(Click on any of the pictures to get a larger version of that image.)

In mid-June, Shelby and I took a long-weekend trip north to Denmark. Copenhagen is a tolerable day's drive north from Hamburg, so why not?

On the way up, we stopped at Odense, the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen and now home to a large museum about his life and work. The one thing that we both carried away from visiting the museum was that HCA was unspeakably weird and lived on the grace of patrons who sponsored him in one way or another until their patience finally ran out. After finishing at the HC Andersen Hus, we pushed on to Copenhagen.

Our hotel, The Square, was centrally located on Copenhagen's Rådhuspladsen.  Down the street in one direction was the Tivoli Gardens amusement park and the main train station; in the other direction was the Strøget, a seemingly endless pedestrian shopping street.
Living up to the Danish design stereotype, everything inside the hotel was very clean and modern.
At night, the Rådhuspladsen lit up with various neon signs. My favorite was the Haribo advertisement ... ... but coming in a close second was this sign for Carlsberg Beer. While an American brand would, without hestitation, unequivocally proclaim itself to be the Best Damn Beer In The World, Carlsberg is probably the best beer in town. Now I know where the feed stock for all of America's stereotypically understated aw-shucks-it-was-nothing-really Midwesterners came from ...
Being a good little tourist, I dragged Shelby out to see the statue of Andersen's The Little Mermaid that graces Copenhagen harbor. Why does she look so sad and wistful? Perhaps it's because her view is of some oil tanks and a container loading facility; perhaps it's because she sits passively day after day, doing nothing but having her picture taken by an unending procession of chain-smoking Japanese tourists with their cellphone cameras.
After seeing the mermaid statue, we walked to the Kastellet, a historic walled-and-moated fort that's right next door. We spent only a few minutes here before it started raining hard enough to make us flee back to the train station.

Tivoli Gardens

In the evening, we walked down the street from our hotel to Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen's world-famous amusement park, founded in 1843. You pay about 9 Euro to get into the park, and then can buy tickets as you please to ride on individual rides.

Tivoli apparently hosts concerts and other special events; the night we were there, there was a gigantic crowd gathered to watch Denmark's second match in the quarter-finals of the European Soccer Championships. (They beat Bulgaria, 2-0; the crowd goes wild! Unfortunately, they later got knocked out of the running by the Czech Republic.)

Shelby was very impressed by this five-pack beer holder.

Our first ride was on this deeply historical roller coaster, built in 1914! We were distressed when we pulled down the lap bars and they only came down as far as our mid-torso region, but it quickly became apparent that we didn't really need them anyway. And that guy in the "Tivoli" jacket who's sitting up a little higher than everyone else? He's the brakeman! Our coaster rode past a series of green lights; had one of them been red, that would have been his cue to spring into action!
After that, I rode a notably more modern coaster, The Demon.

Check out that warning sign to the right: that's got to be the most comphrehensive list of prohibitions that I've ever seen for anything. Have American-style lawyers made their way to Denmark?

After dark, Tivoli became an electric-light fairyland. At night, the atmosphere became very turn-of-the-last-century; visiting Tivoli at night is what it must have felt like to be inside the "White City" of Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition.
We woke up the next morning to rain (not unusual, since it'd been raining the whole time we were there). We thought it might be worth it to ride one of those double-decker tourist buses -- see the city, easy on/easy off, buses only thirty minutes apart all day long. It wasn't -- we confronted surly drivers, problems getting off and on (one driver drove right past the stop we wanted, with no indication that it was coming up; another closed his doors on us and drove away as we were struggling down the block to meet the bus that had just driven up), and indifferent scheduling.
First we went to the Danish National Museum of Art. They had some interesting items, but their exhibits were disrupted by what must have been an attempt to make the museum more "accessible" to the average non-museum-going person: a temporary exhibition in which random pieces of modern art were plunked down in the middle of existing exhibits, with little or no context to tie it all together.

The museum was also home to our most frustrating dining experience of our entire European trip: suffice it to say that in a country where you're already paying 25% on top of the bill, there's little or no incentive for waitstaff to give you snappy service ("Oh, we're really busy today" was an excuse we heard in pretty much every restaurant we visited in Denmark.)

After that, we walked down the street to Rosenborg Slot, home of the Danish crown jewels, guarded by one soldier constantly marching up and down in front of the entrance.

(Rosenborg Slot was also home to lot of other random stuff; the difference between royalty and the rest of us is that kings and queens never have rummage sales.)

Random Stuff

For the weekend we were there, the streets of Copenhagen were filled with trucks like this one, festooned with banners and loaded with screaming teenagers. Apparently when Danish students finish high school, it's custom to drive around town in your party truck, blowing off steam.

If Hamburg had branches of the Netto grocery store chain, we'd shop here all the time, just for the sake of the company logo.
Something that fills me with horror and that I'll never understand: the Scandanavian passion for salted licorice. It just seems so wrong to buy a candy product that contains the word SALT in prominent letters on the packaging -- and it seems doubly wrong to see these vile items take the form of friendly-and-familiar-looking Haribo products!
Mass Transit Watch: Sleek, futuristic, and roomy! I think that Copenhagen's S-Tog trains have to have the widest cross-section of any rail vehicle I've ever seen.


Driving home to Hamburg from Copenhagen, we stopped at Legoland Billund. You can read all about that on a separate page of its own.

This page last modified on Sunday, July 04, 2004
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