International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Aarhus
- Remarkable Destination
Denmark on the top list of your forthcoming holiday destinations?
Yes, this country is not always an obvious choice. One of the Northern
European countries surrounded by the Baltic and North seas, it does
not boast particular warmth in summer giving up the crowds of sunbathing
lovers to Spain and Italy. Funs of winter sports also bypass Denmark
because of the flat landscape (the highest natural point is only
171 metres above the sea) and mild winters its maritime climate
is similar to British.
Even popular European
tours rarely include Denmark travel, may be a day or two in its capital
So why on Earth we chose to spend our time and money (considering current
economic climate and unfavourable exchange rates) in Denmark leaving
SUNNY Bournemouth behind? We were surprised ourselves - when looking
to get far away from busy cities but not into a deep country, to get
exposed to extreme culture & art while being close to nature
it was Denmark that ticked all the boxes.
Denmarks second city it was Aarhus (Århus, 300,000
citizens) chosen not only because of its alphabetical advantages
over other towns on Ryanair website. This is a lovely city famous
as having "soul of a city and a heart of a village".
Aarhus is also known by many other slogans: "The Worlds
Smallest Big City" the city centre is quite small, just
a few streets around the main square St Clemens Torv, but the city
is big on attractions.
One of the main
highlights is Den Gamle By (Old Town Arhus), which is home to 75 buildings
collected from 20 market towns across Denmark, making it Denmarks
largest outdoor museum. This museum of Urban Culture was first presented
at the Danish National Exhibition in Aarhus in 1909 and has been Denmarks
most visited attraction ever since. The list of attractions continue
with Japanese and Botanical Gardens, modern innovative Art Centre AROS
(one of the biggest in Northern Europe), Museum of Nazi Occupation,
Womens Museum, Viking Museum, city cathedral; the summer residence
of the Danish Royal family is just three kilometres from Aarhus (this
is not an exhaustive list). The new Lighthouse project will be bringing
the highest building of 142m to Aarhus harbour in the future.
"The Capital of Provinces" on its out-shell Aarhus
is a quiet, tranquil, villagy place. Its shops shut at 5pm and weekends,
city centre is eco-friendly free of cars, bicyclists use especially
designed for them lanes. Talking of cyclists in contrast to giant
army of Dutch cyclists that haunt pedestrians, Danish cyclists are very
polite and often look like horse riders in their safety hats and jackets.
Drivers are also polite, and if you cross in front of the car they do
not honk but wait for you to clear their way (hopefully not texting
police requesting your arrest). Rule-abiding is just religious on the
roads (surely roads are not an exception of the rule) especially
at green-light pedestrian crossings. Even at small, empty of cars, roads,
people patiently wait listening to ticking sound of the crossing: "Ho-o-o-ld,
Ho-o-o-ld, Ho-o-o-ld"; then move just in front of an approaching
car only because the light turns green prompting them: "Go, Go,
Go, Go". Good lesson towards changing some of my bad habits too.
"The City of Cafes" inner city life is bursting
with events in many cafes and pubs that thrive along the canal and
all over the city. We arrived in time for the Blue Days Festival
featuring Gypsies, Teitur and other bands (wasnt planned
seems that festivals are happening here for all the time) with three
day music marathon on the main city square. For many years Aarhus
is known as the "nesting box" of Danish musicians and
bands, primarily in main stream pop and rock music. City nightlife
is on par with Copenhagen, this is just as well as Aarhus is an
incredibly modern university city with 20,000 students adding to
the population. Not surprisingly the average age of its inhabitants
is among the lowest in Europe.
"City of Smiles"
its citizens do smile because they live in the most progressive
country enjoying the highest standard of living in the world. Who wouldnt
smile, being happy and relaxed? Happiness is also reflected in the relaxed
Danish dress style. Tall shouldery Scandinavian blondies have managed
to convince me better than any cat-walk-skinnies that a white old-granny-embroidered-nighty
(so hated by me just before my trip to Denmark) with leggings is this
summers fashion hit. I changed my clothes and loved being asked
questions in Danish suppose I should start learning it for our
next trip this time I only smiled (very Aarhus) and replied:
"Sorry, only English."
I would also call Aarhus a "City of Street Art" artistic
graffitis cover many city buildings, "City of Roses"
rose is the most popular decorative bush in city gardens and
we were lucky to witness the full bloom and fragrance, "City of
Delicious Hot-Dogs" come and try for yourself.
also "historic Viking town". Walking along idyllic
narrow streets of Aarhus, visiting its gardens and squares, sitting
by its water fountains, breathing its lovely atmosphere, enjoying
relaxed and stylish interiors of places weve been to, I couldnt
stop thinking of remarkable curiosities of life. Some centuries
ago this peaceful land belonged to the most notorious fearful Viking
Empire. The Vikings Age will always be fascinating people. Not only
warriors but traders and explorers Vikings travelled from "Ireland
in the west to Russia in the east, from Greenland in the north to
Andalusia in the south" during three centuries 8-11 AD.
They also reached
North America and inhabited Iceland in 9th century. Aarhus hosts annual
Viking festivals in July and is considered, arguably, to be the oldest
Viking town, with a small museum in the city centre (entrance is free).
Talking of history - Denmark is the second oldest monarchy in the world,
after Japan, dating from reign of king Gorm the Old 900-940AD.
Aarhus is the biggest town in Jutland (Jylland) a large peninsula
north of Germany forming the mainland of Denmark. Not many know that
Denmark is also spread on around 500 islands in the Baltic sea with
only 100 of which are inhabited there is a huge scope for discoveries.
Greenland near North America and the Faroe Islands in Atlantic Ocean
are also under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark, although both
maintain home rule. Together with Jutland, the country consists of three
regions including Sjaeland and Fyn. The most popular is Sjaeland with
Copenhagen situated on the largest island in the country. Fyn is famous
with Odense, the childhood place of Hans Christian Andersen and his
fairy tails, lovely landscapes and beaches. Odense is now just 80 minutes
away from Copenhagen by modern high-speed train due to the recent completion
of the Great Belt bridge linking the islands of Fyn and Sjaeland.
Aarhus is positioned conveniently in reachable proximity to many interesting
places in Denmark. Every little town has its own charm it takes
20 mins by train to get to Skanderborg and 40 mins to Silkeborg, Danish
Lake and Forest District Capital one of the most beautiful and
expensive places to live in Denmark. If you are prepared to travel further
its 3.5 hours by train to capital city Copenhagen (35 mins flight),
4 hours by train to Ribe, Scandinavias oldest and best preserved
town. Ribe has old cobblestone streets, charming atmosphere and beautiful
buildings, many of them connected to famous historical figures. There
is also regular rail connection to Sweden, Germany and the rest of Europe.
If you ever decide to come, it is important to remember that big hearted
Aarhus is a small city its few hotels get promptly booked up prior
to major events, which are happening here ever so often. The budget
options are The City Sleep-In hostel (130 DKK per a bunkbed) situated
just opposite the sea port and around the corner from the main square,
and The Cab-Inn hotel (485 DKK for a single tiny but comfortable room
with Wi Fi) just at the square. There can be good offers for
Radisson SAS and other hotels on the internet just keep looking
and do not exclude Denmark from your destination list.
Because of its fascinating history, traditions, contemporary ways of
living, Denmark is worth a visit.
© Natalya Popova June 2009
ferganavalley at hotmail.co.uk
8am-ish on a Sunday morning (a brave, if not heroic) start, we stepped
out on a route of exploration of Pisa, Italia.
life moments in travel
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