Friday, September 19, 2014

Aalborg and young and old smiles

Another week in Denmark has passed by. Amazing, in just a few days I'll be heading home from where I'll start my first trip ever to the States. My father and I will attend the biggest balloon event in the world, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I guess a whole new world will open up to us, a world from which we already had a promising sneak preview by many of our American friends. We're looking forward to it!

Previous weekend I traveled through Northern Denmark a bit with Marco, a student with a great sense of humor from the International Youth College. One of the teachers kindly provided us a ride to Aalborg. From there the true adventure started. We hitch-hiked for the very first time with the aim to reach Skagen, Denmark's northernmost area. Back and forth we managed to fix five different rides. For some we waited half an hour, for others less than five minutes. It was a good experience. Some of the drivers had interesting stories to tell, ranging from one's grandmother's house in Skagen to a philosophical explanation on 'hygge' (coming close to 'coziness) and it's less powerful equivalent 'gem├╝tlichkeit' in German. Skagen was surely worth the visit as the nature up there is raw and peaceful at the same time. Yet, we somehow had a more powerful image in mind when hearing that the sea's named Kattegat and Skagerrak would roughly collide just North from Skagen. It wasn't that windy, so wild waves weren't to be spotted. Once back in Aalborg we enjoyed the typical city atmosphere. I was surprised how much in need I was of this particular vibe. From time to time Aalborg strongly reminded me of Tallinn because of its industrial architecture being mixed with sober colors, simplicity and unfinished edges. Yet, some buildings rather reminded me of Hanseatic Riga. It was good to have some livelihood surrounding us. 

Two other highlights of this week were a visit to a care home for elderly people and a day care centre for 80 5-year-olds. At the Youth College where I work for we decided that this week would be characterized by doing something good for others. At the care home I offered the ladies a little wellness treatment. I did their make-up and eventually took some portrait pictures of them. After having seen her new appearance in a mirror, one of the old ladies excitingly told she wanted to show her looks to her boyfriend. Both are around 80 years old. It felt good to give some attention to the people in the care home, they loved it. Their well meant smiles meant a lot to me. It was a wonderful occasion to practise my Danish too. That however didn't work out that well at the day care centre, the day afterwards. One of the kids came up to me with a huge story, but I told him that I unfortunately didn't understand everything of what he just had said, because I'm from the Netherlands and I'm not able to speak Danish that well yet. In the driest way possible he then told me "Yeah, I can hear that". Honesty without borders. The children played some games and sang some songs and after one and a half hours and 160 broken water balloons it was time for many enthusiastic high-fives an a sweet goodbye. Something new every day.

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