Last weekend we were in Århus, Denmark for two nights. My Danish friend Astrid lives there and invited us to come over and spend a few days with them. Århus is this years European Culture Capital and thus lots of things are going on. Also Århus is the second largest city of Denmark and quite interesting anyways. If you'd like to get some feel of Denmark without the tourist buzz of Kopenhagen then this is a perfect place to go.
After a four hour drive up North from Hamburg we arrived on Friday evening in Århus and spent the evening catching up with our friends, enjoying a lovely lasagne dinner, and playing with their cute one-year-old son. Like their child, I also had a Brio wood train when I was a kid and thus I was hooked on playing with him - which gave my friend Astrid some time to relax.
The next day we went to the ARoS Kunstmuseum. This museum of modern art has some amazing things on display. My personal highlight was Your Rainbow Panorama by Ólafur Elíasson. It's a great photo opportunity and it's even beautiful in rainy weather. In case you go there in winter be aware that it is not insulated and it could be cold (or I guess hot in summer). I loved the change from pink to blue and that the blue and turquoise glass panels were very calming and soothing. Which one is your favorite color at the panorama?
There is lots of other cool art on display at the ARoS. Boy, a gigantic and very real looking boy statue, by Ron Mueck is one of the famous ones. Also Andy Warhol's Marylin Monroes, some sound installations by Jacob Kirkegaard, and lots of other interesting things can be found.
Afterwards we walked through to the city center, had some pizza lunch at Mackie's Pizza, and then finally I got to go to my favorite Danish store: Sinnerup. Since I lived in Flensburg I am in love with the furniture, accessories, clothes, just everything they sell at this store. I hope that one day they will open up a store in Hamburg so I don't need to go to Flensburg or all the way to Denmark to get my Sinnerup-fix.
We also checked out some other design stores: Inspiration, PLINT, Hay, ...
We also did some more traditional sightseeing and went into the cathedral of Aarhus, the Domkirke. It's a beautiful old church in typical Lutheran, northern design. It reminded me a lot of churches at home but then the predominant confession in Denmark is also Lutheranism.
After going to the church we went to Dokk1, the new public library of Århus. This library is a very democratic space with lots of room for kids to play and it doesn't follow traditional library rules. It is an interesting concept to look at and experience and it is always filled with people. I wish our libraries would be more like this and would be more meeting points then book storage spaces. I think the Hamburg library Bücherhallen is doing a good job, especially with the big central library, but it could be even more open to new media and thus attract more kids and teenagers. I guess it's easier to do that when you build a completely new library but it also requires a change of mindset when it comes to libraries. And the people of Aarhus really turned their library into something special.
After exploring every inch of the library, we went back to the city center, had a coffee at Joe and the Juice, did some more shopping at Magasin, and then headed back to our friends' place. We had a delicious home cooked dinner, sat and talked, played some more with their child, and then called it a night early.
The next day after breakfast we went to Århus Ø. This old harbor area is being redeveloped and will be turned into a living area in the next years. Some people already live there and some cool buildings can already be seen, like the Isbjerget, a building shaped like an iceberg. There is a community garden project, some nice art (like the pink shades) and a beach bar in summer. I love areas that are under development as there is always something new to be seen. Next time we come to Aarhus it will probably already look different.
Before we headed home, we got ourselves some kanelsnegle and stocked up our licorice supply. On our way we stopped at Sunset Boulevard, a Danish fast food place with somewhat healthy fast food, and had lunch. After a four hour drive we were back home.
I'm so grateful that I have friends all over the world and that I can not only travel to visit them but experience live in those countries more directly. Thank you so much to Astrid and her whole beautiful family for letting us stay with them. We truly enjoyed it!
Next time we will be there I definitely want to check out their street food market that is held in the halls opposite the Aarhus Rutebilstation. My friend Astrid said that the food there is quite good. Something to look forward to!
My top 5 tips for Aarhus:
- There are two helpful apps for getting around in Aarhus: 1) The app Mobilbillet lets you buy tickets for public transportation. Be aware that you need to type in a Danish phone number and you need to remember it for logging in. Even if you don't have a Danish cell phone number you can just type in a number that you will remember. 2) The other useful app is Rejseplanen. Here you can type in where you want to go and get the best connection to that place, find the next bus stop, or plan ahead your bus trips. Really useful and I advise you to download them if you plan on using public transportation.
- Visit the ARoS Kunstmuseum! The museum of modern art in Aarhus is really nice and definitely a must see. Don't miss Your Rainbow Panorama, Boy and the Nine Spaces on the lowest floor. For us it was cheaper to buy a season pass. But be aware that they need a Danish address to send the actual season pass to.
- Check out some Danish design: From cheap supermarkets (my best finds were at Kvickly) to knock-offs and some original brands from Sinnerup (one of my favorite Danish stores) to designer brand like FERM living, by Lassen, or Muuto ... Danish design is beautiful and can be affordable as well. So make sure to get yourself a stylish souvenir! (If you're not much into living and furniture design then brand like Modström, Skagen, mybym, Noa Noa, Rains, Bang & Olufsen might be the thing to check out for you.) Be aware that the stores in the city center will be closed on Sunday and some close quite early on Saturday (some as early as 4pm). Supermarkets are usually open every day though.
- Eat a kanelsnegle! Hot dogs, smørrebrød, and Mathilda cocoa might all be very Danish but to me a trip to Denmark would not be the same without having one of these cinnamon-treats from heaven! That being said, the other things I mentioned are awesome as well. And soft ice! Soft ice-cream with licorice sprinkles! And licorice in general! ... Ok, I will stop here. Just eat Danish food! It's awesome.
- Check out the new public library Dokk1 and the area Århus Ø. The library is great to look at and if you have kids they won't want to leave. The area Århus Ø is not too far from it. If you like modern architecture, you should check this out. Also it's a nice place to walk along the sea.