After reading through the blogs of past student bloggers a lot (maybe too much) in preparation of arriving in Denmark, I knew there was one place I needed to go: Aarhus! It’s the second-largest city in Denmark and the largest in western Denmark, called Jutland. Many of the core courses go there for their Core Course Week, but since my class went to Hamburg instead, I hadn’t made it out there yet. I heard even more about the city from many of my apartment-mates when they returned from their Core Course Week travels there, so when planning this trip for my mom and I, I decided this would be a perfect place to start!
On Saturday, we took an early morning train from Copenhagen Central Station (my mom stayed at the Radisson Blu Royal, was conveniently located right down the street!). Our first stop of the day was ARoS, a modern art museum and one of Aarhus’ most well-known and most-visited sites. I truly cannot say enough good things about this museum—it gets allllll the heart eye emojis!!!!! While the entire museum is excellent, my favorite exhibitions were “No Man is an Island – The Satanic Verses” and “Bacon, Freud, and the London Painters”. If you go, make sure to save ample time for the most distinctive part of the museum—the rainbow panorama on top of the museum!!
The “No Man is an Island” exhibit examines the idea of “Europe on the move” and the relations between individuals, groups, and the state. It’s “an exhibition about the place of art, knowledge, and philosophical thought in a new Europe, a Europe threatened by fragmentation”. At the entrance of the exhibit is the following remark by the director of the ARoS Museum:
“We should never believe that the struggles that have been won in the name of freedom and equality have been won once and for all. For one thing, because these rights do not include all those you meet in the course of a day. They must be won over and over again. Through dialogue, critique, disagreement, and the understanding of interpersonal relations, not through demanding, but through creating and ‘stop[ping] [the world] going to sleep’. This is precisely what is at stake and this is what this exhibition attempts to address.”
The art installation I posted a picture of above that includes an Airstream camper and “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is called Welcome. It is “a reflection of the American Dream and the myth about the land of endless opportunities. The caravan represents mobility and freedom while the broken welcome sign reveals a society where the reception of immigrants leaves much to be desired”.
And, if that wasn’t enough of (well-deserved) critique of American culture, nearby is the installation I included in the photos above: the car door on the black wall. The museum described it thusly:
“Sawdy no. 46 is a tableau based on the racial violence taking place in the USA during the 1960s. The attack on the black man is seen through the windscreen of a car and refers to a real event that was photographed and later incorporated as an image in Kienholz’s work. The car door creates an illusion of sitting in the car witnessing the crime. Our passive participation in the racist episode leaves us partly responsible.”
After ARoS, we made our way to Den Gamle By, an outdoor museum that presents a view of Denmark in the 1700s, 1900s, and 1920s. It’s such a fun place to wander around for an hour or two! Make sure you check out the sweets shop in the Old Town area for a collection of traditional Danish pastries that simply can’t be beat!
Right next to Den Gamle By is the Aarhus Botanical Garden, which is beautiful and a great place to spend some time—especially when it’s chilly out!
We ate dinner at Aarhus Street Food, which is similar to Paper Island here in Copenhagen, though slightly smaller. I went for butter chicken from an Indian food stand and then a grilled cheese—both were excellent! And because no good meal is complete without dessert, we got crêpes from a French food stand! I opted for one with caramel and salted butter and I really, truly think that my life would be complete if I never ate anything but that ever again.
After a full day and with full stomachs, we headed back to our hotel, Hotel Oasia. Friendly staff, beautiful rooms, and a fantastic location right next to the train station and a close walk to all of the sites we wanted to visit! We had an early night in, but for good reason: I had to watch the Wake vs. Louisville football game!!!! That we WON!!!!!
What I would have done differently: In retrospect, we definitely could have taken the train back to Copenhagen that Saturday night, stayed in Copenhagen, and then flew to Bergen on Sunday morning rather than what we did, which was stay overnight in Aarhus, then take the train to Copenhagen and fly into Bergen late Sunday afternoon. I’ll explain why in my next post—so watch for that tomorrow!