Ærø Wandering.

Ærø island map.

While browsing the Internet last night I came across an article by Rick Steves on CNN.com titled “Denmark: An Aero-dynamic bike ride” and just had to click on it. To my surprise, it was actually about the island of Ærø that I visited back in 2001. Then again, it’s also not too much of a surprise, as I originally went on a recommendation in Rick Steves’ guidebooks. Here’s a snippet of my own experience on the island, with my not-so-descriptive writing and pictures (remember the digital cameras back then only had 2.0 megapixels):

July 30, 2001

Ærøskøbing town limits, denmark.

Well, I didn’t really get up too early nor too late, just before 8am. I did some final organization of my bags, and went for breakfast before finally heading out. I knew what I wanted to do today: cycle on the island! This was one of the moments that I’ve been waiting for, and it’s finally here. Before that, however, I walked around the town a bit more, and then ended up at the tourist information center, and that’s where I asked about how far I can really cycle in four hours time. Well, the answer is to Marstal, about 12.5 kilometers away from Ærøskøbing. So I began cycling from the tourist information office, and off I went! Well, I actually ended up stopping every other block as I am heading out of town to take pictures. I just had to tell myself to stop doing that, or I would never get to Marstal. I still stopped a few times to take pictures of the beautiful Danish countryside with fields of wheat and corn everywhere. Here and there I was also able to see animals. The route itself took a cut in the middle of the island to the coast on the other side, and then into the town of Marstal. With all of the stopping and going, I got there in a little over an hour’s time.

postal delivery on the island.

Marstal was definitely a bigger town than Ærøskøbing, and with less of the charming homes that Ærøskøbing has. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful town. I parked my bike outside of the church (with no locks, of course – it’s the Danish countryside!), and walked into the pedestrian area with restaurants and shops (including one Chinese restaurant!). I ended up at a fish and chips place, where the girl there didn’t speak any English. So I spoke my English and she spoke her Danish, plus a lot of pointing – I ordered my fiskefilet met pomme frites (and remoulade). After lunch, it was really time to go (it was already 1:20pm) – the boat back to Svendborg leaves at 3:15pm. I still need time to return the bike to the campgrounds, walk back to the hotel to get my bags, and then walk to the port. So I left Marstal quickly and got back on the road to Ærøskøbing. That ride back was definitely more difficult – I had lots of headwind and uphill pedaling that it took longer to get back. By the time I got to the campgrounds, it was already 2:45pm! The good thing was that the walk back to the hotel was not too bad, so I ended up getting to the port just under ten minutes before departure.

colorful doors on the island of Ærø.

Looking back, Ærø is still one of the few places I’ve been where I’ve found peace. It was an island full of friendly people ready to tell you where to go and what to do. It’s really all about appreciating the architecture, the sea and the local scenery. I was reminded how safe the island was — you could park your bike anywhere without a lock and it’d still be there when you return. I remember clearly when my boat left the port of Ærøskobing, many locals came out to wave good-bye to strangers like myself. Maybe a re-visit to Ærø is overdue.