The Thor Forest, AarhusAugust 6 in Denmark
Unusually for Denmark we are parked on a piece of land raised about 15m from the sea. The car park in Thors Skov or The Thor Forest (we love these Danish names) is located just a few kilometres from the outskirts of Aarhus, Denmark's second city. Sturdy Beech trees tower above us and their branches frame a view out to the powdery grey blue of the Baltic Sea. Although we can't see it from the van, a stream gushes down a crevasse which it has cut in the hillside and the sound of rushing water reaches our ears through the open windows. The stream passes a concrete building set back from the sandy beach and housing the Viking kayak club. Many people trudge up and down the steep concrete steps leading to it and we see a number of sea kayaks being paddled cross shore.
Will has already taken the rough forest track from the other side of the car park down to the beach and had a refreshing dip in the sea. There are a number of other people doing this and we even see a couple drive up in dressing gowns covering their swimwear. The place is busy, but this isn't surprising considering its proximity to the big city.
We decide to go for an explore on the tandem and after a short time following a rather tricky forest path we emerged onto the excellent tarmacced cycle track that led into Aarhus. On the way we passed a tall wire mesh fence with a double gate. Behind it were a herd of dear! We watched them for a while through the fence and listened to the strange long squeal made by a couple of them who seemed very interested in us. We were more than a little surprised when a group of tourists opened up the gates and went in to stroke them! Further on was another entrance with signs asking people to respect the wildlife and only feed them fruit and veg. A small caravan had set up shop here selling hot drinks and bags of carrots. We joined the 30 or so adults and children inside the park and both got to stroke the deer, who were a mix of Fallow and Sika deer. They were a little wary, but would approach you if they thought you had food. Wild boars also lived in the forest, but they were kept in a seperate area.
We cycled onward into the outer limits of the urban area, choosing to turn back when the traffic got busy. On our return we stopped to explore a circular pier we had passed on the way in. The Infinate Bridge was built to bring people together, as the old piers that used to stretch out from the coastline used to do. Judging by the numbers gathered around and on it, it certainly seemed to be achieving its aim. We walked along its curved path, spotting several orange jellyfish with long tentacles floating underneath us.
The following day we decided to drive the short distance into Aarhus because we wanted to give ourselves as long as possible to explore the city without worrying about Poppy. Unfortunately there was a fayre in town, as well as what we believe was an international sailing regatta, so the car parks were packed. Changing our plans, we returned to the outskirts of the forest where we left the van in the shade of a large oak tree and cycled the 2 miles to the city centre, most of which was on a dedicated cycle track, separated from the road by a kerb. Leaving the tandem chained to one of the many bike stands attached the walls of buildings, we set about sight seeing. We soon crossed over the train station and were drawn to the several hundred metres of pavement that was dedicated to double sided, double decker bike racks with a covered middle section. The provision for cyclists here is in a different ball park from what we've seen (or not) in the UK.
First on the itinerary was the rainbow panorama at the Åros gallery. At the top of its premises the art museum has a huge circular walkway, whose sides are made up from large rectangular panes of glass, the colours of which change through a rainbow spectrum as you walk around it, giving you tinted views of the surroundings. We admired it from the ground and went in to the building with the intention of buying an entrance ticket, but at 140kr (£17) each we felt the fee was too steep for what would need to be a quick up, round and down tour.
Den Gamle By (the old town) was next. We had visions of characterful, photogenic streets and followed the regular signs that pointed in its direction, only to be disappointed with what appeared to be an amusement park. A closed one. Oh well, never mind.
By now it was was getting on for lunch time so we trudged our way towards Aarhus Street Food. A former garage, the industrial looking building houses a dozen or so eateries, selling an eclectic variety of consumables. We wound through the pallet benches and rainbow mix of parasols making up the outdoor seating and took a look inside. Traditional Danish dishes, hot dogs, pizzas, fish and chips, indian curries, icecream lollies and creme brulee donuts were among the offerings, along with milkshakes, fresh juices and a good selection of beers. Long wooden tables and benches filled shared eating areas, decorated with things such as lanterns and upside down umbrella frames strung with coloured ball lights. Food and drink prices were over inflated because it seemed to be marketing itself as 'the place to be'. We were pretty hungry by now, so despite this we chose 'Nord' because it offered Danish style food that was 90-100% organic. Our shared platter contained such things as toasted rye bread sticks, potato salad, salmon coleslaw and marinated beef slices. Will enjoyed it but Vicky wasn't so keen. She felt the whole place was trying a bit too hard with its hipster image, without paying enough attention to the content.
After lunch it was time to return to the tandem and cycle back to Poppy and the van. We were glad to have looked round Aarhus, but certainly didn't like it as much as Aalborg that we visited a few weeks back. It was more spread out, pricier and didn't seem to contain that cosy character exuded by the more northern city.
Back at the van, we noticed a couple of does and their fawns behind the wire mesh fence of the deer park. There were no gates nearby but taking a carrot from the fridge, Vicky fed one of the mothers through the fence.
It was a hot day and we were parked close to the Infinite Bridge, so we got our swimming gear on and made our way down to the water. Will took the plunge first and was soon warned by a group of people standing on the pier that there were jellyfish in the water. Vicky recieved the same warning from a someone coming out of the sea with a child. They were the same jellyfish we'd seen the previous day, with long 'don't mess with me' tentacles. Will had the bright idea that he could stand on the walkway and act as a spotter for Vicky, who was thus able to swim a circuit of the pier without encountering any of the dreaded creatures. Will then dived in and swam to the shore where we both got out, choosing not to push our luck any further. A search of the internet later led us to believe they were most likely Lion's Mane Jellyfish; a species which does indeed have a painful sting.Read more