Denmark is not known for being hilly and after today, it’s a little bit flatter seeing as I walked all over it! But first, I got breakfast at the hotel. Knowing that I’d be walking all day I made sure to fill up. I really enjoyed the European style offering; cereals, fruit, breads and rolls, cold meats and various cheeses. Also their coffee is much better than anything at home! Or maybe its the little tubs of cream that you add to it… I made myself a roll and took two pieces of fruit to have for lunch-a nice little money saving trick. I packed my backpack and headed off towards The Little Mermaid.
The area around there is sort of a park and there were many more birds around; especially in the vegetation near the moat around the Kastellet. Blackbirds and more jackdaws and various water birds which I have photos of so I can look them up later! There were lots of tourists around the Mermaid and the usual hawkers selling fake versions of it and T-shirts and caps and all the usual crap. I took a few photos, there was a huge sailing ship just coming into berth which made for a lovely picture. She is very little and rather sad looking.
From there I walked around to the eastern entrance to the Kastellet. This old star shaped fort, built in 1662, is part of the original fortifications of Copenhagen and is still in use by the military today.
Fortunately it’s open to the public an you can walk through the main street, past the old church and up onto the ramparts which give quite a pretty view over the Harbour.
There’s also a windmill which was originally used grind grains to make bread for the soldiers. All buildings beautifull looked after, of course! I spent pquite a bit of time here wandering and looking at the Canada geese and various ducks and coots that by the time I was ready to head on, it was almost time of the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace.
I made a quick pit-stop though to look at St Alban’s Church and the nearby Gefion Fountain. St Alban’s is the only Anglican church in Denmark and it is in a really beautiful setting surrounded on one side by the moat of the Kastellet and on the other by a park. You can go inside and wander around and look at the beautiful stained glass windows and other artefacts.
Gefion Fountain was donated to the city by the Carlsbery Brewery on the occasion of the company’s 50th birthday. I wonder if the family had a guilty conscience or something because they donated a lot of thing to the city over the years; the Little Mermaid, Gefion Fountain and the brand new Opera House being just a few!
The changing of the guard is quite a sweet show. I don’t think it’s quite as large as the one at Buckingham Palace but there are several places to catch the guards march by in their bearskin hats and blue trousers. And apparently when the Queen or Royal Family is in residence, there is much more pomp and ceremony. The guard leaves Rosenborg palace (on my agenda for Wednesday/today) at around 11:30am and marches across town to Amalienborg where the ceremony begins at 12:00.
There is there some marching around, shuffling into position and shouting and displays of precision weapon-picking-up-and-putting-down, the captains wave a saber (all the guards carry one-with tassels on the end) and then they make a circuit of the palace and change each guard.
One really cute part of the ceremony involves checking for hidden girlfriends. For cold weather, each guard has in his guardhouse a huge red coat that hangs from a hook. Tradition has is that back in the day, the guards would hide their girlfriends under the coat so they could have some company on the long watches. The captains cottoned onto this and so they started checking behind the coat. When the guard changes, the captain and replacement guard marches up to the old guard, the captain then has a feel and a peek behind the coat, the two guards switch places and the old guard and captain go back to the formation and they carry on to the next post. Then at 12:30 the whole platoon(?) marches back to Rosenborg castle. They happens everyday. Really sweet and fun to watch.
From there I left to find a bus stop so that I could go to Valby Park about 5km from where the hotel is so that we could log a geocache. It’s a webcam cache so I had to walkover and stand in front of it and pose while John took a screenshot and submitted it for logging. It was actually quite fun and it forced me to learn how the busses worked! Valby Park seems to be a cross between a botanical garden and a park for playing and recreation. There were several formal gardens, all designed around a specific pattern as well as wide open spaces where people were busy photosynthesising or walking dogs. There was also an amazing looking kids playground with forts and bridges and sandpits and all sorts. The only thing was that the park was huge, at least 2km across. I walked all the way down and all the way back and then I bought myself an ice cream. It was well deserved!
The Danes are so friendly. After my visit to the park I wanted to catch the bus (look at me using public transport!) to the City Hall square. He told me which station I needed to get off at and even made a special announcement in the bus so I wouldn’t miss it and then told me which bus to catch next! It’s s lovely attitude and so far I’ve felt very welcome.
City Hall Square is full of construction. I think they are expanding the metro to have a stop here? I’m not sure. Either way it was a disaster area and I couldn’t get any nice photos so I just looked and smiled. From there I entered the top end of the Strøget, supposedly the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. I packed up my camera and shut my backpack firmly because I had been warned that it’s a favorite area for pickpockets so most photos here are from my phone. The street is crowded and busy and there are lots of fancy brand name shops and souviner places and all sorts. It worth the walk just to get a look at all the different people who are also taken a look around. I didn’t buy much other than the requisite Denmark fridge magnet and a few gifts for friends and John.
I did stop in the Lego store though. Absolutely amazing! There were lots and lots of sets that you could buy, models everywhere including a huge dragon suspended above our heads winding its way in and out of the wall.
There was also a mural made up of hundreds of thousands of flat Lego pieces. It was a full 1.5 stories which and very detailed. There were tables set out for people to play a bit and build their own scenes. And you could build your own Lego character! Good fun for all ages!
I carried on down the Strøget and then veered off a bit to the Round Tower. This tower was built between 1637 and 1647. To put that in context that was before van Riebeck founded the re-supply point that became Cape Town! The Tower is known for the amazing view from the top as well as the unusual way in which you get to the top. Inside there is as spiral ramp that takes 7.5 turns on the way up. Why a ramp? So they could drag cannons to the top using horses! Crazy!
The view from the top is worth it though. It was a bit hazy but you could still see the enormous bridge Øresund Bridge that links Copenhaen to Malmo in Sweeden.
The churches and palace towers stick about the roofline like so many stalicmites in varying shades of green, red and black. The bronze having tarnished over the years, the red rooms unblemished by lichens and the marble and masonry aging gracefully. It really was beautiful especially with the patches of sunshine moving over the city.
I stopped for a coffee in the square halfway down the Strøget and people watch and tried to decide what to do next.
I eventually decided that even though it was relatively early, I was too tired to walk much further so I headed back to Nyhavn for dinner. I figured I could sit in the glorious sunshine for an hour or two sip on a beer and have a bite to eat. So I did.
I even struck up a conversation with a businessman from Sweeden who bought me a glass of Spanish red wine. He spoke about his impressions of Africa and I spoke of mine about Copenhagen, and he encouraged me to visit Srockholm next time. But not in winter. It was a very pleasant evening. I called it a night around 8pm and came home and flopped on the bed, and only moved again (my feet and hips protested!) to have a hot shower and get into bed. I also discovered, much to my surprise, that I’d caught a little sun. Th pick has already faded this morning. I understand why Europeans get so burnt when they visit Africa. It was quite grey and hazy today, jus the kind of day when at home, you’d be burnt to a crisp. And here, I’m a little pink. Cute. I’m still going to buy suncream though!
And so ended another brilliant day. Today (Wednesday) I plan on visiting Rosenborg to see the crown jewels. I also need to go get my train ticket to Jutland where I’ll staying with Julochka for two nights from tomorrow. Other than that I think I’ll go visit the old stock exchange and parliament buildings and perhaps take in an art musuem or two. A much more relaxed day.