Last Port of Call…Aalborg

Heard of Aalborg, no..neither had we nor for that matter many of our fellow travellers. They say that the best was saved for last – well maybe that was so…they also say that precious things come in small packages and Aalborg is certainly both of those.

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Nor could our berth be much closer to the heart of this small town, just a few short steps and we were into the old town.

But Aalborg is also a town that is re-inventing itself.  Once a busy ship building and industrial area, industries that are long gone are being replaced by ‘education’ much of the new building and development centre upon the University.

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It is a marked contrast to the skyline of the old town…

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As has been the norm for this trip the first stop was at the top of the town at Budolfi Cathedral.  White, with a large bell tower, is something we now expecting….. but do I also detect a little ‘Mexican ‘ influence in the architecture….

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Close by is the Monastery of the Holy Ghost.  An intriguing double sided building.  On one side a traditional church style entrance…..

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On the other is the more secluded entrance to the Monastery and its living quarters…..

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But this tranquil scene is also one with a dark secret.  Once upon a time a nun and a priest fell in love, were discovered and punished.  The priest was beheaded and the nun was walled up alive!

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As is to be expected the old town has many fine buildings.  The Town Hall in traditional yellow with ornate carvings…

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Contrast this with the much more ornate Merchants House and Warehouse known as Jens Bangs House.  It has to be recognised that when this building was erected it was on the quay side (the canal still runs beneath the roadway) goods could be loaded directly from the boat to the store rooms…its size and grandeur meant to indicate the merchants wealth, the building is now an Apothecary……

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One surprise on the tour took us to some Allotments.  Now forget trying to draw a parallel with the British Allotments that were established to allow anyone the opportunity to grow their own fruit and vegetables.  These allotments are designed to allow those, and that is the majority, that live in high rise flats and apartments, the chance to have their own garden…

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Each allotment is surrounded by a neat hawthorn hedge, has a summer house some modest others rather grand.  Whilst some do have a small veg plot most are grass and space to relax…….

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Our purpose of visiting the allotments was to meet Lars Jeppesen a local restaurateur and TV Chef on his own allotment to learn a little about Aalborg’s Aquavit…or rather his own infusions of herbs and fruits in Aquavit and of course to sample them…

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Then it was on to something very different.  Denmark is famed for its Viking roots.  It was mainly from here that the Vikings set sail on their famous and infamous Viking raids.

This symbol will be familiar to many….

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Bluetooth…today may well be a communications devise but it was also the name of one of the most ferocious and powerful Vikings ‘Bluetooth’. 

Just outside Aalborg is one of Denmark’s most important and largest ancient monuments..it is at Volerbjerg and know as Lindholm Hoje….

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A modern Museum sets the scene for you to explore one of the largest Viking burial sites, the remains of a Viking Long House, a Viking Village and a Ship Burial site.  Like a mini stone henge, small standing stones have been uncovered to reveal the extent and scale of this important Viking site…

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It is said the every English man and indeed many other European’s have Viking DNA in their blood…so I guess there may well be  some of our ancestors are buried here…

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A very modern Danish Sculpture has been erected to mark the site….known as Odin’s Eye it stands guard welcoming and also saying farewell to today visitors…..

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We enjoyed our stop at Aalborg, we were fortunate that our boat was not a LARGE cruise liner as we would not have been able to reach this part of the Limfjord. The town was so friendly that leaving was indeed a sorrow.  But to mark our departure the ships company arrange a ‘Sailaway’ Concert on the aft deck and with the fantastic weather with which we were blessed it made for a great farewell….

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With a backdrop of Aalborg the town and the riverside Lido it made for  perfect end to our last stop……

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As we cruised back up the Limfjord heading for open waters we were reminded of just how flat Denmark is, for the most part the water level seemed higher than the surrounding land…..

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Denmark is also proud of its efforts to embrace wind power, windmills do dominate much of the coast.  But I wonder if it might just be a little tongue in cheek….for just a little further upstream we find a new coal fired power station in full swing and surrounded by windmills!  Perhaps they have a policy of ‘Belt and Braces’..

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Once we reached open seas the reality that we were heading home suddenly loomed large.  It has been a great trip.  Tallinn or Aalborg for top spot but everywhere else I would love to go back to.  St. Petersburg I loved but will not hurry back there.

So it was out with the mobile and contact No2 son, Head of Security, Head Gardeners, Head Cleaner but most importantly Chief Servant to our two dogs Carla and Buster…with a warning that we would soon be home…so cancel the parties and get the vacuum cleaner out…We are on the way home!

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Footnote

1. I mentioned that Aalborg is a small town.  I am told it is the forth largest in Denmark…to me it still is a nice welcoming small town, long may it stay that way.

2. Fred Olsen Lines are the owners of the Braemar, what a great little ship and what a great crew who looked after us all the way with a cheery smile and nothing but nothing was too much trouble….they made the holiday.

29th July

© David Oakes 2013