When we woke up at 7.30 this morning, the Bolette was already docked in Aarhus, Denmark. We had never been to this port before so we were looking forward to our half-day tour. Going out onto our gigantic balcony, we could see a cathedral with an interesting green roof and spire in the near distance. While there wasn’t a cloud in the sky the weather still had an unpleasant chill in the air; it was about 7°C but it felt colder.
After a full English breakfast in The View self-service buffet, we returned to 7036 and got our coats, tour tickets and Danish kroner. Then we proceeded to the Neptune Theatre where we checked in and awaited the call for our tour bus number, which came a few minutes later.
Disembarking the Bolette, we made our way to the nearby waiting buses and took our seats. Then we set off, passing pleasant countryside and wooded areas; our first visit was to the Marselisborg, which has been the Queen’s Summer Palace since 1967. Queen Margrethe II is the reigning monarch of Denmark; she is 82 years old. Prince Frederik is the heir apparent. Our guide explained that the queen had recently had an operation so she wouldn’t be coming to her summer residence this year.
We walked around the pleasant grounds, enjoying the morning sunshine. There were many sculptures in the gardens. Then it was time to board the coach once again for our next visit, to the Old Town.
Aarhus is Denmark’s second city after Copenhagen. It is located in the north-east of Denmark on the Baltic Sea and has a population of 296,369 inhabitants. It’s one of those lesser-known gems in Denmark and is well worth a visit. Den Gamle By, which is Danish for ‘old town’, is an open-air museum which gives you an interactive tour through the ages and contains original buildings which have been deconstructed, then faithfully reconstructed to how they were. It reminded me a bit of Beamish Museum in County Durham, which contains 1950’s shops, cobbled streets, trams and even a coal mine.
On arrival at Den Gamle By, we entered through the turnstiles and found ourselves straight in a charming cobbled street containing timbered buildings alongside a flowing canal. One of the buildings was a a dye centre, where the coloured dyes were mixed before hanks of newly-spun yarn were dipped into them to obtain their colour before being hung up to dry.
We walked around the town, consulting our maps and guides so we knew what we were looking at. We came across a house from 1974 which was certainly within our lifetime (I was 13 in 1974) so it was a real trip down memory lane, with its boxy CRT television, garish wallpaper and Formica kitchen cabinets. 😊
Continuing through the decades, we passed a farrier’s with a horse and cart in the yard. There was also a mill with a waterwheel slowly turning.
Yes, there was certainly lots of interesting things to see and experience in Den Gamle By, and it’s somewhere we’d recommend if ever you visit Aarhus. We would have liked to explore for longer, but as this was just a half-day tour we just got a taster of everything.
Back on the coach, our next visit was to the cathedral with the green roof that we’d spotted from our balcony. The Aarhus Cathedral (Århus Domkirke to give it its Danish name) is the longest and tallest church in Denmark, at 93 metres in length and 96 metres in height. It was difficult to get a photo of it as it was hard to fit it all in! 😊
It was built between 1190 and 1500, and used to be a Roman Catholic church; it is now a Church of Denmark place of worship. We went inside and, as we always do, we compared it with our ‘own’ cathedral in Durham. We decided ours was better and more ornate, but Aarhus Cathedral was lovely and airy with its white walls, white vaulted ceiling and lavishly decorated altar. As with all churches in Denmark, a model of a wooden sailing ship hung from the ceiling.
We returned to the Bolette just after 12.15pm in nice time for lunch; we were due to sail at one o’clock. Dumping our bags in our cabin (suite!!) we decided to go to the Poolside to have lunch. I enjoyed a ploughman’s platter washed down with a glass of chilled cava as we sat and relaxed and listened to the resident singing duo Pete and Dave entertain us.
Returning to our stateroom, we went out on our massive balcony to watch the sailaway. The Bolette gave a blast of her foghorn which sounded very loud as our room is more or less situated underneath the funnels. 😊 Then we enjoyed a half hour post-luncheon nap.
The rest of the afternoon passed in its pleasant way and, at 3.45pm, we went down to the Morning Light pub for the Afternoon Trivia which we didn’t win. We had a couple more drinks while we were there and passed pleasantries with our fellow passengers. The Bolette is around 62,735 tons and carries 1300 passengers, so there is lots of space per person and the ship never feels crowded. She is completely different from the gigantic Royal Caribbean ships that carry over 6,000 passengers – we would never go on a vessel like that. We can only imagine the crowds and the queues and screaming kids running around. Not our kind of cruise.
When we returned to our cabin we found that our complimentary litre bottle of Famous Grouse whisky had arrived; we’d be able to enjoy an ice cold whisky and ginger as a nightcap each evening. 😊
Around 4.30pm Captain Degerlund’s cheerful voice greeted us over the PA system to say that soon Bolette would be passing under the Great Belt Bridge, a 18-kilometre long bridge crossing the Great Belt strait between the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen. It consists of a road suspension bridge and a railway tunnel between Zealand and the small island Sprogø in the middle of the Great Belt. I was busy getting showered and doing my hair, but Trevor went up on deck and took some photos as the Bolette approached and then went under the impressive bridge.
Getting ready for our evening meal, I wore a black knee-length dress with a black lace jacket. I contrasted this with yellow footless tights and a pair of colourful Irregular Choice boots called “Village Fete” which portrayed a village pub, a red phone box and a thatched cottage with a ginger cat sitting on the window sill. As we made our way to the restaurant, I kept getting stopped by people wanting to take photographs. 😊
Dinner in The Terrace restaurant was spent in the excellent company of our tablemates Roy and Jane, Peter and Marian at table #46. We regaled each other with tales and anecdotes and there was much laughter and good conversation. Ours was one of the last tables to empty and, once again, the waiters gently had to remind us that they needed to get the table ready for second sitting at 8.30pm. 🙂
The entertainment in the Neptune Theatre tonight featured the Bolette Theatre Company in an original production called “Come Fly With Me”. As you would guess, it featured songs, dances and costumes from all around the world; it was a tremendous show, full of exuberance.
After the show we went along to the Morning Light pub for the evening trivia. We got 13/15 and were quite hopeful, but the winning team got full marks so no bottle of cava for us this time!
Then we just stayed in the Morning Light enjoying the company of our fellow passengers and having some fun banter with the bar staff who kept topping up my glass of fizz when I wasn’t looking. 😊 It was around midnight when we returned to 7036 and settled down after an excellent day. We had a sea day to look forward to tomorrow, en route to Helsinki, Finland.