Monday, 28 July 2008
Last Friday I barely got anything done at work because I was too excited. Excited at what was coming at the end of the day. Our first weekend trip to Europe.. which turned out to be to the beautiful Danish capital of Copenhagen. We left work early on Friday to make it to Heathrow for the 8pm flight. Having only hand luggage meant we could check in online which was convenient. However, it also meant that we had to put all our 'liquid' toiletries into plastic bags and make sure they were not more than 100ml each in size. Getting through security was quicker than I expected though still tedious especially since you have to go through a second screening for your shoes.
Nevertheless after an uneventful flight we arrived in Copenhagen airport around 11pm. We were both impressed by the stylishness of Copenhagen airport. Its design was impressive with sleek wooden floors, high ceilings, and elegant lighting. It didn't have the usually 7-11 feel of most other airports.. in a word it was 'tasteful'. For someone who hates airports this is pretty big. We just missed the train to central Copenhagen so we decide to get a taxi. We stepped outside and joined the taxi queue. The whole road was lined with taxis...all Mercedes. On our 12km drive to Copenhagen didn't take long at all as we whizzed past office buildings and shopping centres.
Our hotel was on the main hotel street Colbjørnsensgade very close to the centre of town, right next to the central train station. We had a good night's rest and had breakfast at the hotel which consisted of cold meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, bread, cereal and fruits. We then set out to explore the town. We walked past Tivoli, a huge amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen with all sorts of rides for kids of all ages. One thing we noticed everywhere we looked were the number of bicycles parked. Most people use bicycles in Copenhagen with dedicated bicycle lanes on all roads which were wide and spacey compared to London. Outside of the train station there were 100s and 100s of bicycles. Most street corners, cafes and restaurants had bicycles parked outside in all shapes, sizes and colours.
We arrived at a large square near an old important looking building. The area was aptly named town hall square. The front of the town hall had a gold statue of the Bishop of Absolon who founded Copenhagen. In one corner of the square was a huge statue of Hans Christian Anderson, the famous fairy tale writer and one of Denmark's most beloved sons. Opposite the square is a building with a huge thermometer on it, when the sun is out a gold statue of a girl in a bicycle comes out at the opening at the top of the building, when its raining a gold statue of a girl with an umbrella comes out. Denmark was having a heat wave that weekend and the thermometer was broken at 15 degree on both days when it was well over 30 degrees.
We bought a multi pass hop-on-hop off bus ticket and boarded the Mermaid tour opposite the town hall square. The bus took us via the wide Copenhagen streets to many famous places including Rosenborg; the summer palace of the Danish royal family, now a museum, as well as their winter and current residence at Amelienborg palace. Many of the beautiful buildings and attractions in Copenhagen were built by King Christian the 4th of the Danish monarchy. The bus also circled the Tivoli gardens which was opened in 1843 now one of the most visited sites in Copenhagen with an amphitheatre, many restaurants and of course numerous rides. Tivoli was built to act as a distraction for the residents during times of unrest and riots which apparently worked.
Then the bus took us to the famous statue of the little mermaid by the harbour at Langelinie. This delicate statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen the son of the founder of Carlsberg when he became fascinated with the tale of the little mermaid by HC Anderson. Towards the end of the bus tour we arrived in Nyhavn, an area where one of the canal arteries ends. The area used to be quite unsavoury but now its full restaurants and cafes all along the canal full of locals and tourists. The buildings still retain their original look with colourful front walls and shape. The area had a very relaxed feeling and we hopped off the bus tour to explore the area. Nyhavn or new harbour is also where the canal tours of Copenhagen start.
We bought tickets and boarded a boat for the canal tour which takes you to many famous Copenhagen sights through its vast canal network and harbour. The canal tour takes you under very snug fitting bridges and tunnels and gives a very different and interesting perspective of Copenhagen. We went past a very modern looking opera house on the harbour as well as the Copenhagen library made to look like a black diamond. The canal tour lasted a couple of hours and was a worthwhile experience. At the end we decided to have lunch in one of the Nyhavn restaurants by the canal. We tried the famous Copenhagen open sandwiches with very delicious marinated herring, salmon, shrimp and beef. Lunch was a relaxing fair. Only at the end we realised that soft drinks were actually more expensive than beer!
We left Nyhavn and walked to the Rosenborg palace and gardens which we saw earlier on the bus. The gardens are much like hyde park in London full of people enjoying the sunny weather, having picnics and relaxing on the grass. Pramod took the opportunity to lie on the grass and get some shut eye while I walked around the gardens taking pictures. The palace in the centre of the gardens looked like it was from a fairytale. It had a moat and huge trees around it. We sat under the trees and relaxed debating whether to go to Tivoli later on. We decided to head back to the hotel and have a nap before dinner. On our way back we walked along Stroget the crowded and longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe. Ice creams helped ease the heat a little but we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel.
After a nap and shower we went walking about looking for somewhere appealing for dinner. We decided on a Thai place right near our hotel in the end. The Thai place turned out to be great, with the best green chicken curry we've had since we got to Europe much to our surprise. The wine was expensive as well as the soft drinks and again much more than beer.
The next day we slept in a little more and had a later breakfast at the hotel. It was another hot day. We headed back to the town hall square and took another bus tour through Christiana, which is like a hippy town in the middle of Copenhagen where people are 'free' to do as they please. The bus went along the old part of Copenhagen with many gorgeous buildings which still are preserved well. After the bus tour we went to Glyptotek the Copenhagen sculpture museum. The museum's main entrance hall is very unusual in that it has a very tall ceiling housing huge palm trees and a fountain. There are many sculptures in amongst the trees which you can gaze upon while sitting on one of the many benches provided. The sculpture museum had many great pieces including a large collection by Rodin as well as works by Degas and many antique Greek, Egyptian and Roman sculptures. The Roman sculptures were displayed in the majestic main hall with huge pillars and a beautiful floor and ceiling. The museum also had a good collection of paintings by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir. We had a great time there and I would recommend a visit to anyone heading to Copenhagen.
By the town hall square we hopped on another tour bus this time to the Carlsburg brewery. We didn't really want to go to the brewery itself but it was a good way to see a bit more of the outer Copenhagen. After a late lunch back at the square we headed to the central station to go to the airport.
So in the end Copenhagen was a nice place to visit for the weekend despite the freakish heat wave we experienced. The town has many beautiful parts and interesting places to see but it all seemed rather deserted except for tourists.
As always the photos are in picasa web abums, just follow the link here.