Copenhagen + Aarhus: Day 4 & 5

by kangcuzzi

On a cold and groggy Friday morning, we got up at an ungodly hour to board the 8AM train to Copenhagen. In contrast to the process of getting up, the 5 hour train ride proved to be very pleasant, what with the magnificent views of rural Sweden and — as expected — my stash of sweets. I love traveling by train; although I haven’t had the chance to ride on the rails too often, train rides offer comfortable stretches of time in which all kinds of administrative and poetic tasks can be completed. Trains, after all, are a) less claustrophobic than planes, and b) less prone to bumpy annoyances à la buses.

Around lunchtime, we finally reached the bustling interior of Copenhagen Central Station. Unfortunately, the weather was a little glum, so what I was expecting to be a fun, vibrant atmosphere wasn’t fully there. Oh well. The architecture in Copenhagen and its accompanying browns and greys looked comfortable in the drizzle, as if it were all contextually meant to be, so I didn’t feel the slight depressive elements I experienced on cloudy days in Stockholm. Speaking of the two, I was surprised by how different the two countries turned out to be: although the train ride deceptively made it seem as if the two were simply two stops on the same line, the general ambience completely changed along with the terrain. Copenhagen, to me, seems more effortlessly beautiful, in that grungy, down-to-earth and stoic manner of exposed brick and dark windows. The people seem a little kinder over on the Danish side of the region, although the fact that we arrived in time for the weekend may have influenced that particular observation. (All in all, everyone in Scandinavia seems lovely.)

The intermittent rain made it difficult for us to do too much traveling without the constant discomfort of wet clothing and dysfunctional umbrellas, so we ended up not doing as much as we wanted to. We did, however, walk a lot. First, we walked to a pizza place where we had a hearty meal of pizza, pasta and salad, and a nice conversation in Spanish with the Italian owner. Then, we walked to Tivoli, and because it seemed crazy to want to ride anything with the weather as it was, we then walked through the main shopping street, eyeing the stores, watching the people, eating street food and so on. In the end we walked all the way to Nyhavn, took our obligatory tourist shots, walked a little more, then relented to the wind and rain and made our way back to our hotel. Upon arrival, I literally fell into my bed and fell asleep as I was. The accumulated force of the weather, the cold, the walking and the general overwhelming nature of being in a different country had taken its toll.

The next morning, we woke up early (yet again) to begin our long drive to Aarhus, what the Danes lovingly call ‘the city of smiles’. The weather never cleared up, but that was fine; yet again, the rustic sights of Denmark made up for all the gloom-and-doom of the sky.

After four long hours of driving, we finally reached what I’d anticipated most on our trip to Scandinavia (strange as it may seem): the Moesgaard Museum, home to the Grauballe Man. Having studied Seamus Heaney’s series of bog poetry at school — and having fallen in love with its simultaneous mix of romanticism and fear — I just had to see the world’s best preserved bog body for myself. And so I ended up dragging my family along… to what was the best museum I’ve ever visited in my life. I’ve visited quite a fair share of museums, but this one beats the rest by miles. The Danish really know how to set up a good museum: here, the exhibits make you want to care about whatever you’re reading, and what may otherwise seem like dry facts become tangible, interactive stories that are hard to not enjoy. I’m not a huge fan of vikings, prehistoric war techniques nor the Iron Age, but for three long hours I was entranced by 360 degree simulations of war, lessons on how to establish the front lines of battle (infantry in the center and archers on the flanks), and, of course, how peat builds up over time to create bogs. The best part of it all was seeing the Grauballe Man, who had a room all to himself. His existence was given its fair share of justice — in what was a hushed, almost magical room, the body lay within a glass enclosure, bathed in calm light, as spectators sat around and gazed upon the lonely man.

Who will say ‘corpse’
to his vivid cast?
Who will say ‘body’
to his opaque repose?
 Excerpt from The Grauballe Man by Seamus Heaney

After the museum, we then drove a little around town and finally made our way to our newest Airbnb home, a wing of a horse farm located smack bang in the middle of nowhere. It’s not as cosy as our home in Örebro, but it looks very hip, complete with its own IKEA furniture and a fully equipped kitchen. The only downside are the flies… which I’m surprised still exist at this time of year, but what can you do when you’re on a horse farm? 

Tomorrow we’ll be driving to Aalborg, which is located way in the north of Denmark. We’re truly on a vertical adventure here, aren’t we! Afterwards we’ll head back to Copenhagen (I’m hoping the weather will have improved by the time we arrive), then to Stockholm for a few days. Still have high hopes for this land.