Helsinki day 1 | Helsinki day 2 | Helsinki day 3 | Stockholm | Stockholm to Kosta | Kosta to Kalmar
Kalmar to Copenhagen | Copenhagen | Copenhagen to the Ship | Aalborg, Denmark | Flam, Norway
Alesund, Norway | Molde, Norway | Geiranger, Norway | Olden, Norway | Bergen, Norway
Eidfjord, Norway | Stavanger, Norway
(7-24-16) and At Sea (7-25-16)
Two days: Aalborg, Denmark
Today we're spending the entire day sailing. Since I knew that would give us plenty of time, yesterday's explorations of Aalborg and vicinity are being written during a blue-wave and slightly overcast at- leisure day.
Generally, I am not a fan of the bus tours that cruises offer. Someone is always late or slow and sets the pace for everyone else. Yesterday was no exception. We left 20 minutes late because someone arrived late to the bus and were delayed another 15 after a museum tour by, of course, just one person. The knock-on effect was that the end of the tour was rushed. We didn't even have a busload of people. There were only 12 of us.
The bus ride from Aalborg to Skagen, the most northerly town in Denmark, took 90 minutes. Skagen used to be a small fishing village. Today it's a well-maintained town full of 18th century yellow houses. Tourists love it because it is bright, clean, and relatively off the beaten track. The largest attraction is a museum filled with the work of painters drawn to the area for nearly a century starting in the early 1900's. Artists came to Skagen because it was picturesque, unspoiled, and had what artists considered to be a special quality of light. The photo on the left is of one of the many pictures in the museum.
Unlike many modern museums that create dramatic impact by displaying paintings with lots of white wall around each painting, this museum hung its paintings literally cheek to jowl. That resulted in a real exuberance of color and pattern and subject matter. In the museum's locker room is a mirror used as a painted canvas. The subjects looked very real, even if dressed in 19th century clothing. The man in the center turned the mirror into instant mixed media: painting and photography.
After the museum we drove to a spit of land (in this area it is not so much land as it is sand) north of Skagen. First we had lunch, a traditional Danish open-face sandwich with shrimp, grilled fish and poached fish on dark bread. Danish beer is almost a required part of that meal. After lunch we boarded a tractor-pulled "train" car for a trip to the dunes. The Danes call this sand-ready conveyance the Sandomen which translates as Sandworm.
The sand dunes around here are extensive. They are formed by the wave action of the colliding Skagerak (North Sea) and Kattegat (Baltic Sea) seas which lay on either side of the sea-created dunes. The Sandomen brought us to the very tip of the sand where the seas meet. What's particularly interesting about this region is that these colliding seas are extending this sand-land at a very rapid rate. Our guide said that Denmark is moving toward Sweden. It's obvious that the California coast should take a little hop over here for some growth and replenishment lessons from its European cousins.
Along the dune are three lighthouses. The first is an early version that used firewood; the second (the white lighthouse) is no longer in service because over the last 350 years at least a half mile of sand has been deposited on its seaward side and it's no longer in good lighthouse position; and the third, a grey lighthouse, is also no longer in use, not because of sand build-up but because it has been obsoleted by modern marine technology.
To further illustrate the implacable migration of sand in this area, we stopped at a 14th century parish church. Starting several centuries after it was built, parishioners had to shovel out sand from inside the church before the Sunday services started. Several centuries after that, no one could keep up with relentless march of the sand dunes and the area bishop agreed to the church's closure.
The white structure below is just the tower/steeple of the original church. Below that is the church building itself. The church had 16 foot walls and a roof that pitched up another 16 or so feet. Over the centuries the drifting sand covered the church and its roof right up to the base of its tower/steeple.
It would be interesting to see what photos from these same two spots would look like in 2116.
Legendary Cultures 2011 | Greece & Turkey 2012 | Circle The Arctic | France-Denmark 2016 | Helsinki-Norway 2016