Walking Aarhus

Today is city time. Haven’t been in a big city since we left Copenhagen 2 1/2 weeks ago. Aarhus is not really that big in population, 315,000 but it is real busy. There are crowds on the streets. The downtown is packed. Not a lot of car traffic really but tons of pedestrians and loads of bikes.

Aarhus

We just wander the streets and look at the sights. We do have a couple of objectives. First is the new bibliotek. A huge new building on the water front, called Dokk1. I’m guessing it is land reclaimed from the port and put to use as a public space. Thus Dock. It is more than a library. There is the Tourist Info Centre there and the city registry occupies part of the main floor. The library is very spacious with at least 1/2 the space set up for electronics. Carrels are all wired, there is electrical access in all the seating areas and there are public use computers everywhere. The entire second floor is a kids’ world. Beyond the book and CD/DVD sections there are play rooms, kitchenette, change rooms and quiet spaces. Very impressive.

Next stop is a place called, Aarhus Street Food. It was in the Lonely Planet book with a star beside it so we go there for lunch. An old warehouse type building that has been turned into a food fair. Shipping containers have be converted into food kiosks and we wander about deciding what we should eat. It is not fancy but the food is cheap and the selection is diverse.

Aarhus

We are on the street again just after 12 and the masses are wandering in search of something to eat. Live music echos from this street corner or that and we are serenaded all the way back to the hotel.

Aarhus

It is not warm here, in fact it is chilly even for us from the northern climes but the folks here seem to be hardy. They are out and about, they are sitting in the outdoor cafes and every corner has an establishment serving beer with outdoor seating. There are make shift venues under tents all serving beer, of course, and live music as entertainment.

Aarhus

It may be because the living quarters here are small and people use the outdoors as an extension to their homes but this place is a lot busier than home with only 1/3 the people. Density may also be a factor. When the travel distance is not far it is easy to utilize the public spaces. Although Edmonton has it moments, it would be amazing to see the citizens utilize the outdoors and create a vibrant living place such as the Europeans do.

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Aarhus and Art

We must be getting better at this riding and navigating thing because we ride 50 km in just under 4 hours and are in Aarhus in time for lunch.

The beginning and middle of the ride is pleasant, through a nature reserve on a bike path and down non busy side roads. We have to ride beside the main highway on a bike path coming into Aarhus, so it is noisy with the vehicles rushing by. We find the hotel with only one wrong turn. Pretty good!

Our purpose for coming to Aarhus is the ARoS Museum, an art gallery.  It is a tallish building with a rainbow walkway on top. We can see it blocks away. Our first stop in the gallery is, of course, the Rainbow Panorama.

ARoS Museum's Rainbow Panorama

ARoS Museum’s Rainbow Panorama

ARoS Museum's Rainbow Panorama

ARoS Museum’s Rainbow Panorama

ARoSMuseum's Rainbow Panorama

Inside looking out

There are six floors of art, ranging from expressionism to modern to just plain weird. We cruise through the galleries expanding our minds and looking for that one piece that grabs us and makes us stop and stand still in awe.

Being Sunday in Aarhus, there is a lot going on outside. There is a festival happening just outside the ARoS so we go sit for abit to rest my feet. Families and friends are all out enjoying the warm weather, food, beer and company.

Clock Tower in Aarhus

Clock Tower in Aarhus

We explore the streets and get slightly lost but a few turns heads us back to the large church that is near our hotel. We have another day in Aarhus to explore the city, so we return to our hotel for a break before supper. I wonder what we will find tomorrow.

 

 

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Silkeborg

We tour the Silkeborg Lake Region this morning. It is a gentle boat ride through canals and across lakes for an hour to reach Himmelbjerget. There are swans and ducks paddling the waters. Houses, both old and modern, border the lakes, each with its own motor boat moored in front, just like cars on a street.

Silkeborg

There are boaters, canoers, kayakers and rowers plying the lakes, out for exercise or a tour. The reeds and trees along the shore are lush and healthy.

Silkeborg

We pass many moorages with many boats, motor boats and sail boats. Summer’s hot weather must bring the crowds to this region to enjoy the water.

Silkeborg

Once at our destination, we climb to the Himmelbjerget, the fourth highest MOUNTAIN in Denmark. It rises a grand total of 147 m above sea level. We eat our meager lunch on a bench enjoying the vista, watching the boats travel the lake and the wind turbines spin in the far distance.

View from Himmelbjerget

View from Himmelbjerget

On our return journey to Silkeborg we ride in the Hjejlen, the “world’s oldest coal fired paddle steamer” which has been operating in this area since 1861.

Hjejlen

Hjejlen

She is a grand lady even if she belches a bit of black smoke. We sit up front chatting with a couple of ladies and snapping photos.

Hjejlen

Hjejlen

We have the captain of the boat drop us off at the stop near the Museum Jorn, a museum dedicated to showing the works of Asger  Jorn, a famous Danish artist. We wander the museum looking at his works and influences and the other exhibits. I do find his works very dark, both in the colours he uses and his themes. Not something for our living room.

By this time, I am tired and we go back to the hostel for a short rest. Gotta be ready to ride into Aarhus tomorrow.

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Ride into a Crowd

Silkeborg is a popular destination at the best of times but this weekend, the weekend we are passing through, there happens to be a big golf tournament in town. ‘Made in Denmark’ is a professional golf tournament put on by some rich Danish dude. This year it is in Silkeborg.

A rest stop on the way to Silkeborg

A rest stop on the way to Silkeborg

The ride from Herning to here was rather uneventful. Some how I mapped the first 16km on a bike path adjacent to a highway. It was efficient but that is all I can say about it. At km 16 we turn a bit north and into the hinterland along much less traveled roads and again the ride is pleasant. Around Funder Kirkeby the roads become country lanes and we proceed at a pedestrian pace trying to take in countryside.

Church Bells at Funder Kirkby

Church Bells at Funder Kirkby

As we ride east across Jutland father north than the line we road in a westerly direction, there are a couple of differences. The terrain is far more rollie. The elevation changes are not great but we are almost constantly going up or down. The farms are way bigger. I mentioned before how close together the farm houses were. Here the distance between each homestead is closer to the Canadian prairies. The villages, towns and cities are larger. Still not big, but bigger than the communities in the south.

Denmark in general is a tidy place. There is very little garbage blowing about, the yards and farms are devoid of junk, and there are very few derelict buildings anywhere. The upkeep of property is taken very seriously. Also the upkeep of cemeteries is a tradition and they are immaculate.

Silkeborg

Train bridge in Silkeborg

A few other random thoughts. The dogs here are very well trained. We have have ridden passed many people walking their dogs and not one of the animals has jumped at us or even pulled on the leash. To date we have not seen one dog roving out on the road chasing cars or bikes, not one.

B&B in Denmark is short for bed and breakfast, only thing is, even though it is implied, breakfast is not included. Robo lawn mowers are THE thing here. I have seen a few rid’em mowers but for the most part people cut the lawn with no human intervention. I am buying one as soon as I get back home. The wind is constant here and as best I can make it can be as strong as the winds around Lethbridge. Wind power seems to be the eco power of choice. Although there are very few of the old variety of windmills left, and I have yet to see an operating one, while traversing the country side one is never out of site of the 21st century variety of wind turbines.

Silkeborg

Fountain in Silkeborg

Last but by far not least I found the craziest machine today. It is for returning recyclable cans and bottles. It works like this. There is a small hole in the front of this machine. You place your can in the hole onto a conveyor. Then as the can progress along the conveyor a scanner figures out what kind of container has been presented for return. Once the type of container has been determined a paddle swings out at the appropriate exit point and the can is deflected into the correct bin. After waiting to see if any more cans or bottles are to be presented the machine spits out a chit worth the value of how many containers you have returned. You can go into the store and trade the chit for cash or use it against merchandise you care to purchase. This gizmo was so amazing I had to drink another Coke and get Debbie to come and witness the process.

Tomorrow is a day off the bike. We will play tourist in a tourist destination. We have already booked our voyage aboard the oldest working paddle-wheel steamboat in the world. It is a coal fired paddle steamer built in 1861. There is also a good art gallery here we should take in. Ta ta.

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Carl-Henning Pedersen

Ribe Cathedral

Ribe Cathedral

A few days ago, we were in Ribe, the oldest city in Denmark, and visited the very old cathedral in the main square. The mosaics, stained glass windows and frescoes inside the church were modern and quite different than the usual religious themes. They were colourful, bright, slightly fantasy like.

Ribe Cathedral

Ribe Cathedral

In Ribe we stayed at a B&B belonging to Kamma Franch, a very nice, but reserved lady. The room, kitchen and bathroom were in an old house on a small street right off the main pedestrian walk.

Kamma Franch B&B

Kamma Franch B&B

Today, after arriving in Herning, Murray and I go to the CHP Musuem, a permanent showing of art by Carl-Henning Pederson. He was one of Denmark’s leading artists. Birds played an integral part in his paintings he created.

CHP Museum

CHP Museum

We walk into one of the galleries and there is a large photo of an altar with mosaics and frescoes and I realized they are of the cathedral in Ribe.   Then we see the mockups of the stained glass windows and those are also from Ribe. Cool! It looks like he did the artwork in the Cathedral.

We sit down to watch a short movie that talks about the work on the Cathedral and there is a lady on the screen talking about Pedersen, who stayed at her farm while working on the project. The lady is Kamma Franch, whose B&B we stayed in. WOW! She spoke very highly of the artist, who was about 70 at that time. She has one of his paintings, dedicated to her and her husband, in her living room.

We get a very funny feeling watching a video of one of Denmark’s famous artists and look up to see one of the integral characters in the video is someone we met on our journey a few days ago. It’s strange how the paths of life intertwine.

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Cyclocross All Day

Last night we sat and debated whether we should follow the highway with no bike lane or if we should follow the overland path. Even though the path through the hinterland is longer, we choose it. We definitely chose the right path. It winds back and forth, up and down through the cottage country of Denmark. The entire route is on the land side of the massive dunes created by the stormy North Sea.

Murray in the North Sea

Murray in the North Sea

Like yesterday these shorter routes are allowing us to stop and see the sites. Today at two different locations we stop, prop our bikes beside a fence in parking area, scale the sand dune and head out onto the beach. I have to a least dabble in the North Sea. It is very cold, maybe not as cold as I imagined but cold none the less. I don’t see anyone in the water. just a dog frolicking in the shallows.

Debbie almost in the North Sea

Debbie almost in the North Sea

The route today was 99% gravel. Not just one type of gravel. The best riding is on a very fine gravel, almost sand like and compacted to near the same density as asphalt. There are the compact gravel roads, areas where the cars are allowed to travel, this is not too bad. It gets worse where they have added gravel as a maintenance measure. This is both on the roads and on the bike paths, we skitter and slide in these areas. The worst is the sand, with weighted, skinny tire bikes we bog down and skitter and tip and waver all over the place, and let out a squeak or two. Once we had to dismount and push our bikes through the sand trap.

Jellyfish left by the tide

Jellyfish left by the tide

All this different terrain and riding with a loaded bike has really improved Debbie’s bike handling skills. We travel along these gravelish paths and I am just hanging on as Debbie plows a path. When we ride the cobbles in town she gaps me big. She says it is fear, I say it is skill.

DenmarkA few observations. Danish grocery stores are very odd. They do have enough in them to construct a meal or two but they don’t have much variety. It is hard to put my finger on exactly what the difference between Canadian grocery stores and the Danish ones is but it just seems here they are lacking many of the items available at home. they have a feel like a Costco – buy some product on sale and in bulk and try to sell it to the populace.

Danish people seem very much like Canadians. All around the world Canadians are known as friendly. I would say the Danes fall very much into that category. When Debbie and I are standing somewhere looking puzzled it is likely someone will stop by and offer help. They are also polite and they follow the rules. If there is a sign stating ‘Don’t go here’, it is likely no one will be on the wrong side of the sign, they wait for the walk lights, the drivers yield to bikes and they observe no smoking areas. A very pleasant country so far.

Ringkobing Fjord

Ringkobing Fjord

Today could be our best ride to date. After the first 4 or 5 days which were quite similar the last few have be very different. See what tomorrow brings as we ride further east.

Ringkobing, Denmark

Ringkobing Marina

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Ribe to Nymindegab

Murray is kind to my legs today and we take the train north from Ribe to Varde. The train trip knocks about 30 km off what would have been a 73 km day. Knowing we have to ride for 5 days to get to Silkeborg, our next stopping point, I did not want to use up my legs.

We arrive in Varde at 10 am, and promptly loose our map on my iPhone. We end up having a short tour of Varde looking for a Tourist Information and then for a library. We get a so-so paper map from the first place and restore the map on the phone, with free WIFI, at the second. The center of Varde is laid out very similarly to Ribe with the huge cathedral in the central square and small shops and buildings all around. And the roads are cobblestone! And we are off north again.

It doesn’t seem to be a good day for navigating as we miss a number of turns and have to stop often to look at the maps. We missed a turn and end up riding down a lovely road with hardly any traffic, so that is a bonus.

I notice as we ride that there are many many oak trees here. At home, we do not see many, but here they seem grow in the wild. We also have entered an area where we are seeing more pine trees. And forest. There are wild roses beside the road, just like in Alberta. And sand dunes not so much like Alberta.

Sand dunes near Henne

Sand dunes near Henne

Murray has mapped us through a park and we ride a mountain bike path (gravelly old road) in the Blabjerg Klitplantage (someone’s forest!) for part of our journey. Up till not the people on bikes have been dressed in street clothes, today we see bikes riders on the trail dressed in kit. Here in tourist land they ride for fun not for utilitarian reasons.

Near Nymindegab

Murray has been hurting all day today so it is fortunate that our ride is only 43 km. Tonight we are staying in a DanHostel, tiny rooms, cook your own food, bring your own bed linens and towels. I am loafing as Murray snoozes.

Dan Hostel Nymindegab

DanHostel Nymindegab

We had only two choices of accommodation in Nymindegab and we chose the DanHostel knowing it was 3 km out of the town, but we will be okay for supper as they have a Cafe, which serves burgers and such. When we arrive we are informed that the Cafe closed August 1 at the end of the summer busy season. No worries there is a restaurant 1 km down the road. For some reason I check online what the opening hours are and find out that it is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday now. Strike two. The only other restaurant the fellow at the DanHostel knows is in town is a very expensive one in an expensive hotel. But there is a grocery store. Since we left our fancy attire at home, we pass on the restaurant and ride the 3 km into town, buy a frozen pizza, 2 Cokes and a chocolate bar for supper. We have been making a joke about the food here. We both read that Denmark excels in the gastronomic delights. Well, that is not happening, and we are doing “Denmark by Pizza”!

There does not seem to be to many restaurants in rural Denmark at all. The ones that are here close early. We stroll the central area of the town finding maybe 5 restaurants in the entire place and the only ones open are the Chinese place, similar to the ones in every town in the world, and the pizza joint. Thus the our standard meal.

As we did not do a big distance on the bike today we took it a bit slower and stopped a couple times to smell the roses. The next 3 days we are doing shorter distances but there are towns to explore at the end of each ride. Hopefully we arrive early and get a good overview of what each place has to offer.

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Leaving Tonder

I sleep fitfully and every time I wake up I hear the wind howling and the rain thrumming on the roof. When we emerge from our down cocoons, the wind is still blowing and although the rain has stopped, we know it is just teasing us. We dawdle, eat breakfast, finish packing our panniers and decide to get on the road out of Tonder. It’s 8:30.

We ride towards MogelTonder, a cute little town with a huge church and charming main street. Half way there it pours on us. The streets in town are deserted except for a gentleman walking his dog asking me How are you?. I just laugh as I am soaked and dripping. We have a quick look at the church which dates back to the 1200s and ride out of town on the treacherous wet cobblestones.

Mogeltonder

Mogeltonder

We continue on our ride and as we turn north, we feel the wind at our backs and we are flying. Wet, but flying. We can see the coastal dyke out to the west in the mist. The dyke protects the farm land and marsh from the storm tides, which have flooded the area numerous times over the past few hundred years.

We ride some gravel, pavement and then, to our surprise, while trying to ride on an inside dyke, we ride on 8′ wide by 4′ long by 1″ thick metal plates laid cards like along the path. Bumpity Bumpity up and then Bumpity Bumpity down. We got off those as soon as we could as there were sharp edges and Murray didn’t like being on them, our tires we in jeopardy.

We were quite the side show when we stopped at a Perlen Grill for lunch. Dripping wet and hungry, hamburgers and fries do the trick. Just as we are set to go, it rains in sheets, so we run back into the Grill to wait it out.

We make Ribe by 2:00 and arrive at our B&B looking like drowned rats. The lady of the house wasn’t surprised by how wet we were. After a shower and hanging everything to dry, we head out to wander Ribe, Denmark’s oldest town. Some of the streets date back to the 9th century and the crooked houses to the 16th century.

Ribe Domkirke

Ribe Domkirke

The Domkirke (cathedral) is in the central plaza and is imposing. It would have dominated the country side  when it was built. Inside there is a column with a permanent mark dated 1634 where the water level came up in a bad storm tide. The mark was about at the top of my head.

Ribe, Denmark

We wander the narrow streets,shooting pictures and marveling at the quaint buildings. Finally my legs tell me to go rest and we are now back in our tiny rooms.

Ribe, Denmark

Ribe

 

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Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Tonder Finale

We arrive at Tent 2 with plenty of time to spare. Basically we are the first in the queue. Marie Boine is on our A list and she plays first on Sunday morning. There are maybe 10 people milling about waiting for the tape to be cut so we can go in. Tent 2 is set with chairs today and we get front and center. Marie has aged since the cover photos on the albums we have. The song she starts the show with again determines the mood for the rest of concert and it is a wonderous one. The first thing I note is the clarity of her voice. The stage crew has hit the sweet spot and the sound is amazing. Second thing is her piercing eyes. She makes sure to make eye contact with the crowd and you notice as her vision crosses over you. Marie has been at this for a while and it shows. The band and the entire show reeks of professionalism. This is the first show on our A list to exceed our expectations. She is great.

Marie Boine

Marie Boine

The ‘Gentlemen’s Circle’ is our next concert. 5 men, Jeffery Foucault (US), Joey Landreth (CAN), Luke Winslow-King (US), William Crighton (AUS), and Soren Huss (DK) play songs in the round, each one taking a turn. All very accomplished and the show was pleasant to watch. The last song they jammed a bit and that showed they are at the top of their game.

Jeffrey Foucault and William Crighton

Jeffrey Foucault and William Crighton

The last performer we have on our list is Parker Millsap. He played the EFMF a few summers ago and he did a great job so our expectations are high. He plays the Open Air stage. Most of his songs are poppish and he has lost some of his uniqueness. His show is still good but maybe not up to what we had hoped.

Parker Millsap

Parker Millsap

It is now time to bid farewell to the festival grounds. It’s been great and we have discovered a couple of bands that up to now have been unknown to us.  It is not in the plans to return but one never knows…

Tonder Music Festival

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Tonder Magic

There are seats at most of the venues but not too many and the rush to get one can be intense. There is no reserve seating. No tarps to stake your land. After every artist, the venue is cleared and only after the sound check are people allowed in to find a spot to view the next band. This works very well and avoids having real estate sit empty waiting for one particular act. Not many people bring their own chairs and if you are near the front of the stage you stand.

Cue outside the Pumpehuset waiting for the next concert

Queue outside the Pumpehuset, waiting for the next concert

At the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (EFMF) we sit at the venue and watch the sound check, here we queue outside the venue and wait for the sound check to be complete. For most of the venues there is a queue and when they open the gates it is not for the faint of heart. For the smaller venues your place in line determines whether or not you get in. For the larger stages it determines whether or not you have clear vision of the performers.

One big difference between here and home is the parking. Here it seems the parking restrictions are relaxed for this particular weekend. In Edmonton the parking restrictions are enhanced. I like the attitude here much better.

In Denmark, or at least at the Tonder Music Festival, beer is the new water. Debbie and I are on the festival site at 9.15am. 2 hours before the music starts. We are here to get tickets to a concert in one of the smaller venues. The beer vendors are already open.

Clapping to the music is always a thing at concerts. Even to my musically untrained ear the audience is always off beat. The first concert we attend in Tonder people started to clap. I noticed right away the clapping is in unison and in time with the fiddler’s foot stomp. The band was also amazed mentioning how good the audience kept the beat and how that never happens. Two days later a different band notes exactly the same thing.

We thought we could start a bit later today but as I perused the program I noticed the Lankum was ‘formerly known as’ Lynched. They should have been on our go to concert list and we missed. They play in the Bolero at 11.15am. In order to get in we need to pick up a ticket 2 hrs. prior to show time. This means we leave immediately. We know a bit of their music and the concert was beyond our expectations. They play old songs in a slow and deliberate fashion. I think it is how they think the songs are meant to be sung. The harmonies are rather hard and sharp, different to the smooth harmonies we get used to.

Nive Nielsen and the Deer Children came from Greenland and they play their only concert in a small venue, The Pumphouse. Her band is international. Excellent musicians that in my opinion work with sound rather than conventional music. The effect is stunning. I spend one hour completely absorbed.

Northern Assembly

Northern Assembly

We leave the Pumphouse and immediately join a line-up to get back in this time to see Northern Assembly. We had a preview of this band while we had lunch and immediately added them to the list of bands we wanted to see. The band played mostly their own uptempo folksy music. The opening number is perfect. It catches everyone’s attention and leaves us waiting for more. The whole band looks like they really enjoy what they are doing and we leave the hall with a great impression.

Yesterday we stood in line to see The Brother Brothers We were not within the first 150 and were turned away as the room was full. Today we made sure we were going to get in. Again we hear some really good music. They are really twin brothers and as such their harmonies are perfect and can only be accomplished by siblings. Their writing is insightful and the songs they choose to cover are also enlightening. Every song they sang was slow and quiet, I think a few uptempo songs would make the set more interesting. They did know this and mentioned they were ‘cleansing our ears’ from all the loud music.

The Brother Brothers

The Brother Brothers

We had circled Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton as one of our prime objectives over the course of the weekend. We planned it right and had no trouble getting a seat. They came with a band. They all seemed to be good musicians but we thought the concert did not live up to our expectations this time. The sound was off and I could not understand one word of what either lady sang. The drummer entertained me for the entire hour. He was not a ra ta tat one drum and a high hat kind of rhythm keeper. He made the drums talk and I really enjoyed it.

Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton

Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton

Tomorrow we have a couple of other circled performers we must see. If the weather holds it will be a good day.

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