Aalborg has always been, to me, the place where akvavit comes from. I never really had a reason to visit the city until my cousin moved up there. My loss, obviously.
It is a beautiful city with a lovely fjord. The few times I’ve been there, I have found it is a unique and interesting place, full of surprises and more than just akvavit. Although I understand now that the Norwegians have bought Aalborg Akvavit Sprit Fabrik and have moved the whole thing to Norway. Pity that but at least it’s owned by Scandinavians.
The First Visit
The first visit, Junior was only 10 so we went to the zoo, checked out the old town and ate hot dogs. At that time there were still hot dog stands.
Since I was travelling solo, it was much easier for Cousin and I to figure out where to go as we share similar interests.
Naturally, shopping was involved. While I’m not a hard core shopper, I do like to explore shops with interesting things and Aalborg has lots of interesting shops. You’d be hard pressed to find 2 clothing stores with similar types of clothing. It was a nice change from the monotonous, clone like stores on my side of the world all selling the same stuff.
As luck would have it, I was visiting Aalborg during Carnival week. The Saturday we were in the town centre was the Children’s Carnival day. So we got to see lots of kids and adults, dressed up, playing music, dancing and generally having a good time, parading through the walking streets. The rain even held off for the parade.
More Food Delights
And, of course, we had to sample strawberry dust, chocolate covered almonds and fløde boller at Summerbird. Then there were the HUGE fløde boller from Koch. And we had lunch at a delightful trattoria, La Bottega, which had lovely Italian food. Just around the corner is Søgaard’s Bryghus that serves a tasting board with 6 small pints of beer. Food’s not bad either.
Just wandering around the city centre is a cultural experience. Very old buildings butt up against new buildings. There are narrow old streets and wide, modern boulevards. Old monasteries are converted into restaurants, new buildings house historical displays. Truly a lesson in city planning – are you hearing this Vancouver?
Little did I realise that world famous architect, Jørn Utzon, came from Aalborg. Along the lovely waterfront, sits the Utzon Centre where Jørn’s beloved boat is on display, as well as drawings, models, and stories about all the buildings he has designed, most notably, the Sydney Opera House. Amazing centre to visit where today’s students of architecture have the experience of learning in a building designed by one of the world’s great architects.
Upstairs, in a far corner of the Utzon centre was a really interesting art display called the NORNS – Sense It.
It is a transatlantic collaboration 2 Danish artists (Annemette Beck & Sofie Kinch) and Cecilia Ramos (NY).
The title NORNS comes from Norse mythology and refers to the three Fates named Ur, Verdande and Skuld. The Norns live under Yggdrasil, the tree of the world, where they weave the thread of life of the humans. Norns are present at the birth of a child, and as they measure the threads of destiny, they determine both the course of life and length of life for the child.
The description in the brochure is way better than I could every have come up with. Here’s how the exhibit is described:
At the entrance of the exhibition room we are struck by the sensation of entering a different world. Long ragged roots, more than 10 meters in length, stretch down toward us. We feel small as we take a deep breath before entering. We are now in the land of the NORNS. Underground, where the destiny of humans is magically determined. Every thread symbolizes one human life. Every knot a crisis, every end a death.
Light is subdued. Dark and light roots intertwine. Dare we touch? We move slowly through the complex web of roots, feeling their strength beneath our fingers. We catch glimpses of light and a gigantic orb now emerges and in the midst of the darkness this feels divine. A distant rumble is heard. We sit down on a stump. Ouch! That was sharp. We sit down on another stump glimmering with light. We examine it closer and let the hand become invisible below its surface. Meanwhile other around us create tighter networks of roots. We sit in an opening of light below the surface of the earth. There is magic in the air, wand we feel it with all our senses.
Aalborg is a lovely city, filled with life. Not a bad place to be.