In the middle of the busy port city of Arhus, Denmark, there is a quiet entrance to another world. Den Gamle By is a living history museum, showcasing the Denmark of Hans Christian Andersen’s day.

I’ve been on a writing assignment here in Denmark, but this morning, my editor, Heather, and I took a brain break and got to play tourist for a couple of hours. As soon as we stepped through the gates, the pavement gave way to cobblestones, traffic noise disappeared and we’d traveled back in time.

Most of the buildings in the town are not reproductions; they are historic buildings that were moved to this location. Some dated all the way back to the 1500s. With the advances in modern medicine and nutrition today, people are obviously taller, since even I had to duck through doorways. (Which, given my five-foot height, almost never happens!)

Horse-drawn carriages clopped over the cobblestones, children bowled with wooden pins, and a gardener pruned his flowers in the greenhouse. We munched on vanilla ring cookies from the bakery and gaped at the brightly painted murals in the Mintmaster’s Mansion.

In the newer 1927 section, we leaned close and whispered as the telephone operator showed us how she eavesdropped on conversations.

As we wandered through The Plakat (Poster) Museum in the 1970’s section, the colorful artwork reminded me of the wild exuberance of that era. We stopped at Poul’s Radio Shop and he almost persuaded us to buy a new color television to replace our old black and white one.

Too soon, it was time to return to the present day and my unfinished article.

But if you’re ever in Arhus, Denmark, be sure to stop by Den Gamle By. For more info, visit