Thursday, September 08, 2011

24 hours in Svendborg, Denmark

About a month ago I spent exactly 24 hours in the small harbour town of Svendborg for a course development meeting for one of the places I teach, I say course development meeting, but it was way more than that, good food, good jokes and a lovely hotel room that was stripy:

When I looked out the window I could see a stripy building and when I took a walk on the harbourside, I saw a star surrounded by stripes. This town is all about sailing and shipping and the building of ships and it's all over town. This place is filled with drunk ghosts brawling and Gods trying to save their souls, its workmanship and its tall tales and sights you wouldn't believe.

This place holds its history dear, there's a part of the harbour reserved for tall ships, but they move on too - it's not a tacky tourist trick, this maritime back story, it's just part of what this place is, many a Danish town, including the one that's currently my home, could learn from this.

Something I've found in several of the smaller towns I've been to, is that developers are beautifully absent - developers are currently destroying the soul of my town, everything is made slick and pretty, so most things that are left alone gains a certain interestingness here - merely because there's so little of it. (Which is sad from a creative point of view.) I walked around the next morning to explore before heading home, chatted to the amazingly friendly people of this town and stumbled across this old-shop-turned-subconscious-artwork:

Two drunks approached me and told me that the guy who owns it made the door our of an old fireplace, but that he'd never really done any more work on it.

There are good shops too, possibly the most interesting bookstore I've seen in Denmark is here, it's called "Troels"and the geeky staff was throwing pop-cultural references at me as if they were Kevin Smith characters, there's heaps of ornamental architecture everywhere and there's a bakery with no less than three signs out for reasons that escape me.

From this place you can sail to a number of small Islands and I'm very tempted to take a secret club around them, but we'll need a bigger boat, or just any boat.

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