A Royal Occasion

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October 29th 2013
Published: October 29th 2013
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Greenland has strong historical ties with the Kingdom of Denmark, originally becoming a Danish colony in 1814, and later a part of the Danish Realm in 1953. It was only in 1978 the world's largest island was granted home rule by Denmark, acknowledging the wishes of the people. The ties that bind are strong and the Danish influence, including the language and the currency are still the norm throughout Greenland. The flag of Greenland has the Danish colours of red and white, however I'm quite sure there's no chance of a polar bear making an appearance on the Danish coat of arms. The world's largest land based predator is not known for strolling around the streets of Copenhagen, as far as I am aware. Flights are also closely coordinated between the two countries, hence the reason for the introductory preamble to this blog entry.

So let's quickly get up to speed, dear reader, from where we left off in magnificent Ilulissat. The best option for flying into the heart of Nordic Europe is to team up with Air Greenland, and I boarded a morning flight for the flight back over the North Atlantic ocean. The initial leg in a propellor plane had one quick stop, and we flew on south to Kangerlussuaq, which is the international hub in Greenland. It was minus 9 degrees at the airport, and in fact the coldest weather I've experienced on the trip. It was quite chilly inside the terminal, and I had three hours to kill before catching an Air Greenland jet for the direct flight on to Copenhagen. It's so wonderful being back in this famous city, after enjoying a week here in 2010. I jumped at the chance to revisit one of Europe's finest cities, and booked two nights accommodation at a happening hostel right in the heart of the old town.

I was struck from the outset by just how friendly the Danes are. Although it was 11:00pm by the time I checked into the hostel, the staff were friendly and up for a chat. I told them I'd flown in from Greenland today, and I think that impressed them somewhat. I was in a gregarious mood after such a wonderful experience in Greenland so I dumped my bags in the dorm, and headed back to the bar for a few world famous Carlsbergs before retiring for the night. After a long day travelling the beers went down smoother than usual, and that's saying something when you consider Carlsberg is the third largest brewer of beers in the world. The dorm was full of people, a ten bedder if I remember, but after the prices I've been paying in Greenland for the last week I'm happy to sleep on the floor!

In the morning I felt a bit out of sorts as I didn't have my bearings in the city, and after wandering around for a while I thought if I could locate my previous hostel everything would fall into place. However, I arrived at a different subway stop on this visit so I was all turned around. Time was of the essence, so I decided to join the free walking tour from 11:00am out of the Town Hall. That way I knew I would be able to make the most of my only full day in the capital, as I wanted to get busy with my new camera while revisiting all this marvellous city has to offer. Sure enough, the walking tour in Copenhagen does not disappoint and proved to be a rewarding experience.

In many of the major European cities walking tours have become a superb introduction to the history, tales, architecture and culture of Europe. The guides operate on a tips basis, but you can't get a better introduction to Copenhagen than I had with our excellent English guide. We started our tour from the Town Hall, and learned of the history of the main square and it's surrounding buildings. Incredibly Copenhagen has the famous Tivoli theme park right across the road from the Town Hall, how cool is that. We wandered around the city pausing at various points of interest, and having an enjoyable time. The guide pointed out the hotel the master of the fairy tale Hans Christian Andersen lived in, and his subsequent house on Nyhavn waterfront. One of the most internationally recognised parts of Copenhagen is Nyhavn, where beautiful coloured houses line the waterfront in a multitude of hues. The waterfront was originally a red light area, and later made more attractive by the residents to lift it's image. Now there are traditional sailing vessels moored on the harbour and tourists by the truckload. It's as gorgeous a waterfront as I remember from my previous visit.

The tour pushed on along the harbour where we viewed the magnificent Opera House, a 500 million euro donation from a major corporation built of glass and steel on it's own island. I found it ironic when I caught a glimpse on the telly of Frederik and Mary being received at the Sydney Opera House in my hometown, at the same time I was viewing the Copenhagen Opera House in theirs! We then headed on to their residence, and also the palace of the Queen of Denmark. The glorious Christiansborg Palace is surprisingly open for a royal residence, but there are plenty of guards around patrolling to help maintain the peace. The final stop on our tour was Frederik's Church, originally envisaged to be built entirely of marble until the prohibitive cost of construction put paid to that grand plan. I had already paid a visit to the Little Mermaid statue further along the harbour, so headed back to the hostel to socialise after what was a superb walking tour. Of course I tipped the guide for her terrific work as well.

It's wonderful to realise that visiting the great European cities can be just as enjoyable the second time around, with only three years between visits. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to explore gorgeous Copenhagen with a fresh perspective and feel confident to confirm my assertion from 2010, basically all of you should be here now!

"Always be yourself, unless you can be a pirate. Then always be a pirate." Anonymous

As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now


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29th October 2013

Go wanderers
30th October 2013

Polar Bears and Opera Houses
They have do have a Polar Bear beer, and you could have stretched the irony a little further if you'd mentioned that the opera house in your home town was designed by a Dane!
30th October 2013

Good stuff Jason, and both true of course!

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