Monday, August 3 - Gothenburg, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark
We got up very early, had breakfast at 6:30 A.M. and checked out. We walked across the street and caught the 8:10 train to Copenhagen. It was a 4 1/2 hour ride in relative comfort. We had first class seats. They cost a little more, but allowed us to avoid the cattle car feeling in 2nd class. The scenery was bucolic. Wheat fields, sea coast and gentle rolling plains passed beneath our window. We arrived at Helsinborg, Sweden, where two of the rail cars were detached and loaded onto a large ferry. After a brief ferry ride across the Baltic, passing Elsinore castle (the setting for Hamlet), we arrived in Helsingor, Denmark.
Another short 30 minute ride took us into the Copenhagen train station. We lugged our bags a few blocks to the Sheraton and checked in. Throngs of people were everywhere about. Most of our clothes needed washing. The hotel charged per shirt, so we looked up a nearby laundromat, on Istedegade, and walked over. The laundromat operated quite differently from American coin operated versions. The posted written directions aren't too useful when they are in a foreign language. If it weren't for a helpful Danish girl, we would have had real trouble. We did most of our clothes and got an eyeful. Live sex shows, gay bath houses, porno shops, pimps, pushers, hookers and all manner of interesting characters abounded on the this street.
We returned to the hotel, unpacked and caught a one hour nap. At 6 p.m. , we walked a few blocks to the Tivoli Amusement Park It has been in existence since 1870 and is a local favorite. There are several nice restaurants , cafes and many amusement rides and carnival attractions. In addition, they have nightly performances by musical groups, dance and theater companies. Several small lagoons and tasteful floral settings enhance the omnipresent neon outlines on all of the buildings. We picked the Groften cafe for dinner and had a 'snack' for 230K. The food here is very expensive. A pilsner beer for 20K was the only bargain. Eat elsewhere and snack here.
A pretty good downpour chased us back to the hotel, where we settled in to read. Again, tired with trains, buses and travelling.
This city is alive. It is genteelly shabby and crowded, but alive.
Tuesday, August 4 - Copenhagen, Denmark
We arose late and had breakfast at the hotel. Again, a good selection of pickled herring, smoked whitefish and plenty of everything else.
We walked over to the Stroget. This is a completely pedestrian street, lined with shops, that stretches about 3/4 of a mile from Radhus Plaza (city hall) to Nyhavn, where a number of old sailing vessels are moored. There are also several tributaries to the main pedestrian artery. People stroll, shop and have coffee or beer, in outdoor cafes. You can generally experience a daily " happening". Jugglers, musicians, singers and actors regularly perform, for coins, on an impromptu basis. One 'play' that we saw, called "Omelet", was a takeoff on Hamlet. It involved three members of the audience. It was very funny and the actor got well over 300K for his performance.
About halfway up the Stroget was the Rundtarn, or round tower. It is about 6 stories high and 300-400 years old. Inside, a cobbled roadway leads upwards, in an ascending spiral, to the top. Supposedly, a horse and carriage could ride its length. It is attached to an old church and is interesting.
Continuing on through the university section, we walked through the grounds of Rosenborg Castle. It is a delightful 3 story, turreted castle , that is the repository of the Danish crown jewels and a hoard of other antiquities.
We walked on and past the grounds of Amalienborg Palace, where the royal family resides, to the beautiful waterfront. There, we saw the famous statue of Hans Christian Andersen's, "Little Mermaid." Large crowds of tourists surrounded it. She sits there quietly, about 5 feet off shore, on a pedestal, serene and impressive. We took several photos, with her in the background. We walked back through the palace, to see the changing of the guard. It was crowded and tourists do not act their best in these situations.
Strolling through Nyhavn, or new harbor, we admired the large wooden fishing vessels berthed along the quay. We had a Tuborg beer, in an outdoor cafe for 50K, and watched the considerable tourist traffic flow by. People watching is fascinating. From Nyhavn, we retraced our steps along the Stroget, which was very crowded, to the hotel for a brief respite. We were footsore and tired.
At 6 p.m., we hailed a cab to the Bachullus restaurant in the university district. Until recently, it had been Green's, a vegetarian restaurant, at 12-14 Gronnegade. We had a pretty good meal for 225K. After dinner, we walked through Kong's Nytorv (King's Square) and again strolled through picturesque Nyhavn. It was crowded with diners. Many people were sitting along the quay's edge, with beers they had brought with them . From here, we walked along the Stroget and watched the aforementioned street play "Omelet."
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in at the Old English Pub, but it was too crowded for us. We returned to the Sheraton and had a beer in the Red Lion Pub, for 50K, before retiring footsore and tired from the day. We had walked between 6 and 8 miles almost every day. The bartender was an Irishman from Wicklow. He said none of the local folks drank much in the pubs because they couldn't afford it.
Wednesday, August 5 - Copenhagen, Denmark
We breakfasted early and walked over to Christianborg Palace, before proceededing across the bridge to Christianhavn. This is a supposedly " bohemian community". We looked into a few old churches and sat along the canal admiring the wooden vessels. It appeared to be a monstrous collection of unimpressive brick housing projects. It was a long 5 mile walk there and back. In between, we sat in several squares, had coffee and watched the surroundings. Increasingly, this people watching became a source of entertainment and interest.
Later in the morning, we visited the Danish National Museum. It is an interesting collection of Danish history, Vikings and local lore. It is worth a stop. We again stopped in the Old English Pub for a quiet afternoon beer. We bought pita sandwiches, chips, and sodas for 100K and then had a picnic, for dinner. It was a nice day , sunny, windy and cool.
At 8 p.m., we walked across the Stroget to Nyhavn, again enjoying the crowds, the street entertainers and the lively night life. Returning along the Stroget , we stopped and sat in the Radhus Plaza. It was a beautiful evening and the plaza was ablaze in corporate neon insignias. Many, many people were out and about. We stopped in to the Red Lion Pub, in our hotel, for a late beer. We then retired, once again, footsore and tired.
Thursday, August 6 - Copenhagen, Denmark
After breakfast, we walked over to the Radhus Plaza and caught the #30 bus to Dragor, a fishing village 10 miles south. It is a large marina for sailing vessels and a ferry stop to Malmo, Sweden. Most of the cottages are cobblestoned, with thatched roofs. It is very picturesque. The day was sunny and beautiful. Outside of town, we walked onto what appeared to be a large fishing, swimming pier, with secluded sections for sunbathing. It was a clothing optional, swimming place. We tried to be inconspicuous and left after a short time.
We caught the 1 p.m. bus, for the 35 minute ride back to Copenhagen. Then, we walked through town to the Rosenborg Castle, previously mentioned . Inside, is a fabulous collection of furniture, china and assorted wealth. The Danish Crown Jewels, in the cellar vault, are truly impressive, rivaling England's or France's. It is a great stop. It was starting to cloud up, so we headed back to the Stroget area. We stopped at the Ristorante Italiano and had a great dinner, with wine. After dinner, we sat again in the Radhus Plaza and watched the throngs mill about.
Tired & footsore, we returned to the hotel to pack and ready for the flight to Oslo, Norway. Copenhagen is a charming, bustling old town with a lot to see and do. You should, however, have your wits about you when venturing forth.