Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome to Århus!

So I went to the "Welcome to Århus" thing that the kommune (something like a county, but not really) put together. Lots of information that would have been helpful a while ago or isn't relevant to me yet (like all the stuff for children). There was a big push for us to involve our children in as many things as possible so they can learn to be Dandroids... I mean, become real Danes... I mean, learn about Danish culture. Yeah yeah, at least the girls choir was cute. Much more fun was the tour of the city hall and a trip up to the top of the tower.

And, yes, I TOTALLY forgot to bring a camera. Must we discuss it? BUT GOD BLESS THE INTERNETS! I will have things for you to look at!

The building, designed by Arne Jacobsen, was started in 1938 and finished in 1941. It is made entirely out of Nordic materials (apparently they thought this was a great "screw you" to the Nazis, a rather extreme form of passive resistance if you ask me, but no one did), except for the panelling in two rooms, the council room has wood panelling from Cuba and the Marriage Room has the same type of wood commonly used in cigar boxes. (They couldn't remember what that wood was called, but good ol' Google tells me it is either Spanish cedar or Honduran mahogany.) It is now a protected building and nothing about it can be changed. Which means, according to the translator, they freeze in the winter and boil in the summer because God forbid they get windows that open and a nicer air-con unit.

We met in the main hall, which is really more of a wing that they put partitions in front of to make a fake hall. What, that picture is a little less than sensational? I didn't take it, don't blame me!!

We went to see the council room where the kommune leaders er lead. I was surprised at the number of non-Danish names. Way to go immigrants! The carpet was hand woven in Århus and depicts the city as it was in 1941. So it's a lot smaller and there is WAY more green. Funnily enough, the trees point south, so maybe these were Australian weavers?

Then we went to the wedding chapel room. Here you are married if neither one of you are members of the Danish church and/or decide church weddings are not for you. The whole ceremony takes 2-3 MINUTES. Back in the 80's a guy was doing them in under one minute until people complained. Now they speak slower. They do about 1,100 weddings a year. You can be married on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Bring a camera, because it's over fast. (My apologies to the lovely couple who so foolishly posted their wedding photos.) This was a very nice photo, you can see the special walls with the special paintings. All of the flowers are Danish wild flowers, except one small bunch that the painter did on May 4, 1945 after hearing that Denmark would be liberated the next day by the British. He painted red, white, and blue flowers and the stems make the numbers 4 and 5, for 4/5/45 (or 5/4/45 if you are an American).

We then went down the hallway of DOOM!

Kidding, but it did feel like we were walking down a time warp... or that suddenly a door to the left would open and we'd step through to a magical world where it was not so freaking humid. What is WITH THIS WEATHER? It's hot and raining and the wind blows these massive drops of watery death straight into your face. Open your mouth and you may drown.

Anyway, we then went up the tower.

We didn't take the stairs, thank God, we took the lift. I, uh, couldn't find a picture of it. What, are elevators suddenly not attractive? These ones were quite nice. A lot of glass. I backed into a corner and didn't think about it.

At the top are the bells (and this very nice lady, hello lady, I don't know who you are but your friend posted you on his flicker page). Which ring. At the quarter hour and again at the half. They are very loud. I still hear them in my left ear.

And there is a lot of town to see. Although we were on a hill, it's a short hill in the midst of a valley, giving one the most odd vertigo. Oh, that's just me and my fear of hitting the ground at a tremendous speed having fallen from a great height? Never-mind then.

My home is in that photo on the right, I think. Well, it's off in that general direction.

I came home to oodles of mail from the kommune and the JobCenter, who I guess finally fixed their printer. The good news is that they recognize that I am a "high-skilled student" and they want to try to help me find work. They point out they are not trying to take over the work that I may already be doing to find a job (really, cause you can TOTALLY take over for me, this job searching sucks, come on, hire me, I have mad office skills, really, don't make me clean any more, I'm a "high-skilled" person!) and there is no guarantee that they can find me a job. This new initiative comes from the language school... I think they've heard our kvetching in the hallways. The bad news (wait, wasn't that the part about no guarenteed job?) is that they want to meet while I'm gone. So I must call them and reschedule.

Oh and I have to sign this contract that I can't understand. Waiting for the husband to come home. He'll read it with me and then swear a lot about how dumb Denmark is and then threaten to move us to Israel and then I'll complain about moving etc etc.  You know, our normal Tuesday night dinner conversation.


  1. Peter's brother and his wife live in Aarhus...I am not sure where, but somewhere in the center of the city, near the university hospital.

    When will you be gone? We will be in Denmark for two weeks in would be fun to meet up!

  2. Thanks for the tour of Aarhus... great pix! This gives me an idea for when I'm back in DC to do a mini tour for blogger friends in DK.

  3. Man, that was so cool. I have been to the building where people get married, there are pictures of nude people on the walls, right?

    I always thought the corridor looked like a prison, minus the safety nets.

  4. @ Jacki: I fly back on July 5th, so we can totally meet in August! COOL!

    @ Kel: No nekkid people. Just flowers. Maybe they took down the nudie photos because they knew Americans were coming and you know how we can be about nipples.


Keep it clean, don't be mean....