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Aero Island, Denmark 
          

June 19

With two ferries and four trains we were able to traverse Denmark from north to south (much through pastoral scenes punctuated with windmills) and still arrive on Aero Island in time to check into our B&B and go out to dinner.

 
       

We had already formed an opinion of Aero during the short time it took to walk from the ferry up two blocks to the Vestergade Pension  ... it was charming ... absolutely charming.

Susanna met us with her engaging smile and manner and showed us to our room. Beautifully decorated and furnished with antiques. Downstairs, Susanna made us feel welcome as she introduced us to the common rooms (lounge, breakfast room and library), the spacious back yard scented by rose bushes, and Hector the family dog. It all only served to carry on the feelings we already had and we were enchanted.

Aero is one of the islands in the South Funen Archipelago. The three main towns are Marstal, Aeroskobing (where we are staying) and Soby. Although it would seem at first glance that Aero’s main industry is tourism, the 6900 residents are involved in shipping, shipbuilding, farming and education.

We strolled through the village. Aeroskobing is one of the most well-preserved 18th century towns in Denmark. It dates back to the middle ages and recently celebrated its 750th jubilee. The town’s strict building guidelines help to preserve and make sure that any renovations or rebuilding are in keeping with the town’s heritage. The east side of the cobbled streets were bathed in golden evening sunlight. They wound passed small cottages (some half timbered) with high peaked roofs, short doors and small paned wooden windows. Although unusual, it felt real and comfortable. We felt relaxed. The classy restaurant which Susanna had recommended was booked so we found our way to a little local pub and had some delicious, meat-packed stroganoff in the company of two Aero seamen.

 
 

June 20

The weather held promise though there was some high cirrus clouds and we decided that today should be the bike riding day. We rented bikes from Hotel Aerohus next door to Vestergade Pension and off we went. Just out of town, the bumpy cobble streets turned to smooth black top and the views stretched over fields of grain and then to small beaches along the coastline. We stopped and dipped our toes into the Baltic Sea. Thatched roofed farm houses had roadside stands selling jams, jellies, syrups, potatoes and vinegars ... on the honour system.

We crossed over the highest point on the island, a proud 60 metres, "Synnes hoej" (meaning "seems high").

 
 
 

Bregninge was the first village we came to after cycling inland and we stopped in at the church.

The original part of the building dates back to the 15th century and still has simple frescos from 1510 around an ornate altar.

 
 
 

The artist must have been pleased with his work, for he painted a self portrait near the pulpit, but he was not pleased with the payment he received for his work, for as custom had it in European churches of the time, an artist would paint a fool, somewhere in the church, to show his dissatisfaction. This one must have been most upset because the fool is most obvious upon the ceiling with the bell tower rope hole for its mouth.

We also noticed in this church a custom which we had seen elsewhere in maritime communities ... in a number of churches and temples ... the hanging of a sailing vessel. It is an ancient custom which traces to times preceding Christianity. It was believed that offering a miniature ship would assure a safe voyage for the ship and its crew. This is called a votive offering. The tradition of carving and rigging a replica of a ship continues. Sometimes a retired seaman would carve a replica of a ship he had spent his years serving. The ships in Denmark’s churches serve to remind people that Denmark is a seafaring nation whose livelihood was dependent on the efforts of those at sea. It has also become a symbol within the church of a Christian life’s journey, supported by scripture.

 

Back on our bikes again we made our way along the island’s main road, where traffic was light, until we reached the Vindeballe Kro (Kro meaning country inn / pub), where we stopped for a brew.

Our next stop was at a neat little picnic site where we ate our sandwiches ... leftovers from breakfast which Susanna had encouraged us to take in a plastic bag she provided. Nearby we could stand on a ridge and see water on both sides of the island.

 
 

The cirrus clouds had bulked up and were looking a little threatening. With the first drops of rain we stopped under a tree and put on our rain coats, but they were soon off again when the rain didn’t amount to much and the air was still very warm.

 

Not wanting to push our luck we crossed back over the island with a more direct route towards Aeroskobing, passing an old windmill undergoing some refurbishing and on into town with it’s bumpy cobbled streets.

Tomorrow we will spend more time in town.

      

June 21

The day was overcast; we were pleased we had done our biking yesterday and kept today for walks around town ... everything close enough for a dash back to our room.

Aeroskobing was for centuries a market town where shipping and trade were the main activities in addition to hinterland farming. We made our way along the cobbled lanes appreciating the unique characteristics of these well-preserved houses: short doors, many carved doors are original and one has its original ox blood paint, rounded window panes, tiled roofs (a few growing succulents), some with holes or small windows to the attic where seamen stored masts and sails during the winter months, some with half-timber construction, many structures bending with the burden of time. These houses are built right to the street with spears of hollyhocks and rose vines creeping up through the cobbles. The back yards gave us surprises. Some, like the B&B we were staying at, held gracious gardens while others held stables and barns accessed through arched passageways. In the centre of town is the main square. It still has the two old water pumps which supplied the town with water until 1952. The linden tree growing in the middle is the town’s symbol as shown on the town hall’s crest below the words which translate into, "With law shall man a country build". Behind the uniqueness of these structures are people; families living in today’s world, going about their daily lives and sharing their community with gawking, camera-clicking tourists.

 
 
 
 

Many of these residents have their own special way of watching who is walking the streets of their town ... mirrors, strategically placed and tilted, by their windows.

We walked passed the Aero Folk’s High School ... where government-subsidized classes are available to anyone, of any age, who wishes to learn about or increase their knowledge of the arts: drama, music, creative arts. A walk along the shoreline led us to Molestien Lane - Aero’s answer to the promenade. On one side tall trees line the path while the other side is fenced by "back" yards; each one different, some with simple lawns and path ways ... but many with riots of colourful flowers. The houses too were larger than many we found in the centre of town.

 
 

With the first sprinkles we made our way back to our room. It was time to return anyway.

Cozy in our delightful room, we had dinner at the little table, listened to the rain upon the roof and watched the tops of umbrellas pass below us.

 
 
 
                                    
June 22

The skies looked much more promising this morning.  After another filling breakfast at Vestergade Pension, we went out for a long walk passed the marina and out to a row of colourful beach houses.   From a distance they looked like toy-box houses.  Up close they looked like toy-box houses.  Like 8x10 toy building blocks with pitched roofs on top.   Blue, red, white, yellow and brown ... and combinations.      
 
Some striped, some shuttered, some one window, others with lots (well as many as an 8x10 frame can hold).  Not all were as big as 8x10.  Some were so small it would be difficult to lay down flat.  Most had decks facing the beach.  All were charming.  We walked back along the beach, appreciating the fascination with beachcombing and imagining ourselves staying a few summer weeks in the "Aladdin" with it's shuttered windows and front and back decks ... our top choice of the row of cottages.        
 
     

Back at the B&B we finished packing, said our goodbyes to Susanna, then, somewhat hesitantly and begrudgingly, made our exit walk passed the houses and people of main street.

While waiting on the dock we watched a sail boat and some people using the picnic table outside the cooking house ... a square building, with a centre chimney and a dormer ... out on the dock.

Because of the great respect for, and fear of, fire and the 1787 resolution banning open fires onboard wooden ships, cooking houses were erected in harbours. Aeroskobing’s cooking house dates back to 1810. To ensure its maintenance, visiting ships had to pay to use it. In the 1850s the dormer was built on the sea side of the building to house a light which could guide ships safely into harbour. By 1860 the cooking house was no longer being used for its original purpose but carried on a useful purpose by seamen boiling pitch. Today the cooking house is again just that, used as a barbeque hut.

The ferry pulled away from Aero with us onboard hoping others will continue to come to this charming and peaceful place and enjoy it as much as we did.

The balance of the day was spent travelling ... boat, bus and train ... to Copenhagen; finding accommodation and settling in.

 

  

click here to continue to June 23 and Copenhagen, Denmark ...

        
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