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Published: October 30th 2012
Since returning from my road trip to France both Gemma and I had itchy feet and wanted to get away again, even if only for a few days. 2 days after getting back from France we had found a really good deal on flights and hotel in central Copenhagen. At £130 each we booked without further deliberation.
We wanted somewhere where for a weekend we could just relax, away from our home and jobs. Instead of immersing ourselves in a historical and educational experience we wanted to lose ourselves in the sights, sounds and smells of somewhere new. Copenhagen has all of these in great abundance! Stansted
We both finished work had a quick bite to eat and set out on the two hour journey to Stansted from Leicester (it's funny that the drive to the airport was longer than the flights to a foreign country!) We made it to the hotel and checked in, unlike the hotel staff Dan and I encountered in Ashford these weren't self loathing, souless individuals who's main intention in life is to ruin your day, no the only problem I had with the staff was they were all a
ridiculous shade of orange (like a bad mixture of Jaundice and Radiation sickness).
We dumped the bags and found the bar and kicked back for a while people watching. One couple in particular (in the region of 55-60 years old) were busy sucking face and generally ruining everyone elses dining experience.
We got up around 4 in the morning and made out for CSL (Car Storage LTD) and my satnav took us to within a mile of the place.... down a lonely, dark and abandoned country lane. Like the one where the bodies of notorious Essex drug dealers Tony Tucker, Patrick Tate and Craig Rolfe were found after being executed in their Range Rover (Rettendon Triple Murders for those who don't know). We pulled a quick U-turn and drove back toward the airport finally finding the place on a winding country road. We were surprised to see how busy they were at this time but by either a stroke of fortune, or total disregard for queueing etiquette we made it onto the next available shuttle bus to the airport. Delays
The airport was straightforward enough, although much bigger than Luton, and we got to ride on
a monorail to the terminal, which was pretty cool (simple things).
We spent the best part of an hour in the queue for our flight behind a mish-mash of a foursome off on their holidays, however they were rather amusing. While stood in the queue we could hear a bit of a commotion behind us when all of a sudden a young lad with 2 big bags and ridiculous bright red tracky-bottoms came pushing and sprinting his way through the line then jumped over the barricade and ran off out of sight. Only to reappear moments later looking very confused and annoyed as he sauntered off back the way he came. We were allowed to board the plane about 20 minutes after the final call had been officially, however we were then made to sit for another 45 minutes on board the plane with no explanation. They did later reveal they were waiting on De-icing facilities as it was snowing at the time. Sunrise in a new City
As we came over Denmark the sun had come up over the horizon and bathed everything in sight in glorious and blinding sunshine. We landed and made it through
Passport Control easily enough. We then had a 6 minute walk (i know this due to the times written on the floor) from the gate to the Terminal, we even came across the rarest of things in the world of international travel... A cheerful airport employee, so far I was very impressed with the Danes.
Copenhagen Airport, it turns out, is monstrous. I had to make a brief visit to the mens room where I freaked out an oriental bloke because I began to have a nosebleed. 5 minutes and several bloody tissues later I was sorted and we made out for the train station.
20 minutes later we arrived at Copenhagen Central station and made our way up to street level, and consulted the map, by this time due to our previous delays we were an hour behind and it was now nearing midday, we figured it best to seek out the hotel at least so we had an idea of where it was, but also to see if we could check in early. We were only 2 minutes walk away from the station through China town and a sea of prostitutes. We were able to check
in early and dumped all of our stuff then set out with no real destination chosen.
Not far from the train station is the entrance to the Tivoli Gardens, a mixture between an amusement park and a pleasure garden. It quickly became apparent that the Danes love Halloween, the entrance was adorned with pumpkins and broomsticks as well as two large robotic decorations. Riverside motherfu....
From Tivoli we made our way down toward the waterside via Copenhagen's Beautiful Peoples Club and wandered along from Danhostel (Copenhagen's highest skyscraper that isn't that tall due to a strange law about no buildings being taller than any castles or royal buildings) up to the Black Diamond via the floating nightclub moored up by the roadside.
Black Diamond is a large theatre and restaurant/cafe that due to the way it is designed on Sunny days reflects the shimmer from the water and the sun light, hence it's name.
There were a few people basking in the sun light by the waters edge and we could see what appeared to be a jetty, a boat pulled up there lowered a ramp, then without anyone disembarking from the boat raised the
Batman's latest love interest
ramp and set off again, we later learned this was "The Boatbus". Like Ronseal it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's an aquatic bus. Sadly it left before we were able to board (It seems the attitude of bus drivers is universal, regardless of land or water, they see you coming and they bugger off when you're within spitting distance). Having missed out on the Boatbus we ventured inland and wound up at the National Museum, who run a permanent exhibition about Denmark through the ages, from prehistoric times via the Vikings up to present day. Peat, the Bog body (see what i did there?!)
The museum charts the stone, bronze and iron ages (more commonly known as Heathen times), the introduction of Christianity, the nomadic lifestyle, hunting, daily life, treatments for illnesses (most notably a trio of skulls with holes from Trepanning)
One of the more noticeable items on display was the body of a woman, who had been buried in a Peat Bog a few thousand years ago. She had remained relatively well preserved and was wrapped in a blanket very little else is known about the woman as obviously record keeping
On the boat at Gammelstrand
Note the ornate spire in the background, it comprises of 3 dragon tails twisting up to the point.
wasn't a top priority back in those days. I'M ON A BOAT (again, in another country)
Like Berlin, Copenhagen offers river tours that set off from Nyhavn and Gammelstrand. We boarded at Gammelstrand and sat at the back of the boat, which in retrospect wasn't a great idea as we couldn't hear the guide over the PA system. The tour took us from Gammelstrand up to Nyhavn where we had to swap to another boat, the staff were all smiles and no explanation similar to the cabin crew on our flight.
The new boat, from Nyhavn, took us up out toward the harbour, coming our from the canal we had a close encounter with a Danish Navy boat speeding up and down.
Up-stream we could see an absolute leviathon of a ship called "Pacific Orca". Turns out this ship is used in windfarm installation, which reminded me of the massive windfarm we could see from the plane hours earlier as we flew over the Danish Coast. Enter the Zone of Autonomy
On the far side of the waterway was another canal that we sailed up. The area is home to some very affluent individuals
The autonomous zone in Copenhagen
Roughly 900 residents live here under self imposed rules. They have named it Freetown Christiania.
indeed, so much so that the guides on the rivercruises do not comment on them as we pass their apartments. One of the apartment blocks is an old navy installation where they used to repair boats. The block was built over the docking section and allows access to the water for the residents. On the otherside of the canal was something especially interesting. The side with the apartments was a rich and affluent neighbourhood and the otherside had dilapidated boats moored up to makeshift gangways made of wooden planks nailed together atop stumps in the water. Behind the trees on the shore we could see caravans and tents set up. This area of Copenhagen is an autonomous zone with roughly 900 residents. This zone is governed by the residents who live by their own self imposed rules and often oppose any Government measures to ingratiate them into Copenhagen's 'normal' society. Naval Faux Pas
Back out into the harbour we could see a large naval battleship moored up next to the military boat we'd nearly collided with earlier and a statue of a submarine. It turns out this Battleship is the disgrace of the Danish Navy. During manouvres in
HDMS Peder Skram
The ship embroiled in the 1982 harpoon missile misfire incident
1982 the ship fired a missile that travelled for 34KMs before striking a tree and destroying some summer cottages. Although no human injuries were reported the Navy suffered great embarrassment from the incident. Subsequently most charges against the missile system maintenance engineer were dropped following a conviction for negligence from a previous inquiry into the cause of the incident. The ship is now used as a museum following decommisioning in 1990. Ariel... sans Flounder
The tour then took us up to the Little Mermaid statue, one of the most photographed statues in the world. It is not really the Ariel from the Disney film. It is a homage to the story written by Hans Christian Andersen (Voted Denmark's greatest Dane) The statue sits out on a rock that at high tide sits about a foot out from the rocks tourists queue up on to take photos. The area was crawling with tourists snapping away furiously, however we couldn't get off the boat and could only see the back of the statue.
We made our way back toward Gammelstrand via famous buildings such as the Maersk headquarters, the Royal palace and the church with the spiral staircase on
the exterior of the spire. Must. Sleep.
At this point we were both hungry and tired and decided to get some Danish Pastries (10 DKK each! the only cheap thing in Copenhagen!). We then headed back to the hotel and chilled out for an hour and a half before getting sorted and heading off to the Tivoli garden's for the evening. Through the Pumpkin Archway
The Danes, as previously stated, LOVE Halloween. The overall cost of decorations in Tivoli could quite possibly bring Greece out of it's economic woes. However I find this to be a much better way to spend money.
Don't let the fact that the garden is situated in a major city centre put you off or make you think it would be tiny, it is actually impressively large and contains a massive variety of places to go and activities to do (so much so that we ended up in there twice)
The Gardens contain several rides and rollercoasters, all of which were covered in lights and/or Halloween decorations. We wandered through taking in the sights, sounds and smells and marvelling at the grandeur of what we saw.
The Amusements from across the lake
We first saw the tower to the left in action when we arrived at the train station... Gemma looked horrified.
however started to seriously infuriate me as it seemed intent on not focusing in on anything i wanted to take a picture of, so i ended up with multiple blurry photos of everything and the occasional good photo.
On a small wooden bridge over one of the boating lakes we stood and got another tourist (a fellow Brit) to take a photo of us, the one without flash was blurry beyond redemption and the one with flash makes me look like a lunatic, so I won't be uploading either of them.
From the far side of the gardens as you look back toward the roller coaster and the Pagoda the sight is breathtaking, I managed to salvage one decent photo of this out of about 10 that I took. Either i'm a crap photograper or I need a better camera.
Following from Tivoli we went to an all you can eat restaurant called Hayat Cafe and Restaurant and gorged on curry, pizza and sweet and sour chicken. That done we took a slow wander back to the hotel to turn in for the night. Breakfast
It took two attempts to get breakfast, the first time
Dad's Army. Denmark's 2nd line of defense
Negotiating and relying on other nation's military prowess being their 1st line.
we went down the entire restaurant, including the underground annex, was full so we went back down later. Similar in fashion to the Hotel breakfast in Berlin with breads, cooked meats, cerials but with one key addition.... Danish Pastries. I lost count of how many I ate, but I live by the motto "When in Rome..."
We had decided to walk from where we were up to the Northeastern part of Copenhagen to Kastellet Park, which is shaped like a star.
We ambled up through sidestreets away from the main shopping promenade in the centre to see more of the city which we certainly did. I can also safely say that the Danes are excited about the release of Skyfall (The new Bond film) Every building, street or corner you look at has something to do with Skyfall on it. Be it a massive advertisement running the length of a building, a cinematic-neon advertisement or simply a label on a coke bottle. Skyfall was literally everywhere! Dad's Army
We entered the park and were making our way over a bridge when I saw a young lad in army uniform with an M-16 with affixed Bayonet. I
Den Lille Havfrue, Gemma and I
The water was so serene and flat, like a millpond. Don't let the sunlight fool you, the water was hovering somewhere between 1-4 degrees centigrade.
asked if I could have a photo with him and he replied (say in Schwarzenegger voice) "Not right now" I asked were tourists not allowed photos with service personnel and he repeated "Not right now" then looked at me as sternly as he could for a twiggly pimple covered 17 year old with a machine gun could and about faced and marched back into the fortress grounds. We followed but i didn't bug him again. Lest he try and Bayonet me and cut himself. We walked up the path onto the top of the Rampart and watched as a bunch of "soldiers" in military uniform marched around behind a fat woman barking orders at them. With Denmark's current military might on display (1 decommisioned Frigate, 12 decrepit, overweight or underage men and women, 6 cannons, 4 swords and 2 M-16 Assault Rifles) I reckon I'd have had a sporting chance should I have decided to conquer Copenhagen there and then... let's face it, invading had been a cakewalk aside from the delays)
We watched the men fumble around with their cannon brushes and poor attempts to march while Chubbs Von Warriette continued to bark at them then decided to
make our way down to The Little Mermaid to view her from the land. Den Lille Havfrue
It took us a considerable amount of time to navigate our way off the rampart and out of Kastellet due to the fact that I didn't want the Big Green War/Eating Machine to gobble me up should we decide to roll down the side of the Ramparts to make good our escape.
When we found the Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) we joined the crowd of mainly Oriental and Hispanic tourists stood around snapping away furiously while members of the group made the danger-frought leap over to the rock below her.
We tried to work a good angle so we could get photos of ourselves there without having another tourist in the photo, we managed to do it however this wasn't enough for me. I had to make the jump (I say jump but Gemma would probably describe it as a relatively easy step) I made the jump then climbed around to the rock next to her so I could be as close as possible and Gemma took my photo... along with a load of Oriental Tourists. So I
imagine I shall be in some very interesting photo albums back in China, and when I get to China I would very much like to see them. Down by the water
We made our way along the waters edge back toward central Copenhagen stopping for some time and sitting by the waters edge watching as hundreds of Jellyfish drifted by letting the current take them slowly out toward the breakwater. "Mooping" might be forbidden, but drinking outdoors in a riverside bar isn't
We made our way up to Nyhavn to see the famed colourful buildings and the outdoor cafe/bar/restaurants that line the canal. There was a pontoon between a boat and the edge of the canal with a sign that had 3 translations Danish, German and English. However there must have been a miscommunication by whoever translated the words and who wrote them, because it said "MOOPING NOT ALLOWED!". We sat at a bar enjoying a beer and Hot chocolate laced with rum deliberating the meaning of the word MOOPING or what it'd be to MOOP. Sadly this pleasant experience was some what ruined by 6 British "Proper Lads" having lunch after a heavy night out.
The famous colourful buildings in Nyhavn
I tried not to MOOP around too long should I receive a fine or be arrested
The self styled ring leader obviously thought no end of both himself and his foppish haircut and I tried to keep conversation with Gemma quiet lest another passer by think that we were in some way connected as we spoke the same language. Anyway it's a shame these guys weren't Mooping as it'd have been nice if the local authorities would have moved them along. Shrunken Heads, Cannibalism, Voodoo and other bizarre things.
No the Dane's do not stick needles in dolls, eat your flesh and make little miniature keepsakes of your cranium, they do however have a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. We figured we'd have a look as we'd heard good things and we went in. As expected the museum housed some weird and wonderful things for our amusement. Amongst my favourites were the afformentioned Shrunkenhead, Genuine Cannibal Skull and the Voodoo totem pole full of nails.
We were treated to a room full of torture implements, a cow with two heads, a goat with 8 legs (2 growing from it's back), a deer who had another deer's antler stuck through it's neck. The museum was okay however wasn't very big and there didn't
A Genuine Shrunken Head
With Shrunken birds hooked to the mouth for good measure
appear to be many original items, our entry fee got us free entry also into the Hans Christian Andersen museum next door. Which was essentially a kids museum that told many of his stories in numerous languages. We didn't hang around too long.... what with not being parents and all. Later that evening
That evening we went for an all you can eat Chinese buffet at the Beijing Restaurant. The food was pretty much standard of Chinese food and I filled up on Sweet n Sour Chicken. While working out what to do for the next hour I noticed that the Tivoli Gardens were only open until 10 o clock and then would be closed until the 16th of November when they reopen for the Christmas. So we decided we would head back for an hour before we had to be at Hotel 27.
We were amazed to find that we discovered loads more of the Gardens that we hadn't seen the night before and still don't think we saw the whole gardens by the time we left. The Frozen depths... of Hotel 27
Unless you are extremely rich, there is only one reason to
Inside the Icebar
Everything, except the floor, till and bottles were made from Ice
visit Hotel 27. The ICEBAR!
We had a 40 minute slot beginning at 20:15 and we got there promptly and were allowed in earlier than our slot. We were there with 3 other people and pretty much had the bar to ourselves. With the entry price you get a strange poncho that keeps you warm, gloves and your first cocktail. You are given a giant Icecube glass with a cocktail of your choice from the menu, I had a Jackhammer, for two reasons. Whiskey is warming, and it sounded manly, my next two cocktails were the same The Chisel and tasted just like Lemon Meringue Pie. The receptionist/barmaid here reminded me of one of the girls from the Hostel films. I suddenly felt very ill at ease like we were going to be drugged and end up in a secret murder-factory. Me and my overactive imagination. In reality she was extremely pleasant and we were there long after our 40 minute slot expired... I don't think she, or the male receptionist who later appeared, were bothered as it wasn't exactly a cheap place to drink. But the drinks were really good!
We finished up and handed in our
Exceptionally proud of something the rest of the world is disgusted by
space suits then went back to the hotel for an early night as we were going to have a long day returning to England. Bad, bad weather
Up until now the weather in Copenhagen had been fantastic, a little chilly but otherwise fantastic. Not this day. It was wet, windy and wild out there. We packed up, checked out, left our bags in storage, had breakfast then stepped out for our final few hours in Copenhagen.
We hadn't really got a plan, and not enough time to really do much. We were both cold and being rained on so we jumped on another Rivercruise, this time sitting inside the boat and enjoying the warmth. This cruise was better in the fact we could now hear what the guide was telling us and we also had another opportunity to take photos of things we couldn't take photos of on the last cruise.
An hour and 15 minutes later we pulled back into where we started and walked back into the main shopping district. We went in some big department stores and shopping centres. I, being awesome at sniffing out free food, found several places giving free tasters of food and took full advantage of the items on display... When in Rome.
Gemma bought some items then we made our way to a street vendor and bought a Chinese noodle box, which we had to eat in a covered alleyway as it was starting to come down pretty hard. Departing
We made our way to the hotel, picked up the bags and headed to the station and caught the train to the airport. We had a fairly long wait in the airport so took the opportunity to people watch and look around the dutyfree, which barely had anything in there as they are building a larger shop opening in march 2013.
The airport is covered in billboards for "Copenhagen Fur" it amazed me how proud of their Fur culture they are. We saw several people wearing it during our time in Copenhagen.
The flight was fine and we ended up waiting for some time to be picked up by the shuttle from CSL, much to Gemma's annoyance. An hour after landing we had got the car and were driving home. We ended up avoiding the M1, much to my irritation as my Satnav preferred country roads for the final 30 miles.
Seeing the pub my mate used to work in near Evington told us we were nearly home. We collapsed in bed exhausted after a long and amazing weekend.
Next time we visit we'll go for longer, with more money and plan more activities, but as it stood the weekend was everything we wanted it to be.
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