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Denmark’s Second Place Winner

Some would find being called second an insult. But not in Arhus, Denmark. With Copenhagen so far east, many call Arhus the capital of the west. Resting in the center of the country, the city is the unofficial capital of Jutland, a peninsula of famed fjords and crystalline lakes.

This is a young city, thanks to Arhus University, Denmark 's (here we go again) second oldest and second largest school after, you guessed it – University of Copenhagen. The school is considered one of the world's best and has an enrollment of nearly 40,000 students. This youthful influx created a natural base for all things cool and cultural. There are plenty of cafés where students gather to debate like true cognoscenti. At night, there are discos and amusement parks to stave off studying.

When the students clear out in summer, festivals roll in. First held in 1988, Arhus' International Jazz Festival is a major Scandinavian music event and continues to grow in stature. Taking place at music venues, public squares and open-air spaces throughout the city, this week long program covers a wide range of musical styles ranging from traditional Dixieland jazz to electronic experimentation popular Danish singers thrown in for good measure.

The highly esteemed Arhus Festival is not only recognized in Denmark, but all over Europe. First held in 1965, the fest has evolved into a major cultural event for ten days every end of August. The city's streets, alleys, stages and galleries teem with entertainment based on a different theme chosen each year. In 2005, the festival focused on the 200th anniversity of Hans Christian Andersen. In 2008, the theme was "Open City." No longer playing second, the festival is now the largest in Scandinavia!

Consider Den Gamle By (Danish for "Old Town") also a first. This open-air village museum was the first of its kind when opened back in 1914. With over 3.5 million visitors a year, the museum consists of 75 historical buildings collected from 20 townships around Denmark. Many of this structures date from between 1550 to the late 19th century, and include bedrooms, kitchens, workshops, grocery stores, gardens, a post office, school and a theater. Museum staff take the roles of merchants, blacksmiths and the like, adding to the illusion of a "living" village.

So while Arhus may not be the first destination on your list when purchasing a Eurail Scandinavia Pass, consider it a perfect stopover on your way to the rest of Northern Europe. This second city is a breath of fresh (cool) air.

Contributed by: Anna, Online Marketing, a Greek, whose most beloved place in the whole world is Paris.

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