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:
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
There 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:
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.