Monday, May 30, 2016

Aarhus: Denmark's second largest city

Aarhus is often described as the happiest city in the happiest country in the world. In 2017 it will be celebrating its role as the European city of art and culture. http://www.aarhus2017.dk/en/.
A great deal of activity is underway throughout the city in preparation.

One suspects these were not the original columns, but then again...
I heard about this bathroom before seeing it, as Sally exclaimed "Oh my God. Come and see this!"
We stayed in the centre of town at the Hotel Royal http://www.hotelroyal.dk/ a historic hotel in the centre of the city. The hotel was truly a mix of old and new with contemporary art murals on the walls, and some very quirky features.
The view from our window
There was parking in front which seemed very convenient. The only problem was that after arriving and a good evening at Den Lille Kro, where I met the owner, chef, and award winning burgermeister who served me his special dish, the following morning I discovered I had accidentally left my shoulder bag on the backseat of our car, and a thief took it after shattering the rear window.
Not a pretty sight. Ironically, I had rented this type of car since I was very worried about theft of luggage, but inadvertently left my bag on the back seat after trying to improve my parking!
However, the staff at Europcar were extremely accommodating and in no time I had another car. This time, an automatic version of the Passat that we had originally reserved. Thanks Europcar for making the process so relatively painless.

Ironically, my bag contained very little....just a spare battery for my phone, my Tesla hat, a cable for my camera, and the portable GPS I had brought from Canada since it's expensive to rent a GPS in Europe. (If anyone sees a rough looking guy in a grey Tesla hat, please ask him to send me back by bag!)

Fortunately the new car also had built in navigation so I managed without it. I must say, if you don't normally bother with GPS in Europe, it's becoming an essential feature when travelling. Not only does it tell you where to go, it lets you know the speed limit...which can be very important, and where there is traffic congestion to avoid.
The weather forecast on our first morning did not look good. But compared to the floods in Paris, we were not complaining
A sign inside this elevator says it's the oldest in Norther Europe. Note the hand-painted murals by a Hungarian artist
I liked Aarhus very much. It is a very attractive, clean and sophisticated city with extensive green spaces, flowing canals, and a mix of predominantly lowrise old and new buildings. A pedestrian shopping street leads through the city centre from just outside of our hotel. Aarhus is also home to a number of museums and galleries, (one of which I will describe in a subsequent post), which no doubt was a factor in it being selected as the 2017 European City of Art and Culture.

Along the waterfront a new community is taking shape with some dramatic new architecture. (See the next post for more information.) However, as so often seems the case with Danish planning, the ground plane feels very sterile and not at all welcoming. There are limited private outdoor spaces, but maybe Danes prefer it that way. I just don't understand.

We stayed two nights and if at all possible I would like to return next year to see how the city has changed. Till then, here are some more photos.
One of the new highrises juxtaposed with an older streetscape.
The music school!
A sign I came across on the main pedestrian street
Aarhus is a mix of old and new. A delightful street of individually owned rowhouses.....the sort of thing we should be building in Vancouver.
The city hall, designed by Arne Jacobsen was undergoing renovation in advance of next year's festivities
I was surprised by the streetscapes of colourful buildings in Aarhus and throughout the country. It often seemed that one person had coordinated the colours, but they hadn't. Danes just have good design and colour sense!
There are some taller buildings in the city, but not a lot. Most highrises are commercial buildings, not residential.
I was intrigued by this structure above the parking lot of the conference centre, and the parking space striping (below)
I was intrigued by this advertising so I looked it up. "WhiteAway.com is the largest retailer of home appliances, and our goal is to make it easy and simple to buy cheap goods on the web." Danes seem to take delight using English 4-letter words!

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