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Aarhus - and there's more ...

but it is nearly time to come home.

semi-overcast 10 °C

While I think we have seen our share of churches during our holiday, we did find a couple more which I thought may be of interest due to their historical significance.

While travelling into Aarhus on the bus one day, we chatted with an elderly lady who suggested we visit one of Aarhus’s churches, The Church of Our Lady. Originally known as St. Nicholas' Church, it was renamed after the Reformation in 1536 with the altarpiece and pulpit added in the mid 16thC. However our interest lay in the crypt church which was unveiled under the main building during restoration in the 1950s. Two graves were found - one of a child and one of an adult. This church is the oldest existing stone church in Scandinavia built in 1060. It was restored and reopened in 1957 and is still used for mass once a week. The crucifix above the altar is an exact copy of a Roman crucifix found in an old church in Aarhus, the original of which is now in the National Museum in Copenhagen. It is very unusual. The crypt church is lovely and well worth a visit.

The crypt church, The Church of Our Lady

The crypt church, The Church of Our Lady

Very interesting cruficix in the crypt church, The Church of Our Lady

Very interesting cruficix in the crypt church, The Church of Our Lady


After visiting Rikke’s family in Kolding one day we stopped to visit a lovely churchyard in Jelling south of Aarhus. The church dates from 1100 and the two large burial mounds and two massive carved rune stones from the 10th C.. The runic writings on the stones have been translated. The smaller and older one states that King Gorm the Old placed the stone in memory of his wife Thyra. The larger stone placed by King Gorm's son, Harald Bluetooth is in memory of his parents, and to celebrate his conquest of Denmark and Norway and his conversion of the Danes to Christianity. This stone has three sides and shows Christ with arms outstretched and a halo over his head. It is almost 2.5m tall and weighs 10ton!!

The body of King Gorm the Old was discovered under the church in 1978 and after extensive study was re-entombed in the church in 2000. How amazing is that!!

Jelling stones - massive carved runestones from the 10th century

Jelling stones - massive carved runestones from the 10th century

Standing on the burial mound looking towards church and rune stones

Standing on the burial mound looking towards church and rune stones

This is one of Denmark’s most important historical sites and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The inscription on the larger stone is considered to be the first written record in which the word ‘Denmark’ appears. They call it the ‘Danes Baptism Certificate’. A plaster cast of this stone has been made and a copy showing what are considered to be original colours lies outside the museum in Jelling.

Copy of Jelling carved rune stones from 10thC

Copy of Jelling carved rune stones from 10thC

One Sunday morning we decided to take a trip to Denmark’s Lake District. We set off but only five minutes later found ourselves unable to even read the signs on the motorway due to very heavy fog and light rain. However, we decided to continue (very carefully), and within a half hour the fog had lifted to a beautiful sunny, but cool day. Yeah!!

The ‘Lake District’ is an area around Silkeborg only 40km from Aarhus (has anyone watched Unit One on ABC TV which is set in Silkeborg??). This area is home to Denmark’s longest river (the Gudenå; 160km), Jutland’s biggest lake (Mossø) and Denmark’s highest point, Ejer Baunehøj (just under 171m!!). I counted 11 lakes (but I’m not sure – there may be more). A very picturesque area with a wonderful history.

As we had started our journey without breakfast we were on the lookout for somewhere to have lunch. Well, what did we find? A lovely restaurant with beautiful (vegan) food, in the most wonderful setting we could dream of. While it was too cold to eat our meal outside, we could not resist taking our coffee into the sunshine, with the odd canoe, small motor boats and a flock of ducks swimming by. Pure bliss.

View from our restaurant table

View from our restaurant table

Enjoying the sunshine  -  pure bliss

Enjoying the sunshine - pure bliss

Another definite ‘high’ was Himmelbjerget (The Sky Mountain) with a height of 147 meters. From 1839 open air meetings were held here where people came together to discuss the future of Denmark. On top of the hill is a 25 meter tall tower that was erected to honor King Frederik VII and his role in giving the Danish people a constitution in 1849. There are also a number of monuments several honouring Danish poets and one commemorating the women’s right to vote in 1915.

The Himmelbjerg Tower 25m tall

The Himmelbjerg Tower 25m tall


View of The Himmelbjerg Tower from across the lake where we enjoyed our lunch

View of The Himmelbjerg Tower from across the lake where we enjoyed our lunch

On the day we visited there were many people enjoying the last burst of 'summer'. Many Danish tourist attractions close for the winter period so they hold on to the idea of 'summer time' as long as they can. This is a very popular destination. It is a beautiful natural area with magnificent views. It was peaceful and relaxing as we enjoyed the view over Lake Julsø with boats gently moving across the still water, and the trees starting the change to their beautiful autumn colours. What a day!!

Lovely view of Lake Julsø from Himmelbjerget

Lovely view of Lake Julsø from Himmelbjerget

I have been enjoying the change of the season –daylight at 8am, watching the changing of the colours and the gradual loss of leaves from the trees, the cold days (currently max 7-10deg), and cosy evenings at home with the central heating!

We have continued to explore the local area seeking lovely restaurants to enjoy lunch. One of our favourite destinations has been the quaint Skovmøllen (The Mill in the Wood) which is part of Aarhus University’s Moesgård Museum. Now a restaurant, it used to be Moesgård manor's corn mill, located in the forest, ten minutes' walk from the museum. Moesgård museum specialises in archaeology and ethnography. It is so cool, and one of my favourite areas in Aarhus.

Skovmøllen (The Mill in the Wood) Restaurant

Skovmøllen (The Mill in the Wood) Restaurant

The creek beside the mill

The creek beside the mill

Another part of the Skovmøllen complex

Another part of the Skovmøllen complex

Ducks playing in the pond Skovmøllen

Ducks playing in the pond Skovmøllen

The museum has exhibitions in various places around their quite large complex and you find them as you walk around the area. For example we came across a reconstruction of what they consider the first churches in Denmark may have looked like (based on archaeological evidence).

Reconstruction of early Danish church

Reconstruction of early Danish church

We also came across two interesting sculptures that I think were made from willow, which caught Chas’s eye especially!!

Chas admiring sculpture, Moesgård Museum

Chas admiring sculpture, Moesgård Museum

Well everyone, this is my last post to the blog as we head home this weekend. I hope you have found it interesting and have enjoyed sharing our journey as much as I have enjoyed preparing it for you. A very rough calculation has shown that we will have travelled over 47,000 km (on our trips alone). We have so many wonderful memories to bring home with us.

I'll leave you with some pics of Aarhus. There are more pics in my public gallery for you to enjoy. If you click on 'Show as stream' you can also read my added comments and view them in medium or large sizes so the images are more clear.


Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Hej hej fra Danmark.
Pat

Interesting artwork on side of building

Interesting artwork on side of building

Temp 4degC 10.45am

Temp 4degC 10.45am

Aaron scraping frost from car windscreen

Aaron scraping frost from car windscreen

Designated lanes for cyclists

Designated lanes for cyclists

Interesting artwork on side of building

Interesting artwork on side of building

A few remaining yellow leaves on trees

A few remaining yellow leaves on trees

Avenue of trees which have already lost their leaves

Avenue of trees which have already lost their leaves


Risskov Forest

Risskov Forest

Moesgård Forest.  Trees have started to lose their leaves

Moesgård Forest. Trees have started to lose their leaves

Chas splashing me with water, Moesgård Forest

Chas splashing me with water, Moesgård Forest

Posted by patsaunder 12:07 Archived in Denmark Tagged me landscapes lakes churches art buildings people trees family_travel Comments (1)

Aarhus: back home again

semi-overcast 16 °C

We moved into our second exchange home when returning from Spain, a 1 bedroom apartment in a large complex at Risskov (a northern suburb of Aarhus), only 800m or so from the beach, and the beautiful Ris Skov forest. The complex is very large with at least 6 blocks with 8 units each.

Apartment complex

Apartment complex

This was a 5-week arrangement so we had time to settle in to the local community. There was an especially good fruit and veg shop at the end of our street where we purchased our fruit and veg. Nobody asked why we were living there, but I’m sure there would have been discussion as to who these English-speaking people were and why are they here!!

It was fortunate that we had the apartment as 2 days after returning Brade and Katherine arrived from Brisbane so Aaron and Rikke needed our bedroom. It was wonderful to be together. The last time Aaron, Braden and I were together in Denmark was 2003, and 2008 in Australia. The challenges of having children who travel the world!!

We had a great time. While out walking in the forest we went searching for mushrooms which grow wild and found many other interesting living things. Rikke was able to explain the different mushrooms, those that are safe to eat and those that are not. Exploring is always fun especially when accompanied by two biologists. We had lots of fun together. It was wonderful.

The family together

The family together

Rikke discussing the good and the bad of mushrooms

Rikke discussing the good and the bad of mushrooms

Interesting

Interesting

There were many of these large slugs on the forest floor

There were many of these large slugs on the forest floor

Dinner at home together

Dinner at home together

While we had no more plans for further overseas travel (together), we did decide to organise a few trips in Denmark. Our first was to Odense on the island of Fyn. Again we chose our B&B close to the centre of Odense within walking distance of the old part of town. Unfortunately, while we had been enjoying the lovely warmth of Spain, Denmark had cooled considerably, and together with wind, was already quite cold.

Our first visit was the Hans Christian Andersen’s Museum, a lovely building which had been built to honour the 200th anniversary of his birth in 2005. The very small house in which Andersen was born has been incorporated into the museum complex. The exhibition showcased many original documents which provided an in-depth impression of what he was like as a person, illustrating his skill not only as a writer, poet and artist, but also the beautiful paper cut-outs for which he was especially famous. Apparently he carried his scissors with him everywhere and would entertain dinner party guests by designing intricate cut-outs depicting the story which he was telling. Some of these original paper cut-outs have survived and are displayed in the museum. This beautiful statue depicts Andersen telling his stories surrounded by children. Behind the statue is an Andy Warhol painting of Andersen’s famous cut-out which hangs beside the painting on the wall.

H C Andersen's statue

H C Andersen's statue

Detail of HC Andersen's paper cutout

Detail of HC Andersen's paper cutout

We also visited the house in which he lived aged 2-14. Three families shared the house , one room per family (one with 7 children), sadly showing the struggle families of this time had to survive. This display provided detail of his early life outlining some of the events which were instrumental in forming the person that he became. An extraordinary man and one of Denmark’s most loved icons.

H C Andersen's family home

H C Andersen's family home

H C Andersen's family home

H C Andersen's family home

Fyn is very much an agricultural area with little villages dotted through the countryside. I had wanted to visit Egeskov Castle (Egeskov - oak forest) since I had first heard that it took an entire forest of oak trees to build the foundation. I wanted to see if it had been worth sacrificing these beautiful trees. Egeskov is surrounded by a moat which goes right up to the castle walls. The castle has been privately owned since it was built in 1554, and has been in the family of the current owner, Count Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille, since 1784. He and his family live at the castle which is still a working farm. And I must say it is very impressive.

Egeskov Castle

Egeskov Castle

As you can imagine, the furnishings and art works collected over hundreds of years is amazing. We even had access to the loft which has a beautiful display of dinner services across the generations, and also an collection of toys from the last 100 years, both of which were surprisingly interesting. However, it was here that I was also able to see the beautiful oak beams which were used to build the structure. The trees must have been massive. An old castle story says that if the little wooden man who lies under the beams “is ever moved from his pillow the castle will sink into the moat on Christmas night”.

Oak beams

Oak beams

The castle is very well presented and the stafff dress in costume depicting the year 1875. This is very effective is giving the castle ‘life’ which helps one to visualise those times. There were not many visitors to the castle on the day on which Chas and I visited as it was closing that weekend for the winter. We were therefore only 1 of 2 couples who attended a short concert in the Banqueting Hall performed by the castle staff (butler, governess, stable boy and smithies). They sang beautifully and it was enjoyable to watch the other couple singing along with them – obviously traditional Danish folk songs. They cheerfully engaged in a lively conversation on Danish politics with Chas after the concert (in English of course) which was fun also.

Egeskov Castle staff

Egeskov Castle staff

However, I was blown away by a display currently on loan to Egeskov by the LEGO Fund. Titania’s Palace is a fantastic doll’s house built in 1907 by Sir Nevile Wilkinson for his daughter who wanted a proper home for the elves and fairies that she’d seen at the bottom of the garden. The house has 18 rooms, and about 3000 miniature art treasures from across the globe. There is a thimble made of gold, rings with precious stones, a cello, and an organ which can be played, all in miniature.!!!! It took Sir Nevile and his skilled craftsmen 15 years to complete. Absolutely unbelievable.

Titania's Palace

Titania's Palace

The grounds provide much more than just a castle with 13 magnificent gardens (eg the fuschia garden has 1538 varieties!!), 4 mazes, a deer park, 5 museums (agriculture, horse drawn vehicles, veteran cars, motor cycles, emergency vehicles), a collection of airplanes and helicopters, and a fantastic restaurant where Chas was able to enjoy his favourite Danish meal, Stjerneskud (translation: a shooting star) as we enjoyed watching the peacock and peahens outside.

Enjoying lunch

Enjoying lunch

Stjerneskud (translation: a shooting star)

Stjerneskud (translation: a shooting star)

We did not have time to see everything but hopefully I will have an opportunity to visit Egeskov again.

We also visited St Knud’s Church in Odense, named after the Danish king Canute the Saint. The church has a beautiful altarpiece (completed in 1521) which is coated with 23 carat gold. However, the church's most visited section is the crypt where the remains of King Canute and his brother, Benedict are on display. Slain by rebels in 1086, he was the first Dane to be canonized. He was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as patron saint of Denmark in 1101, under the name of San Canuto. While it was a little disconcerting, I feel that his special status in Danish history warrants his remains being displayed in such a way.

Remains of Danish king Canute the Saint

Remains of Danish king Canute the Saint

Posted by patsaunder 23:08 Archived in Denmark Tagged landscapes art buildings people castles family_travel Comments (0)

Spain, Andalusia - Granada

city tour, the Albaicin and ... flamenco

sunny 26 °C

We caught the bus into Granada and spent several hours wandering ... coffee in the square beside the Cathedral and window shopping. Lovely stores selling traditional Spanish items. Very relaxed.

A street stall selling spices and teas

A street stall selling spices and teas

Granada cathedral

Granada cathedral


Looking back to Alhambra from Albaicin

Looking back to Alhambra from Albaicin

Granada shops

Granada shops

Streets of Albaicin

Streets of Albaicin

However, our plan for the evening was to take a slow walk up the hill to enjoy the sights and sounds of The Albaicín, which has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is the old Arabic quarter located on the hill opposite the Alhambra. It is characterised by cobble-stoned streets with white washed houses, lovely little alleyways and inviting restaurants. The imposing structure of the Alhambra dominates. Your eyes are drawn to it as it is visible everywhere you walk. A beautiful area.

Street in the Albaicin

Street in the Albaicin

A beautiful pic of Granada looking out from Albaicin towards Alhambra

A beautiful pic of Granada looking out from Albaicin towards Alhambra

We had reserved a table at a traditional restaurant for dinner and a flamenco concert. Yeah!!! They say that Flamenco started in Andalusia. We were very excited. It was a great show and a wonderful experience.

Flamenco dancing

Flamenco dancing

Flamenco dancing

Flamenco dancing


Flamenco dancing

Flamenco dancing

Flamenco dancing

Flamenco dancing

Posted by patsaunder 23:06 Archived in Spain Tagged me art people parties family_travel Comments (0)

Spain, Andalusia - Granada

Sierra Nevada

sunny -27 °C

Granada sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada (670m above sea level), a range of 14 peaks more than 3000m high only 40km from the Mediterranean. We were fortunate to have these beautiful mountains as the backdrop for our stay in Hotel Cerra del Sol. It felt as though we could reach out and touch them, they were so close. We could not miss this opportunity to experience their rugged beauty.

With directions from our trusty Tom Tom we set off to enjoy the Vereda de la Estrella in the Sierra Nevada range following the Rio Genil (Genil River), approx. 1300m high.

We had only travelled a short distance before we had to leave the motorway and face the challenges of navigating the local roads. A missed turn on one occasion took us through extremely narrow, windy alleyways of one of the villages which caused some consternation. Eventually, through Aaron's determination, and a little luck, we finally found our way and were again on our journey. Whew!!!

However, our relief was short lived as we then realised that the road on which we were travelling into the mountains was not only windy and narrow, but also suited to single vehicle traffic, with only occasional lay-bys for passing traffic, and .... several tunnels!!! With bated breath we continued on, thankfully arriving at our destination without major incident. While one could assume this was due to limited traffic, in fact when we reach the end of the road where the walk commenced there were no spaces in the car park!! We passed many many people who were also walking this beautiful country ..... we even saw a mountain biker!!

I might add we had the same situation on the return trip, but this time we were forewarned... The road on the right of this first pic is the access road to the carpark.

Access road - on right of pic

Access road - on right of pic

Approaching tunnel on single vehicle road.

Approaching tunnel on single vehicle road.

The path was well formed, in parts zigzaging steeply uphill and others gently sloping. We passed over a couple of small streams as the water found its way down the slopes to the river. Through the dense trees we could imagine the Genil river flowing in the deep canyon below.

Rugged terrain

Rugged terrain

Rugged terrain.   Notice the stone building foundations close to centre of this pic.  I wonder what it was ..

Rugged terrain. Notice the stone building foundations close to centre of this pic. I wonder what it was ..


Enjoying the walk

Enjoying the walk


Happy walkers

Happy walkers


Enjoying lunch under the only shade we could find

Enjoying lunch under the only shade we could find

What a wonderful day we had. Fine weather, warm but not too hot, the enjoyment of being physically active, taking time to enjoy our lunch in the shade beside the path, and a sense of satisfaction of having experienced this rugged country - simple but rewarding pleasures. Aaron's only disappointment was that he did not see any mouflon (wild sheep).

The next day we ventured to the highest point we could reach, this time by vehicle, over 2100m. What a sight.

Panorama - Sierra Nevada

Panorama - Sierra Nevada

Panorama - Sierra Nevada

Panorama - Sierra Nevada

Panorama - Sierra Nevada

Panorama - Sierra Nevada


Aaron on top of the world!

Aaron on top of the world!

Posted by patsaunder 23:20 Archived in Spain Tagged me mountains skylines people trees family_travel Comments (0)

Spain, Andalusia - Granada

exciting detours along the way ..

sunny 30 °C

While very much excited to be heading for Granada, we took time to check out a couple of interesting sites along the way, which also gave us the opportunity to travel through some lovely 'out of the way' areas.

Our first stop only 12 km from Ronda was Ronda la Vieja. This is the modern name for the Roman city of Acinipo which was an important town in 1st C AD. While only a little of the site has been excavated, the remains of the the lower seating levels of the ampitheatre are clearly visible. It makes one wonder "What amazing events happened here?", and reflect on the evolution of our world since that time. The views out to the mountains also made the detour well worth the trip .

Ronda la Vieja theatre

Ronda la Vieja theatre


Ronda la Vieja, magnificent ampitheatre

Ronda la Vieja, magnificent ampitheatre

View from Ronda la Vieja

View from Ronda la Vieja

.

Our next stop, took us through what is termed Malaga's "Lake District", three artificial lakes created by a dam built across the dramatic 200m. high Guadalhorce river gorge, known as the Garganta del Chorro. Very impressive. As you can see there is a small bridge across the middle of the gorge which was built during the construction of the reservoir. It is called El Camino del Rey (The King's Path), as apparently King Alfonso XIII walked along it when the dam was opened in 1921. The walk is closed to the public at the moment but if you really, really, really want to see what it is like (and do not suffer from vertigo as I do) have a look at the video on this web link. Not for the faint hearted!!! http://www.andalucia.com/antequera/chorro/home.htm

Malaga's 'Lake District'

Malaga's 'Lake District'

Garganta del Chorro

Garganta del Chorro


Garganta del Chorro

Garganta del Chorro

Notice the structure to the right of this pic. This is part of a rail network build in the second half of the 19thC with tunnels which cut through the hard limestone. These are still in use today. The skill of engineers constantly amazes me.

To top it off we were able to have a fantastic lunch at the little restaurant right there beside the road, and .... with a delightful English lady to serve us. I was therefore able to ask for, and receive, a lovely vegan lunch. Just goes to show .... We had a very relaxed and lovely time.
Lunch at El Chorro

Lunch at El Chorro

The opportunity to see one of the most exquisite birds in the world took us next to an amazing expanse of wetlands called Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra. One of the largest natural lagoons in Spain, measuring more than 6km long and nearly 3kms wide, the lagoon provides an ideal breeding spot for an amazing array of birds, including the pink flamingo. Since conservation and anti-hunting laws have been introduced, and the area declared a sanctury, numbers are increasing. It was very hot - in the 30'sC - when we arrived. Unfortunately the visitor centre was closed for siesta. Access is very restricted so as not to disturb the birds but it was awesome to see thousands of these beautiful birds.

Magnificent pink flamingos at Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra

Magnificent pink flamingos at Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra

Note also in this pic the number of wind farms in the distance. We saw several wind farms and quite large solar panel farms as we travelled through Andalusia. Hopefully this is an indication that renewable energy initiatives are being encouraged in Spain.

Pink flamingos - Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra

Pink flamingos - Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra

Finally arriving in Granada we were thrilled with our accommodation, Hotel Cerro del Sol. Well situated, with everything we needed and more, a little outisde the city, but with a magnificent view of the Sierra de Nevada. Wow!

View from our room to the Sierra de Nevada

View from our room to the Sierra de Nevada


Hotel Cerro del Sol

Hotel Cerro del Sol

Once settled, we headed out to find a nice restaurant for dinner. Not that easy at 7pm as the locals eat their meal later in the evening. Most restaurants don't open until 9pm. However we did find Restaurante Los Faroles and I had a lovely meal - fresh salad with a side of butter beans (very delicious), after an entrée of sliced fried eggplant coated with honey batter. Yum. Note Chas's meal, mussels with mussels!!!

Our first dinner in Granada

Our first dinner in Granada

Now, off to see the sights of Granada - El Alhambra here we come!

Posted by patsaunder 09:45 Archived in Spain Tagged landscapes mountains lakes bridges art buildings people birds family_travel Comments (0)

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