We all know the story a beautiful lady from Tasmania (I know you are all thinking of me) however it was Mary who met Prince Fredrick in Sydney at a pub during the Olympics and went onto marry him to become a Princess and furthermore will be Queen Mary of Denmark once hubby Frederick is crowned King (successor to his Mum). Someone made a grave, grave typo error in that fairytale Mary/Maree . . . so close – should have been me!
Anyway back to real life, we arrived in Copenhagen or to be technically correct København until we English came along with our spelling and pronunciation and overwrote the Danish spelling.
Only a short 25 nautical miles from the beach we were anchored at in Sweden as there is a short cut through a canal cutting off a big chunk of land that one used to have to journey around – all done under motor as the wind was on the nose (again!) and we were also confined to a buoyed channel for a lot of it before hitting more open water which was then full of commercial shipping traffic and wind turbines, so engine it was.
We didn’t leave the beach until after lunch having done a few boat jobs in the morning and arrived in the capital city at 18:30 taking one of the last berths in the canal. Our timing was excellent (two fold) as we went straight through the canal as the bridge was opening in Sweden and only had to “tread water” for a couple of minutes to wait for the pedestrian bridge to open letting us into the canal in Copenhagen.
This was our very first box mooring berth (which is quite unbelievable having spent the entire year in the Baltic, where box mornings are the norm). Box mornings require us to pass between two posts and drop a line over/around them on each side of the boat and then tie the bow off to the dock – despite nerves and the need to be in three places at once whilst executing this, we pulled it off perfectly (most appreciative of the high buildings protecting us from all winds and also that the posts were nicely spaced not too far out and we also have had plenty of “bow to” practise with stern buoys rather than posts which is half of the battle anyway – almost looking professional these days as we tie up!
We set out the next morning on foot to do our information gathering (further to internet research) at the visitor information centre to plan our next couple of days. We gathered up all the brochures available and was standing in line to speak to one of the staff when an energetic gentleman came in announcing he was collecting people for the “free” walking city tour departing in 10 minutes – he had us at free, that will do us nicely thank you, we fled the very long line we were standing in and joined the tour.
The tour went for three hours (including a half hour coffee shop stop) and it was fantastic, we saw heaps, learnt a lot about a multitude of Danish topics everything from religion, to schooling, to politics, all about Hans Christian Anderson the famous fairy tales author (Little Mermaid, the Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperors New Clothes and many more) as well as all about the Royals and heaps of Danish history. Some of the stand out facts include;
Further to the walking tour we visited over the following two days loads of interesting places including the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek which is a museum built by one of Denmarks wealthiest families the Carlsberg (think beer) and contains many many beautiful and famous sculptures, however it must be said that overall the building inside and out is amazing all on it’s own maybe more so that many of the things in it.
We climbed three of the tallest buildings in the city, those being the Christiansborg Palace tower, the Round Tower down town as well as the Our Saviours Church tower close to where Red Roo was berthed.
The Saviours Church tower has over 400 steps to the top (some of the inside ones are pretty much just ladders) and once past the clock workings and bells you reach the outside spiral steps (150 of them wrapping themselves around the spike) funnily the hand rails got stickier as we kept going up, think they must still be soaked from stress when our mate Rob braved the climb back in 2015 (he tells us his knees go a little funny when he gets up high, heights are not his thing, but hats off for making it up this one Rob, and note: I posed for the “look no hands” picture just for you!).
The Royal Families all live nice and cosy in Amalienborg Palace, which is a large square (well circle actually – it contains a roundabout) with the four palaces around the outside all facing each other and the massive statue in the middle of roundabout. One palace for the Queen and hubby her house has 5 chimneys (as she is a chain smoker), next is Mary and Freddy’s with four chimneys one for each of the kids, next is her seconds sons house (I don’t even know his name), then the forth palace is the guest house (that one only has 3 chimneys). Obviously the guest house was already booked out or I am sure we would have scored an invite. Incidentally Freddy and Mary were home when we visited as their flag was flying high. I was actually surprised how close you can get, the whole thing is public, you can even drive your car around the round about right out the front of the houses (like a big circular courtyard), there are armed soldiers on patrol of course at each residence but no fencing, we were told however you can not touch the houses and must remain two rifle lengths back.
We accidentally stumbled across the Crown Jewels – I am serious. We were cutting through the city park named Kings Park to get to the Botanical Gardens and in the middle of the park we found a huge magnificent castle like building so consulted our map to find out what is was, which turned up a big blank – literally, as the city map showed green parklands with a white square blanked out where this building was. So of course we investigated and turns out it was Rosenborg Castle where they keep the good stuff, all that gold and all those diamonds unfortunately a couple of blokes with guns stood between us and the actual jewels.
City Hall houses a world clock that was really interesting. The hall is usually open for viewing also but the day we visited was Danish Flag day where they celebrate all men and women in the armed services and the hall was being used for a ceremony (I think they were getting medals as there were soldiers and their families) and were having morning tea, anyway I walked straight through the big velvet red curtain and went inside for a look (and came out with a flag after enjoying a drink and piece of cake) but Phil was stopped by security before getting to the curtain (obviously his dodgy looks).
We admired the Copenhagen Opera House, which is one of the most expensive opera houses ever built with construction costs well over US$500 million, it was built by the founder of Maersk Shipping (worlds biggest shipping company), he then donated it to the Danish State (meaning the full cost of the project was tax deductible for him). It is designed to look like a container ship in recognition to Maersk.
Frederik’s Church commonly referred to as the Marble church is also worth a mention, it stands very proudly at the end of one of the streets that runs off the fancy royal roundabout (a very short street, it almost is part of the royal set up) only a stones throw from the Queen and family. It is very impressive and imposing with its huge dome sitting above the large column entrance all made of marble of course. Inside is even more breathtaking (Evangelical Lutheran denomination) very intricately decorated with the marble colouring just beautiful. Phil of course wanted to ensure it didn’t escape my attention that the ceiling dome was painted containing the 12 disciples, and furthermore that it was noted that Philip (spelt the same as him) was a star of the show following Jesus around as part of his trusted few.
Closer to the boat on the southern side of the city is Freetown Christiania. This is, in very simple terms a kind of seperate town created in an old army barracks (taken over by hippy squatters when vacant) and ruled as a free town (under their own community laws) by its residents (around 850 people) it is also known as the “green light district” as cannabis is openly for sale here in the street markets. We strolled around and to be quite honest found it really quite dirty and unattractive. A highlight however was seeing the home of the Christiania Bike which we have seen thousands of in Europe, perfect for carting kids, families and general stuff around these flat cities, and we also have friends in Australia who imported one when they started a young family in Adelaide.
And of course no visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a stroll through Nyhavn the most photographed street in the country. It is rather stunning with it’s colourful bright old buildings, alfresco dining on the cobblestones and old wooden ships in the canal.
At Nyhavn our attention however was continually drawn to the other side of the canal where a piece of artwork was newly installed in the window arches of an old style brick warehouse. It is a display of more than 3,500 abandoned life jackets collected over three months from refugees arriving at the Greek island of Lesbos. It is very thought provoking if not confronting.
We spent a total of 4 nights in the big smoke before moving on North to explore more of Denmark. Whilst we certainly didn’t see everything we had a real good look around and certainly got an insight into the life of the Danish. The world really is an amazing place and there are delightfully unique things in every place you look.
As I sit here now in Helsingør 25 miles north of Copenhagen 2 days after we left the country’s capital I am feeling nervous that winter may be approaching too early and too quickly. It is the third consecutive day of rain and wind, the temperate has dropped and it is forecast to continue to rain for the next 7 days – darn it. It doesn’t stop us exploring or sailing, it’s only water after all but it makes the boat damp and wet and cluttered with coats and wet weather gear hanging everywhere dripping . . . it is haunting me, surely it can’t be that time already, please, we would really like at least another month maybe two of fair (not even great) weather before having to hide somewhere.
I also have a new found appreciation for public library’s. What normally takes me up to three or four hours uploading pictures to the blog using slow free marina wifi (usually sitting outside with the mozzies of a night when no one else is using the signal) has taken only minutes 🙂 which ironically is a shame as I am enjoying the amazing view from the second floor overlooking Red Roo in the shorefront basin with the Helsingør Castle behind her protecting the town. Also this particular library is not only huge it is stunning (except for the noisy children that disturb the peace), and the books, oh the books, I just want to take them and read them all (well the english one’s anyway) one can never have too many books after all I have read 13 in the last 22 days (all those motor journeys) but luckily most marinas have a take one leave one free library system which is a god send to us.
Foot Note; for those of you following along at home I have finished the Sweden Photo Slide Show click this text to view (or as always you can navigate to find each country’s pictures via Our Photo’s Page)