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Published: July 15th 2017
One of the more famous Danish exports is Carlsberg. It has also produced one of the more memorable worldwide advertising slogans …… probably the finest beer in the world. The beer might have had an origin in Copenhagen, but the slogan was derived by the company’s UK marketing arm. It originally said …….. probably the finest lager in the world. In the UK, we know this type of brew as lager. It was changed to fit in with a worldwide message. The Copenhagen Cards allowed us to visit the brewery to take a tour. In fact, it allowed a visit every day for our 5 day stay. In all honesty, the more attractive side to the mission was that there were 2 free pints on offer as part of the exclusive deal. The Carlsberg Brewery had changed somewhat since my last visit in 1998. I can distinctly recall wandering up to the front entrance – the one on all the photos with the 2 elephants – and the tour commenced there. The entrance is now at the back of the complex, signed from the conveniently named S Train location of Carlsberg. The brewery name literally means Carls Mountain and was taken
from the owners son and the elevated position of the brewery site in Valby, to the west of the city centre.
The founder, Jacob Christian Jacobsen, started production in 1847. Hi son, Carl, not content with having the brewery effectively named after him started up in competition with his father in 1882. The two companies – Old or Gamle and Ny or New – Carlsberg ran side by side until Carl eventually merged them in 1906. The company was ahead of it’s time, providing pensions and other benefits. The company even offered lodgings for single employees up to the beginning of the 20th
century. The free beer allowance wasn’t a surprise. The of the original brand symbols of Gamle Carlsberg was a swastika – ancient symbol of sun and prosperity – which is why you will see numerous stone engravings of the symbol on the exterior of the factory complex. The symbol was dispenses with because of the political connections with the German state in the 1930s. The other most obvious symbol used by Carlsberg is the elephant, although the reasoning behind this is somewhat vague. The main gates feature 4 elephants holding up an arch. It
originates from 1901 and served purpose as a water tower. A significant portion of the complex has now been demolished. Huge advertising hordings show artist impressions of what the new Carlsberg district will look like. As with many other areas of industrial Copenhagen, the old is being replaced with new flats and the industry moved out. The adverts show residential utopia. What former Carlsberg workers think is unknown.
We had undertaken the tour the day before, so the object of the exercise was merely to drink the free samples. The tour itself comes with a guide during the core of the day. At other times, there is plenty of information to read on the boards. The Carlsberg heavy horses reside in the stables next door to the shop. There is a bar complex which had been full of Carlsberg staff the previous evening. The Other Half opted for the Carlsberg wheat beer product. I chose the IPA, which alas was unavailable at the outside bars. They had been closed the previous day due to the inclement weather.
After the torrential downpours of Friday, the weather was still miserable and overcast on the Saturday morning.
A light drizzle fell from the sky. We opted to look for some more cheap Holmegaard glass, but the flea market in Norrebro didn’t seem to be happening. It could have been the weather, the start of the Danish school holidays or possibly, I just got the wrong day. We wandered off down a street, allegedly full of vintage stuff. The majority of shops didn’t open until 11 am. We had a coffee in a cross between café, bric a brac shop and a plain straight forward cellar. The senior citizens of Norrebro were holding court and chewing the fat. The temperature could have done with going up a few degrees, but there was no such need in the hot house of the Botanic Gardens as we cut through on route the Military barracks on the side of the Rosenberg Slot. The Charging of the Guard Copenhagen style starts here with the Life Guards marching down to the Amelianborg Palace. The show kicks off at 11.30 am and culminates with the changing at noon every day. We watched them leave the barracks, before joining a large queue at the Rosenborg next door. We gave that up as a bad job
and went for a ride round the harbour on a water bus. The water bus transport is included in the Copenhagen Card, so we basically travelled from one end of the inner harbour to the other. We initially got off at the Little Mermaid. I had seen the statue before, so knew to expect the little in the title was not a deception. It was heaving with tourists. The hop on hop off buses emptied their cargo, all keen to get as close as possible to the statue. Carlsberg donated the statue in 1913, but they probably never realised that it would become such a draw. The Little Mermaid is a regular attraction for vandals and only a few weeks back was covered in blue paint. She has also lost her head, arm and been attacked in every conceivable way over the years. In typical Scandanavian fashion, there are still no restrictions to stop you clambering down to get closer for that all important photograph. The Asian tourists seemed keen to risk life and limb on the slippery rocks, made all the more treacherous by the morning drizzle. I watched with interest as the first victim crashed to the floor,
desperately trying to hold an iphone in the air to prevent an expensive screen repair. The phone and person survived with only pride dented. Denmark 1 Japan 0. I had no doubt the score would rise in favour of Denmark as the day wore on. The western end was now a series of high rise flats. A few offices remain – notably the headquarters of Mann Trucks – but in the main it was all residential. The view from the water allows a close up and a different view of such as the Black Diamond – the new National Library, the new Opera House, the Royal Danish Playhouse Theatre and the Standard at the end of Nyhavn. The Standard is now an executive cafe bar, but was until the completion of the Bridge the arrival point for the passenger ferries coming on from Malmo.
We retreated for lunch at the Paludan, before making another attempt at the queue at Rosenborg. The queue had not significantly subsided on our return, so this was clearly the most popular of all the central attractions. We finally made it inside, but not before the insistence of storing our smallish bags in
a locker. This was common place at all museums, but what had been deemed as satisfactory and small enough at all other locations wasn’t good enough for the Rosenborg. A low cost airline bag check was in force, so the trusty 20 DKK coin was once again employed. After our beer stop, we headed to Tivoli. After Friday Rock, Saturdays also has live music. The grass area in front of the main stage was roped off tonight, so lower crowds were expected. After Brian Wilson the previous night, we weren’t expecting much. However the star with the most un-Danish name, Anna David, transpired to be rather good. The other members of the audience had an advantage on us, as they knew who she was. I resorted to the internet to find she had been rather successful in Danish and German music circles. Anna reeled off her hits. They all knew the words to her interestingly titled, F*** Dig – a Number 1 in Denmark for a whole 12 weeks. It translates to F*** You. The music the following week was to be the Tivoli Big Band performing James Bond themes with a classical twist. The show ended with Anna doing
vocals on For Your Eyes Only. It all put Brian to shame. Saturday evenings in Tivoli end with fireworks at 11.45 pm. Anna had overrun her set, which kept me awake long enough to see the display. We had got our value from Tivoli. It took 15 minutes on the bus to get back near the hotel. The bars were just getting going.
In view of the demand for entry at Rosenborg, we decided to go to the Amelienborg as early as possible on Sunday. The crowds were already in the square about 9.30 am, but surprisingly most didn’t seem to enter. The small tour groups were listening to a guide or taking photographs of the Life Guards in ceremonial dress. A few tried to sit down on the steps, only to be barked at by the said soldiers who were keen to demonstrate they weren’t just there as a window dressing. The Amelienborg Palace is the current home of the Danish Royals, so quite a lot is off limits. It was altogether more spacious and appealing to visit than the Rosenborg the previous day. We wandered off to look at the Marble Church glistening
in the sun, before doing a bit of attempted shopping. Stroget is the home to the main brand shops in the city centre. We headed into Illum, the nearest equivalent to Harrods or Harvey Nics on the local scene. We managed to purchase no more than 2 lattes and sat on the rooftop terrace, watching others go about their business. We caught the Metro to Christiania, where the Other Half was distinctly nervous about climbing the tower at the Church of Saint Saviours. In all honesty, I was surprised the tower was open. The wind was quite brisk. As the entry was included in the Copenhagen Card, I coaxed the Other Half that there was nothing to lose. We went to the first outside level, but gave the final part of the exterior climb a miss. If you are nervous about narrow stairs, you might want to give it a miss. Great view though! In a different league to the City or Round Tower. We entered Freetown Christiania. A former squat in an old industrial complex, this is alternative Copenhagen. I had described Copenhagen as Amsterdam without the hookers and the drugs, but this was more like Amsterdam than Amsterdam
itself. Cameras are generally frowned upon and I wouldn’t recommend it on the so called “Pusher” Street. Although sale is illegal, drugs are openly on sale on small market stalls. The rest of the area is a series of small restaurants and shops in the semi-derelict, graffiti covered buildings. The original plan was to eat, but the Other Half didn’t seem overly comfortable with the area and we made the short walk on to Paper Island. I am presuming that the former industrial area once had a connection to paper production. The old warehouses are converted into arts spaces and the remainder is a huge food market known as Copenhagen Street Food. It is similar to something in the Far East, although the prices aren’t the same. A succession of bars and food vendors cater to the masses who descend. There is inside seating and a picnic area out front by the waterfront. Tourists and locals lounge in deck chairs, eating anything from icecream to Korean dishes. We had a Thai takeaway each and walked along the waterfront of Christianhavn. The Danish Architecture Museum was under renovation and the North Atlantic Building was more a showcase for jumpers from the
Faroes and Greenland. We caught the water bus to the other side. There was music on a stage near the Playhouse. We acquired some cans and settled into a deckchair in the late afternoon sun. Copenhagen …….…probably the best city in the world. After a couple of cans of Tuborg, I was in agreement.
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