European Vacation My Way: Copenhagen, Denmark

Danish flagWelcome back to my travelogue, a way for me to share the wonders of this year’s vacation. For the next couple of posts, I’ll be talking about Copenhagen, Denmark, the first country we visited on our itinerary. The adventure started May 14th with a seemingly endless day–and the funny thing is, the day did go on forever!

Since the plane was 90 minutes late taking off from Toronto, despite traveling at close to 500 mph, we were almost 90 minutes late arriving in Copenhagen. Our tour director had made arrangements for us to take a bus tour of the city since we couldn’t check into the hotel, a Radisson Blu, before 3:30 pm.

I have to admit that the prospect of getting on a bus and driving around for a couple of hours didn’t seem too appealing after almost nine hours in a plane, but the tour guide was terrific, and we got on and off the bus several times. If you are going to visit a major city, I highly recommend bus tours. Not only will you gain valuable insight, you’ll be able to orient yours20160515_124628elf. While having your own vehicle can be more comfortable, it can also present difficulties–especially when you don’t know where you’re going!

Copenhagen is a city of contrasts. On our way into town from the airport, located several miles outside the city, I got my first glimpse of just how different it could be. To be honest, my mind envisioned something along the lines of Toronto or Montreal, but I was pleasantly surprised by the cosmopolitan cities modern structures 20160515_124642blended beautifully with its old world charm. The totem on the left was just sitting by itself in a field. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It looks like a giant dragonfly wi8th the stained-glass wings.

Copenhagen is Denmark’s capital city. In some ways, the city reminded me of Stockholm since it’s situated not on the mainland of Denmark, but on a series of coastal islands. I didn’t realize how close it was to Sweden. The islands of Zealand and20160515_131218 Amager are linked to Malmo in southern Sweden by the Öresund Bridge.

Once we entered the core of the city, we began to see the type of building I’d expected. Many, like this church, were made of red brick. Do you see the strange trees out front? Apparently, the branches are trimmed each fall so that the trees don’t get too large. There was a huge one in the main square that hadn’t been pruned. My photo didn’t turn out very well, but Mahlum captured the tree and Gråbrødretorv, one of the city’s interesting squares, beautifully. Note the colorful buildings–exactly what I’d hoped to see.

Gråbrødretorv_København

Image courtesy of By Mahlum – Own Work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2954662

The central district of the city known as Indre By, is home to 18th-century, rococo Frederiksstaden, where you’ll find four identical palaces that house the royal family. The Queen–Denmark like England has no king–lives in the Amalienborg Palace.  What was most interesting was the lack of overt security. We’d seen much the same thing in Stockholm when it came to the royal family, and it was apparent again in Oslo.

20160515_133249This palace is home to the princess and also houses guests when they visit. In addition, this palace houses the crown jewels. Note the columns on the right . That’s where you enter the palace square if you are driving.

Below, you’ll see the palace occupied by the Crown Prince. He remains in Copenhagen for the entire school year, retiring to the summer palace when school ends. Note the Danish flag on the roof that indicates the palace is occupied.

20160515_132131_001 This was the only palace where there were guards on duty. They marched back and forth a few times and then stood in front of what looked to me to be the trade entrance. LOL. Good thing it was cool. Those poor guys must really suffer on hot days.

20160515_134210Can you imagine the work involved in building three identical palaces? And look at the windows! Thank goodness I don’t have to wash them. I pity the person who does.

 

The square is dominated by a statue of Frederick of Denmark. The palace behind the statue is the one used by the Queen when she is in the city. This columned archway is one of the three pedestrian entrances to the courtyard.Queen Margrethe and her husband ,Royal Consort Prince Henrik, does not entertain foreign dignitaries officially here.  Since the city actually contains three palaces, one of which is called a castle, she has many venues from which to choose from, including her summer palace located in the countryside.20160515_133036

The Amalienborg Palaces are located just up a slight hill from the waterfront where the new Opera House is located. You can only see it’s roof from here. squareThe royal yacht is moored just to the left of the Opera House. Below, you see a view from the water.The two small buildings house the royal family and their guests as they wait to be taken to the vessel. Note the crown on the left one. Guess who waits here?IMG_1868

 

There were many interesting and varied buildings and churches in the city, which despite the fact that there is a huge underground renovation project going on, one which expands the subway system, was amazingly clean and well-maintained.

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There are several fountains located throughout the city as well as churches and buildings with unique and interesting spires.

spire 1 (1) This image of of Nikolaj’s Church. Note all of the bundling while neighboring buildings get a facelift.

Church of Our Savior

 

This is the spire of Our Savior’s Church. If you’re feeling energetic, you’re welcome to climb all those stairs to the top! spire 2

The photo on the right shows the spire from the Danish Parliament. If you click on it, you’ll see a crown at its base.

 

dragon statue (2)

This spire is on the Old Stock Exchange building. The spire, three dragons with intertwined bodies represented Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a stop to see the Little Mermaid, made famous by Disney, but originally a much darker story written by Hans Christian Anderson.

Little Mermaid The poor thing has been broken and defaced more than once, but she’s repaired and displayed–without any fences to protect her. As we returned to the bus, it began to rain, so we opted to end the tour and head back to the hotel.

 

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Loved this little cafe.

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So, we went to the hotel. Funny story. We didn’t realize you have to insert your key card into a specific slot to activate the electricity in your room. Great way to prevent wasted use.

Completely exhausted, I crashed after dinner. Thus ended Day 2. The next day we would see the city on foot thanks to a Copenhagen Card, but more about that later!

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