Whenever it has stopped raining for a few hours (which hasn’t been all that often), we’ve taken an opportunity to explore more of the area around our housesit. We discovered the library in Haderslev, a big, modern space next to the town’s little lake. Most of the cafes and restaurants in Haderslev aren’t set up to be good places to work with a laptop, so the library has become our favorite office away from home. Its big windows offer good views of soggy summer vacationers gamely paddling little boats around the lake.
Another day, we took Maddie the Labrador to our nearest beach, a 10-minute drive away in Orby. The skies were as gray as the pebbly shore, but it was a lovely windswept spot. And Maddie had fun running through the water and snapping at seaweed.
Our most touristy local outing was a trip down the Haderslev fjord in an old-time paddle boat, the Helene. The four-hour roundtrip journey took us from Haderslev down the winding waterway for seven miles and then out to sea to the lovely small island of Aaro. The rest of the passengers seemed content to watch the scenery from the closed dining area, where they could drink beer and coffee, eat hot dogs, and play cards. We stood on the front upper deck to enjoy the view and feel the wind in our faces.
The captain, apparently glad for someone to talk to, narrated the sights for us along the way. His English was very good, the product of his having spent a career in the merchant marine on container ships, sailing all around the world. (His favorite ports were Cape Town and Hong Kong.) He pointed out the sites of old inns, former customs houses (from a time when the Danish-German border ran nearby), a burial mound from 1,000 BC (now a 150-foot wooded hilltop), and the location where inhabitants built a wooden dam across the fjord in 410 AD in an attempt to bar the entrance to boats.
We only had 40 minutes to explore the island of Aaro, and we nearly didn’t make it back to the boat in time because we were enjoying ourselves so much. Aaro is unusual for a small Danish island because, in addition to summer visitors in the campground and vacation homes, the island has 17 working farms and a full-time population of about 200 people.
We didn’t have time to cycle around the island, play mini golf at the campground, visit the lighthouse at the end of the point, or tuck into a burger at the two lively outdoor restaurants. Besides, we were too busy trying to get out of the bitterly cold wind to range far afield. But the little town by the harbor offered us lots of pretty little cottages to ogle and a sweet small church in which to shelter.
On our way back to Haderslev fjord, the boat put in to shore opposite Aaro, at the mainland port of Aarosund. That offered us a good view of Aarosund’s main attraction, the grand old seaside hotel, the Aarosund Badhotel, built in 1903. With its many gables and chimneys, arcaded dining room and dance floor, and sweeping lawn dotted with lounge chairs, it looked like the sort of place Hercule Poirot should be holed up for a week solving a mystery.