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I'm a nomadic mama with four lovely daughters. We're travelling Australia in a small housebus — meeting inspiring people, learning lots and re-thinking everything. I feel passionately about travel, good design, alternative education and conscious parenting.

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11 September 2014, 21:23

This week’s drive to Hungary to join the World Rainbow Gathering was slowed by a sightseeing detour along the castle-dotted banks of the Rhine in Germany. The girls were eager to meet up with the friends that we knew would be in Hungary, and we were delighted to be reunited with people whom we hadn’t played with for over a year and half!

The gathering was held on beautiful rolling hills outside the small village of Bercel, very close to Budapest. I appreciated our meander in and through the centre of that old city, although the traffic was pretty hectic. It’s been interesting to pass through so many countries on our way here — each one has characteristics that sets it apart from the others. Austria is by far the prettiest country with the best roads, and in contrast, Hungary feels like a return to the developing world.

World Rainbow Gathering, Hungary, September 2014
We arrive at the Rainbow Gathering as everyone is circling together for an evening meal. It takes a little while to spot our friends in the crowd of thousands.

The Rainbow Gathering was held on S.U.N. Festival land which means that communal facilities were already established, and artists had left several years-worth of sculptures across the landscape. We parked outside the main gathering area and wandered in to the circle each day. The girls were eager to play, and Brioni and Lana covered themselves with mud which meant that they were forced into a chilly pond to wash off.

In Australia, it’s vital to camp next to a clean freshwater source for drinking and washing, but in Hungary water was trucked in instead. I spent a lot of time looking at the resources and facilities — hoping to learn some tricks to improve our Rainbow Gatherings in Australia. Instead — after consulting with other Australians who could help me make comparisons — I determined that we’re already doing a better job, albeit with less than a tenth of the people attending, and instead we should focus on improving our established methods for handling food preparation, water sourcing and hygiene.

Lauchie talking to us on the grass, Rainbow Gathering, Hungary, September 2014
It's wonderful to have this time to catch up with travelling friends whom we last saw in Australia.

Photo © Nicole Delaine. Used with permission.

We had last been with Nicole in the February Rainbow Gathering in Tasmania and Lachie at the Easter Confest. Other friends from Tasmania were in Hungary too, and Kieran, a UK-based friend that we hadn’t seen since Melbourne in early 2013. It’s wonderful to maintain a close connection with a tribe of people who are also travellers, and extra-fun to meet up on the other side of the world! Rainbow Gatherings are such an eclectic group of people that you never know who you’ll meet and when you’ll next see those people again.

World Rainbow Gathering, Hungary, September 2014
We laugh at the juxtaposition of two very different types of mobile homes!

Photo © Nicole Delaine. Used with permission.

When the rain started pouring, we decided to leave — especially as the forecast predicted several more days of it — but I was hesitant to take the now muddy track back to the main road. It felt like we were stuck, and I resigned myself to staying in place for a while, but after some encouragement from Lachie and others who had successfully driven out, we made it out, filling our campervan with happy hippies (and their dog) who needed a ride to the closest village.

Now that we’re on our way again, we’ll continue with our planned itinerary that will slowly return us to Denmark. One of the most difficult things about driving through so many countries is that I’m unable to get an internet connection unless I purchase a SIM card in each nation. So for the next couple of weeks, I’ll give up trying to stay connected online with friends and will revert to living in the moment with the girls as we tour the most child-friendly attractions in Europe.

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7 September 2014, 18:58

When I learned that our visit to Europe would coincide with the largest collection of redheads on Earth, I knew I wanted to participate! We drove from Denmark to the Netherlands over the weekend — collecting our campervan along the way — to join with 6000 other auburn-haired beauties in the annual Redhead Days festival in Breda, the Netherlands.

Lauren with red dreadlocks, RedHeadDays Breda 2014, Breda, Netherlands, September 2014
I only saw one other redhead with dreadlocks at the festival on Sunday.

This image is not mine. I’ve lost the link to the photographer. Contact me if you find the original online so I can attribute it properly.

The festival was very well organised by a modest corp of volunteers and was held in the centre of town, adjacent to Valkenberg Park. When I drove into the small city, I didn’t really know where the main events were being held, but it was easy to stalk the groups of redheads and find the main mob of gingers.

Local businesses participated enthusiastically, opening at uncharacteristic hours to cater to the reported crowd of 40,000 visitors to the small city. Local beauty and hair salons offered free or discounted sessions to redheads, and a string of market pavilions offered merchandise that could tie in with the festival’s theme.

The girls loved spending time in the arts pavilion which was well-maintained by volunteers who kept the craft materials in a tidy arrangement. They cut, pasted and glittered multiple collages for over an hour while I ogled the passers-by.

It was strange to be surrounded by a sea of gingers. Men, women, children — all with slightly different shades of rose-gold — and in all shapes and sizes. Most redheads wore purple shirts — this was requested by the festival organisers. Each year, the group photoshoot looks spectactular as the crowd sports the same colour!

RedHeadDays Breda 2014, Breda, Netherlands, September 2014
Photographers stood on a scissor-lift's platform to photograph the crowd of redheads. Over 1700 people participated in the group photoshoot, most of them wearing the designated colour of purple.

Cropped image of Roodharigendag Breda – 2014 © Omroep Brabant, shared under Creative Commons license.

Brioni in the crowd at RedHeadDays Breda 2014, Breda, Netherlands, September 2014
Brioni happened to be wearing purple today and joined in with the group photo.

Cropped image of Redheadday2014-7 © Marc van der Molen, shared under Creative Commons license.

After the main photoshoot on Sunday, we decided to skip the afternoon concert and drive on. Our detour to Breda was worth the experience of joining such a unique crowd, and I’m glad we made the effort. The RedHeadDays festival usually happens the first weekend in September. Organisers are already planning next year’s event, so if you’re in Europe, you may want to consider going.

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5 September 2014, 20:11

With a circular rainbow walkway on top of its roof, it was hard to resist the lure of Århus’s modern art gallery, ARoS. Soon after we arrived in the facility, friendly staff talked us through the various exhibitions and offered recommendations on installations that the girls would most likely find interesting. With nine levels to explore, we opted to start in the basement and work our way up.

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
After the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson won the competition to enhance the rooftop of the very cubic ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, his installation Your Rainbow Panorama was opened in 2011, adding a rainbow to the cityscape and cementing ARoS's place in the list of interesting art galleries found around the world.

Interior of ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
Although the art gallery is square on the outside, the interior is dominated by curved balconies that overlook the ground-floor and a corkscrew of stairs that connect the different levels.

The girls’ usual approach is to wander through the art spaces, creating a collective commentary on what they see and how it makes them feel. Sometimes the title of the installation provides clues as to what the artist was trying to convey, but other times we were left to only explore our own reactions to the art-pieces. ARoS’s halls are wide and vast, with plenty of room for a boisterous family like ours to explore, and with English alongside the Danish text in most places.

The basement contains a set of nine darkened rooms, connected by dark corridors that are lit only by ankle-high indented lights. Several of the installations are visual projections, and generally we didn’t take the time to watch the whole thing. Instead, we moved on to static pieces which we could properly examine.

Ron Mueck’s huge, fantastically lifelike Boy dominates the open spaces of Level 1 and led to fantasies of inhabiting a world alongside giants. We haven’t seen another Mueck piece since visiting his exhibition in Brisbane, and although the girls can’t remember the artist, I was thrilled our family is becoming reacquainted with his work on the other side of the world.

Sketch of an ape by Edvard Munch, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
Edvard Munch's sketch of an ape merits its own special display hall.

The current artist-in-residence is Wes Lang — he of the American icons, skeletal characters, pinup girls and tattoo sketches. His huge paintings of Native Americans and messy working studio fascinated the girls, especially Lana who saw his discarded paintbrushes as an invitation to add her own artwork to the walls! I found myself confronted by his graphic depiction of fantasy females and wonder how I can guide my own daughters in a healthy appraisal of their bodies when society perpetuates (and even glorifies) a misogynist stereotype.

Brioni looking at a portrait, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
I'm thankful that the descriptions of the paintings are made available in English (as well as Danish and German).

Other floors contain galleries of modern and classical art. I tend to prefer the modern installations though the girls are interested by the stories behind the portraits of the Renaissance and Romanticism periods.

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
Many of the exhibition spaces are huge — proportionate to the size of the artworks. We're visiting on a weekday, so there aren't so many other patrons in the art gallery.

Our favourite installation is by Olafur Eliasson (he who designed the rainbow walkway on the roof). His specialty is combining art and technology — often with a rainbow of colour. Your atmospheric colour atlas is a beautiful foggy room where you interact with the art by walking around, marvelling at the changing colours.

Olafur Eliasson's Your atmospheric colour atlas, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
The girls open the doors to Olafur Eliasson's Your atmospheric colour atlas, revealing the foggy colourful interior.

Olafur Eliasson's Your atmospheric colour atlas, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
At several junctions in the room, it's possible to differentiate between the colours. However, usually the change is so subtle that when walking around, you gradually realise that you've entered within another hue.

Olafur Eliasson's Your atmospheric colour atlas, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
The colour changes are created by different lights embedded in the ceiling.

Olafur Eliasson's Your atmospheric colour atlas, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
Two fog machines keep the room murky. The fog is so thick that in some places visibility is limited to only about a metre!

By the time we reach the roof, we’re arted out. In the two hours it’s taken to thoroughly tour the art gallery, we’ve reached our natural limit. The girls have lost their interest in the individual pieces and just want to run. Thankfully, this is the place to do it — and at the same time we can enjoy the view across Århus.

Roof-top terrace below the rainbow walkway, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
The roof-top terrace provides access to the rainbow walkway. It's also a nice place to just hang out.

Olafur Eliasson's Your rainbow panorama, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
The walkway is suspended above the roof on top of the art gallery.

Inside Olafur Eliasson's Your rainbow panorama, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
As we walk around the ring, the vista changes colours.

Olafur Eliasson's Your rainbow panorama, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark, September 2014
We take delight in watching our clothes change colour as we move through the different hues.

Truly, this was an exceptional art gallery, and fantastic for the kids. The staff were helpful and obliging, the labels clear and tri-lingual. I know ARoS rotates their exhibitions quite frequently, so it would be fun to visit again when other artwork was on display. If you’re in Denmark, it’s definitely worth a visit — if only for the experience of visiting the rainbow walkway on the roof!

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