Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oslo, Aarhus, Herning, Brussels, Dublin: Buses, Trains and Ferries

What a week it's been....
Last Sunday we traveled from Oslo to Aarhus, Denmark, where we stayed before our scheduled performance in Herning (Denmark) two days later. I had never heard of, or been to, Aarhus, but knew that being a smaller town than that where we had been, I'd have a chance to catch up on a little R&R, after having burned the midnight oil in Oslo.
Reaching Aarhus midday on Monday, there was little time for much else besides dinner, and my choice was room service. The following day, feeling the need to get some fresh air and explore, I roamed the streets finding my way to the main pedestrian shopping street and into the old part of town. I learned that Aarhus is actually the second largest city in Denmark, the oldest large city in Scandinavia and dates back to the Viking Age or as far back as the 7th century. After finding the older section of town, I was taken with the character and charm of the narrow cobblestone paved roads and buildings of ancient brick facades that now occupy modern day upscale clothing boutiques, restaurants and cafes. I came across a couple of weather beaten stone churches, a theatre and sea port in the near distance. Many of the buildings were interestingly designed with atriums and inner courtyards that you pass through to enter.
I stopped at an adorable traditional Italian food market for the most satisfying warm mozzarella, tomato and arugula pannini and washed it down with an aranciata. I was taken by all of the yummy products on the shelves, beautiful packaging and fragrant aromas. Oh, and the deep, rich red, pink and orange colors of the stacked assortment of meats and cheeses were a feast for the eyes,...the dolci and the cakes.... It was a moment of sensory overload, and I loved it,.....or maybe I was just starving. Naaaaaahh!!!
I walked the streets a bit more before heading back to my room with plans for an early night. We had a full work day and early departure planned for the next morning. I woke on time for the 6:45am bus call and was ready for the hour and a half trip from Aarhus to Herning. It's my understanding, that we were only in Aarhus due to lack of accommodations in Herning. Once at the newly built arena in Herning is was business as usual.
Now Wednesday, it was midday when we unexpectedly learned that our initial plans to drive to Paris that evening had been cancelled due to the protest currently going on in France. Instead, we would be leaving for Ireland, via Belgium. Following load out, we drove 12 hours to reach Brussels and once there we raced around town filling our time before the midnight bus departure to Dublin. As it goes, our drivers are required a mandatory break, explaining our time off to take in some sights.
We found ourselves at Le Grand Place, one of Brussels more famous and beautiful tourist traps and sightseeing plazas. Like arteries from the plaza center are tiny winding alleyways full of Belgian waffle and chocolate shops and fresh seafood restaurants. We wasted no time assuming our position as tourists, and delved right in for a fine dining experience of "moules et frites." As the saying goes, "mussels in Brussels!"
Satisfied and stuffed we loaded the bus at midnight and were gladly ready for "lights out".
Now Friday, we reached Wales for the 3 hour ferry ride from Holyhead to Dublin. The seas were choppy, but bearable. We were now in the home stretch. Yes,'s been an exhausting, yet, surreal and exhilarating experience, alike. How often do you get to feel as though you've traveled through time. Think about it, 5 days, I had experienced people speaking Norwegian, then awake to people speaking Danish, then French, now Irish. Each day I'd encounter a new environment, setting, culture, language and climate. It's something that just don't happen everyday. It's random, yes, but I consider it pretty special!

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