I decided to make a trip up to Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, during my week-long DIS Study Tour. With only one class to attend (remotely, due to the pandemic), it was wonderful to have the flexibility to travel to another city in Denmark for a couple of days. The perfect opportunity to spend a couple of nights in Aarhus, I could both sightsee and complete class assignments at the same time. Fortuitously, we had planned this trip several weeks in advance, unsuspecting that COVID-19 restrictions would be relaxed on March 1, the day before we arrived. Thus, we reaped the benefits of the shops opening, and were able to browse inside stores in a safe, masked, and socially distanced manner.
On March 2, Tuesday morning, Nikki and I took a train from Copenhagen Central Station to Aarhus Station. A two and a half hour ride, it was a pleasant journey and a lovely survey of the Danish countryside. By the time we arrived, it was a brilliantly sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The Airbnb that we rented was a tiny house on the Docklands, right by the rippling water. The giant glass windows permitted the relentless rays of natural light to stream into all corners of the indoor space. Because of this, upon stepping into the house I was hit by a wall of heat. To air out the space we resorted to keeping the door slightly cracked open and putting the blinds down once we ventured into the city. Also of note: lining the water nearby our tiny house were a wide variety of food stalls, selling pizzas, burgers, ice cream, coffees, and drinks. It felt like we were living on a bustling pier!
Once unpacked and situated in the tiny house, we strolled into the central part of the city, inadvertently stepping into the Latin Quarter, a trendy neighborhood chock full of colorful buildings, lovely cafes, and clothing boutiques. We walked without a destination in mind, briefly entering several expensive clothing stores that were fun to browse in, though less tempting to purchase something. The best part of the evening was stumbling into a one-of-a-kind vegan restaurant called “Plant Food,” that specialized in burgers. I treated myself to the “Avantgarde Burger,” a tasty creation with fermented cabbage, fried onions, and truffle mayo. It was perhaps the best burger I’ve ever tasted.
On Wednesday morning, both Nikki and I had zoom sessions for our Core Courses. My class, titled “Cultural Diversity and Integration,” was visited by the former executive director of Trampoline House, a Danish NGO committed to providing community space for refugees and asylum seekers. We learned about the importance of dissolving the offensive, condescending hierarchy that often forms when volunteers prioritize charity by handing out money and resources to those in need without asking for anything in return. The need for mutual respect between the volunteers and the migrants, without the damaging victimization of the people on the receiving end of help, is vital for the success of an organization like Trampoline House.
In the afternoon we visited Den Gamle By, an open air museum featuring 75+ historical houses that were moved to the site from 20 Danish townships. Although we could not enter the buildings, and the employees acting as townspeople were absent from the scene, it was a unique experience to witness the streets without the company of many visitors.
Later in the afternoon, we decided to go shopping in Ryesgade, an extensive shopping street in central Aarhus. Our first time shopping within Denmark, it was exciting to have the chance to go inside stores. We popped in and out of a variety of clothing shops, taking note of lots of distinctively Danish/Scandinavian clothing styles (sweater vests, collared shirts, and fabric jackets, to name a few).
For dinner, I identified a fancy pizza place called “Piccolina,” a joint that had tons of vegan menu options. I tried a vegan variety that had potatoes, salami, onions, cheese, and truffle oil. Like the burger I had sampled the night before, this was likely the best vegan pizza I had ever tried.
Thursday morning was sadly time for our departure from Aarhus. We grabbed breakfast in the Latin Quarter at a cafe called GRØD, well known for its gourmet oatmeal selection. I ordered a porridge bowl with all the vegan toppings––decked out with homemade peanut butter, apple compote, almonds, hazelnuts, coconut, granola, cacao nibs, chocolate chips, banana, and raspberries, it was a luxurious treat.
My time in Aarhus, though brief, was very diverting. Having spent a couple of months in Copenhagen, I am glad I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with another Danish city. Right by the sea, the ambiance was clearly different from that of the more urban environment I had grown accustomed to. If you plan on traveling to Denmark, I enthusiastically urge you to scope out Aarhus (and spend a few days there)!
*I did an Instagram takeover for @dis.copenhagen while in Aarhus. To check out my photo/video documentation of the trip, tap through the “Spring 2021” saved story.