August 6-7, Back to Germany / Leipzig

A few notes on traveling to and from Denmark:

If you’re going to Copenhagen by train, you have both German and Danish options. If you go straight north, as I did, to Aarhus, you have German trains to Flensburg and Danish after, more or less. I was told there are three trains a day, Denmark is a popular vacation area AND you must have a reserved seat on the Danish trains.

I managed to get around the reservation going up, primarily because the German trains were having mechanical problems and things were backed up horribly. But leaving…I went to the train station in Aarhus, expecting to be able to get on the direct train to Hamburg. No such luck. I was able to get a seat two hours later to Flensburg (Aarhus to Fredericia, Fredericia to Flensburg — the reverse of the trip up), with two changes of train. I should mention that I managed to have three pieces of small, but heavy, luggage.

This time the Danish train was a little late, but we still made the connection in Flensburg. In Hamburg I was able to continue on to Leipzig, and that train was on time, though it arrived at almost 8 p.m.

Because the Hotel Leipzig (formerly the Ramada) was not at the train station, I took a taxi.

An unfortunate sign was hanging in the building that housed the hotel (on the 7th and 8th floors). It’s dog food that’s supposed to be healthy for your pet:

An unfortunate sign advertising healthy dog food

An unfortunate sign advertising healthy dog food

The next day, armed with a small city map, I hoofed it to the train station – or almost – and found a city tour. Sixteen euros, 2 hours, and windows I couldn’t take much in the way of pictures through. It was useful for orientation, however.

Leipzig was a center of music and publishing as well as the fur trade and a giant trade fair in the good old days, a part of East Germany in the less-good old days. Wagner was born here, Bach is buried here. Among the better known musicians and writers who passed through: Mahler, Schiller, Goethe, Robert Schumann, and more recently Erich Kästner.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus front

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus front, just down the street from the hotel.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus side with an architectural add-on that I found interesting.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus side with an architectural add-on that I found interesting.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus - side door

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus – side door

A year or so ago, I was watching a TV series, Tierärztin Dr. Mertens, (Veterinarian Dr. Mertens), about a female vet at the Leipzig Zoo. I’m not particularly interested in zoos, but I was hooked on the series — and very upset when ARD decided it couldn’t be shown out of Germany and blocked it on my computer. At any rate, I spent almost four hours at the zoo — lost half the time because I was following signs and not the map. Because of the heat, most of the spaces were empty / occupied by hidden critters.TV

It’s a really interesting place, where many animals are separated by water and low fences from the people. I asked a zoo employee if the zoo had problems with people climbing into the enclosures. She said not so far, that Germans are careful about their children.

After that I walked back to the main train station, looked around the many stores. The train station has about three levels — one for the trains and two for shops. It looks fairly new in that it’s clean. It claims about 140 shops and eateries on two levels — including McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts.


August 5, Ebeltoft and around Aarhus

After a quick (and expensive) breakfast at the hotel, I took myself to the bus station to catch Bus 123 to Ebeltoft. The clerk at the hotel the previous evening gave me a map and showed me where the station was. For 160 dkk (just under $25) round trip, I take off. The bus driver, not the youngest, understands me and speaks limited English.

Once in Ebeltoft, it’s a bit of a hike to the Glasmuseet. I’m there a few minutes early — it’s been so hot up to now. Today it’s rather cold and windy, a drop from the 90s to around 70 with a windchill factor. And I sent my down jacket home…Draw

The museum is pretty nice. The young woman at the reception desk speaks a few words of English. The exhibit has a flyer in Danish, in German and in English, so I’m OK on that. I wander through, taking lots of photos. The exhibit is modern Scandinavian glass artists, mostly glass blowers. It’s an interesting exhibit, including a short film by one and several light and sound pieces. On the top floor is more educational info and things for children to do with glass.

Outside is a separate building where the glass blowers work. Today a young man and woman are the team — it turns out they’re French. The man spent time at Cerfav in Vannes-le-Chatel (where I was in 2015 to visit) and worked at Baccarat (where Jacqueline took me two weeks ago). Small world. I talked to him in a break, but he wasn’t too impressed.

The good thing here is that people were coming to the museum. Several had quite young children (as in high chairs necessary), but at least they’re out and visiting (in Claret, Jacqueline and I were the only people in the museum; in Carmaux I was joined by a family with three children).

The museum has a little restaurant, very modern and nice. The menu was in Danish and Danish, so I told the young waitress that I was a vegetarian, no fish or meat. She pointed me to a potato and cheese dish that she said was typically Danish (as were all the dishes on the menu). I could pick out words here and there from German — in this case Kartoffel… I just wasn’t sure what went with the potatoes.

Lunch at the Glass Museum in Ebeltoft

Lunch at the Glass Museum in Ebeltoft

It started as a slice of bread, covered with sliced boiled potatoes and a soft cheese, with radishes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, a couple of asparagus spears and lots of various greens. It was quite good — just a surprise.

I had been there for about three hours and that was enough, so I set out to find the bus stop. I decided to take a different route and see if I could manage not to get too lost. In the process, I found the heart of Ebeltoft, which is quite old and quite picturesque.

A lot of little cafes were open, along with a fair number of stores. I didn’t see a lot of glass, though what I did see seemed to be a lot of the same artists as the museum gift shop offered.

Eventually, I did find the bus stop, no thanks to my phone, which was going to send me to Thailand (I asked for Bus 123 stops…apparently that’s a big deal there).

On the way back, a whole group of teenagers — maybe 25 — got on the bus with their camping backpacks. It was full, full, full.

Back in Aarhus, I wandered back to the hotel, noticing a giant church (the Aarhus Cathedral) in the area. After dropping my stuff, I set out to look around. I could not have picked a better location for a hotel. It’s around the corner from the Aarhus Theater, close to the pedestrian shopping area, around the corner from 7-11, McDonalds and Starbucks (my grande latte here would cost about $7.50, instead of $4.80). I wandered through Magazin, a large, upscale department store that’s open every day from 10 to 8 (10 to 20). Depressing to see how much clothes cost… These included Hugo Boss, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and a few other brands I’ve heard of and several that were unfamiliar.

Just a note: I keep hearing that everyone in Europe speaks English, especially the young people. I have not found that to be the case. I did get a brownie and a roll at a bakery in the  department store, and the young guy there did quite well. Otherwise, it seems that in out-of-the-way places like Ebeltoft, English is less common, though I did hear quite a bit from visitors.

Tomorrow it’s back to Germany and a few days in Leipzig.

more photos to come

August 4, 2018, Getting to Aarhus

Because this is probably the only time I’ll get to Hamburg, I decided to take a city tour quickly. Of course, the hotel’s checkout time is 11, and the 1.5-hour tour starts at 9:30. This means I have to check out and schlepp my bags downstairs to the reception. The woman at the desk is less than friendly and helpful.

The tour– on a blue bus–takes us through the upscale homes along the water. There are some really wonderful old mansions. Unfortunately, shooting through the window is pretty hopeless.

We make a couple of longer (5 minutes or so) stops to pick up new passengers, one by the Rathaus and one by the harbor. If I were going to be here longer, I’d take the harbor tour, especially since it’s discounted with this ticket.

Then it’s back to the train station, where we began. Now I know where Karstadt is, so I dash back to take a look at the department store. The tour guide mentioned that there’s a parade that will start anywhere from noon to 2 p.m. I see lots and lots of rainbow flags and people, mostly young, headed out. I hope to miss it, but the Hamburg train station seems always to be crowded.

I had hoped to get the nonstop train from Hamburg to Aarhus, but it requires a seat reservation and it’s fully booked. The train person suggests I just go on the next train, leaving at 12:48,  with a change in Flensburg and see if I can’t just get on.

I grab a cheese sandwich and a bottle of water at one of the quickie places (next to the Dunkin’ Donuts) and wolf them down before I get on the train.

Lots of luck. I end up sitting with a couple of young guys who turn out to be Gymnasium (late high school) students from Berlin on their way to some area far north in Denmark. Our paths coincide to a certain extent, so I “attach” myself to them.

In Hamburg, we left about 20 minutes late. We had 6 minutes to change in Flensburg. Of course, the Danish train didn’t wait, so we’re left for a couple of hours. We chat with a woman and her 6-year-old daughter, also stuck.

At the Flensburg train station

At the Flensburg train station

Since it’s Saturday, the train station employees only work till 3 p.m. and then they’re gone. The little food place — pizza, ice cream, Wurst — is open but it’s pretty clear the two who work there wish it weren’t. The women’s restroom is out of soap and toilet paper — and probably was hours earlier. Dinner for me is an ice cream bar and two cups of coffee.

A train finally comes, about 100 people try to pack on. The employees on the train get quite frustrated and tell us all to leave, because it’s already pretty full. The woman with her daughter doesn’t, so I guess she made it.

The rest of us were told that a bus had arrived and would take us. However, by the time we got to the bus, it was also overly full, so it was back to the track area to wait another couple of hours for the next train. At least, when it came, it was empty, so we all had a seat. A Dutch woman started talking to me, and it turned out we were on the next train (from Fredericia) together. She got out one stop before Aarhus. The two teenagers had a different connection in Fredericia.

Fredericia apartments or condos

Fredericia apartments or condos

I finally got to Aarhus about 10 p.m. I had no Danish money and no Danish language. I was able to get a taxi –the nice driver was originally from Lebanon and spoke English. He also took credit cards, so I got to the CabINN hotel without problem. If my luggage had been lighter, I would have walked — except I also noted that the GPS in my phone is often confusing.

The young guy on the reception desk was quite helpful about pointing me to an ATM machine, etc. The room is pretty minimal — bunk beds (I only need one) and the tiniest bathroom ever — with shower, toilet and wash basin in about a 5-foot space.

Hotel room in Aarhus

Hotel room in Aarhus

It works, but I wouldn’t want it in my house. The hotel seems to be quite quiet, although I’m on the top floor at the very farthest end. I don’t hear doors slams, etc., so I guess it’s a solidly built building.

Aarhus, according to my travel guide for Denmark, is the country’s second largest city.