After spending a nice, peaceful and slightly wet night in Lysefjord, we headed south again towards Kristiansand and ended up freecamping at what has got to be one of the only rest areas in Norway with a “no camping” policy. As there was a lack of other options in the area and close enough to the port, we ignored the clear sign at the entrance and didn’t end up with anyone knocking on our door during the night. Win!
Heading back down on the ferry from Norway to Hirtshals, which is at the northernmost part of Denmark’s largest island of Jutland (not counting Greenland of course), worked for us for 2 very important reasons. The first and least important reason being, as we’ve mentioned before, it saves a few 100kms and therefore time, money and diesel going the long way around again through Sweden. There are 2 main ferry companies on this route, Fjord Line and Color Line (yes, American spelling). Both are pretty competitive with their prices, but we ended up going with Color Line as they were a bit cheaper.
The second, and of course more important reason for taking this way back down onto the mainland was because it would take us past Denmark’s second largest city of Aarhus, home of the Queen’s summer residence, the 99th largest harbour in the world, and one of my dearest friends in the world, Julie ☺
My gorgeous Danish pal came from her home in Copenhagen to our high school in year 10 as an exchange student. I’m proud to say that myself, and many of our school friends have kept in touch with her over years. 4 years ago she came back to Sydney for a holiday to catch up with whoever she could and to take a break from her medical studies – we took her to the Slipp Inn, the meeting place of Mary and Prince Frederick during the 2000 Olympics (there is a plaque on the wall outside the pub commemorating this). I could write so much about our school days and her more recent trip back to Oz as I have the fondest memories of both, but I shall try to keep focused on the present!
Julie had sent me a text with her address, and let us know we can park for free outside her apartment if there was room by the time we got there at 10pm, otherwise there was parking up the road. Of course, all available parking outside her place was taken so we parked a 5min walk away. As we were walking back down the road, Julie met us outside with her boyfriend, Kristoffer, took us upstairs to their place, and made us feel right at home. We kept them up past their bedtime chatting and drinking coffee and they trusted us to have their place to ourselves while they were working for the next few days.
When Julie and Kristoffer came home from work the next afternoon they took us out for a walk around town. Kristoffer is Aarhus born and bred, so he had plenty of history and information to share with us about his hometown. Aarhus is a very bike friendly city and it shows – it is definitely the preferred form of transport. The guys took us down into the centre of town, showed us where they each work, we walked by some Hare Krishna’s, checked out the harbour with it’s cafes and restaurants lining the water, then went into a Thai-style restaurant called Kowloon for a great tasting dinner and some Tiger beer.
I think they like their bikes in Denmark...
On the way home, Kristoffer suggested we have a nightcap at a local pub... without knowing what he was offering, we happily agreed with what he ordered and ended up with a shot of something like a cross between Jagermeister and Sambuca, with a beer chaser. After that, we sort of floated back to their place for some chamomile tea and I decided I wasn’t ready to say goodbye just yet – I was a bit worried about overstaying our welcome, even though Julie had said awhile ago we could stay as long as we wanted, but she reassured me it was fine for us to stay another night.
A few of these and you are in for a great night
Perfect spot to hang with the boys I guess
The Rainbow Panorama of the ARoS building
With Kristoffer in Copenhagen for work late the next day, Julie offered to take us for another sightseeing walk around town when she got home from work, this time to the local palace and the surrounding parkland area. This is the summer residence of the Queen, smoking her 60 ciggies a day. For the most part of the year visitors can enter the immediate grounds free of charge. The building itself looks much like the palace in the capital – unfortunately we ended up admiring from a distance, for as we approached, we saw a guard at the gate and a sign advising what whilst the Queen was in from August 27th to September 7th, the palace would be closed to the public. Oh well! Getting to wander around the public gardens was nice enough, lots of groups out boot-camping and running, reading and just generally enjoying the brief moment of afternoon sun. Featured in the park is a WW1 memorial, with a tribute to their fallen soldiers in the form of 4 wall sculptures and a poem in Danish (Julie was kind enough to translate the moving poem into English for me)… one new tidbit we discovered for them, was that you get a really cool echo if you stand in the middle of the memorial and speak, whisper, clap your hands etc
The Queen's holiday pad
We finished off the walk down on the waterfront, strolling between beautiful, expensive houses and their boats on the water. When we got back to Julies, I helped her make dinner (a homecooked meal after living off canned food is awesome beyond words) then relaxed until Kristoff got home so we could say our goodbyes and thank them for having us with a box of chocolate, the brand called “Merci” – perfect choice!
On the edge of the city you will find this
Leaving Aarhus and almost back in London, we decided that one more stop was needed before we wrapped up this crazy trip, and what better way to relax and contemplate the journey that was now behinds us, than blowing off some steam (and smoke) in the famously green city of Amsterdam!
As we have visited Amsterdam before, and had thoroughly explored the city, there was little motivation to re-do the touristy stuff we had done our last visit, so we essentially spent 3 days lazing about the various coffee shops, sampling the local flavour and talking about all we had seen and done over the last 5 months, trying to somehow let it all sink in.
After a nice little weekend unwinding in Amsterdam, it was time to head back to the hustle and bustle of London and work out the age-old question…
Where to next?