Friday, July 9

Copenhagen


Perhaps the most famous Danish citizen is Hans Christian Andersen. Born in 1805, he went on to write some of the world’s most renowned children’s tales including The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling. Over time his work has been translated and published into more than 150 languages.

When you visit Copenhagen, his memory is everywhere. The Danes it seems are very proud of their fellow countryman’s achievements. Perhaps the most notable memorial to his legacy is a small statue of the Little Mermaid. It sits forlornly on a rock sits on the shore of Copenhagen harbour. Every tourist inevitably pays homage to this statue at some point during a visit to the city. I certainly did during my first trip to Denmark twenty years ago.


Last weekend Garry and I were back in Copenhagen; my third visit, his first. On our first full day in town we ventured along the harbour foreshore to see Hans Christian Andersen’s mythical creature. Unfortunately, she’s on vacation. We discovered that the statue has been temporarily shipped to a pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. Instead of encountering the Little Mermaid, we came across a large video billboard broadcasting live images of the statue on display in China. It wasn’t the same as the real thing.


The rest of our weekend proved more somewhat more rewarding. We spent most of our first day walking around town, seeking out the city’s most popular sights. This included the impressive Town Hall, Stroget Street (said to be Europe’s longest outdoor pedestrian mall), Amalienborg Royal Palace, Rosenborg Castle and Nyhaven, the picturesque 17th Century canal district. Copenhagen is a relatively compact city and so it was relatively easy to see all of these sights in a single day.


We also stopped to walk up the brick-clad spiral ramp of the impressive Rundetårn , or Round Town. This is a cylindrical brick tower in the heart of the old town. Opened in 1642, it rises more than 35 metres above the street. It summit houses an old royal observatory, which itself is wrapped by an outdoor observation deck offering spectacular, uninterrupted views of Copenhagen. The view extends as far as the remote shores of southern Sweden.


We spent Saturday evening dining at Tivoli, the city’s 19th Century amusement park. This venue covers approximately 15 acres of land, sculpted into a series of artificial lakes, performance stages, fair rides and other amusements. It’s claimed that Tivoli is the world’s second oldest amusement park (the claim for the oldest lies with a park on the outskirts of Copenhagen). We later watched an entertaining live jazz band, and completed the evening watching a spectacular fireworks display. It’s hard to believe guests much like ourselves have been entertained here since 1843.


Our second day in town was spent enjoying a leisurely canal tour on a low-slung barge. The tour took us past many of the city’s stunning canals and into the heart of some of its oldest neighbourhoods. We then completed our weekend away with a tour of the National Museum. We expected to find plenty of exhibits about the Vikings, but were surprised to discover exhibits on a local history that stretches back five thousand years. All in all we enjoyed a relaxing weekend, blessed by warm weather and sunshine.

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