It is always a weird feeling to stand in the same place twice, especially when it is halfway around the world. I remember the same feeling when I stood in the Colosseum for a second time, or walked the same route through Cinque Terre. When you are seeing these amazing things, you feel lucky to be able to see them once, but to see them twice is an even more indescribable blessing. I thought this would only relate to cities or attractions around the world. However, I have come to see it also applies to friends.
In Boise, I work in the study abroad office. Our office primarily sends students from Boise to go abroad, but we also bring in students from our partnership exchange sites around the world. Part of my job is to work with the Global Ambassadors/Buddy Program. This is a program for pairing international students with Boise State students to help them adjust to living in Boise. Fall of 2015 was one of our best groups of international students. The entire group became incredibly close, these students became some of my best friends. When they left after the fall semester, who knew if we would get to see each other again. After booking the tickets for this trip, I immediately sent an email out to my friends from Europe to see if I could come visit their hometowns.
Over the next week of my trip I will be visiting these friends, one in Denmark, one in Sweden, and a few are coming together in Luxembourg for the weekend. This past couple of days I spent in Aarhus Denmark with my friend Ulrik, exploring his city and our exchange site in Denmark. We had the best time! After being on my own for a week, I have come to love solo travel in a way I was not expecting to. But being able to spend a few days with a friend, and not be in charge of the exploring plans was a lovely change of pace.
Tuesday I traveled from Dublin to Copenhagen which turned out to be quite the adventure. We had planned that I would fly in midday and then take a bus from Copenhagen airport, four hours north to Aarhus. Upon arriving to the airport in Dublin, I pulled out my ticket for the flight and the bus. When I booked them I must not have been converting the 24 hour clock into the 12 hour clock correctly because I realized that I had only given myself about 25 minutes from landing in Copenhagen until my bus left. I tried not to worry, but planned on running the second I got off the plane.
We landed 5 minutes late and something took another 5 minutes to open the cabin doors to allow us out. From the moment I hit the pavement I was running (please reread that as Forrest Gump). Just to complete the picture, keep in mind that in order for my bag to fit the budget airline carry on requirements, I have to carry a purse with a few bulky things in it and wear my Hunter rain boots. As I got off the plane I took off running towards the terminal (you deplane budget airplanes much like small puddle jumper flights on Alaska Airlines).
I had 17 minutes to bus departure. Once inside I immediately faced the line for passport control. Not only was I waiting in line to enter the European Union, but for the first time ever the line for Non-EU Passports line was longer than the EU Passport line, just my luck. I am sure I looked like the perfect impatient American, tapping my foot and muttering, “Come on, come on!” I finally made it through and took off through the terminal with 12 minutes to the bus departure. Hoping not to look like the stereotype of a rude American, I ran yelling excuse me and thank you in every language I knew, Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Irish, Icelandic, anything. I finally made it to the customs exit with 7 minutes to departure. I passed into baggage claim, saw a sign for charter buses and took off to find my bus. Of course no drivers were actually with their buses. Finally after asking 5 random people, I found a driver that told me I was in the wrong place. I needed to back through baggage claim to the other side and to find the bus. Again I sprinted, through and out the other doors and finally saw the name of my bus line across a parking lot of construction. Of course at this point my hydro flask flies out of my back and across the sidewalk breaking the top off. I gather it and keep running to the bus driver completely out of breath, thanking him for not leaving. Completely unphased he scanned my ticket, let me on the bus and proceeded to not leave for another ten minutes. I was dripping in sweat and completely exhausted, but I made it.
After that fiasco, it was smooth sailing from there. The bus was equipped with outlets and Wi-Fi, so I cozied in with some lunch, and watched Netflix for the next four hours to Aarhus. The bus was wonderful and such a cheap way to travel, roundtrip only cost me about $28. I was so excited, not only to see Ulrik, but to see Aarhus. I had been hearing a lot of Aarhus lately, online and in my travel magazines. Aarhus was named the cultural capital of Europe for 2017 and boy is it deserving of that title.
I arrived in Aarhus about 8pm, met up with Ulrik and we were off to dinner. He told me we were off to get some traditional Danish food. I was a little nervous, but he was actually taking me to go get the Danish national dish, fried bacon with boiled potatoes and parsley gravy. Sounded yummy to me, and truly a bit like something that would be served in America. It was so good. The bacon has been fried with butter and then baked to be crispy in the over. It was so incredibly good, and I was shocked that this was their national dish.
The rest of the night we simply caught up, it was great to see my old friend again. The next day we were off to see Aarhus. The morning started with Ulrik baking Danish biscuits. One thing he always said about America is that our bread was like cake because it was s0 sugary. These were proper Danish biscuits, much like a multigrain seed bread and quite delicious. We had it with all sorts of toppings from cheese and prosciutto to butter, jam, honey and even chocolate wafers. It was amazing.
We spent the day walking all over the city, a total of just over 15 miles to be exact. We walked all through the gorgeous campuses of Aarhus University, his school of about 40,000 students. The students make up about 20% of the entire city population, making it one of the youngest cities in Denmark. The campus had a huge park and pond in the middle. They also have separate campuses for the different departments. Did I mention that each of the departments also have their own bars in each building? It was the craziest thing I have ever seen in my life.
After the university we walked around through the botanical gardens, the city center, and down to their new library and urban center, Dokk1. Right down on the harbor, it has amazing views of the port, but overall is really just one of the coolest buildings I have ever seen. The building holds not only the library, but also has many study and meeting spaces, civil services like the DMV and passport processing, and playgrounds on the outside deck. Inside had rooms with Xboxes, Wii’s and other games for all ages of life. It was truly an amazing place, I would have spend so much time there if I lived in Aarhus.
We headed from Dokk1 to get some lunch, traditional Danish hotdogs. They were a lot like the hotdog in Iceland (which now makes sense since Iceland was once under Danish rule). The difference here was the hotdog was pork and spicy, more like a sausage. It was topped with white cabbage, a chipotle tasting sauce, and the bright yellow sauce from Iceland, which is a mayo sauce with some spices. It was very good. We had it with fries and Elderflower sodas (my new favorite drink!).
With full bellies were we off to Ulrik’s favorite coffee shop, Great Coffee and boy was it. Tucked in a small alleyway, this coffee shop is owned by one of the best barista’s in Scandinavia (he has the awards to prove it). It was the coolest coffee shop, focusing on drip coffee instead of espresso. We ordered two Siphon coffees and the man went to work making magic. Turning on an infrared light, he placed a glass bulb filled with water over it to boil. He then added another glass container with a filter and coffee grounds on top when the water was boiling. It was amazing, when the water boiled it moved up into the top container, mixing with the grounds, as it was stirred. He then took it off the light and the now coffee moved back down to the bulb through the filter leaving the grounds in the top. The coffee was poured into glasses and handed to us, it was an amazing show. Truly was incredible coffee as well.
After coffee we continued around the city, seeing everything from the sailboat harbor, to the amazing bike racks of the train station. The amount of bikes in this city is unreal. I knew they rode their bikes much more than we do, but I easily saw thousands of bikes these past two days. Absolutely mind blowing the amount I saw, just lines and lines and lines of bikes. It was a wonderful day.
We ended the night by meeting up with some friends for dinner. Meeting one early to help with the shopping, I had a great time exploring the grocery store while Ulrik shopped. I even found my favorite candy that is only here in Scandinavia, and of course proceeded to buy an entire bag of it. We all headed back to Ulrik’s place. He cooked while a few more friends arrived. We all had a great dinner and night. It was so much fun to meet new friends last night. I am so thankful that Denmark teaches English so much in school, and that most of them had spent time living in English speaking countries. It was a wonderful evening.
This morning was just breakfast and off to the bus. I am on my way back to Copenhagen and then on a train to Lund, Sweden to meet another friend. This will be an amazing week of travel. As much as I have been absolutely loving solo travel and everything that goes along with it, it is so nice to be with friends again. Completely surreal to be meeting up with them on their side of the pond. I am so lucky to have made such great friendships at BSU and I can’t wait to see the rest of my friends and their hometowns. It isn’t always about seeing the next big city, sometimes it’s about nothing more than seeing a life that is different than your own.
-The Very Hungry Traveler