This afternoon Oliver and I arrived in Denmark after a 10 hour journey from London. We flew to Copenhagen and then to Aarhus. Both of us are really tired after this journey on top of the flights from Sydney last Friday and Saturday.
We were supposed to attend an informal conference dinner this evening but arrived in town much later than expected. So we gave our apologies, had a quick take away meal, a brief walk around the city centre and now are planning to sleep (in fact Oliver is deep asleep as I type).
My first memory conference starts bright and early in the morning, so I want to be reasonably refreshed for it.
Three quick things I’ve noticed about Aarhus and then I promise some photos in the next few days; it is a beautiful town in very lush, green countryside.
First, the Danes here love their bikes. Bikes everywhere, which must be good for their mental health. I should ask Celia — who lived here for a year — whether they ride them in winter.
Second, no one seems to lock up their bikes. I noticed lots and lots of bikes in the street awaiting the return of their owners, but hardly any bike locks. That says something awfully nice about the place, don’t you think?
Which reminds me, the people we’ve met so far are lovely! One local overheard us at the airport talking about how to get into town. She stopped to give directions to a bus to town then walked off. After we gathered our things we saw her again outside the terminal, waiting for us and pointing to the bus. When we climbed aboard and said how glad we were to make the bus in time, the driver said he knew we were coming because the lady told him we needed the bus and would be out in a moment. Nice!
Third, it’s interesting to notice the somewhat distinct change in — what’s the word? — perhaps cultural background. Obviously the language sounds quite different to our ears (although it seems most Danes speak fluent English; apparently they learn it from 3rd grade). But I also noticed that colouring is quite different. Out of hundreds and hundreds of people we watched go by this evening, I noticed only two with red hair like Oliver’s. I read somewhere that the proportion of red heads in the population is decreasing but Scotland remains home to the largest proportion; 30% of Scots have red hair. Perhaps this explains why Oliver is going through a phase of speaking in an (as he thinks) Scottish accent and calling me “laddy”?!
Oliver made the man at the front desk laugh this evening when he asked if there was a way to change the language on the tv channels from Danish to English. Oliver had been watching some tv and trying to find an English speaking station. He thought the language was an option he could switch. “Unfortunately not” came the reply from the friendly fellow at the front desk.
I’m not sure what Oliver is making of these quite different – yet somewhat familiar – people and places. It must be a lot for an 8 year old to take in when his world has been much more narrowly bounded. He asked today on the plane to Copenhagen if there is a faster way to get home from Europe. He has still not quite recovered from the disruption of that crazy, long travel leg from Sydney to London. It seemed to him to take forever. Almost like going to the moon!
Or at least to the sea. I hear seagulls calling somewhere close by and perhaps even the sound of sailing boats clinking together. Soothing sounds for sleep. More soon!