A Scandinavian adventure
Friday 23 May 2014
Carrying on the tradition of weekends away. It has been a whole 3 weeks since I’ve been home, so I think another holiday is in order!
Before I am 30, I would like to go to a country beginning with every letter of the alphabet. I’m not doing too badly, I only have 6 letters to go (D, J, O, Q, R, Y). There is no X and I know I will never get Y, unless Yemen suddenly becomes safe to visit!
So off to Denmark! And the D ticked off! (Yes, I am this ridiculous). And my first time in a Scandinavian country.
Also another first for me – flying Easy jet! The flights were cheap, £35 each way. Probably the cheapest flight I’ve taken within Europe.
We left pretty much on time at 5.30pm and I was impressed with the amount of leg room! Wasn’t expecting this much! It took just an hour and a half to fly across to Copenhagen and we landed at 8pm.
2014 country number 11 – Denmark
Leaving the airport was in theory quite quick. Passport was quick. Except then it was almost a 20 minute walk to get into the main terminal. So it was about 8.45pm by the time we were heading out.
The train into the city is easy. It only takes 15 minutes to reach Kobenhaven Central Station and the train leaves from just underneath the terminal.
Tickets were 36 DKK (£3.90) so not too expensive either!
We arrived into the city at 9.20pm and only had a 10 minute walk to our hotel. We are staying just one block away from the train station and Tivoli park.
So annoyingly were woken up at 11.45pm by the Tivoli fireworks. Although they were quite pretty!
Saturday 24 May 2014
After a nice lie in, we wandered out about 9.30am. It was a bit cloudy. We headed up past Tivoli again and past the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – a pretty, old building which houses a large gallery / museum. But we didn’t go inside.
The Radhus – the city hall, was built in 1905 and is a very large red brick building with some pretty turrets. In front of the building is a large square with various statues. On the front of the building is a golden statue of the Bishop Absalon, who apparently founded the city back in 1167.
There was some event going on (couldn’t work out what!), so much of the square was behind barriers and the other half of the square was a large building site! So there wasn’t much space around!
For breakfast we stopped off and bought a Danish pastry! Although here, apparently they are not called Danish pastries. Rather, they are called Vienna Bread as the pastries were apparently originally from Vienna!
Leading up from the square is the Strøget – the main pedestrianised shopping street. It was only 10am, but it was really busy already! Many of the shops were the same as we get in England – H&M, Accessorize, McDonald’s, Burger King. But there were a few nice bakeries and 7-11! My favourite shop from Thailand / Malaysia. I didn’t know they were also over here. Although sadly not cheap.
We made our way up through the shopping streets and headed off down a few pretty side streets. Rows of colourful old buildings, with bikes scattered around the streets. Everyone cycles everywhere here. All the roads even have special cycle lanes on them – makes it a lot easier!
Just past all the shops, we bumped into the cylindrical Rundetarn. A 34.8m tall building built in 1642 as an astronomy observation tower for the then famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. It cost 50 DKK (£5.40) to climb to the top. And it was a very easy walk around a large spiral brick walkway almost all the way to the top.
Only the last section being a small round staircase. Along the way there were large windows letting in lots of light to the white corridors. It was really cool! Just before the top, there was a small tunnel through the core of the building where you could look down and see all the way to the bottom. The views from the top were nice.
The sun was also coming out now as well. You could see all across the city, over the red roofs and towards the water. And the Oresund bridge, which stretches over to Sweden.
We stayed up the top for a while, admiring the view. Before heading back down the spiral. There was a hat exhibition in one of the large halls just heading off from the spiral. They had hats which belong to the Danish queen as well as hats which have been in films and on TV (Downtown Abbey, Keira Knightley’s hat from Pirates of the Caribbean and Helena Bonham-Carter’s hat from The King’s Speech, amongst others).
Just behind the Rundetarn is a large park and the Rosenborg Slot. A palace built in 1606 by the King Christian IV as a summer home but now serves as a museum. And the grounds is the city’s oldest park. It was pretty – so green, lots of flowers and people sitting around having picnics! Behind the park is a large residential area. We wound out way through the rows of colourful houses, small shops and cafés.
We popped into a supermarket and ended up buying some local food. Rugbrod – a dark rye bread which is full of seeds and is really popular here. Salted liquorice – everything comes in liquorice flavour here (icecream, chocolate, sweets), it seems very popular. The salted liquorice is quite an acquired taste and is a bit weird. But surprisingly I didn’t dislike it, in small amounts it’s actually ok! Daim chocolate bars are also sold everywhere too – not had that in a long time. The prices in the supermarket were actually really reasonable.
The Little Mermaid is a Danish icon and was sculpted in 1909 based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tail of the same name. The model sits on a rock just in the water on the harbour front. It is about the same size as a person and the road next to the statue was full of huge tour buses. So there were quite a lot of people around!
I had read that visiting the statue is rather underwhelming. But perhaps my expectations had been suitably managed as I wasn’t that disappointed!
From here, we walked South along the edge of the harbour, back towards the main town. Suddenly my flip flop decided to snap. Argh!!
It wasn’t immediately fixable. But with a plaster and a bread bag clip I did manage to create a temporary fix….for all of 5 minutes of walking.
So I had to go barefoot.
For quite a long time.
We had spotted flip flops in the shops earlier. So we were headed back there….
We stopped by a small park to have some lunch – avocado on rugbrod! And continued down towards Amalianborg Slot, the royal palaces and home to the Danish Royal family. The buildings were old and pretty with a large fountain. Nyhaven is another Copenhagen classic sight – a small section of canal, lined with tall boats, a colourful row of houses (now bars) and packed full of people!
It was pretty though. Hans Christian Anderson used to live along here. In a small, narrow white building right alongside the canal. Being a nice sunny Saturday, boat tours were very, very popular. No choice but to join a long queue. In the end we didn’t have to wait too long, around half an hour. Surprisingly the boats take a large number of people. So we managed to fit on the next departure. Although being one of the last ones on, we didn’t have prime seats and were in the middle of the boat. At least we didn’t have to wait 20 minutes for the next one! The boat trip is an hour long and costs 40 DKK per person (£4.35).
We went around the harbour and some of the canals and was a nice break from walking around! First place – across the harbour to the next small island. In 1971, squatters took over the disused area of Christiania and declared it a ‘free state’ with around 1,000 people. They originally had no rules, but subsequently introduced these. As well as schools, businesses and recycling. Today there is still a small community here, but the government want to reclaim the land. Apparently an ongoing debate. We went back up north of the harbour to the area we had just walked down. Saw the little mermaid from the water. Past the large warehouse where the Eurovision Song Contest was held last week! And back down the harbour again.
Next up – the small canals of Christianshaven, lined with fancy boats and small cafés. The buildings were cute and pretty. An expensive looking neighbourhood! It was modelled on Amsterdam – and does look like it! And all overlooked by the golden spiral tower of the Vor Frelzers Kirke church. Went past the largest library in Scandinavia. There is an old, red brick section. Plus a newer (built in 1999) black glass section. It is known as the Black Diamond because it is shiny and reflects the buildings on the opposite side of the water. It looked very busy. The stock exchange building was built in 1620 and is still being used today. It was a really nice building, and had a really cool spire – made up of 4 dragons. The tails of the dragons spiralling up to make the spire. Really cool!
After landing back at Nyhaven, we were almost back at the shops. A quick wander past the national theatre (rather ornate building!) we were back in the shops. I managed to get a new pair of havianas – expensive here! But after 3 hours of walking barefoot (my foot was now rather grubby!), I was quite pleased! From here we headed towards Christansborg Slot. The home of the Danish Government. All the buildings are very old, a dark grey colour and on their own island, separated by a canal and some old pretty bridges. We didn’t spend too much time here, but wandered into a large courtyard.
By now it was 5pm, so we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest. After an hour or so, we headed back out for some dinner. At a very Danish restaurant……Wagamamas….not so Danish then! It was a lot more expensive than in England. And afterwards, off to Tivoli!
Tivoli is an amusement park located right in the middle of the city next to the train station. It was originally built in 1843 and some of the current rides are over 100 years. It cost 99 DKK (£10.75) to enter on a ‘grounds only’ ticket. Rides are extra. It was really busy! We wandered around, past rides, shops, amusement arcades, icecream stalls and loads and loads of restaurants. It was pretty – lots of coloured lights and flowers. And a large lake in the middle.
There was a football match on a large screen with a lawn in front. It was jam packed full of people watching! We thought it might have been Denmark playing. But it wasn’t! One of the buildings was especially pretty. It looked like an Indian palace, white and covered in mini lights. But is just a hotel and restaurant! There was quite a mixed crowd inside. Of course the children and teenagers running around from ride to ride. But also a surprisingly large number of older people – having dinner and just wandering around. Even a lot of very very old people! After nearly 2 hours, we had made it around the park and were knackered.