This is the second in our series on Copenhagen. Click here for the first.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] O [/dropcap]kay, now that my brain has cooled off from writing the introduction post on Copenhagen, I think I can resume and fill you in on the rest of our amazing trip. We began our next day’s activities on the hop-on hop-off city bus tour because it was the most effective way to quickly get our heads around the city’s attractions, presenting opportunities for further exploration.
The hour-long trip around the city from atop the double decker bus first exposed us to the world’s oldest and longest pedestrian street – Strøget – which is filled with name brand shops, world class boutiques and art galleries. It took the sharp sound of Jenna’s jaw hitting the floor to make me realize we would revisit Strøget later in the day for some travel “research.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a must-see for travelers of both genders. The 3.2 km, auto-free pedestrian zone begins along the edge of the Town Hall Square and winds its way to Kongens Nytorv (The Kings New Square) in the eastern part of the town called Strøget. Established in 1962 because pedestrians were continuously blocking traffic and bumping into each other as they took their constitutionals among the shops, the pedestrian area has the energy and vibrancy that engrosses avid shoppers and people watchers alike.
Around the next corner was the Nationalmuseet (National Museum of Denmark). The museum is located in an 18th Century palace that once housed the royal family and provides the history of Denmark from the Stone Age to modern day Denmark. Later in the day we took about 2 hours to get a closer look at artifacts and information, particularly from the Viking Era. Interestingly enough, even though the western world has a general understanding that the Vikings were ruthless as they conquered various civilizations in Europe and were the first explorers to touch North America, there was suspiciously little information about this in the museum. In fact, the one constant theme in the museum was that many Vikings were a peaceful and helpful bunch that migrated across the European continent. Regardless, the evidence of historical importance and worldwide influences of the Danes, along with the free entrance, made the museum a great experience.
Continuing the bus ride, we cruised past Tivoli, a virtual oasis smack dab in the middle of Copenhagen. Tivoli is an area that blends world-famous gardens with an amusement park, concert hall, and open air stage. Danes and visitors of all ages have been in awe of this attraction since its opening in 1843 and it was no different on this day.
We absorbed more and more of this wonderful city as we approached the harbor area on our now-crowded bus. Seemingly out of nowhere came Rosenborg Castle. Denmark’s most famous monarch, King Christian IV, had Rosenborg Castle built as a summer home closer to Copenhagen for the royals in the early 1600s. His reign began as an 11-year-old boy, spanning 1588-1648, and he was known for his heroism in fighting the Swedes during the Thirty Years War. The castle is an impressive structure and houses the King’s Garden and the Royal Crown Jewels.
I must say that I was reaching knowledge overload when a yellow mass of buildings appeared out of the corner of my eye that re-engergized my attention. We had reached Nyboder, which is a row of yellow naval barracks that was built beginning in 1631 by King Christian IV so his rapidly growing royal naval personnel and their families had quarters near the harbor. Because of the prominence of the Danish Navy at the time, you can imagine the constant flow of sailors that were coming and going from these barracks. Legend has it that when sailors departed to sea, some of the wives remaining in the barracks used ceramic dogs perched in their window as calling signals to their lovers that the coast was clear for a visit. The original colors were supposed to be red and white, but yellow was the final color of choice and Danes today have “Nyboder yellow” in their lexicon as an exact hue.
As I finished the mental inventory in our house for ceramic dogs, we had come to a stop right along the water in the harbor. We had reached the waters of Øresund and Copenhagen’s #1 attraction, The Little Mermaid. In 1909 Carl Jacobsen, founder of the Carlsberg Breweries, attended the Royal Theatre to see The Little Mermaid, a ballet and eventual animated film based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Deeply moved by the performance, he subsequently commissioned the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create a statue of this ravishing mermaid. Edvard Eriksen had his wife pose as a model, and The Little Mermaid was presented at Langelinie waterfront in August 1913 as a gift to the city.
Every year her birthday is celebrated with balloons, music and women dressed as mermaids. Like all celebrities, she’s had her public misfortunes, though. From the 1960s to date, she has had her head cut off twice, her arms cut off, various colors of paint thrown on her in protest, been blasted off the rock purportedly by dynamite, and even been draped in a burqa to oppose Turkey joining the European Union. However, this tiny symbol of fairy tale and pride has continued to be a must-see for visitors.
We finished up our bus tour by pausing to view the current winter home of the Danish royal family, Amalienborg Palace. With statuesque guards still manning the sally ports of the octagonal courtyard of the palace, this regal structure with Late Baroque artistic interior was a fitting end to our tour that brought us back to Nyhavn and a Carlsberg beer.
The next morning we caught our 10-minute metro ride from center city back to the Copenhagen Airport. At the check-in kiosks, you print your own baggage tags, and then quickly drop off your luggage. An electronic sign considerately advises you of the expected wait in the security lines. In our case, it was one minute! Armed with that knowledge we grabbed a coffee and one last danish, feeling strangely calm and unhurried. When the time came, we actually did breeze through security in a minute, and then stepped into the airport interior, which is a high-design showcase. Even the luggage carts had slick curvy lines. Unsurprisingly, our flight left exactly on time.
We said farewell to Copenhagen reluctantly, feeling a little more educated and impressed with the city. I even learned that the next time I play with LEGOs, I’ll know that they come from this unique city. Overall, my wallet was much lighter but my heart was fuller because of our experience. What was my favorite thing about Copenhagen? Probably the fact that it left me with the desire to take another trip there . Darn!
- It’s sunny and high noon in Copenhagen, but the streets are in shadow because the sun’s hanging out by the horizon.After a long 10-min metro ride, the airport display informed we had a 1-min wait to get through security. Get your act together, Copenhagen!
- Today we visited a Viking exhibit at the National Museum. Although supposedly rapists and pilagers, actually mercantile settlers. Biased …
- So glad we arrived here in time for Tuborg’s Christmas beer! Mmmmm
- Danish gløg gives glühwein and vin chaud awfully stiff competition – always served with raisins + almonds inside, plus ginger cookies
- Design design everywhere. Speakers, jewelry, and don’t even start on fashion and furniture. Soaking in Copenhagen’s exquisite charms
- What do Danish call a danish? Wienerbrød
- Did you know these are all Danish brands? LEGO, Georg Jensen, Bang & Olufsen, Maersk, Carlsberg
- Despite – or perhaps because of – a 25% value-added tax, people in Denmark typically rank the highest for contentedness.
- Many thanks to Copenhagen Strand hotel for providing the softest bed in 1.5 years in Europe! (no, it’s not a paid plug.
- After a long 10-min metro ride, the airport display informed we had a 1-min wait to get through security. Get your act together, Copenhagen!