Den Gamle By

What does a two day jaunt to Northern Jutland look like? Exploring parts unknown to this Dane was exciting and I was ready to take on the challenge!

During the Summer 2021 I took a little jaunt over to Jutland while on a vacation to Copenhagen. Partly to visit some family that I had not seen for many years, but also to explore a part of Denmark that was a little unfamiliar to me.

As a Dane, I had grown up in Copenhagen for some of my childhood, and spent some time as a young adult. Living now in Colorado, going back to visit Denmark is a privilege, but also at times, difficult as you always want to see all your family and friends. This time, I decided to be a little selfish and play tourist, if only for a couple of days.

Taking the rental car on the ferry from Sjælland Odde to Aarhus is an adventure in and of itself. The days of having to wait your turn to get on the ferry no longer exists, as everything is automatic, although one must pre-plan as the ferries are always full, during the summer in any case. I purchased a ticket a couple of days in advance, and drove up the coast of Copenhagen, always such a beautiful drive. One can also take a bus from Copenhagen, and take the ferry this way if you don’t have a car.

Getting on the ferry is an experience, but the staff there have it completely in control, and before you know it, your car is on the boat, and everyone is exiting their cars to hurry up and get in line for the cafe, or duty-free to buy all sorts of goodies like candy, chocolate or alcohol.

The trip itself on the ferry is a little over an hour, so before you know it, you are docking in Aarhus.

We stayed at my cousins house where we promptly took a trip to ‘Den Gamle By‘. Be prepared to travel back in time, as you walk along the cobblestone streets, old buildings from the 15th century all the way up to the new exhibit from the 1970’s. There are actors in some of the buildings which is always fun to see (they only speak Danish). We experienced a wife scolding her husband for not getting enough firewood for the fire, and explaining why his breakfast won’t be ready. Another building had a grocer with old fashioned candy for sale, and herring in a big wooden barrel. A big interest for me was the ‘Beer Cellar’ where a functioning old-fashioned brewery was in full working order.

We had lunch at one of the restaurants, where we all enjoyed ‘smorrebrod’ and authentic Danish dishes, and of course, beer!

We walked around the old town of Aarhus – something you could seriously spend a couple of days. There are so many shops, cafes, restaurants and museums, like the aRoS Museum (which I missed going to this time). For me, I could just be happy to sit on a bench and people watch – one of my favorite things to do. Between watching and listening to the locals, and tourists, there is so much to experience!

Well onward! We had other things to see! Our next mission was Frederikshavn, with the sole purpose of finding “Palme stranden” aka Palm Beach. This is no joke, there are palm trees in Denmark, at least on Palmestranden, for some of the year anyway. The white beaches, and gentle sway of the palm trees all around make you feel like you are in the tropics for a little while any way. The water is so clear, you can see right to the bottom, and although we only dipped our toes in the water for a couple of minutes, we were very tempted to stay there for the rest of the afternoon. The intoxicating aromas of the wild roses (Hyben) were everywhere, and hard for my daughter to pull me away. It’s hands down one of my favorite aromas in the world!

Alas – we had to move on!

Northern bound!

Next on our bucket list was Skagen! But first Den Tilsandede Kirke, the Sand-Covered Church, the name given to a late 14th-century church dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. The sand migration began in the 16th century and reached the church during 1795, where by royal decree the church was closed. All you can see at this date is the top of the tower, where swallows elegantly fly in and out of the bell tower.

The sand dunes surrounding the area are part of the Skagen Klitplantage, a nature reserve set beautifully between two seas and full of varied plants, wild roses, bright purple heath and pine trees.