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Published: September 11th 2019
This is the day we meet up with the rest of the group of travelers around 4pm so we still have plenty of time to explore the city. We head over to Nyhavn Canal to finally see all of the colorful houses. As we turned the corner, whooooosh, bikes whiz past in front of us! We saw plenty of bikes and scooters yesterday but that was a Sunday. This is Monday morning and the Danes are on their way to work! Copenhagen is filled with bikes, bike lanes and bike shops that supply FREE air! Seriously! You can roll up to any bike shop at any time of day or night and use the air hose that is hanging there waiting for you! Needless to say, the Danes are serious about biking. Bikes even have their own traffic signals separate from cars....on the same posts! Copenhagen also have bridges across the canals that are not built for cars. Bikes and walkers only!
After safely crossing the street across 2 bike lanes and one for cars, we saw the beginning of the canal. It is so unique that there are hardly appropriate words. The "houses" are so colorful that mingled with the boats and the water, it feels exotic, except that it's only 60 degrees with a brisk wind off the canal. We later learn that the houses were all painted different colors so the deliveries would make it to the proper place. Originally, each "house" was actually a merchant's storehouse plus his place of residence. They would store the goods in the basement and bottom floor. The family would then have living quarters and the servants would live on the uppermost floors. So cool!
So while some people might live in the upper floors, currently, the bottom floors are shops, bars and restaurants with tables out front. We walked along, looking at menus (and prices), til I happened upon the most unique bar. Called the Fisken Pub, I walked down three steps into the coolest and probably oldest bar I'd ever seen. The polished wood bar, gleaming brass beer taps and well worn stools begged for attention. Not to be outdone, the wall cabinets had old memorabilia like fishing lures, cigarette packs and tobacco rolling papers. It was so charming. The perfect place to drink like a local because if I WERE a local, this is where I'd be!
After walking the length of the canal, we turn back to head to Christiansborg Palace. We had walked past it last night on the way back to the hotel and figured it was a pretty good place to start our sightseeing. We walked along the main canal until we came to another smaller side canal and turn in. We passed an old brewery now repurposed to a lapidarium. Huh? A museum that houses the royal collection of stoneworks.
The one tidbit we discovered is that we are used to attractions being "over signed". It felt like we were walking around huge buildings trying to find the entrance. However, it is precisely walking in circles that we discovered the library garden and the royal library. Never ones to pass up the chance to walk in a library, we backtracked a bit, found our way in and discovered the most amazing old reading room...that we weren't allowed to enter because we weren't "users". Darn! I wondered what it would hurt if a non-user just walked in for a moment so I stood back and waited for a moment to observe the situation. Literally within 5 minutes at least 20 other non-users peeked in to look at the room. Ok, so if just 1 non user went in every 30 seconds or so, I guess that would be disruptive to the users. Double darn!
Out we went in search of the entrance to the palace. We had to ask a rather stern looking security guard for directions before we realized we had tried to enter the parliament building which is connected to the palace. Whoops! Sorry! Once again we went out and around another way and finally found the ticket office. When we realized that there were separate prices for the palace, kitchens, stable and ruins (of pre-existing castles), we decided to skip the palace for today since we were sure it would be included on our Copenhagen card that we would receive later in the day.
On the way back to the hotel (jet lag was catching up to us) we passed a beautiful 400 year of church that we hoped to go into. As luck would have it, it was closed on Mondays so we'd have to try another day. Once back in the room, Mom decided to "rest her eyes" and I finally started the "blog entry that wasn't" from Iceland. After finishing it and Mom waking up, we had a few hours before we needed to meet up with our group.
People watching is so fascinating that we made our way down to the Nyhavn canal for the second time and stopped at the tables outside of the Fisken pub! The day was still a little brisk and the chairs each had blankets to ward off the chill. We got a little table for 2 that sat parallel to the promenade, ordered our drinks and noticed a gentleman assembling his clarinet. For the next hour we enjoyed, wonderful entertainment and world class people watching.
Speaking of people, a real character that I nicknamed Uncle Tony, was sitting on the side of the canal. In his hand was a glass of wine. Then, I noticed he had an entire bottle down at his side. He would raise his glass to people that walked by and he enjoyed the music as much as we did. When it started to sprinkle, Uncle Tony suddenly pulled an umbrella out of thin air and never missed a sip of wine.
Before long it was time to head to meet the group at the hotel. As we started to leave, Uncle Tony called me over and introduced himself. Mario from Milano! He asked my mother if he could marry me and take me out for the evening. I politely declined but in true Italian style, he insisted that I take his phone number in case I was ever in Copenhagen again.
Now, I have been meaning to talk about cobblestones since we got into town. Danish folk must have the toughest feet and strongest ankles in the world. They don't have normal sidewalks. Almost everywhere you walk, it is over cobblestones. They are old, uneven and not even the same size. I am so thankful for my hiking shoes. The sole of the shoe is sturdier than a tennis shoe. Don't even ask me how these women walk in boots and heels! Troll magic. There is no other explanation! In several places they have removed rows of cobblestones an replaced them with smooth sections, like tire tracks. I asked about it to confirm my suspicions and, yes, the city decided to make it a bit.....just a bit easier for little old people and tourists with roller bags by installing smooth pieces.
Oh, did I mention they get slippery with rain? Do you know what it does often in Copenhagen? Yep, you guessed it! Rain!!
We headed back in the sprinkles, careful not to wipeout or twist an ankle and met up with the group. Steve covers the intinerary for the trip and we are off on a rainy yet highly informative canal cruise. My thinking is that I might never come again and I will not let a little drizzle dampen my canal cruise and head straight to the back of the boat out in the elements. Mom is older and wiser so she sits under cover where she can actually hear the tour guide because she isn't sitting near the engines like her stubborn daughter.
I still heard enough to get the gist of the story. I love that all the old warehouses have been repurposed to offices and housing. Quite a few ancient half timbered buildings remain to give the area such character.
We pass the Opera House, the Royal yacht with the queen in residence and down to the Little Mermaid. We pull up to the back side of her with a hoard of tourists flocking around her front side. I'm sure they were happy to have us ruin a picture or two. We next headed into a more residential section, again with repurposed housing and passed quite a few kayakers out for an evening paddle. We saw one business that will rent you a kayak for free as long as you pick up trash along your route in the provided bucket. It's a good trade off.
After a nice dinner, with great company, we make our way back to the hotel, watching out for bikes and wet cobbles. If one doesn't get you, I'm convinced the other one will!
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