The canal cruise ended in Gothenburg. From there, we took a train to Copenhagen. We emerged from the station right across from the Tivoli, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, and a fitting symbol for this lively, colorful, playful city.
What a contrast with Stockholm! On the one hand, you have a similar mix of ancient merchants’ houses, royal palaces and government buildings, churches, and towers, mixed with modern towers of glass and steel, spangled with cobbled streets, canals, and rivers, beside a harbor on the sea. On the other hand, Copenhagen is as noisy, busy, gaudy, dirty, and touristy as Stockholm is serene and elegant. The strumpet and the lady.
It was getting a little late when we arrived, so we settled for dinner at the restaurant next to our hotel, which happened to be Italian.
Next morning, it was time to do laundry. We packed our backpacks, rented a couple of bicycles—with nice, fat, cushy seats—and rode through city streets to a Laundromat/café. Copenhagen is a bicycling paradise, with wide, dedicated bike lanes on all major thoroughfares, clear right-of-way zones and traffic signals just for bicycles, and flat terrain. The day was warm so, while our laundry was in progress, we enjoyed iced coffee (which, in Scandinavia, means excellent coffee mixed with ice cream!) in the café.
When our clothes were done, we moved on to the next event of the day, a jam session that Karel found through meetup.com. This was also easily reached by bicycle. Our host waved us into the courtyard, where we made music with a half dozen others, all of whom were from somewhere else, everywhere from Scotland (excellent bass player named Dave) to China (Ming had a lovely voice). The acoustics in the courtyard were fabulous, and a blackbird even joined us for a song or two. European blackbirds, unlike the ones in the New World, have a beautiful, melodious song.
We still had plenty of daylight and a bit of energy left by evening, so we rode down to Ny Havn, which has an atmosphere similar to Amsterdam. In other words, somewhere between Disneyland and a circus. It was starting to rain, though, so we called it a day.
Next day: rain! The magic spell has been broken. We decide to lay low, work on the blog, and go to the Tivoli Gardens later if it clears up. It doesn’t. At dinnertime, my one wish is for a traditional Danish meal. The concierge tries to help us, but it’s Saturday night in the capital of Denmark, and we can’t get a reservation. On someone’s recommendation, we end up at a shi-shi-nouveau-Euro-fusion foodie joint (the kind that serves cucumber foam as an entrée), which happens to be in the heart of the red light district. There we have an interesting, pricey, four-course dinner with nothing Danish about it.
As we walk home in the rain, I notice that the sidewalks are crammed with bicycles parked for the night.
For our last full day in Copenhagen, I have two wishes: to visit Tivoli Gardens and to eat a traditional Danish meal, my unfulfilled wish from the day before. “What is your obsession with Danish cuisine?,” Karel groused. “I’m in Denmark for three days of my life, and I’d like to try the food, dammit!,” was my reply. Karel got to work on the internet, and we walked a few blocks into the old part of town, toward an old establishment by the name of Puk.
We found the restaurant. Unfortunately, the entrance was blocked by a crowd of people enjoying a free outdoor concert in the little plaza. We tried this way—nope—that way—nope—back again the other way, and finally shimmied our way through to the door, fully expecting the place to be packed. But no! It was empty. Never mind the chilly drizzle; all the drinkers and diners were sitting outside in the thick of the action. At last, I got to enjoy a nice, homestyle Danish meal. Delicious!
After that, with the weather clearing nicely, we strolled to the Tivoli. The crowds were light, so it was nice to just stroll around, enjoying the spectacle and imagining what this must have been like for the original customers in Victorian times, when mechanical thrill rides, such as the merry-go-round, and the exotic, fantasy architecture of the mysterious Orient would have been completely novel experiences. The gardens are still beautiful, and at night the paths are lit by colorful lanterns. We decided to take a ride on the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster, Rutschebanen, also known as Bjergbanen (the Mountain Coaster), built in 1914. It’s so old, it has an onboard operator to control the brakes. I tried to video the experience, but most of the ride is in darkness inside the “mountain.” Karel didn’t scream at all, but I sure did.
That’s all we got to see of Denmark! However, with all my three wishes for Denmark fulfilled (Karel by my side, a traditional Danish meal, and a visit to the Tivoli), I feel very satisfied.This entry was posted in Vacation 2014: Europe