I haven’t stopped smiling since I landed in Aarhus. As I walk through the 150-metre circular walkway of the Rainbow Panorama—an installation by the artist Olafur Eliasson atop the ARoS Art Museum—it feels like moving through a kaleidoscope of myriad hues. Aarhus, the City of Smiles, has a new sobriquet. It is dubbed the European Capital for Culture.
The Grauballe Man who is preserved in the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus is a macabre representation of primeval tragedy—a pre-historic corpse discovered in a peat bog, with his throat slit. There is magic to be encountered, too, while passing into another time by losing oneself in the fairy tale atmosphere of Den Gamle By—the Old Town of Aarhus. Seventy-five half-timbered buildings and houses brought and assembled here from over twenty 16th and 19th century Danish towns create an illusion of a “living town”.
The Jutland Peninsula of Denmark is surrounded by the North Sea, the Baltic, Skagerrak and the Kattegat, and is bordered by Germany on land. Old towns, ocean legends, fishing hamlets, pretty yellow houses, handsome seamen, museums and churches mix to form a smorgasbord of road trip.
Further ahead is a windswept charming little seaside town called Saeby. It is a sea of yellow houses, looking like miniatures in a Hans Christian Anderson dream. Amidst them stands a pristine white church, towering dramatically over the landscape. The façade of the 15th century building is austere but do not be misled: the interiors are colourful.
In Saeby, the sea casts a spell. Lulled into a deep slumber, the anchored yachts are huddled together while the shore looks like a picture postcard with an array of cafes and restaurants; some housed in charming monuments. Standing tall is the two-faced Lady of the Sea. Dotted with ceramic tablets crafted by children, the sculpture has been inspired by Norwegian writer, Ibsen, who had visited the quaint town. From there on, the road leads past the Frederikshavn port to Skagen.
The lusty winds, the wild sea, the dreamy yellow houses, the red cabins by the shores—Skagen is a dreamscape from a fantasy novel. No wonder, the town known for its “Skagen yellow” homes has attracted artists and writers, including Andersen.
At the Grenen, two oceans meet—the North Sea or Skaggerak and the Kattegat drained by the Baltic Sea and separated by a sliver of a sandbar. To stand with feet set in different oceans and watching the wild waves is like straddling the essence of different continents.
At Aalborg stands the monumental Utzon Centre designed by the architect John Utzon. But it is the Kildeparken, the musical park of Aalborg, that stirs with a unique ecosystem. In the winds that sweep the town, the trees planted there by musicians from all over the world sing their songs.
Jutland is the mainland part of Denmark. It is a large peninsula connected to the European continent.
How to reach: Billund Airport is the main airport. It has direct connection with almost every major North European hub.