly a few geese wandering around, just like old times in the Old World...

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