Now to Copenhagen itself.
A gorgeous, gorgeous city in my opinion, and there is so much to see. If you’re nosy, like me, and you like architecture and design, you don’t really have to go anywhere in particular to find stuff to delight you. You just need to look up at the glorious spires, and onion domes, and towers, or down at the man hole covers, each etched in different designs, or just anywhere really.
Jason was baffled as to my love of domes, but they really are brilliant. They had gold ones, pointy ones, ones that were made of giant twisted lizard monsters (really, truly), and everything in between. I fell in love with the man hole covers when I saw one etched all over with elephants. There are beautiful verdigris copper roofs, and splendid gutters, wonderful arched windows, glorious brick work and just stonkingly good design everywhere you look.
That’s before you get to the parks, palaces, museums and galleries which litter the city.
On our only full day in the city we started by walking from the Central Station to the houses of parliament (Borgen). They take up one half of a beautiful castle, which also has the highest tower in Copenhagen which is free to go up. We didn’t go up the tower because there were a lot of school trips on the day we went, and we didn’t really fancy being stuck in a tower with lots of children when we had managed to wangle several days child free.
The castle is available to visit all year round. The parliament is open to visit some of the time. Jason really wanted to go, but we had picked a day when there were no tours. In the summer, you can go every day, but from the beginning of October the dates are more sporadic.
In the middle courtyard of the castle, is the horse guards, with a huge menage for the horses, which were being exercised when we wandered by. It was very beautiful. It reminded me of Paris, by the Tuileries.
We walked through a stunning public garden through to the people’s museum which had an exhibition of the experience of the Danish Jews in WWII. I wanted to see it, but it wasn’t open until later that afternoon, and we had other plans.
From there we crossed the road to the National Library of Denmark which has had a new extension called The Black Diamond. It is a stunning black glass cube right on the water front, with a glass walk way that links the old library to the new. It even has a huge disco glitter ball in it. That’s how cool it is. There are art exhibitions, pop up performances, a cafe, concerts and all manner of things going on there that the general public can see and do, as well as the reading rooms and the actual library itself. We spent about an hour, poking about and enthusing.
Outside, on the quay near the river we found a geodesic dome structure with a house inside it. It seemed to be being used as part of a conference, but after we had wandered around it very nosily for about five minutes, the chap who was in charge came out and invited us in to go and have a proper look around, which was very decent of him. It was amazing. They were using it as a living space as well as a super greenhouse, growing eucalyptus and all sorts of wonderful plants. It’s part of an ongoing project and study into sustainable living, and will be there until April 15 if you want to see if you can blag your way in.
We walked down the quay towards Nyhavn, stopping to take pictures of more spires, and yarn bombed iron rings in the quayside floor, and trampolines sunk into the floor for joggers and fitness fanatics to have a boing on, and other quirky things that grabbed my attention, stopping at Almanak for lunch. The day had started hideously rainy and cold, but by the time we were ready for lunch the sun had come out and it was beginning to get warm, so we sat outside and ate, watching the tall ships coming in and out of harbour, and the construction workers building a new bridge across the river about 500 yards from where we sat.
After a splendid lunch we walked around Nyhavn, threading through the streets, poking in antique shops and art galleries and visiting the Tesla car show room (thanks Mrs. Jones – J was in his element!). We took in the Catholic Cathedral which we thought was rather disappointing and not half bling enough, and were very sad that the Russian Orthodox church was closed, because we knew that would be bling central. We went to the Design Museum where I spent a glorious hour snuffling around chair design exhibitions, and a whole exhibition of cupboards (I have a thing about cupboards), and looking at stunning Art Nouveau Georg Jensen jewellery and beautiful Loetz glass and generally just wishing I was Danish.
If you are a fan of Danish design I also highly recommend visiting Illum Bodhuis on Stroget, which is the main shopping street in Copenhagen (rather like Oxford Street but with nicer fountains). Illum is the Danish equivalent of Liberty, and has four floors full of the most needful items for your home you could ever possibly imagine. I spent more time in there than I did in the Design Museum.
We wandered through the park with the star shaped fortress and strange military headquarters in it, not far from the statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, which we didn’t see because I hate his stories. Sorry Danes.
After that we got slightly lost in an area called Osterport, which is home to the American embassy, which was hands down the ugliest piece of architecture I saw during my whole visit. Osterport in general is rather nice. Lots of little boutiques and cafes, and leafy lined streets, and it was while getting lost there that we came across a shop that sold Orc related costumes and which was peopled with Danish chaps who, like Jason, like to go out on weekends pretending to be pixies and wizards and hacking each other to bits with latex swords. Jason had a marvellous chat with them while I wandered about being amazed at the universal nature of wizardry in general.
By the time the orcs had finished bonding it was getting late and we were footsore and hungry, so we headed for our hotel and dinner in a nearby hostelry served by an incredibly friendly young lady who apparently spent the first six years of her life living in Reading. She seemed unharmed by the experience and remarkably chipper – which just goes to show you.