Monday, August 24, 2009

The Island of Aero - the Good, Bad and Beautiful!

We continued from Odense onward by ferry to the lovely island of Aero, Denmark. I was impressed how well Kirk had orchestrated our plans and our family was super excited to bike all over the remote island and to stay on a farm hotel by the sea!

On the ferry we settled in to let the hub bub of travel wash off us. And to our surprise a ladybug friend joined us on the boat ride. Connor was at first timid of our new friend, but we let her crawl all over and pretty soon she couldn't get enough.
Little did we know what we had in store. Denmark seems to be having an unusually populous and aggressive ladybug season. Just look at this one boat we saw as evidence. We had to pick them off each other by the end of our time in Aero. Aero was simply stunning and perfectly quaint. Rick writes, "Aero is the perfect time-passed world in which to wind down, enjoy the seagulls, and take a day off. Wander the unadulterated cobbled lanes of Denmark's best-preserved 18th century town. Get Aero-dynamic and pedal a rented bike into the essence of Denmark. Settle into a world of sailors, who, after the invention of steam-driven boat propellers, decided that building ships in bottles was more their style."We skipped off the boat and caught the bus to get to our farm hotel (more on that later). We wasted no time getting on our bikes and setting off to explore the island.The wheat fields against the ocean made an unbelievable backdrop. I think we calculated that over the weekend we biked 50 miles. It was intoxicating and a wonderful, carefree start.My very favorite thing in Aero is the way the island residents have these big produce boxes outside their homes. They fill them and you are on your honor to take what you want and pay. It felt so much like Davidson! I was completely captivated by the "Aero Honor Code"!!!We stayed in an off the beaten path hotel - the Graasten Farmhouse B&B. We had been anticipating our 'farm stay' for a while and when the bus let us off we couldn't believe our eyes. The beauty was unique and wonderful. Here is Kirk heading up the driveway.
There were cows and bulls. So you know my little animal-lover was excited!Unfortunately though the Graasten B&B turned out to be a big bomb. This is a perfect testament to how service is really the deal breaker. There we were in a peaceful haven of beauty with the most depressing, unfriendly B&B owner ever. If I could have drawn a cloud of negativity over her head it would have been fitting. She did not even say hello to us as we approached, rather launched right into complaints and everything that was wrong. She seemed bothered by Connor and frowned and grouched at us from the start. We were tired after our ferry and bus rides, but still eager and excited to get settled...we still retained some of our "cuteness" - or so I thought!Littered all around her home were lists of rules upon rules: take off your shoes when you enter, men had to sit down rather than stand when toileting, and she was quick to gruffly emphasize that WE were responsible for OUR CHILDREN while we were there. No duh! Never once did she look at or speak to Connor or me. I found this sign posted later. It perfectly encapsulates the essence of the place (makes me wonder if she regularly has guests show up and change their minds).While the scenery was gorgeous there were also surprises in the facilities...the sole bathroom was a shared one downstairs from our room. We are fine with that, but it was not advertised as such so a surprise to us. In our room there was barely room for the crib and the only place was directly under the skylight window void of curtains. Remember we were in the land where the sun rises at 4:30 AM and sets at 10 PM. Not ideal for a sleeping baby!We seriously discussed leaving and just eating the expense, but we decided to stick it out. This B&B was half the price of anywhere else on the island (figured!) and with Connor we really couldn't take many risks. So we just stayed out and about on our bikes the entire weekend and only returned to the farm to sleep. In the end the owner tried to tack on bogus extra charges for Connor, etc. We refused to pay any more than she quoted from our booking which made her yell at us and cry. I realized she must be severely depressed and then I felt sorry for her. We just left on the earliest bus possible and vowed to tell Rick Steves he needed to reevaluate this selection in his travel book!
Thankfully being outdoors was exactly what we wanted to do in Aero anyway. Just check out the big sky and the sunset.
The neighbor's estate looked pretty friendly. Maybe we should have knocked to see if we could bunk there?!?!Or perhaps we should have sucked it up and footed the extra expense to stay at the "Bed & Beer" we saw in town. Kirk would have liked that!
Oh well. We have had so much FABULOUS LUCK with our hotels. I guess we were bound to hit a dud sooner or later! Aero was a treat of unparalleled beauty that helped balance out the stress of the Graasten Farmhouse hotel.

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