Denmark 2012: Aalborg

On my last day in Denmark, I didn’t really have time to go far. My flight was at 7.10pm so I thought I’d have a look at Aalborg. I’d spotted the fjord on the bus on the way back from Skagen and the route seemed very simple so off I went, all my luggage on my back.

June 5th is a bank holiday in Denmark so everything was closed. That was ok. I’d been in a few shops and I had enough food to last and the 7Eleven at the station would be open for bits and pieces. I walked up the road and along Westerbro to the bridge that crosses the fjord. It was a cold wet windy day and I knew that I’d timed my trips in Aalborg well – I’d have had to cut Skagen very short if I’d gone on the Tuesday and the beach wouldn’t have been so nice in this weather.

I looked at the fjord and I looked at Elbjørn, an icebreaker that is now a floating restaurant and then I discovered a swimming pool built into the side of the fjord. It was unsurprisingly closed but I bet that gets busy on hot summer days.

From there I went back into town, via the English pub. It seemed I’d stumbled on the older, and therefore prettier, part of the city. I walked down the deserted high street, down long wide alleyways until I reached the junction with Lokkegade where there was a map. It seemed there was a park only a few streets away. That seemed like a good place to head, so off I went.

Just as I reached the park, there was a whooshing noise and I looked up in time to see five display planes shoot over my head, trailing white smoke. I couldn’t get my camera up in time to get a photo of them but I managed the smoke trail. That was exciting. Behind me was the park – the Aalborg Tivoli, apparently. It was closed, which meant, oddly, that it was open. Presumably when it’s officially open, all the rides and stalls are open and you have to pay to go in. When it’s closed, the gates are open and you can go in. So in I went. The planes flew over my head again but I still couldn’t manage any photos. They looked a lot like the Red Arrows but I couldn’t imagine that the Red Arrows were in Denmark over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

There actually wasn’t much to do in the park. I followed the road back through the industrial part of Aalborg to the station square. Sat down on a bench at the station to rest because my bag was getting quite heavy and then decided I wanted to video a train going out because you can actually hear them going up through the gears as they get going. In the process, I discovered the underpass under the station so once I’d got my train video, I went through to the park on the other side. There were far too many statues. I couldn’t take photos of them all so I sat down and finished off the Prose Edda. The earlier parts were interesting, the parts about the Norse Gods but it soon got into “Giueuhesg son of Gouejng son of Gowtiuhn” etc and “why is gold called the [noun] of [person]?”, which mostly was just ramblings that made no sense other than that there was an object made of gold at some point. It also went into “how should I refer to Odin/Thor/Loki/Ull/Baldr” etc and apparently, you can say one god and mean another. One of Thor’s titles is the Charioteer, so apparently whichever god you say, if you tag “the Charioteer” on the end, it means you’re referring to Thor. Baldr the Charioteer is not Baldr, it’s Thor. This seems like the most deliberately confusing thing in the world. Why not just say Thor? And the same goes for all the other gods and their titles.

By now I was hanging around Aalborg killing time. It was time to think about getting to the airport. I enquired at the bus station and was told the bus goes to the airport every fifteen minutes from stand E out in the square and it’s 20kr. I went to stand E. I left stand E because stand E is for all Line 2 buses but there are at least five variations of Line 2 and only 2C goes to the airport. I went back into the shopping centre again, because it’s warm and sheltered from the wind and sat in the bus station’s waiting area with my tablet and some chocolate before venturing out again. This time the correct bus was coming. Unfortunately, a 2B crept in and blocked the stand so when the right bus came, we all had to run into the road to get it and I’d hardly got beyond “Can I have a-” before we took off. At the next set of traffic lights I managed to get my ticket and off we went into Aalborg. Through the town centre, through the older bit that I’d seen earlier, across the fjord and into the suburbs. Soon enough I began spotting signs to the aiport and realised we were going in a different direction. It didn’t worry me too much – I assumed the driver knew where he was going. He did. Thirty seconds later we were there.

Aalborg Airport is quite small and I’d managed to arrive quite early. I found an upstairs lounge with a big window over the runway and settled down there when it occurred to me that a lot of people were standing with their noses against the glass and I could hear a lot of whooshing.

It turned out that by arriving three hours early, I’d got myself front row tickets to a free air display from what I can only assume is the Danish equivalent of the Red Arrows. There was free wifi but I couldn’t for the life of me identify those planes, only that the underneaths were red with white chevrons. There was an airshow in Aalborg on the 10th so this presumably was a rehearsal. It was spectacular. They zoomed around in various formations, they flew at each other, they dived, they rolled, they put on quite the display. It was even more fun to have seen when I learnt that the Red Arrows, who were supposed to be doing a display in the UK for the Queen, had been grounded that very day because of the weather.

At long last it was time to check in. This time the passport scanner worked first time – when I self-check-in with an automatic passport scanner, it never ever works on the first machine I try. I decided it was probably best to go straight through security. There was a long queue and besides, I’d seen everything the unsecure area of the airport had to offer. The stunt planes were long gone. Time to investigate the hidden parts of the airport.

There wasn’t much. The best thing to do really was to find a seat in the shade and enjoy the free internet. The plane was delayed for fifty minutes because of a late arrival in Copenhagen but we managed to land at Gatwick only ten minutes late. I hadn’t even bothered to try out the inflight wifi. I’d mostly just tried – and failed – to sleep.

Passport control at Gatwick was busier than I’ve ever seen it. Never before has the queue actually gone out of the hall and up the ramp but fortunately, it was constantly moving so we got through surprisingly quickly.

I got the bus back to the long stay car park. A busy, packed bus. I found a seat next to a luggage rack and thought if I leaned back, my bag would be more or less in the luggage rack. And then it occurred to me that I could slide further back and just sit in there, which seemed both entertaining and a much more efficient use of space. I did quite enjoy my ride in the luggage rack but it was a bit of an effort to haul myself out of it when we reached my stop. I’d had the sense to park in Row 56 which I knew I’d remember a week later and I also remembered it was Zone C and I’d even remembered to change my tax disc before I left so I wouldn’t have to worry about it on the way home. Despite turning up ten hours early last week, my ticket let me straight out of the car park – so ten free hours parking for me!

Now came the hardest part. I’d had directions on the way up – Salisbury, Winchester, Petersfield, Petworth, Five Oaks, follow the signs to Gatwick. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an opposite to that last step – there are no signs to where the signs began. I knew I had to go on the M23 but I hadn’t looked at what junction I’d joined. I recognised the roundabout where I came off because I’d driven round it twice in the hope that there was a non-motorway option to get to the airport but I had no idea where I’d come onto that roundabout. There were no obvious signs to the A272. I wasted quite a bit of time driving around Sussex looking for that road, finished up on the A23, coming within fifteen miles of Brighton and convinced I was in the wrong place (still think I was) before spotting the A272. From there it was fairly easy, apart from the bit at Petersfield where I accidentally sailed past the Winchester sign and finished up heading the wrong way up the A3 towards Liss before I could find a way onto the other side and back, but that was only a minor problem because I knew I’d done it and I knew how to fix it. The drive got easier as I got closer to home. It stopped raining, it stopped being dark grey and became proper night-black so all the lights and the signs shone nice and bright and there were no other cars around and I was soon onto roads I recognised and then onto roads I knew and at 00:45 I finally got home.

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