Aero is a tiny Danish island, barely 30km in length and 8km in width, located in the Baltic Sea. Despite its beautiful landscape of rolling hills and its picturesque small towns worthy to be part of Disney’s fairy tales, this island is often overlooked by visitors to Scandinavia. Casual chats with several fellow travelers we met throughout our Scandinavian trip showed how few people knew about this place. This has made Aero such an untouristy place and perfect to be included in our itinerary.
We booked a one-night accommodation in Aeroskobing, one of the 3 towns on the island. The best way to get to Aeroskobing is to take a train from Copenhagen to Svendborg via Odense. It takes approximately 1.5 hours including the transfer time as there are frequent trains going to Svendborg from Odense. A 5-minutes’ walk from Svendborg train station takes you to the ferry terminal where you can take a ferry to Aeroskobing. Depending on which town you would like to reach on Aero, there are also ferries from other cities besides Svendborg. You buy tickets on board and there is no need to book in advanced unless if you’re taking your car with you.
We reached Svendborg just before 12pm and our ferry was due to depart at 1.30pm. So we decided to grab some takeouts and find a place to sit around the ferry terminal. This is one of the things that I love most about Europe, you can practically sit anywhere and enjoy a picnic lunch or a takeout. Nobody would bat an eyelid at you. Just in case, we dropped by the ferry terminal office to reconfirm our ferry beforehand and the lady at the counter simply told me to be at the harbour by 1.30pm. The ferry would be there.
We finished our lunch before 1pm and were simply lazing around enjoying the sunlight. There was a toilet a few steps away from where we sat down for lunch, but it seemed to be locked as people who wanted to use it kept trying to open the door without any success. I felt a slight need to pee, but decided to ignore it as I knew I could simply use the toilet in the ferry in half an hour’s time instead of wandering around trying to find an unlocked toilet. Besides, it wasn’t urgent at all. But the desire to look for a toilet strangely revisited me again as soon as I brushed it away. It felt as if someone was urging me to look for a toilet. So I gave in to the urge and asked my husband to ask the lady inside the ferry terminal office for the nearest unlocked toilet.
He didn’t come out until 10 minutes later, making me wonder what he was doing in there. When he finally did, he half ran towards me with a slight alarmed look on his face. And then he dropped the bomb. “Bad news. The ferry is not sailing today. We need to go to another town to catch a different ferry followed by a bus to Aeroskobing.” What??!!
He proceeded to open a huge map of the area obtained from the ferry terminal office and showed me what we had to do. Apparently, due to some repair work, the ferry from Svendborg to Aeroskobing wouldn’t be sailing anymore on that day. To reach the island of Aero, we could take a ferry from Rudkobing, which would take us to Moskenes, a different town on Aero. To reach Aeroskobing, we had to take a bus from Moskenes. How complicated! And then my silly husband cheekily added “That’s how our adventure begins.” I couldn’t help not rolling my eyes at him 😛
Did I mention that we needed to take a bus to reach Rudkobing from Svendborg? And that the ferry to Moskenes was due to leave Rudkobing at 3pm, leaving us only 1.5 hours to get to Rudkobing ferry terminal which we had no idea at all where and how long would be needed to get there? The person in the ferry terminal office didn’t have any of these information. He simply told us to go to the Svendborg bus terminal, 400 meters straight ahead on the same road as the ferry terminal, and asked for a bus to Rudkobing.
By then the need to empty my bladder had become urgent, partly due to panic. But I couldn’t afford to tramp around looking for an available toilet when there was a time-sensitive issue in front of us. Hence, we started walking as fast as possible, dragging our luggage along, towards the direction of the bus terminal. After approximately 200 meters, I saw a white-colored square building with a couple of buses parked inside the big parking area behind it. That could be the bus terminal, but we hadn’t even walked 400 meters yet so we decided to walk further. After walking for a further 100 meters while trying desperately to locate a road sign for bus terminal, we nearly came to a junction where we had to either turn right or left. The instruction was to walk straight ahead, which meant we must have passed the bus terminal along the way. We quickly grabbed the nearest pedestrian we could find, an old man seemingly in his 60s, and asked for directions. He told us in broken English that the white-colored building I saw earlier was indeed the bus terminal.
We were sweating and breathless by the time we reached the bus counter. After some explanation, we found out that the bus going to Rudkobing was due to leave in less than 5 minutes’ time. I could hardly believe our luck that afternoon. We finally arrived at Rudkobing bus terminal at 2.20pm and quickly asked for directions to the ferry terminal. 15 minutes’ walk later (or 10 minutes if you’re not dragging luggage like us while trying hard not to pee on your pants like me :-P), we reached Rudkobing ferry terminal with 20 minutes left to spare before our ferry was due to depart to Moskenes. Obviously, the first thing I did was drop my luggage and run to the nearest toilet. Phew! It was a relief beyond belief, not only for my bladder but also for reaching the ferry terminal on time despite so many unknown variables. Thankfully, the Scandinavians speak English fairly well. I couldn’t imagine something like this happening in Spain or Portugal, where people hardly speak English.
The rest of our journey was pretty smooth. Apparently there are regular buses running between the 3 towns in Aero; Moskenes, Soby and Aeroskobing, and soon enough we reached Brogade no. 8 in Aeroskobing where Toldbodhus B&B is located. John and Karin Steenberg, a retiree couple, ran this B&B and they were very friendly and helpful. Our little attic room on the second floor was furnished in a colonial style with four-poster bed, antique wooden furniture and knick-knacks that immediately transported us back to our grandparents’ houses in the olden days of Indonesia. Once we settled down, it was quite a struggle to leave the cosy room. We could have stayed in the whole afternoon and forgotten all about sight-seeing.
Given the size of the island and its relatively flat terrain, Aero is a haven for cyclists. We could have cycled the entire island in one full day and that was actually our original plan. We should have reached Aeroskobing earlier, spent the entire afternoon and early evening cycling, and continued on the next morning and early afternoon. However, thanks to our little ‘adventure’ earlier on, the bicycle rental shop was already closed by the time reached Aeroskobing. We had to contend ourselves with just a walk around the town.
Aeroskobing looked as if it was plucked straight out of a fairy tale storybook. Painted in bright blue, yellow, red, green and even purple, traditional Danish houses lined up the main roads and their narrow alleys. Most of them dated back from the 1700s and 1800s, and are still intact until now. You could hardly find any paved roads in the neighbourhood. Cobble stones made cycling and dragging luggage a pain, but they definitely gave an overall medieval-ish ambience to the entire town.
At 7pm in the evening, Aeroskobing was practically deserted. We hardly see any visitors, while the locals had retreated to their own home-cooked dinners. We grabbed ourselves a couple of burgers and fries, and turned a wooden bench by the harbour into our very own picnic table. That was the best view we’d ever had for dinner. The view from Swissotel Stamford’s 70th storey couldn’t even come close. A friendly local dropped by our bench for a chit-chat as we were munching through our fries. He was on the way to clean his boat which was moored to the harbour. A few days into our Scandinavian trip, we were still in awe at how friendly the locals were. Not only in such a small town like Aeroskobing where everyone knows one another, but also in bigger towns. They easily greeted and smiled at strangers they met along the way and did not hesitate to help tourists with directions (in fact, on some occasion they offered to help us before we even asked the question). My husband and I often wondered what would happen if we started smiling and greeting strangers we met along the way in Singapore. They would probably stare at us and think something must be wrong 😛
Shame on us, we forgot to ask our friendly local’s name. But before he left, he pointed to a row of tiny dots on the far end of the town. According to him, those dots were actually mini cabins built centuries ago and handed down from generations to the next. Some of the locals, including him, owned one of them. He recommended us to visit those cabins at sunset. So that’s exactly what we did.
A narrow footpath flanked by weeds and grasses on both sides took us from the harbour to the far end of the town. As we got nearer, we realized that the mini cabins he was referring to were literally mini cabins. They were so tiny, barely 4m by 4m, and could only fit one or two persons inside. Most of the cabins were completely empty and looked like they hadn’t been occupied in years, but some were actually fully furnished with a small table with a couple of chairs. All of them had a window facing the sea, where the sun sets everyday. We knew instantly why our friendly local asked us to check out the view there. Simply said, it was the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen 🙂
We managed to catch a few hours of cycling action the next day. Though it wasn’t quite the round-the-island cycling that we had originally wanted to do, we were blessed with the sun and a clear blue sky that morning. That was more than enough to witness the beauty of Danish countryside with its rolling hills and green pastures, grass so thick as if tempting us to lie down and roll ourselves around. We jumped around and twirled around like little kids, stood by the cliff catching a whiff of the sea mixed with the grass. The scenery reminded us so much of The Sound of Music that we casually broke into songs every other minute.
At the end of everything, the sunset was the one thing etched firmly in our minds even after we left. We wouldn’t trade it for any amount of rolling hills nor fluffy grass. They say things happen for a reason. In our case, we found our reason in sunset at Aero.