Copenhagen, Day 3

When I got back to Copenhagen after visiting Kronborg, I decided to take a canal tour.  It was a hot day, and I welcomed the cool breeze from the water.

It really is a gorgeous city.  But I never quite feel like I know a city until I take their public transport.  So I hopped on a city bus, and made my way a little bit further out of the city, for one of my must see sites — a cemetery.

This cemetery was really beautiful, and residents seemed to treat it like a regular park, with people reading and hanging out on the grass.  The reason I wanted to come is because Hans Christian Anderson was buried here.

That was my final night in Copenhagen, and I treated myself to a lovely dinner and stroll around the city.

The next day, I went to cross off the final item on my Copenhagen bucket list: the grand library I had walked by every day. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the airport and catch my flight back to London.

I really needed my flight to arrive on time, as I had tickets to see Doctor Faustus at the Globe Theatre that night, and so of course, my flight was late and I only just made it to the theatre.  As someone who likes to arrive early for everything, I was not so pleased with myself.  But the play was great, and I soon forgotten about my disappointment with the international travel system.

Kronborg & Helsingør

I had a few more things I wanted to do in Copenhagen, but I didn’t think I’d have enough things to fill another day and a half.  And since I hadn’t really read about anything to do outside of the city I headed down to the tourist office to see what’s what.

They ended up advising that I take the hour long train to Kronborg, and spend the morning at the renaissance castle and fortress.  So that’s what I did, and it was one of the highlights of my trip.

As noted above, Kronberg is a castle and fortress, originally built in the 1420s.  Much of the castle was burned down by the fire of 1629, but some of the original architecture still exists. It’s famous, however, because it’s the castle Shakespeare set Hamlet in. I later learnt that Hamlet is an old Danish tale, written in the 1200s which became popular in the 1500s due to its translation.  However Shakespeare’s version is the most famous, as it’s not about the actions but about Hamlet’s thoughts.  And that’s why it’s still around today.

sam_4197

You enter the grounds through Morkeport (Dark Gate), which takes you on a winding path the courtyard and castle entrance.

I had perfect timing to join a tour of the castle, so in I went. They had so many beautiful tapestries (44 to be exact), but unfortunately none turned out in pictures.  Guess you’ll have to see it for yourself. The room below is the Ballroom/Queen’s Gallery.  It was the largest royal hall in Northern Europe.

I spent a lot of time in the Castle Yard, just in awe.  Another fun fact, Hamlet is performed in this yard quite often.  The regional theatre invites tropes from Denmark and abroad to stage their interpretations of Hamlet.  It is also very likely that Shakespeare himself performed here, and gained access to how things are run.

Next up was the Royal Chapel, which unlike most of the castle, was not damaged by the fire of 1629.

The casemates, the castle’s underground corridors and rooms, are also open for viewing. These quarters held Kronberg’s prison, storeroom, and quarters for soldiers during times of war. Now I’m not sure why he’s in the basement, but in the casemates you will find a statue of Holger the Dane, Denmark’s legendary hero.  The story goes that he sits slumbering, ready to be stirred into action the instant the Danish kingdom is threatened by an enemy.

Every time I thought I had seen all this area had to offer I found more to discover.  The Danish Maritime Museum has been housed at Kronborg Castle since 1915, and depicts the history of Danish shipping from the Renaissance to the present. My favourite part was the display of past figureheads.

From the museum I climbed up a lot of stairs and ended up on the Telegraph Tower, an immense flat-roofers tower that previously functions as a cannon tower.  It was originally the castle’s largest tower,  boasting dome and spire but was destroyed by the Swedish bombardment in 1658.  From 1801, the new flat roof was used for sending signals to Copenhagen, and offers impressive views.

Before leaving I took one more walk around the edge of the grounds.

Then decided to explore the nearby town of Helsingør, before catching the train back to Copenhagen.  It was a brilliant way to spend a morning, and it was also nice to get out of the city for a few hours.

Copenhagen, Day 2

I spent my first night in Copenhagen coming up with a game plan for day 2.  After amalgamating a couple different self-guided tours, I came up with a tour which would take me all over the city.

I started with a visit to the Royal Library. I only looked at the outside, but made a mental note to go during opening hours later.

Copenhagen 2 (1)

One of the things I liked most about Denmark was it’s remarkable amount of castles/palaces.  It seemed like everywhere you turned there was a new one to discover.

The first one I went to was Christiansborg Palace, built in 1907-28. The main building contains the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s offices, the Royal Reception Rooms and the Supreme Court.  Below the palace you can visit ruins from the previous buildings on the site, and there is also a lower building on the riding grounds containing the Royal Stables and a theatre museum.

Interestingly, Queen Margarethe II still holds audiences, meets with the cabins, receives new ambassadors, and hosts New Years receptions and large gala dinners in the Royal Reception Rooms.

On my way to Nyhavn Port I came across the royal guard.

Nyhavn Port was where I ended up spending most of my free time.  It’s the waterfront/canal/entertainment district with a plethora of restaurants and cafes. Really charming, and also conveniently located beside the Royal Playhouse and Ofelia Beach.

Copenhagen 2 (86)

My next stop was the Amalienborg Castle, but I came across a botanical garden on the way that I had to stop in.

When I made it to the castle, I realized why I had seen the guards on the street earlier.  They were making their way to the castle for the changing of the guards!

And once the crowds dispersed I was able to get a better view of the castle itself.  You can’t go in, seeing as it’s the residence of the Danish royal family, but it was nice to get a full view of the outside.

Next up was Frederick’s Church, more popularly known as the Marble Church.

On my way to Copenhagen’s most famous statue I came across Gefion Foundation.  It’s the largest monument in Copenhagen and also used as a wishing well.

Copenhagen 2 (133)

Copenhagen 2 (136)

And then there I was.  Right in front of the Little Mermaid statue.  For you see, Hans Christian Anderson hailed from Denmark, so they came up with this to honour him. It’s been the victim of much vandalism, but was in perfect condition for my visit.

Next on my list was Kastellet, one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe.

At this point I needed a little break, so I took a rest at the Rosenborg Castle Grounds, one of the most beautiful renaissance gardens. There was a puppet show going on, so I had a sit until I was ready to explore the rest of the grounds and the castle.

I then found myself at the Copenhagen Cathedral (the National Cathedral of Denmark), which held the funeral for Hans Christian Anderson, and the wedding of the Crown Prince in 2004.

For all that I had seen already, there was still a lot of time left in the day, so I went to check out the National Museum.

And what did I find inside?  The Gundestrup Cauldron, which I had studied in my first year of university.  Sometimes the world seems very small.

It was finally starting to get dark, so I made my way to Tivoli, a garden and amusement park right in the middle of the city.

All in all, a perfect day.

Copenhagen, Day 1

I had one night in London after my Wales tour, so I decided to stay at a hostel near Paddington Station so I could wake up early and catch the train to Heathrow.  I’m not sure how, but for the first time in my life I slept through my alarm.  All of a sudden I realized I was too well-rested, looked at my clock and found out that I had overslept by more than an hour and was potentially going to miss my flight! Our friend Ryan missed multiple flights during his time travelling, and we made fun of him relentlessly, so I couldn’t possibly also miss a flight.

I quickly changed, shoved all my stuff in my bag, ran to Paddington Station, and ended up catching the last train that would get me to the airport in time for my flight.  By the time I got to Heathrow check-in was only going to be open for 10 more minutes. I had just made it!  Of course, I had to wait another hour inside the airport before boarding, so I’m not sure why the check-in was going to close so soon, but I made it.  This was the closest I had ever come to missing a flight.

I was on my way to Copenhagen for a little adventure by myself.  Before I left for Ireland, a lot of my mom’s friends had taken trips to Denmark and told her how wonderful it was.  And since I had a week left before my mom was going to visit me, I thought I’d check it out for myself.

Turns out I really like procrastinating my trip planning, so while I had bought a guide book, I didn’t actually start reading until I was on the plane.

My first day in Copenhagen was really just me exploring.  I’d come with an actual plan for the following days, but today I just got oriented.

After lunch I decided to take a tour of Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents (thank you Wikipedia). One of Copenhagen’s most distinctive and memorable experiences, this settlement is home to a diverse group of people, including craftspeople, environmentalists and hippies. Pictures aren’t allowed and the only way in is with a tour, but it was really cool to visit.