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Denmark’s oldest town seen through the eyes of a young Copenhagen art historian and newcomer

Welcome to Danhostel Ribe‘s guest blogger Josephine Nielsen-Bergqvist 

Historical Ribe - Denmark's and Scandinavia's oldest town
Historical Ribe – Denmark’s and Scandinavia’s oldest town. The picture is from 2015, but I think the street – Præstegade – has looked like this for many years.  © adayinthelifeofafool

From Copenhagen to Ribe

I moved to Ribe in April. I used to live in Copenhagen, where I worked and studied for five years. I had not researched a lot on the town before I left my home – I just knew that they got a splendid collection of Danish Art at Ribe Art Museum. So I wrote to the director and asked if she could use a newly graduated art historian in her staff and she said yes. So here I am: 28, art historian and newcomer to the oldest town in Scandinavia. I have lived here for two and a half months now, and I have to say…I am certainly in love with this place.

Tulips in the garden of Ribe Art Museum
Tulips in the garden of Ribe Art Museum. © adayinthelifeofafool

What to do in a small town?

In Copenhagen I went to concerts and visited friends all the time, and I was a bit scared, that I would have nothing to do in this small town. I was wrong.  Almost every weekend there is some kind of event fx when 300 travelling journeymen met during the Ascension Holiday (Himmelfahrtstreffen), the nordic barrel organ festival and – of course – the traditional Tulip Festival with music everywhere in town, fair and the tulip parade. I have met some really nice people who take me out meeting new cool people. So actually I am not lonely. But it IS a different way to live. In Ribe there are not that many people of my own age, not that I can’t hang out with people of other ages, but it is not entirely the same… Ribe is full of openminded citizens and as time goes by, I have more and more people to talk to and to drink coffee – maybe a beer – with.

Travelling journeymen get a beer and a ride with a vintage fire engine
Travelling journeymen get a beer and a ride with a vintage fire engine © adayinthelifeofafool

Ribe is something you can’t really explain

Ribe is a unique place to live. When you arrive at the station you are instantly caught. I went to a job interview at Ribe Art Museum (called “the castle” because it is so damn beautiful and classy) and when I saw the building and the garden, I thought: “Ok. If I should move from Copenhagen, this would be the place”: ‘Cause Ribe is not just a place far away from Copenhagen.

The garden pavilion in Ribe Art Museum's  garden
Blooming lilacs and the summer-house in Ribe Art Museum’s garden © adayinthelifeofafool

Relaxed atmosphere

Ribe is something you can’t really explain. It is the atmosphere that makes you feel entirely relaxed even when you are busy. It is the cobblestone streets where you can’t walk in high heels and where you feel every bump on the road if you dare to ride a bike. It is the old half-timbered crooked houses standing as they have done for some hundred years. And it is the small brooks and the river, which you have to cross all the time to get around. It is the feeling when your colleague says: “I know someone who you should meet” or “We are going to the wine bar – do you want to join?” (there is a wine bar in Ribe, how cool is that?!). It is when you see hundred thousands of starlings just five minutes away from the city centre and at the same time hear a bittern from the reeds. It is when you are on your way home and you meet the night watchman.

When you walk home you might meet Ribe's night watchman
When you take a stroll in Ribe at night, you might meet the night watchman © adayinthelifeofafool

One of the biggest differences between Ribe and Copenhagen is that you just can’t be anonymous in a town like this. It took six days from when I arrived to when an acquaintance heard in a local shop that they had hired a new girl at the art museum. From a person I haven’t met. That was a bit of a culture shock.

Passion for photography

As long as I can remember I have had a passion for photography. I have combined my interests and have taken lots of photographs of art works – mainly sculptures – but I really like to catch details from the urban space as well.

April sky in Ribe seen from the Art Museum
April sky seen from the office at Ribe Art Museum © adayinthelifeofafool

One of my main hobbies is to edit and crop my images and Instagram has become my favourite social media, I think… The images in this blog post is taken from my account: Adayinthelifeofafool . I am aware of the compositions, the light and especially the shadows.

Sculpture of Queen Dagmar and a dramatic sky
Sculpture of Queen Dagmar – made by Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen in 1913 – and a dramatic sky © adayinthelifeofafool

The sky and the dramatic clouds

One of the first things that caught my eye when moving to Ribe was the sky – the dramatic clouds, which you can see nearly in every kind of weather. This picture is shot on Riberhus Castle Hill (“Slotsbanken”) at sunset. Out here you really can breathe and watch the clouds go by and there is even a sculpture. What’s not to like?! So many extraordinary motifs in this town.

Me on one of my favourite places at Riberhus Casstle hill
My friend at Riberhus Castle Hill – one of my favourite places in Ribe © adayinthelifeofafool

Adopting the best of both worlds

In fact I don’t miss Copenhagen, rush hour and the hectic atmosphere. I miss my friends and family a bit, but Ribe is not that far away. I can go to Zealand and they can visit me. And the social medias makes it much more easy to feel as a part of my old group of friends. I am not completely isolated.
In fact I think, that I have adopted the best of both worlds.

Josephine
Me at work with Lundstrøm’s model from the National Gallery of Denmark – we just opened the exhibition “Transfigurations” at Ribe Art Musem and I am very excited about all the works that you’ll find in here. © adayinthelifeofafool

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