Sunday, August 25, 2013

Norse saga. Part I - Wonderful Copenhagen

Sunday 04 August

We're both happy to be off on our hols.
The news feeds were busy suggesting that there was likely to be chaos at Dubai airport, so we left early. As if the Authorities would ever tell Joe Public that Terry Taliban was actually going to attack. The taxi arrived 15 minutes earlier than requested, so we made a mad rush from the Crumbling Villa, which was followed by long and tedious queue at DXB to check in to Swiss.

The flight was 30 minutes late departing, which is usually a capital offence in Switzerland, but they never found out at Zürich because it arrived on time: disgustingly early on Sunday morning. We had 40 minutes before our connecting flight took off, naturally from the far end of the airport. We had to do the hand-luggage inspection and passport control too, but got into our seats with minutes to spare.

Final approach to Copenhagen – København in the vernacular – and I got my first ever look at Scandinavia. I could see Sweden out of the aircraft window, just over there near Malmö.

Copenhagen central railway station.
Easy train trip into Copenhagen central station. Beloved Wife spotted our hotel from the train window, and we soon found our way there. But first, we reserved our seats on Wednesday’s train to Stockholm. They charge extra for this, which seems disingenuous. After paying for a ScanRail pass, to be told that reservations are compulsory and at additional cost, seems a little unfair. What’s wrong with You Pay What You See? Anyone remember Fascinating Aïda’s “Cheap Flights”?

And then picked up the charge
For using VISA, which was drastic,
‘cos how the feck you s’posed to pay
If not with fecking plastic?

Speaking of VISA, I also discovered that in Denmark, foreign credit cards attract a charge, in addition to my getting screwed by an unfavourable exchange rate. So much for being the international way to pay.

Anyway, we’d arrived before noon and the room wasn’t ready, so we dropped off our bags and went in search of refreshment. Luckily the sun was over the yard-arm, so a litre or so of Carlsberg and a slice of apple tart later, we unpacked in the room and crashed out for three hours.

It was warm and sunny! Pleasantly so. And Copenhagen is a very bicycle-friendly place, with bikes, cycleways, and bike racks everywhere. During the summer, I’m told the Municipality offers free bikes for a returnable deposit. These have to be taken from one official bike rack and dropped off at another.

Sunday afternoon is quiet in Copenhagen city centre, at least as far as shopping is concerned. And museums are shut on Mondays, so tomorrow it’d the shops and maybe a boat trip around the harbour. Tivoli is a park with a hairy-looking funfair.

That looks high and very scary.
We went up the spiral ramp inside the world’s oldest working observatory and, erm, observed. We observed Copenhagen’s rooftops. Later, we ate Japanese food, and I had yet another large beer. The calorie-controlled diet was going to take a pasting over the forthcoming fortnight. I resolved to try and keep track of what I ate and drank.

Observatory tower.

Round and round we go, seven times.

I can see the Øresund bridge from here. And Von Fresler's Kirke with its spiral spire.

Rosenborg Palace, with irritating factory chimneys in the background.

To my irritation, I couldn’t get the hotel’s internet to talk to my computer. A technician turned up at the hotel room, but when the problem turned out not to be a defective LAN cable he was stumped, as was I. No matter what settings I used, how I configured the firewall, whether I used LAN or WiFi, all made no difference. None of my browsers would talk to the internet. Meanwhile, Beloved Wife’s iPad connected and ran just fine.

Monday 05 August

Another sunny day, and a healthy start with a hearty continental breakfast comprising cereal, bread, yoghurt, eggs, and several types of ham. That should stave off the hunger pangs until mid afternoon.

Beloved Wife suggested that we go and see the Crown Jewels in the Rosenborg Palace. This seventeenth-century edifice in the Flemish style was full of, well I described it as ‘Baroque on Crystal Meth’ all on three floors. And the incredibly ornate Crown Jewels were in the basement.

Ridiculously overdecorated ceiling.

Charles I of England.

Christian IV's crown (1596) is an impressive piece of bling. At one point he pawned it.

Small statue of Herakles (Hercules) giving the centaur Nessus a good hiding for running off with Deianeira.

Yay, a satyr! Chasing a scary-looking nymph.
You don't get female satyrs for ages, then several come along at once. 

The park was green with a mixture of sunny spots and shade, so after Rosenborg we paused a little and then headed off to the Nyhavn canal, which is the trendy waterside bit of Copenhagen that adorns the covers of the guide books. On the way we stopped in a pub that was doing a BOGOF offer on bottles of Carlsberg. Huzzah!

An excellent alfresco lunch outside one of the buildings on the cover of the guide book later, and having been serenaded by Lord Petyr Baelish on the guitar, we took one of the long, low, wide tourist boats around the harbour and canals for an hour. I hadn’t realised before that the famous Little Mermaid statue was on the sea front; I’d always assumed that she was perched on a little island in the middle of the harbour.

Littlefinger playing the guitar.

The Little Mermaid and some of her fans.
The cake shop that Beloved Wife wanted to visit after the boat trip was disappointing, but another one that we found on our way back through the pedestrianised city area was much better, and they served beer too.

We decided, having got back almost to the hotel, that visiting the Tivoli Gardens was too much. Instead, we’ll go tomorrow. Today I spent 20 minutes on a machine in the gym before meeting Beloved Wife in the pool. Here, I attempted to burn off more Carlsberg.

Ah, the pool. The hotel is part of a sport and leisure complex, and the pools include a 100m circumference oval pool 1.8m deep for swimming distances, and a rectangular exercise pool in the infield. There are also leisure and diving pools, and a Jacuzzi. However, the management throws everybody out at 2130, so I just had time for fifteen minutes of breast stroke. At an average speed of one lap every six minutes (which is 1km/h) I’m not going to break many swimming records.

This evening, the internet had decided to connect sporadically. It wouldn’t do the LAN thing at all, but from time to time I got a slow WiFi connection. The fact that WiFi worked but LAN absolutely refused to remains a mystery.

Tuesday 06 August

Ugh, it was cloudy this morning. When we emerged from breakfast, it was obvious that we’d missed a light shower of rain. Museums all seemed to open at 1100; we hoped that the rain would go away before we hit the streets.

Not only did the rain go away, so did the clouds. Another glorious sunny day, with a cooling breeze.

The first port of call was the Glyptotek museum. Ground floor was full of statues, mostly from ancient Greece and Rome, but also Egypt. And there were Egyptian grave goods too. Cue the inevitable humming of an eighties Bangles song, and I don’t mean ‘Manic Monday.’ Also on view were Danish neoclassical sculptures and stuff by Rodin and related luminaries. Upstairs, there was a lot of nineteenth and early twentieth century art: mostly oil paintings. And then it was beer o’clock.

Walk like an Egyptian.

Gods and heroes.

Unlikely attire for playing the fiddle, but very well executed.

Must be wine o'clock.
Beloved Wife wanted to visit the Museum of Danish Design. This was up at the northern end of the city, past Nyhavn. Unfortunately the museum was undergoing refurbishment when we visited, and half of it was closed. After looking at twentieth century fabric prints and a lot of chairs, it was time to grab a beer.

I should mention the Bumblebee, a 1934 motorcycle officially called the Nimbus, that had an in-line four cylinder engine and shaft drive.

The Nimbus 1934 is both more practical and more comfortable than a Nimbus 2000.
Having walked the length of Copenhagen, it seemed daft not to go and get a look at the bronze mermaid, along with every other tourist. We wandered past St Albans Church, the ‘English Church’ in Victorian Gothic Revival style, that played ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ (on tubular bells, by computer, apparently) after the 1700 hour bell. After the obligatory photos of the mermaid statue, we headed back to Nyhavn along the quayside and past an enormous moored yacht that I could never ever hope to afford. The 64m Felicita West, the internet asserts, was up for sale two years ago for a mere $40 million.

Felicita West, currently registered in Douglas IOM.

St Albans church.
Dinner at Nyhavn, and then we headed back along our chariot ruts through the pedestrian precinct and were briefly entertained by buskers.

This guy looked and sounded amazing. His musical instrument is inexpensive, but about as portable as a church organ.

The hang is an eerie-sounding percussion instrument.
In Tivoli, an elderly couple prevented us from watching an open-air stage show by persistently moving and standing in front of us, no matter where we moved, so we gave up and went for a walk around the park.

This walk was brought to an abrupt halt by a Bottom Inspector who insisted on throwing me out because I was barefoot. It seems that it’s not necessary to wear shoes, (otherwise about 30% of the patrons would have had to be ejected), but to have some on one’s person. As I’d schlepped my shoes unused around Copenhagen for two days, and had no problems with broken glass, dogshit, or gaining admission to shops, restaurants, museums, and boats, today I left my camera bag with the shoes in it at the hotel. But “Tivoli is private property.” 

Of course I’m not going to sue Tivoli if I stand on a sharp object, but my promising to take responsibility for my actions was not good enough. Not that there’s a sign, and they were happy to take our money. It’s only explicitly obvious from the signage that Dogs, Roller Blades, and Outside Food and Drink are not allowed. At least we got our admission money back.

Screw you, guys; I’m going home. It was too late to hit the pool, so I showered and fell into bed. The following afternoon we were due on board a train to Stockholm.



Anonymous said...

let tmil be the first to comment on yet another trip she is jealous of (I know, ESL daughter--grammatically incorrect--If the rest of the saga is as good as this, can't wait.

Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Let your illustrated blog be a lesson for one @AlexanderMcNabb, all he wrote, after his sojourn in Finland, was about a meal of such pretension, that I find it hard to believe I have seen him with a pint glass in his hand!


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