Denmark – Helsingor, Hamlet and Herring

Me at Kronborg Castle

About half an hour by train from the centre of Copenhagen is Helsingor. What’s so special about Helsingor you may ask? Well by the Anglicised name of Elsinore it was the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s also the closest point between Denmark and Sweden so the building of the first fortress on the present site of Kronborg Castle in the 1420s allowed the Danes to control access to the Baltic Sea. Extorting customs dues from traders wishing to pass through the four kilometre wide sound, the King of Denmark did alright right up until 1859 , which is about when shipboard artillery became capable of blowing castles to bits and the right royal protection racket came to an end.

Since the breakfast on offer at our hotel in Copenhagen was both expensive and complete pants we got up early, hopped on the Metro to Norreport where we boarded the Oresund train to Helsingor. All this was included on our Copenhagen card. Half an hour later we were in Helsingor and ready for breakfast.

Madam Sprunck's marvelous breakfast

Which we took at Madam Sprunk’s, Bramstraede 5, Helsingor. Normally the breakfast is only for hotel residents, but I guess we must have looked very hungry as we were soon enjoying a delicious selection of cold meats, cheese, scrambled eggs, sausages and fruit, plus yogurt and jam, fruit juice and unlimited coffee . All this for DKK99 and absolutely beautifully presented, a mental note was made to investigate their lunch menu.

Breakfast done we headed for Kronberg Casstle.

17th Century defensive wall of Kronborg Castle

Passing through the 17th century defensive glacis that was added after the Swedish general Carl Gustav Wrangel stormed the castle in 1658,  we eventually got to the moat where we found a family of swans with eight cygnets,

"Come on kids let break some arms"

before getting into the castle itself. The present Kronborg was built in 1585 by King Frederick II. Inside there are a number of museums. We plumped for the Maritime Museum which was included on our Copenhagen Cards. It tells the story of Denmark’s seafaring history with ship models and artifacts from the 1600s onwards. I found the material from World War Two when Danish Merchant Marine sailors in allied service could only communicate with their families at home via the Red Cross particularly touching. There is also a nice display of artifacts relating to Greenland’s time as a Danish colony.

The Museum also gives you access to the roof where you can see right across the sound to the Swedish side of the channel and watch the ferries bringing hordes of Swedes over to shop for cheaper booze in Helsingor’s supermarkets.

Ferry from Sweden full of Booze Cruisers

Cultural stuff done it was time for something to cool down. Brostreade Flode Is was established in 1922 and sells brilliant home made ice cream which is why the queue snakes out of the door into the narrow Brostreade.

Brostreade Flode Is

I chose rum and raisin and nougat in a home baked waffle cone. This place has had some illustrious customers in the past including a certain Archie Leach, better know as Cary Grant, who is pictured outside the parlour in a framed magazine cover.

Cary Grant pictured outside Brostreade Flode Is inthe 1950s

So onto lunch. The jewel of Madam Sprunck’s lunchtime menu was Smag pa Helsingor. Roughly translated this was marinated herring, in a top secret sauce served with salad, a Wiibroe beer and a shot of the local fire water known as Akvavit.All for DKK 145.

Smag pa Helsingor

It was fabulous and as if the Akavit wasn’t strong enough the beer was just over 10%, so naturally we had another one as the local Dixieland jazz band and line dancers paraded through the street outside. And no that’s not the booze talking!

Super strong Wibroe beer

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