As I explained last week, I choose to adjustment my original travel plans in order to see K. Missing him became almost unbearable. The thought of finally seeing him again kept me awake all night in Sevilla airport, while I wrote last week’s blog post.
The prospect of being with him again, also helped to keep me awake a whole afternoon in Berlin. While wandering aimlessly around the hip, partly trashed and colorfully ethnic area of Neukölln, I almost counted the hours, impatient to finally catch my flight the next morning to Billund. Even though I love that area of Berlin and felt wonderfully at home despite the fact it was much colder than Seville – the time just couldn’t move fast enough for me!
Billund, Testrup & Aarhus
Denmark & K’s Hoejskole
The flight to Billund went smoothly and soon I was sitting in a bus. The original plan was to meet K in Aarhus, and then we would continue on together to Testrup where the school K was teaching at was located. In the end the fastest route was to take a bus to Vejle and go by train from there to Viby Jylland where K would meet me.
By now my impatience had grown, so even though this way had more stops, taking the fastest direction was without a doubt preferable. Denmark was cold, damp and grey, but eventually some sun came out. It wasn’t exactly bright Morocco or Spain, but the flat fields with specks of forest had their own Danish charm.
When I arrived at Viby Jylland the station was deserted. Finally I saw K bike towards me and my heart leaped. It didn’t matter that it was beginning to rain nor that I was freezing, all he had to do was hold my hand, and it was worth the whole journey.
A short tram ride and a semi long walk past fields later, we arrived by his temporary home – a caravan in a driveway, modest but functional. The school was what we in Danish call a Hoejskole, which directly translated means a High school, but it has nothing to do with the American sense of the words.
A Hoejskole is a school-experience, so to speak, focused around ideas of personal growth and community feeling and with classes aimed to help the students explore their specific interests. For these reasons many of the schools offer creative classes such as in music, theater, art, writing but also sports, politics and philosophy.
The social and community aspects in effect mean the students live on the school area and attend morning gatherings, eat all meals together, take organized trips and so forth. There are no grades given and the students pay to go, unlike the rest of the Danish school system that is free.
Before departing on my art travels, I considered going to a Hoejskole with an art program, but it would cost me the same as all my travels – and then there is the social aspect. Like I’ve mentioned a few times during my blogging, I like to be able to choose when I want to be social, and to have the freedom to go where I want when I want, and those needs would not really go well with the whole Hoejskole spirit of community.
The Testrup Hoejskole is one of the few that has an actual Philosophy program and not only elective philosophy classes. K had attended the program himself four years earlier and his internship included temporarily filling in for his old teacher. When I arrived it was around the end of his internship.
Luckily I did get to see him teach his last class, which was a pleasure to witness, as I saw him embody the role of the teacher perfectly naturally. I was too shy to participate but I sat and painted watercolors all the while.
The following couple of days we had been given permission to stay in the caravan and participate in two of K’s old teacher’s classes about philosophy and the body. Here we studied a bit of Descartes combined with physical exercises aimed to challenge Descartes claim, that information given to us through our bodily senses is basically useless and/or unreliable. Here I dared to participate more, but I still found time to sketch a bit.
Aarhus & Visiting Old Friends
After our time at Testrup we ventured on to Aarhus, Denmark’s second biggest city. Here we were to stay the last few days with my friends L & M.
Back in the day L and I had studied together in Lithuania. About half a year ago L & M got married and as a wedding gift I offered them a painted portrait after one of their wedding photos. As a joke, I commented on a photo on Facebook after the wedding day, which featured M looking lovingly at L and L looking very surprised while a drone taking wedding photographs flew right above them. As it turned out they thanked yes, and so I painted an acrylic portrait of them after that very photo. I was moved to see the painting hanging in an almost regally high position over a bookshelf in their living room.
We spend some lovely mornings, evenings and nights in each other’s company: talking, cooking, eating, playing board games and Nintendo Switch. The last night, L, K and I even had a music workshop.
L and I used to make music together in Lithuania and we have tried to continue the work, but since he lives in Aarhus and I live in Copenhagen, we haven’t produced so much. I love to sing, L plays the piano and is a genuine wizard with his computer and electronic music items (I have no clue how he does half the things) and K plays mainly the bass but also guitar. We all worked together improvising a disco song that I might share with you all, dear readers, at a later point.
Being Tourists in Aarhus
During the day K and I went out as tourists in Aarhus. We went to Den Gamle By, directly translated ‘The Old City’, where beautiful old buildings had been moved to a tiny historic city. All the interiors of the buildings where turned into exhibitions about the work and life of the people at those specific times.
They even had apartments from as late as the 70’s with interiors from different types of living: a family with a stay at home mom, a wealthy female school principle and a Marxist living community with hippie like students. In the living community there was a typewriter and I wrote a quick poem in Danish about exploring the exhibitions:
tiderne frosset i forladte men fyldte rum
ting spøger med fast form
mens vi flyder fra sted til sted
og husker andres minder
More or less directly translated it goes like this:
time frozen in forsaken but filled rooms
objects haunt with physical form
while we float from place to place
and remember other people’s memories
We also walked around the city and among other things came across a narrow street with graffiti:
We also passed a fascinating whale-helicopter close to the Aros Modern Art Museum -which we also explored:
At Aros they had an exhibition with old Danish Romantic Nationalistic paintings, which I quickly found boring as the mood was similar in all the artworks, but in one painting I found an interesting horse:
Close to Aros we also visited another art gallery called Kunsthal Aarhus and there I sketched a bunch in the main exhibition room. The sketches suffered some moist damage from our water bottle, but I feel it adds to the story:
We also had coffee at a beautiful café with a Parisian atmosphere called Englen – ‘The Angel’:
And we walked in Risskov, a lovely forest close to the city center, from where we could see the modern part of Aarhus they are building past the old harbor area.
Epilog: Budapest & Athens with A
I guess it’s hardly a surprise when I say I had a lovely time. Nor when I declare that now that I have moved on to Budapest yesterday, it feels like I miss K even more than the day I walked around Berlin.
It was in its own way difficult to come back to Denmark, although fantastic, it reminded me of what it is like to have a home – or at least a home country with great friends you can visit. Although I didn’t know Aarhus much before I went this time, I already miss the city – I also miss L and M, even though when I lived in Copenhagen I rarely got to see them, but now they seem so far away.
At the same time I’m excited to continue my art travels! I think I just have to get back into the creativity travel mindset! Arriving in Budapest yesterday, I was exhausted and emotional, but I love this city. I’ve already been here a few times, so I know my way around rather effortlessly.
Because of my detour to Denmark, I only have one day here. Tomorrow I take off to Athens where I’ve never been before! Not only that, my dear friend A is meeting me there, so I’ll have creative company.
A and I met at a week long poetry course at Vallekilde Hoejskole. I’ve never stayed a whole semester at a Hoejskole, but I’ve been on that poetry course and it was absolutely fantastic. Even though it must be over eight years ago now, we are four people from that course that still keep in touch. We try to meet every two months, but sometimes there’s longer in between – like right now while I travel.
It’s fantastic that A could and wanted to meet me in Greece. Not only does A enjoy writing poems but he also sketches and paints, so I’m very excited for us to explore Athens together, drawing and poetically writing our way through the ancient city.
So next week I’ll probably share some more poetry with you all – and certainly more art!