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Adventures of a short vet

Delightful Denmark

DENMARK | Tuesday, 28 June 2011 | Views [644]

The Little Mermaid in Langelinie, is based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The small and unimposing statue (with a height of 1.25m, is a Copenhagen icon and a major tourist attraction.

The Little Mermaid in Langelinie, is based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The small and unimposing statue (with a height of 1.25m, is a Copenhagen icon and a major tourist attraction.

It was a long trip down to Copenhagen. We left at 7am and after only 45 minutes on the train we had to change to another train and then onto a bus to Gotenburg due to an accident on the line. I finally arrived in Copenhagen mid-afternoon and luckily managed to find the information centre across the road from the station as my directions to the hostel seemed to assume I carry a compass and know which direction NW is! Unfortunately it seems I really should carry a compass as I left the information centre in the wrong direction and confidently walked the WRONG way down the RIGHT road. After about 20 minutes I realised I was at a river, but not the right river, and so had to walk back to where I started and then head in the correct direction to the hostel. Sleep in Heaven is a nice enough hostel with a good-sized common room and outdoor area where you can drink a beer from the hostel bar. The beds are however, triple bunks, which is enough to give a short vet vertigo.

The next day I decided to head out to Helsingor (or Elsingor) to visit Hamlet’s castle and used the first of my Inter-rail travel days for the hour long train trip. I’d bought a 10 travel day pass, which allows you 10 days of train travel within 20 days (continuous) for my travel through Scandanavia as the long distance train trips are especially expensive – you really just need to travel from Oslo to Bergen twice and throw in a couple more long distance trips and you’ve already made back your money. The only downside is that there is a time limit so you need to be stricter in your itinerary. As I’d already had to book my hostels ahead of time keeping to a schedule wasn’t a problem and it gave me a few extra days to travel around the local areas.

Helsingor is a pretty coastal town in North Zealand overlooking the channel between Denmark & Sweden, and the castle was built when they extracted taxes for the use of the passage (I think Spain was in charge of the Suez Canal). Eventually the Americans refused to pay and they ended up doing away with the taxes after the rest of the countries involved paid some sort of fee. I learnt that Hamlet was actually based on a historical story of the Royal physician ruling in place of the “insane” king whose wife he turned into his mistress, having a child with her before the nobles grew jealous of his power and had him executed for adultery. The best part of the castle are the ‘casements’ or basement, which was used as a shelter under barrages. It was poorly lit with wall-mounted candles while some rooms were left dark and I used my camera flash to illuminate them, until I freaked myself out imagining how that is exactly when the monsters in a horror movies emerge! I had lunch on the beach overlooking Sweden and watched some guys fishing unsuccessfully from the shore. I didn’t spend much time in town as it was mostly restaurants and tourist shops, and instead headed back to Copenhagen where I made the most of the beautiful evening exploring the town. I walked past the town hall where some random American Indian performers were playing drums and pan pipes (in Copenhagen?) and down the main shopping street, Stroget, which used to be the longest pedestrian street, towards Gammeltorve (Old Square) and Nytorv (New Square) where I checked out an amazing photo display documenting “Europe’s Wilderness”. I then walked past the “round tower” which I chose not to climb, and through the King’s Gardens past Rosenborg Castle (the “fairytale castle”) and up through the pentagon-shaped island that contains the Kastellet (Citadel) and windmill to the coast where I checked out the “Little Mermaid” statue, along with about 200 other people. Not really sure what the fascination is as I’ve seen much better statues in town – must be down to H.C. Anderson’s fairytales. I preferred the “Gefion Fountain” based on Norse mythology – apparently Gefion ploughed through the waters of the ocean using her sons as oxen in order to create Zealand, unfortunately killing them in the process. Nice one mum.

After a late-ish start I walked into the CBD and decided to visit Tivoli Park, as it’s one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. In the end it is just another amusement park and not really worth the money unless you have kids with you or want to go on the rides. I walked down to Nyhavn (New Harbour) to check out the old houses on the waterfront, one of which H.C. Anderson used to live in. I followed the waterfront past the “Playhouse” restaurant to Ophelia Beach, which is essentially just a big sandpit on the wharf. Ugly, but good for a game of beach football. I decided to get inside before the rain hit and spent a good couple of hours in the National Museum.

The following day I spent the morning walking through Faelledparken before visiting the ruins of Christianborg Palace where I enjoyed checking out the ruins of Absalon’s Castle and the further 2-3 castles/palaces that were built over it. The history of the two fires and the loss of the palaces were interesting. After a lovely couscous salad lunch while watching a great little jazz band perform in the square, I headed over to the National Museum where I spent the next 2.5 hours until closing time learning about Danish history and seeing a lot of Viking treasure – the gold room was amazing. The Ethnographic section with all the different cultures of the world was great, and I really liked the ‘music room’ where they played music from all around the world. After it shut at 5pm I was tempted to head home but decided I needed to check out the “Our Saviour’s Church” on Christianshavn Island, which apparently inspired Jules Verne to put it into “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” after he climbed the spire. Unfortunately it was closed so I couldn’t climb it, but the spire was pretty impressive. The neighbourhood however, seemed a little dodgy, so I headed back to the hostel via the Stadsgraven Lake.

Tags: castles, copenhagen, hamlet, helsingor, jules verne, tivoli park

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