For the past two weeks we had been worrying that a certain unpronounceable Icelandic volcano (sounds like something from HP Lovecraft) was going to scupper our trip to Denmark. Fortunately that didn’t happen, so at 7.00am on Thursday we found ourselves sitting on the runway at Stansted ready for take off. The easyJet flight to the Danish capital was mercifully short and Copenhagen Airport is really well connected to the city, by both train and Metro. It’s also only 20 minutes away by train from the Skane region of Sweden (which according to Wallander author Henning Mankell must be more dangerous than the English town of Midsummer) thanks to that wonder of engineering, the Oresund Bridge that connects Copenhagen to Malmo.
The first thing we did at the airport was to buy a Copenhagen Card each. At DKK 459 (about £55) it gave us free use of the public transport network for most of the island of Zealand, along with free admission to many of the leading attractions for 72 hours. For folks like us, who like to cram in as much as humanly possible, these were an absolute steal and the first use we put hem to was getting to our hotel, the Cab Inn close to the Forum Metro Station.
Well the Cab Inn was certainly different. The room layout is based upon the design of Baltic Ferry cabins (see the gag there in the name – hilarious), which does make incredibly good use of space, with two very narrow beds plus an upper bunk in each room. Now if I was traveling alone on business, and wanted a cheap hotel that would be fine, however our beds were only one step further along the evolutionary chain than an ironing board and therefore not very condusive to middle aged romance. Furthermore the hotel did not offer any facilities for keeping valuables secure and some fairly heavy duty leaning was required before they agreed to keep our passports in their safe.
So once our stuff was safely stashed we got back on the Metro and headed for Kongens Nytorv (King’s Square), this square was laid out by King Christian V in 1670. From the Metro station it’s a short walk to the harbour district of Nyhavn. This part of Copenhagen was constructed between 1670 and 1673 by POWs from the Dano-Swedish War (1658-1660) and used to be notorious for sailor’s drinking shops and prostitution. Like many such places, all over the world, it’s been redeveloped and is now the trendy place to be seen eating at one of the pavement cafes.
As you would expect in a city that is reckoned to be the tenth most expensive in the world, none of these restaurants were cheap and the cuisine seemed to be pretty similar in each, lots of steaks, burgers and to my delight herring. We ate in Ved Kajen (Quayside) at Nyhavn 43. I had the three different kinds of pickled herring. While quite delicious, it was a bit on the meagre side, unlike my companion’s steaks and cheeseburger. In fact the cheeseburger was so big the Powder Monkey could only fit half of it. With two pints of beer and water the damage came to a walloping great DKK 636 (close on £80) for the four of us including a 3% government tax on foreign credit cards (boo to that Denmark!).
After lunch we boarded a DFDS harbour cruise ship (also included on the Copenhagen Card). This really is a great way to see the city. Over the next hour or so we explored Copenhagen’s harbour and canals getting to see the Black Diamond Library, the new Opera House, the Royal Yacht
and of course Edvard Erikson’s statue of the Little Mermaid, who really is a lot smaller in real life than I expected her to be.
The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carlsberg heir Carl Jacobsen, who had been fascinated by a ballet of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story. The head is modelled on that of Ellen Price the primaballerina, but the body belongs to the sculptor’s wife as Price refused to get naked.
That evening we hit the Tivoli Gardens.
This is the world’s second oldest theme park having been opened in 1843. Apparently Tivoloi’s founder, George Carstensen told King Christian VIII that when people were outside enjoying themselves they would be too busy for politics, now if only the Tsar of Russia had known that! It is really quite a lovely park with a number of open air theatres like the Pantomime Theatre, built in 1874, with it’s mechanical peacock’s tail curtain.
Entry to the park was included in our cards, but the rides are extra. Best value is the multi-ride ticket at DKK195. For that amongst others, you get to ride Rutsjebanen one of the world’s earliest roller coasters and Himmelskibet, the world’s tallest carousel that hoists its victims 80 metres above the city while swinging them about.
There are plenty of places to eat ranging from the moderately expensive to the downright outrageous. The Bierkeller is very good, serving great bratwurst and other German goodies plus four different German lagers in litre steins (meal for four with beers DKK586, about £70)
As night draws in the lights go on turning the whole park into a beautiful magical fairyland.