Spring visits in Skagen, Aarhus, and Copenhagen

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June 12th 2016
Published: June 12th 2016
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Spring sprang in Denmark, and it was very well received! April was a chilly month, where I kept my focus on the budding flowers and trees, as we waited for warmth!

Mads and I had an unreal evening seeing Hamlet in the castle Hamlet is written about, Kronborg in Helsingør. A troop of actors from the Globe had been on a two year tour of the world, performing Hamlet in every country, and we were there for their final performance. It was spectacular in every way. The actors coursed with emotions and energy. We were rather taken aback that the Danish Queen also attended! Which was fine and all, but it meant that the actors did not get a standing ovation, as she did not stand up at the end! Seemed a pity to me, but I imagine that, being Brits, the actors know what it is to perform for royalty.

At the start of May, just in time for my parent’s arrival, the lilac bloomed and the sun finally had some warmth in its rays! Not that it would have slowed us up much had the weather not turned, but we were all grateful that Denmark put on a show for their two week visit!

We did not allow my parents much down time, during their stay. In under 48 hours, we had them in a car heading out of Copenhagen! We stopped by Mads’ parents for a first meeting-very exciting stuff. It was lovely to have our families together. What a gift. And Mads’ parents gave us a tangible gift of the use of their only car for a four day trip to the northernmost tip of Denmark: Skagen.

Taking advantage of the chance to hit out of the way places with the car, we stopped at Egeskov Castle, took a drive by of Mads’ old school, and stretched our legs with a nice walk in the forest by Vejle. Each place had something different to offer. There is a doll house worthy of mention at Egeskov Castle, and a good amount of history to wander through and marvel at; not to mention the first of many ice cream cones that seemed to find their way into our bellies.

As we neared Skagen, I had the feeling of approaching Cape Cod, as the landscape became sandy, and I could somehow sense the sea on both sides. We rented a little apartment in the center of town that served as a good jumping off point for our wandering. We ate dinner by the harbor, which was packed with boats that had arrived from Norway after a sailing race, and the party was on! We found a spot to enjoy some fresh fish and to plot out our days. My list of “must sees” was wonderfully short. I wanted to see where the seas meet and to visit the Skagen’s art museum, quite doable in the time we had.

We woke up to another sunny morning, so after fueling ourselves with goodies from the bakery, we set off to walk along the beach to the tip of Denmark where the North and Baltic Seas meet. The sight was not dramatic, but it had a quiet beauty to it. Nothing quite like sitting on the beach and soaking up the sun with people you love. From there, we visited a church, Tilsandede Kirke, that had been slowly taken over by shifting sand, so that all that remains today is the tower. We enjoyed our picnic there, and enjoyed the slow moving afternoon without an agenda.

For our second day in Skagen, we again appreciated the sunshine and bakery breakfast before starting on our day’s fun. As Skagen was the hub of Danish artists during the impressionist era, it has a rather awesome art museum. The curators have decided in the two main rooms to cover the walls, nearly from floor to ceiling with the art. It is completely overwhelming at first, but after settling into it, we were able to focus on individual pieces and compare the works. Our ticket allowed us to then visit two of the artists’ homes in the town, Krøyer and Drachmann, so we walked to each to poke around their homes. The interior decoration styles of each were quite different, and it was interesting to see the setting the two worked from, as well as to learn a bit about how they were viewed by the local fisherman community.

During our drive the first day, we spotted an ideal place for watching the sunset, so we packed a picnic and set off for a late dinner, which turned into
Vejle forest walkVejle forest walkVejle forest walk

Can you spot my mama?
dinner, a sunset, and an ice cream. Are you picking up on the picnic and ice cream theme here?

We were no more focused on our drive back to Copenhagen, and instead stopped for lunch along the river in Silkeborg and “climbed” to the top of Denmark’s tallest mountain, Himmelbjerget, the Sky Mountain. Again, as the sun shone and we drove past the brilliant yellow rape seed fields, Denmark was truly showing its best side!

I had a week of work in between our two long weekends together, so our together time was a bit spotty, but we made the most of the time we had. My parents enjoyed their AirBnB in the heart of the city, a visit out to Mads’ parents in Ringsted for a day, and their own walks and adventures. They are not the kind of guests who are in need of entertainment!

I’d found out about these electrically powered motorboats that one could rent in the harbor, so Mads and my dad skippered, while my mom and I enjoyed wine and artichokes for a few hours. People were jumping into the canals and harbor, partying, picnicking, and just generally reveling in the good weather and late setting sun. It was really a good time, and a whole new experience for all four of us. Highly recommended!

We also had plotted for a day of biking in the city. Many people here bike children, and some bike one another around, in box bikes, and Mads was able to rent one for free from the city for the day! So, my mom being a super good sport, climbed in to the box, and my dad biked her to a new part of the city. This meant that I was able to share my daily commute with them. Our destination was Assistens Cemetery, where we aimed to do some letterboxing and check out H.C. Andersen and Neils Bohr’s graves. Our letterboxing was a bust, but the bike ride was such a success, it is hard to care too much!

In hindsight, we could have certainly done with more time in Copenhagen, but I could not have guessed that, so I had booked for us to spend our second long weekend in Aarhus. After a rather unpleasant bus ride, the lovely fields and farms excepted, we arrived in the city and crashed into our AirBnB.

Mads only had one day with us there during which he led us through the town to visit the Old Town-a collection of houses moved from various parts of Denmark. The building come from different time periods, and visitors can walk into the homes and learn about professions, living conditions, and the like. These sorts of museums are always fascinating for the first 6 or so houses, but then I can become a bit over saturated. What was fun at this open air museum though, was they now have a section from the 1970s, so that offered something new toward the end of the visit.

We enjoyed a long lunch along the city’s little river, and then did a self guided tour of the cathedral, before immersing my parents in a very cultural experience: Eurovision! It was pretty painful to watch, all things told, far too many graphics and lights, and very mediocre singers, but it was good fun to get in on the judging anyway!

Mads took off the next morning to join his family for their annual Pentecost gathering, which left us up to our devices. Somehow we still managed to start the day with bakery goodies… With full bellies, we took in the Moesgård Museum, which was a new experience for me, too. It is an archeology and ethnography museum located at the end of on of Aarhus’ bus lines. We reveled in an interactive exhibit on the Roman Coliseum and gladiators, as well as a more topical one, about Vikings. It is definitely a museum worth a visit, and the area surrounding it would have been worth a walk had it not been raining.

The commute back to Copenhagen had many steps, but went smoothly. We all four folded in to Mads’ and my one bedroom apartment for the evening. It was a hyggelig experience with chitchat and sharing our favorite local pizza.

For our final day together, my mom set off for some shopping in local shops, before we all met for a walk through the King’s Garden. Saying goodbye is always heartbreaking, but these long times together are certainly a gift.

Additional photos below
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12th June 2016

Katie -- you are such a good and interesting writer -- it is a pleasure to read your blogs. And for us it was especially scintillating to hear of your adventures with your parents since we have failed to catch up with them since their return and ours! Keep up the good work. Hi to Mads! Be well!
13th June 2016

meeting Mads
Glad to meet Mads, if only virtually. Can't wait to meet him here at Christmas!
14th June 2016
Egeskov Castle

Beautiful Castle
Glad you are enjoying family.

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