First stop on our Scandinavian cruise – Copenhagen – capital of Denmark since 1443. Currency Danish Kroner. Home of Lego bricks (first made in 1932), Lurpak and sizzling bacon, the egg chair and fairy tales written by a man with a big nose! No Danish stamp on their bacon. Presumably they all know where it comes from.
Babs and I last visited on her 60th birthday and we were eager to explore the city once again. It would be too predictable to start the article with the phrase ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’, so I won’t. But Danny Kaye was right to sing about it. Copenhagen really is that good.
It is stylish edgy and cool. Design and fashion genius sit side by side. A quality of life that many cities aspire to. Creativity oozes from every Danish pore. There is an infectious pride in the city. Beauty and history in equal measures. King Sweyn Forkbeard would be proud of his nation. Warm,friendly people. Immaculately turned out. Blonde hair and blonde beer from the many micro breweries. Slim people. The beautiful race.
So where are the ugly people? Are there any in Denmark? Are they kept in a large warehouse and only allowed out during the hours of darkness? Does an ‘ugly catcher’ similar to the ‘child catcher’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang patrol the streets catching the offending people in a big butterfly net?
I have never been on a cruise before which has not provided a courtesy bus at a port. We birthed at Langeline Pier a good 20 minute walk from the city almost 2 km from the ship.- much too far for many pensioners to walk to especially those with mobility problems. The choice facing everyone was that of paying £30 per person for a hop on hop off bus or walk at least 500m to the service bus , a long way if you have walking issues. Many fellow cruisers wished to see The Little Mermaid. But it was too far for many to walk to and many passengers were very disappointed. In my opinion and many others too, Fred Olsen failed miserably here. A total PR disaster!
On the quayside you would expect ship support. There was not one member of the ship there to help. No tourist information either. Many passengers struggled without directions and walking on the cobbled pavements and road. It’s as though Fred Olsen thinks that their responsibility stops at the gangway. It doesn’t!
The city is easy to explore on foot or bike. Do be aware of the cyclists- they take no prisoners. There are seemingly millions of Vikings on bikes here, some with and some without helmets. They are everywhere. It is the green and efficient way to travel and the prime means of travel in the city. And if they don’t get you then the Segway brigade might just do it. You have been warned!
Feeling hungry or thirsty? No problem. The city is at the forefront of the Nordic food scene and it is probably the food capital of the world. At the last count 16 restaurants have a total of 20 Michelin stars. World- class dining in exquisite laid back restaurants.
The oldest patisserie is LaGlace which offers superb cakes, Danish pastries and so hot hot chocolate- all guaranteed to send a diabetic into excess sugar heaven. Confusingly though they are not called Danish pastries here but Wienerbrod (Vienna Bread). Whatever they are called it doesn’t matter, they are all delicious.
Ah, Den Lille Havfrud – the Little Mermaid. The famous girl sits lonely on a rock gazing into space contemplating life. Still searching for that special person. Sculptured in 1913 by Edvard Ericksen. Yes she is little and she keeps losing her head! There can’t be many mermaid decapitators in the world but they all seem to be Danish. It is supposed to be the most photographed scene in Denmark and the most visited. But it is a great disappointment. It is one of those things in life that you must see and do and then probably wished you hadn’t. A bit like watching Doncaster Rovers ‘playing’ football?
There are many castles and museums to discover though most close on a Monday.
NY Carlsberg Glyptotek is a superb art gallery and museum, started by the brewing magnate, stuffed with statues and masterpieces including Monet and Van Gogh.
Rosenborg Castle houses some of Denmark’s greatest treasures. The Danish crown regalia and crown jewels are housed beneath the castle in the appropriately named treasure chamber. The gardens next door are a popular city picnic spot.
Do visit Christiania. This is the world famous hippy happy clappy commune situated in 84 acres of abandoned military barracks taken over in the 70s. A free town within the city which is free spirited and free of income tax too. It is an untidy alternative way of living. If you do visit Do Not take photos!
Nyhavn or new harbour is a picturesque focal point for the city. Though it’s hardly new dating back to 1673. Locals meet for a catch up. Go to watch people boats and life drift by. Hans Christian Anderson was the most famous resident. Look for number 18, 20 and 67. Presumably a man who couldn’t easily make up his mind. The colourful boats, barges and gabled houses are a photographer’s paradise.
Do take a canal tour from here. Copenhagen has many waterside highlights and the canals here rival Amsterdam. The trip is inexpensive and it is a good way to see the new and old parts of the city. The Opera house is stunning and the Royal Library appears jewel-like when seen from a boat.
The Inner Harbour bridge affectionately known as ‘The Kissing Bridge’ is finally finished. Years of engineering and design faults were finally resolved in late summer last year. Last time we were here the two retractable sides just wouldn’t meet. No embraces at the centre and no hand holding – unless you had very long arms- and the best the good people of Copenhagen could do was to blow each other a kiss across the water.
Our Saviour’s Church has a vertiginous exterior spiral staircase. No less than 150 daunting steps and the crowning glory on top of the spire is a golden globe with Christ wielding a victory banner.
Retail therapy starts in Stroget. At 2km long it is Europe’s longest pedestrianised street- not one street but a collective name for 5 streets – all car-free and all the better for this. Shops galore amongst lovely Dutch style townhouses and modern Danish design. Nordic elegance quality and style. And street performers that baffle and delight in equal measure. The City Hall Square is the start (or the end ) of Stroget. Climb up the clock tower for a superb view. The King’s New Square aka Kongens Nytorv is at the other end. After 60 years on this planet I now realise that the way to a woman’s heart is to utter the magic words – ‘buy it now darling’.
There was so much to see. We dawdled , we window shopped, we people watched and we entered the shops. If we had gone any slower we would have had to pay council tax and I could have stood for mayor in the forthcoming elections.
Our final destination on day one of our visit to this city -Tivoli. Tivoli never fails to impress. It is the countries most visited attraction according to some guide books. Others list the Little Mermaid as number one.
Dating back to 1843 it is Europe’s first ever amusement park. It is utterly charming and today refreshingly quiet. We sidestepped the adrenaline charged nausea inducing rides for a genteel stroll around the park, taking in a jazz concert and a 3 scoop ice cream filled the hunger gap.
At night Tivoli takes on a different feel. Lights, millions of them, bring the park to life. Fairy lights hang down from trees and fibre optics enhance the shape of the buildings and multitude of restaurants. And somehow the rides seem faster too. A magical colourful world bringing back memories of childhood and believing in Father Christmas. A delight for all ages.
A wonderful day in a wonderful city. The evening was dry and warmish for the time of year so we decided to walk back to the ship, umbrellas ready, just in case. We had walked a total of 18km today. Our feet were sore but our spirits were high. And so much more of the cruise to look forward to.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- Scandinavian Waterways and Capitals with Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral: Part 1
- Scandinavian Waterways and Capitals with Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral: Part 3
- Scandinavian Waterways and Capitals with Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral: Part 4
- Scandinavian Waterways and Capitals with Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral: Part 5