This Explains So Much

So there’s this podcast about living in Denmark as an expat that I like to listen to. Most of the things the author mentions, I’ve already experienced, but it’s nice to commiserate and to know I’m not alone. But every once in a while, she mentions some facet of life in Denmark that I haven’t encountered yet, and it always fascinates me how this new tidbit sheds light on what I’ve experienced about Denmark. 

For example, her podcast from the 5th talks about biking in Denmark. I have my bike here and have biked around town and am already familiar with the Danish biking rules and etiquette and their crazy hook turns. However, what I didn’t know was that many Danes own an extra “ugly bike” which, well, Kay explains it much better in the quote below than I could. But let me just say that it finally explains why so many rusty, crusty bicycles seem to just sit in the train station parking lot getting rustier and crustier.

Image

“Most people in Copenhagen have more than one bike, sometimes three. One might be a sport racing bike, or a mountain bike, and the other might be a ‘shopper’ bike, with a big basket for bringing home groceries.

It’s also quite common to have an extra, ugly bike.

An ugly bike is a bike that gets no love, and often no maintenance. It’s a rusted, broken-down bike you use for short commutes and leave at the train station.

When I used to work at Carlsberg, the beer company, I’d take my shopper bike to the train station by my house, get on the train, get off at the stop near Carlsberg, where I had another bike waiting – an ugly bike.

It wasn’t a nice neighborhood, so I needed a not very nice bike, something that wouldn’t be worth the effort to steal.

I’d ride the ugly bike to work. At the end of the day, I’d ride the ugly bike back to the station by Carlsberg, leave it there, get back on the train, get off at the stop by my house, and ride my shopper bike home. Two bikes and a train – that’s a pretty typical Copenhagen commute.”

((via)) Written by Kay Xander Miller in her podcast and blog: “How to Live in Denmark: An Irreverent Guide.”

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The Weekend’s Adventures: Traveling and Biking

Weekend Adventures

We have had such wonderful weather recently. Even as I type this, it’s a beautiful sunny day. 70°F/21°C with the perfect sea breeze. Brian and I decided to take advantage of the weather this weekend.

Saturday was my birthday – the big 29 – and as it was my first birthday in Denmark we decided to use it as an excuse to go on our first European excursion. We didn’t go far. Just about an hour and a half away by bus to a little town called Ebeltoft:

Trip to Ebeltoft

To Ebeltoft

It was quite a scenic ride.

Ebeltoft was first made a city in 1301! It’s one of the bigger tourist stops in the Djursland area, which is essentially the area of Denmark just to the north of Aarhus. Interestingly, Djursland seems to have decided to advertise itself as “Danmarks naturskønne næse” or “Denmark’s scenic nose.” It makes sense when you look at where it is on the map

Denmark's Scenic Nose

but what a silly slogan! Although I guess I am spending all this time talking about it, so maybe it’s fulfilled its purpose and I shouldn’t poke fun.

Anyway… Ebeltoft has an adorable downtown with cobblestone streets, old timber buildings, and little shops and cafes. It’s like a photographer’s dream town.

In Ebeltoft

Apart from walking around admiring the streets and eating lots and lots of soft is (Danish soft serve ice cream, but that’s a whole other post), Brian and I stopped by two of Ebeltoft’s major tourist attractions: the Fregatten Jylland and the Glasmuseet.

The Fregatten Julland is the world’s longest wooden ship, and it is now part of a museum. You can climb all around and in the ship, which we totally did. The staff gave a talk about the ship and its history (which was, of course, in Danish, so I’m sorry to say that we didn’t learn much), and then at the end they shot one of the cannons with a mighty boom!

Fregatten Jylland

The Glasmuseet is a museum of glass art, and it really exceed my expectations. You can do such crazy stuff with glass! The museum also features a studio where visitors can go to see glass artists at work and even try some glass art of their own! We watched an artist demonstrate how to blow a purple glass Christmas ornament and then give audience members a chance to try making one themselves.

The museum and some of the art we saw.

The museum and some of the art we saw.

I learned from our trip to the Glasmuseet that apparently I like cast glass. My favorite exhibit is featured in two of the photos above and looks like a laboratory filled with jars of jellyfish and slides of amoebae. And it’s all made out of glass! It blew my mind. It’s by the Danish artist Steffen Dam, and you can see more of his work at his website. My photos can’t do it justice since it needs to be seen in detail, and I really recommend clicking that link and checking it out.

One really fun exhibit was this small room made of stained glass and mirrors. It’s called “The Cosmic Space,” and you could go inside and trip yourself out on the reflections. It’s meant to replicate the feeling the artist had out in the middle of the ocean when he went on a 106 day journey from China to the US on a bamboo raft à la “Life of Pie”… I’m not sure that the exhibit actually does that, but it’s cool anyway.

My mind is blown!

My mind is blown!

We finished the Glasmuseet around 3:00pm and returned to the downtown area for a snack only to find it totally dead. All the little shops had closed and the crowds we had seen that morning had packed up and gone home.

This is one thing we’ve noticed about Denmark in general. The worker is of upmost importance (as opposed to the consumer, who is the most important in American society), so opening hours of stores and cafés are much shorter than what we are used to so that the staff can have some time off with their family. Sometimes it astounds me because it will be 6:00pm on a beautiful weekend evening, everyone is strolling along the pedestrian street and all the shops are closed. All I can think about is the business those shops could be doing, the money they could be making! But that’s my American capitalistic upbringing talking.

But even by Danish standards, 3:00pm is a bit extreme. Luckily, a few cafés were still open, so we found some soft is and wandered over to what we thought was a park. What we found, though, was the prettiest cemetery we’d ever seen.

CemeteryWhere we hung out for a while before catching our bus back to Aarhus.

Sunday, the beautiful weather continued, so Brian and I decided to go for a bike ride and try out this trail that goes out west around the Brabrand Sø.

The Ride

According to Brian’s handy bike tracker – which he’s using now to track his bikes to and from work – we traveled about 22km in 1.5 hours. It was a beautiful bike ride up alongside the canal, around the lake, and through some woods. You’re not even outside the city of Aarhus yet – you’re just in the suburbs – when you start to see scenery like this:

BikingThere was even more beautiful scenery – fields of grass as far as you could see – but if we had stopped to photograph it all we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere! When we did stop to take the big picture above, we met this little guy and his siblings:

A Little Goat

En lille ged

Brian tried to feed him, but he was uninterested in the grass on our side of the fence.

We stopped for lunch at the lake and then biked back on the far side. The path on the way back takes you through this industrial part of town (for some weird reason), which is why the last shot is of Brian in front of shipping cartons.

Something that happened to us repeatedly over the weekend were these one-sided Danish conversations. We must have been giving off a Danish vibe because while we were out and about Brian and I had about 5 people just start talking to us in Danish. We would smile and nod our heads (yes yes of course we understand!) then ever so slowly back away. Most of these Danish soliloquies seemed to be in the nature of random comments, but I’m sure some of them were asking us questions or saying something to which a smile and nod was not an appropriate response. For example, when feeding the lille ged, an older woman with her dog walked up to Brian and starting talking to him. I’m sure what she said was something along the lines of, “Oh look at that small goat! My how sweet.” Rather than something like, “Oh look at that small goat! My dog could just eat him up. Mmm, maybe I’ll make lamb chops for dinner tonight.”

And that, folks, was our weekend.

Oh yeah, one other thing happened. Brian woke up AT 3:00AM on Sunday morning to participate in a fantasy football draft with some friends back home. The things that boy goes through for football.

The Weekend’s Adventure: Biking and Art

Since most of our adventures happen on the weekend, it’s looks like I’m going to have reoccuring posts titled “the weekend.” Lets just make that a thing, shall we? From now on, I shall post on Monday about the adventures we had over the weekend.

This past weekend was filled to bursting with fun activities. I finally got out on my bike, and on Saturday Brian and I rode up north to Risskov along a bike and pedestrian path that runs right on the edge of the shore between Risskov forest and the sea. It’s a beautiful ride and quite flat since you’re riding along the shore the whole way.

Taking a water break.

Taking a water break.

A view of the shore on the way back.

A view of the shore on the way back.

A view of the shore on the way back. You can see the harbor.
Hi there!

Hi there!

Hi there!

It seemed like we were the only ones in Aarhus wearing helmets, apart from the people out long distance riding on their road bikes. But none of the people just biking into the city center for the day or running errands seem to wear helmets.

Then yesterday we went to the ARoS art museum.

Well, first we made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and took it to a coffee shop:

At Baresso.

At Baresso.

The view out onto the pedestrian street.

The view out onto the pedestrian street.

Since it can be quite expensive to eat out, even for lunch, we thought this was a good compromise.

Then we went to the art museum. Brian gets free tickets from work, so we’ve waited to go until he could arrange those. The building is one of the most distinctive features of the Aarhus skyline due to the permanent art installation, “Your Rainbow Panorama” by Olafur Eliassons, on top of the building.

The view from the front entrance.

The view from the front entrance.

The rainbow from on top of the museum.

The rainbow from on top of the museum.

It’s a rainbow colored walkway that guests can walk through to experience a panoramic view of the city tinted many different colors. And it’s lots of fun!

Aarhus caught in a rainbow.

Aarhus caught in a rainbow.

A study of Brian in purple.

A study of Brian in purple.

A study of Brian in Orange.

A study of Brian in Orange.

A study of Allison in pink.

A study of Allison in pink.

A study of Allison in yellow.

A study of Allison in yellow.

The actual museum is also really interesting. They currently have an exhibit called “Guld” which takes you through paintings from Denmark’s Golden Age in the 19th century. The exhibit pairs paintings with explanatory text that really helped us to understand more about Denmark and that turbulent period in the country’s history.

They also had an exhibit called “The Director’s Cut” where the art director chose to display specific unrelated artworks together because of the tone or feeling that they created when placed together. It’s a rather creative approach to museum exhibits, and I totally loved it. It meant so much more to me as the viewer (the audience?) than just wondering through pieces chronologically that don’t have anything to do with one another. I feel like all modern exhibits should be done this way!

Here is some of the fun and interesting art we saw:

Allison Viewing

These are some paintings from the Guld exhibit.

These are some paintings from the Guld exhibit.

Brian +Art CollageThat giant boy is a famous sculpture – titled, wait for it, “Boy” and created by Ron Muecks – and is a permanent feature at ARoS. It’s really realistic and actually quite creepy in person. There was also an interactive exhibit (bottom right) with these balls on a track. When a person entered the room, one ball was released onto the track. You were supposed to follow your ball around the room as it spun through the corse. And then the person on the bottom left is a living statue. She stayed in that exact position for the 3 hours that we were at the museum! I have no idea how people do that.

So those were our adventures this past weekend. Well, we had a few others, but those will be included in posts to come. I’ve got to keep you wanting more!