Danish Diaries – Vejle

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Danish Diaries – Vejle

Travelling is constant learning and to know a country in its entirety is to go to smaller places. Like every enthusiastic traveller, travelling to bigger cities and known destinations was an obvious choice. I enjoyed going to unknown places back in India, so I thought why not do the same in Denmark? Digging around, I decided to hop on with my friends in Aarhus for a trip to Vejle (pronounced Vai-le).

Just a forty-five-minute train ride into the city of Vejle from Aarhus is filled with riversides, towns, pastures and forests. Just the right amount of excitement and relaxation in the air. We were welcomed with a sprinkle of rain that did turn into incessant rain for a while.

Geographically, Vejle is situated in the southeast of the Jutland Peninsula. It is situated at the point where the Vejle and Grejs river converge. It is the ninth largest city in Denmark. The city is part of the Triangle Region, which includes the neighbouring cities of Kolding and Fredericia. Vejle gets its name from the old Danish word waethel, which means ‘ford’ or ‘swimming spot’ because the area covers a bustling crossing over the Vejle Stream. The first recorded mention of the town is from 1256. It built up as a successful trading port due to its location through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It later became a busy industrial centre earning the nickname ‘Manchester of Denmark’ for it numerous cotton mills.

Given the rains in the morning, we took our first stop to the Jelling (pronounced ye-ling) Church. Not really knowing what to expect, my friend who is currently studying archaeology filled me in on the bus ride to Jelling. The beauty of this place is in its history.Jelling was a royal monument which has two flat-topped mounds which are identical in shape and size, 70 metres in diameter and 11 meters in height. This happened during the 10th century though it is suspected that it may pre-date that time. This was under King Gorm and his son Harald Bluetooth (Yes, Bluetooth is some one’s name not just a technological advancement!). It was during this time that Christianity was introduced into Denmark and Harald Bluetooth put down his achievements on stone and built the first wooden church. The rune stones in the middle state – “King Harald bade this monument be made in memory of Gorm his father and Thyra his mother, that Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christians”. This is important because it is the first time that the name Denmark was officially recorded. This place does not seem much at first sight but it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Let’s not forget the name bluetooth. We all know, use and even tend to skip to better sharing applications like shareit but it was bluetooth that revolutionised the way we shared files. We never think of how things are named and probably the weird stories behind it. Bluetooth was not an accident. The name bluetooth is an anglicised version (English version) of the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann and the old Norse blátǫnn. Bluetooth was not the family name but was rather a nickname given to him. The first documented appearance of Harald’s nickname ‘Bluetooth’ is in the Chronicon Roskildense (Roskilde Chronicle is a small Danish historical work, the oldest known attempt to write an account of Danish history by a Danish author, from the introduction of Christianity in Denmark around 1140). How the name came into being has a few versions of its own. The traditional version says that Harald must have had a bad tooth that looked blue or dark coloured and hence the name. Another version explains the story that Harald was called the blue/dark thane in England which was corrupted into bluetan when it came back to Denmark. Back to modern times, the idea of this name was proposed in 1997 by Jim Kardach of Intel. He was reading Frans G. Bengtsson’s historical novel The Long Ships about Vikings and King Harald Bluetooth at that time. He compared the uniting of Denmark and Norway by King Harald to the communication protocol that can unite devices is the idea behind the name. Even the logo is a merger of runic letter Hagall (ᚼ) and Runic letter Bjarkan (ᛒ) which are King Harald’s initials.Next time if someone asks what’s in a name, show them bluetooth!

From all that history, we walked around the city to reach the historic windmill. It is an interesting to know that Denmark is a leader in renewable wind energy in the present but this idea goes back a long way.The windmill is the landmark of Vejle, situated on a hill at the southern end of town. The original mill from 1847 was reduced to ashes but was replaced by the current mill building in 1890. The mill interiors are from 1937.The windmill has a grinding loft, rollers, and belt drive and functioned as a working mill until 1960. The well-preserved windmill is a part of the Vejle museum and encourages people to explore the place. It is also used as a location for art exhibits from time to time.It made me wonder of how beautifully fashion and function while preserving history was done.

A walk in the park, eating in the café, the view from the windmill, the history of the land and much more is packed together in a capsule. As they say, it does not matter how big or small a place is to enjoy visiting. So, go out and find that small place of yours! Vi ses naeste gang!

About the Author:

Athmika Ramachandra is currently continuing her post-graduation studies at Aarhus University, Denmark under student exchange programme of Manipal University Media and Communication Department. Athmika is Gold Medallist in BA from Mangalore University, enjoys photography, listening to music, reading novels and trying out new food. A bitten travel bug Athmika cherishes writing and poetry and she is the granddaughter of Late Padyana Gopalakishna (Pa.Go), Veteran Journalist & Kannada Columnist of yesteryears from Mangalore.

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