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Published: February 23rd 2019
Greetings from London – I have just returned from a lovely four-day trip to Denmark, and plan to write up my adventures there in three blog entries over the coming weeks. I have taken a cue from some of my fellow travel bloggers on here, in not always writing whilst on the road, as this seems to take valuable time away from the travels! I plan to continue to write whilst on the road during my longer summer trips though.
So Denmark – country number 79!! And as per the TCC country/territory count, 92 – slowly edging my way out of “Provisional” to “Full Member” status – yay! :D It also continues my current aim to fit in a few smaller trips in between my big summer trip, as well as my desire upon turning 40 last year to go for the countries I had previously deemed expensive and thus out-of-reach. It is so true what they say, that life begins at 40 – I have really felt this this year. I feel very comfortable and settled in my life, house and work, and have now no qualms and much fewer financial limitations in visiting the places
Den Lille Havfrue
The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
which feature more costly on a travellers’ budget. I have such exciting plans I feel for the coming decade!
Denmark actually marks my second Scandinavian country – I made a brief visit to Helsinki in Finland during my year teaching English in Russia in 2002, travelling there by train from Moscow and then heading south through the three mini Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Denmark has also interested me recently in my personal discovery of the amazing TV series “Vikings”, as well as helping me hark back to the Viking roots in my family, which a great uncle of mine once discovered many years ago. Being from the north of England, we were brought up on the history of invasions from across the North Sea, from brutish barbarians who marauded and plundered through Yorkshire and beyond. I felt ready to visit the country where these Viking invaders originated from, discovering a people far beyond the historical image I have of invading heathens: the absolutely lovely, delightfully friendly and cheerful Danish people of today. I enjoyed a wonderful visit in their cute little country.
Before going, I had also taught myself some basic Danish words and phrases,
Royal Life Guard
via the language learning app “Duolingo” – useful, but nowhere near as good as “LingoDeer” for my Japanese. I very much knew that I would have no trouble communicating in English, the Scandinavians being such amazing English-speakers, but I felt it both polite to learn at least a little of the local language, as well as educational in learning more about the people and culture – language being so intrinsically linked with these. The pronunciation beguiled me though, and amazed me at the same time – there are so many more vowel-sounds than even in English, which is famed for confusing its learners with its own additional vowel-sounds. A famous Danish tongue-twister for foreigners is “rødgrød med fløde”, a type of dessert. What I found most interesting was the language’s glottal stop used for “g” sounds, which sounds so similar to our very own Geordie accent from the north-east (if anyone remembers the old TV series from my youth, “Byker Grove”, with the “k” not being pronounced, and the “o” sounding more similar to “ø”), and actually listening to Danish pronunciation does sound in many ways like listening to someone from Newcastle – there must be some connection between the
Me on The Demon, Tivoli Gardens
Was I the only one feeling the g-force...?!
two, perhaps dating back from Viking invasions on the north-east coast of England...? The other Nordic countries claim that Danish people sound like they are speaking with their mouth full of marbles! Although I didn’t get to practise my Danish much, I did say a few words here and there, and it was particularly useful in the area I was staying as not everyone readily communicated in English as they did in Copenhagen. It was a real treat to learn a language that not many people learn.
And so it was that on Sunday I boarded an EasyJet flight bound from Gatwick to Copenhagen Airport, very excited to explore more of a relatively little-known, but surprisingly nearby, part of the world to me. My plane landed at 4pm, and my aim for my first day was simply to make it to my place of lodging – a small, very cute BnB located about 30 miles north of Copenhagen, in a small town called Helsinge, located in the northern part of the Danish island of Zealand. Although I wanted to visit Copenhagen, I had no desire whatsoever to stay there – the accommodation I found seemed expensive and noisy, and
my intention was to get to know more of the “real” Denmark. So I happened upon the lovely “Pegasus BnB” located just over an hour away from the city by public transport. Upon arrival at the airport, it couldn’t have been easier to buy my ticket which took me on a metro to the city centre, a suburban train from Nørreport Station to Hillerød to the north, and then from there, an even more suburban train further north through the delightful forest of Gribskov to my final destination, Helsinge. I arrived in my BnB around two hours after landing, so excited to be there, and so impressed by the lovely little place which seemed like a gingerbread cottage without the gingerbread. Everything was so cute, delicate and dainty, and my room was just lovely with very cosy beds, duvets and pillows. The owner was welcoming and friendly, and the place had use of a small kitchenette with microwave and fridge. Knowing that eating out in Nordic countries is notoriously expensive, I stocked up at the nearby Lidl across the road with enough food to provide me with most of my sustenance over the coming four days, all at the price
of pretty much one meal out in Copenhagen – wonderful! The temperature was supposedly the same as back in London, around 7 degrees, but it felt much icier and more frigid there. I cosied in for my first night in Denmark.
On the Monday morning I enjoyed a lovely breakfast provided by the BnB owner, and made my way back to the train station to return back to Copenhagen for my first full day in Denmark. I had planned out a route from the north of the city centre to the south, and pretty much followed it to the letter. It was a highly enjoyable day, ticking off the top sights of the city, and the weather was just lovely – cold, but sunny with blue skies – perfect for photos! My first stop was “Den Lille Havfrue”, the Little Mermaid statue to the north of town, which I was very gratefully told not to expect too much from. I believe it is Copenhagen’s most famous icon, and I was still excited to see it. Back when I was on a hectic inter-railing trip through Europe at 21 years old, I was quite sad to have not been able
to fit in Denmark into my list of nine countries ticked off in 28 days, so I have always been a bit excited to see the Little Mermaid ever since. It was lovely, and after taking a few photos, I headed south towards the royal palaces of Amalienborg, home to the Danish royals since 1794. I was very fortunate to have arrived just in time for the daily changing of the guard at midday, and enjoyed very much this formal spectacle, trying to take a few photos through the crowds which had gathered for the occasion. It is really quite remarkable how similar the Danish Royal Life Guards are to the English ones, with the red uniform replaced by a blue one, but still wearing the same large, bearskin hats – I wonder where the connection is, there must be one somewhere. Aside from the formalities, the Danish guards seemed a bit more informal though, often looking around, sometimes having a quick word with each other. They were very photogenic.
From here, I headed further south towards the famous Nyhavn canal, which juts into the mainland a few hundred metres from Copenhagen harbour. This really was the place to
Helsinge's central shopping street
see in full, glorious sunshine, and I took some amazing photos of the beautifully coloured buildings on the canal’s northern side. It was also the city’s main tourist hotspot, so I thought I’d do myself a favour and try to find a McDonald’s for lunch instead, hoping to save myself a few krone from the numerous eateries lining the canal. A simple Big Mac meal ended up costing me £8 though! Denmark certainly lived up to its reputation of being expensive for the visitor.
After lunch, I headed partway down the Strøget shopping street, and at just over a kilometre long it is the longest pedestrian street in the world. It is home to Denmark’s two versions of Harrods: the lovely Illums Bolighus and the Magasin du Nord. From the former, I ascended to the top of the building for my first sweeping view of the city – beautiful. I left the Strøget from here to cross over a canal to the Slotsholmen island, the ancient heart of the city, upon which stands the imposing Christiansborg Slot and its huge tower. From here I could have visited the nearby Nationalmuseet and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen’s most famed museums, but
this being a Monday when most of the city’s museums were seemingly closed, I was unable to do so. Not to worry though, as I headed back to the Strøget, crossed over the city’s main square of Rådhuspladsen, and ended my delightful day at the equally delightful and magical Tivoli Gardens!
Tivoli was definitely the highlight of my day. Although it eventually burned a huge hole in my wallet, it was so very much worth it. Tivoli was another place I was disappointed not to be able to see on my younger inter-railing days, so I was most happy to be able to make it this time (I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford anything there in those days anyway – my budget was £20 a day including accommodation!). Tivoli was first opened in 1843, and has since become a national treasure for the Danes, as well as the country’s most popular tourist attraction. Measuring only around 200m by 300m, it really is tiny compared to more modern and epic theme parks such as Alton Towers and Thorpe Park back home, but I think it really is the whimsical charm of the place which makes it so special.
Children must really adore it, it seems to transport you back in time to the Victorian pleasure garden that it once was, with beautiful Arabian- and Chinese-influenced architectural themes, amongst many others. I enjoyed just being there, sitting in one of its many quieter areas, and just contemplating the beauty of the place and the simple pleasure that the people were finding there. I was very lucky in fact to find it open during my time of visit – its main season is during the summer, although it is also open for two shorter periods during Halloween and the winter season in February. I had initially planned to spend the 120 krone (about £14) entrance fee, and then maybe try a ride or two using its pay-as-you-ride scheme, should anything tickle my fancy. The unlimited rider ticket at 315 krone (about £37) just seemed a bit too expensive to buy. I ended up going a bit crazy though, and went on the park’s three top rides. With each ride costing 90 krone (£10.50), I ended up spending 75 krone (£9) more than I would have done had I gone for the unlimited rider ticket. Ah well, it was worth it!
My Room, Pegasus Bed and Breakfast
With one of my favourite paintings on the wall :D
First up was “The Star Flyer”. At first glance this looks like an ordinary chair-swing type of ride, but in actual fact it takes you up to the dizzying height of 80 metres whilst spinning you around on nothing but a swing-seat with feet dangling. A typical chair swing ride probably takes you up about 10 metres or so, and the London Eye is 135 metres, for comparison purposes. This was indeed a very high ride, very exhilarating, and with amazing views across Copenhagen! Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos, as you were understandably not allowed to carry anything, including in your pockets (which were checked), before going on the ride. I was filled with thrills by this, so didn’t hesitate to head to my next ride, the Demon rollercoaster. With three upside-down loops and a big drop, it is described by the website as “the ride that causes the most screams of excitement in the whole of the Gardens”. It definitely rivalled anything at Alton Towers or Thorpe Park to my mind, and I have even uploaded my photo from it on here! I feel a little bit shamed by the fact that the others in the photo
Pegasus Bed and Breakfast, Helsinge
look like they’re on a pleasure boat ride, whilst I’m certainly feeling the g-force! Finally I headed to the ride which I really wanted to go on, but which I dreaded the most. This was “The Golden Tower”, and after going on a similar ride called “Detonator: Bombs Away” at Thorpe Park which I found really scary, I was very nervous about this one, but felt I still had to do it! Whereas the latter at Thorpe Park is a mere 35 metres in height, Tivoli’s is nearly twice as high at 63 metres – the park’s website calls it their “ultimate toughness test”. After rising to the full 63 metres, the ride waits at the top for a seeming eternity, knowing that at any moment you will be dropped back down to earth again. When the time came, I am unashamed to say I shouted loudly (I don’t scream…), my scarf lifted up over my face, and my heart felt like it had escaped through my mouth. I felt like my internal organs had all re-positioned themselves after bouncing up and down again a few more times – maybe life does begin at 40, but I’m certainly not getting
The Seating and Dining Area
Pegasus Bed and Breakfast, Helsinge
any younger for these types of things…!! It was amazing though, and after an exhilarating time at Tivoli, both physically and financially, I made my way to the nearby Copenhagen Central Station to commute it back again to my comfortable and cosy BnB room for the night.
I had enjoyed an amazing first day in Denmark around the country’s capital, and was very excited to see more of its interior and lesser-visited sights for my second day on Tuesday. I will write up about that one in my next.
Until then, thank you for reading and all the best. Hej hej for nu!
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