Skovsnogen – Open air Art Exhibition
Heading reluctantly away from our relaxing beach at Blåvand we headed east and north, to visit a forest display of art exhibits we had read about. Despite seeing very few vehicles on the road on our drive, we ended up parked in a nearby lay-by, as the Skovsnogen Art installation car-park was entirely full with badly-parked cars that left no space for us. We wondered if we had stumbled onto a celebration event or a party, given the numbers, but we saw little sign of people on the path around the exhibits. We never were sure where all the car owners had gone.
We followed the designated route through the forest, passing many different installations in varied materials, from timber snakes to aluminium bubbles to wiry insects. As is often the case, those who are passionate, energetic and have the requisite spare time to produce open-air art are not necessarily the most talented artists. We could see time and endeavour in many pieces, but found little inspiration or thoughtfulness. The art may have been rather lacklustre, but the walk was beautiful and the lightly rolling countryside by a tumbling river was a delight to be in, especially as it was a lovely, sunny spring day. The light penetrating the forest illuminated the lime-coloured leaves so brightly that nature simply outshone the imperfect human additions.
We overnighted at the welcoming home of Karen and Thomas, near Norre Snede, who provide a delightful free aire for fellow travellers, along with a WC, water supply and even a small summer room to use during our stay, if desired. It is an incredibly generous gesture to open up your home to strangers like they do, with no payment asked for in return other than a greeting, a conversation or an interesting story. We passed a lovely afternoon in the sun, gently exercising and sketching up possible ideas for murals that may be painted at our upcoming WorkAway project.
The next morning we continued across Denmark, reaching the east coast at Hou beach only 26 short hours after leaving Blåvand on the west. The weather had turned and the wind had returned with a vengeance; the sea at Hou could not have been more different from Blåvand; spitting white horses topped off rough breakers in five or six foot swells rolling in angrily from the north east. We had hoped to swim, but there was no chance we were entering the water in those conditions, and even walking the gravel path along the beach edge was a struggle in the biting, high winds.
We walked into the town, pausing briefly on timber jetties on the way, and returned back through the empty streets, wondering why there always seems to be no one around in Denmark; it’s so quiet. We drove on to a small commercial aire on a farm on the outskirts of Odder where we met the owner Jørgen and again spent a relaxing afternoon reading in the sun on a nice little patio area provided for visitors, nicely sheltered from the wind.
Next morning we headed off again to the coast. We parked up at the nearby Moesgård Museum. There were construction works all around and we couldn’t find any way of reaching the interestingly shaped museum; shame. Instead we passed a University campus building painted pink, with decorative lakes and various artwork installations scattered in the grounds. We checked a signboard map and followed a local forest trail that took us on a gentle walk through beautiful woodland areas to a sandy beach.
We walked through beautiful, leafy trees with wonderful light breaking through the tight-knit trunks. We followed the course of a small river, passing over small bridges to see timber-frame houses painted in black and white with neatly thatched roofs. In one area reenactment actors in medieval costumes were giving history lessons to groups of primary school-aged kids. We heard wild screaming and charging noises replicating the sound of battle or an ambush in the forest, which could have been quite disconcerting had we not already passed a few actors in full garb.
We returned from the beach by a different but equally pretty route, before moving on to the nearby town of Aarhus. The morning’s sun disappeared en route, to be replaced by a mass of grey clouds. On our approach we were treated to our first traffic jam in Denmark – so this is where all the people have been hiding. We parked in an odd, inefficient circular car-park at the Botanic Gardens and wandered in to look at their displays of plants and butterflies. Inside one large dome we climbed a spiral timber staircase to enjoy the view over the tropical plants. Not quite Kew gardens or the Eden Project in scale, but an interesting distraction on a grey and increasingly rainy afternoon.
We later walked into town where we saw some graffiti and litter, the first signs we’d spotted of Denmark not being entirely pristine and neat. We walked through the centre to the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, the Art Museum, but we did not visit the spectacular-looking rainbow gallery viewing platform on the roof. It was dull, rainy and grey outside, so the views would have been poor, and our appetite for exploration was a little muted. We looked in the main cathedral and the difficult to find Viking Museum. It proved hard to locate as there was only a single doorway leading down a flight of stairs to the museum, and on our visit this was mostly hidden by construction hoarding. The displays were interesting and we read them all as we lingered in the warm, cosy space so as not to have to re-join the dull wetness outside.
We struggled through busy traffic to escape Aarhus and headed to overnight on the outskirts of the town of Silkeborg, where we wild camped by a lake in a gravel car-park. We enjoyed a lovely walk around the 3km loop of the adjacent lake after dinner, loving the long, bright evenings that will only get longer as we head further and further north.