After our time in Bergen, Kristin, Justine & KG flew off to spend a few days in London. Harvey & I flew back to Oslo for a night and the next afternoon, we boarded the DFDS ferry for an overnight cruise to Copenhagen. The boat was quite nice – although a bit older than the other two we had been on. We had taken it up another notch and booked a Commodore room. It was slightly larger than the others had been, actually had a window and came with complimentary sparkling wine & chocolates, as well as an excellent breakfast.
The ship arrived in the Copenhagen harbour the next morning and we were off by bus and metro to our hotel, the AC Bella Sky. This was another great hotel, conveniently located a quick 10 minute metro ride from the downtown area.
After checking in to our room and relaxing for a bit, we hopped on the metro. We purchased Copenhagen cards, which allowed us unlimited use of public transit and admission to all of the attractions that we wanted to visit. It worked out to be a good deal for us and made our touring go very smoothly for our 4 day visit.
We introduced ourselves to the city by following what else – the Rick Steves Copenhagen City Walk. As we no longer had Justine to act as tour guide, this job fell to me. This tour and our explorations over the next few days showed us the great character of the city!
The Radhuspladsen (City Hall Square) is dominated by the tower of City Hall. The Radhus is a great building, draped inside and out in Danish symbolism.
An interesting exhibit in City Hall is Jen Olsen’s World Clock. Built in 1943-1955, the precision and function of this astronomical clock was unmatched, and for the first time, tracked the exact time across the world’s time zones. One of its gears does a complete rotation only every 25,753 years.
Across from the Radhuspladsen are the golden weather girls. These girls indicate the weather – fair by the girl on a bike, foul by the girl with an umbrella. Unfortunately, these two have been stuck in the almost-sunny position for many years! At the edge of the square sits the Copenhagen favourite, Han Christian Andersen.
The Stroget is Copenhagen’s pedestrian thoroughfare, lined with shopping opportunities (both high-end and tacky tourist) and restaurants. This street gives easy access between the city centre’s main areas and we transversed it many times over our visit.
The Cathedral of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirche) was built in 1807 in neoclassical style after the original church burned down. The facade looks like a Greek temple and the interior is beautiful – lined with the 12 apostles and a statue of the Risen Christ at the front of the cathedral.
The Little Mermaid statue is the well-known symbol of Copenhagen. While the statue is a bit under-whelming, it was great to see this icon, inspired by a ballet performance of Han Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid fairy tale.
Next to the Little Mermaid is Kastellet Park. The 1908 Gefion Fountain is based on the myth of a goddess who had one night to make Denmark’s main island out of part of Sweden. She transformed her four sons into oxen to help her. The statue sits next to St. Alban’s Anglican Church, which is interestingly constructed from flint.
The Tivoli Gardens is the world’s grand old amusement park. The park was created in 1843 when the king agreed to the building of a pleasure garden outside the walls of crowded Copenhagen because he believed that happy people would be less likely to fight for democracy. The park is full of rides, restaurants, games and funny mirrors, with only a small area actually dedicated to flowering gardens. We wandered through but didn’t indulge in any of the offerings.
Nyhavn was established in the 1670s as the sailors’ quarter. Recently gentrified, it is now lined by cafes and clubs, and the canal is filled with historic sloops and other boats. The colourful buildings along the canal make it a photographer’s paradise.
Carlsberg is the beer of choice in Denmark and we enjoyed a visit to the brewery. Carlsberg was established in 1847 by J.C. Jacobsen. The name Carlsberg came from a combination of his son’s name, Carl, and the Danish word for mountain, as the brewery was situated on the hill of Valby. Twenty years later Carlsberg was an internationally recognized brewery. Around the same time, in 1867, the brewery burnt down, but was rebuilt the same year and is now listed as an industrial monument.