Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, was the next destination of Princess Cruise excursion after Oslo. Aarhus is as compact as Copenhagen where you can reach anywhere on foot. Even so, you need to know that another implicit meaning of traveling by cruise ship is you can’t have it all. What do you expect to know everything about a place in less than 24 hours? You might need to choose between visiting a royal palace, a viking museum, or just skimming all landmarks without reaching particular places.
We only had 7 hours to explore the city. We didn’t lock specific “targets” as long as we managed to see Aarhus Cathedral and Den Gamle By. Hey, did I say we didn’t lock our “targets”? Whatever. The Aarhus Cathedral is just 5 minutes walking distance from the harbour. So yeah, there was no need to chase it at all.
The church looks plain at a glance with less sculptures and much more painted white walls than frescoes. Taking a better look at the frescoes, I said to myself, “Man, this cathedral must be really old.” The colours are not as bright and contrast as those in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican.
Aarhus Cathedral was built after year 1190 and finished in 1350, dedicated to St. Clements, the patron saint of sailors. It is one of the few preserved Romanesque churches in history and the longest church in Denmark with 93 meters length. The frescoes, created between 1470 and 1520, once covered most parts of the wall. Nonetheless, they are only a few remains nowadays. I can imagine how beautiful the interior supposed to be, and it still is despite the fading colours of the frescoes. I guess the sculptures are just complementary of the design, otherwise it looks too chaotic.
Besides, it also stores a model war ship, hanged on the ceiling and failed to ship to Peter the Great in Russia because of the shipwreck in Skagen. Local fishermen bought the model and donated to the church. Don’t forget to listen the beautiful sound of religious music from the largest organ pipe in the country inside the cathedral!
On the way to Den Gamle By, the famous old town of Aarhus, we walked through the main shopping street, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum until an empty gloomy shop window and a tacky Vietnamese wedding gown shop. So where was it?
“Just walk straight there, we’re on the right direction.” said my cousin, our co-pilot of the day. He tried to convince everyone after one of us popped up a question, “Are we there yet?” . “Don’t say that it’s under construction when we arrive!” We laughed out loud.
From the other side of the street, we saw some groups of people heading to the left side. Also the back row of old houses with workers hammering nails and drilling bricks. The whole area was surrounded by wall to seclude itself from the rest of the city. We believed that was our Den Gamle By and we hoped it wasn’t under construction! Surprisingly, it requires an entrance fee to go inside. To be honest, we haven’t visited any old town with a fee. Moreover, the queue to the ticket counters was freaking long, implying that it was still open for public. Finally my parents, aunt and uncle didn’t feel like going in.
Den Gamle By is a man-made open air museum, founded in 1909, to exhibit the lifestyle of the old Danish settlement, from traditional houses coming from all cities in Denmark, museums, shops, streets and yards. No wonder why we need a ticket!
Since there was no ticket controller right in front the old town entrance, some other tourists, including some Chinese couples, managed to sneak in without being noticed. An inspiring act, haha! My cousin and I decided to do the same!
We didn’t know how things work there and we could get caught anytime. I took pictures quickly and my cousin the co-pilot struck a pose in front of the camera just before we escaped. We succeed fulfilling our curiosity without spending a dime in less than 5 minutes and didn’t get caught!
Our 2 favourite Danish words: tilbud and hip hip hurra. Everytime we saw the word tilbud, items sold in stores are on sale. And Hip Hip Hurra is what? The Dutch calls it Hip Hip Hoera, with exactly the same pronunciation as the Danish one, the English calls it Hooray (do I still need to translate this?). Eventually my family and my cousin’s bought same items: discounted placemats, as the only souvenir we think is useful, cheap and light to bring.
While heading back to the harbour, we passed by an old house with an additional glass attic on its modified rooftop. I could see chairs and a table inside from the distance, assuming that it’s an extended meeting room. I found it a breaking through design, sort of like IM Pei‘s glass pyramid in the middle of the iconic Louvre courtyard. Nonetheless, my mom called it destruction of an antique design.
Aarhus embraces a slow pace of life and happy-go-lucky kind of atmosphere, one of the perfect places to visit where you don’t need to think too much about almost everything without being isolated from a modern city life. Sometimes, chasing tourist attractions doesn’t mean much compared to spending quality time with your family. Just go with the flow and it will be very relaxing. Aren’t they the reasons why you need a holiday(s)?
EUROMAP illustrates my trip to European cities from August to September 2012 through a custom map I created with Google Map. I only include this chapter in the end of the post related to the Eurotrip I did in that month. Please feel free to enlarge and click the blue arrows to view further comments about places I visited. Have fun with it, that’s what it’s made for!