Monday, July 30, 2018

EuRoad Trip 2018: Beers in Copenhagen, Little Mermaid, and Hamlet

Our first full day in Copenhagen, Denmark began the same way as many of our travel days: with a city stroll towards a tour meeting point.

Our meeting area was the awesome City Hall Square, or Rådhuspladsen.

Copenhagen City Hall was impressive.

Magnus was a little too peppy for morning John. He was one of those tour guides that tells the group "good morning", then says it again when he's not happy with the volume of your reply. I hate that so much.

On thing that Magnus did enjoy doing was talking shit to Swedes. One Swede did have the misfortune of being in our group, and Magnus brought him over to tease him. Apparently there's a healthy rivalry in play between Sweden and Denmark. At one point we came to a square and our guide said "This is where we used to execute all the Swedes." Swedish retailer IKEA names all of their doormats after towns in Denmark. Apparently toilet seats and brushes are also honored with Danish names.

I think this was where Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg Brewing fame lived.

Magnus told us a funny story that when a Dane won a Nobel Prize for Physics, I want to say it was Niels Bohr, that Carlsberg gave him a house fitted with a beer pipeline that ran from the brewery and provided unlimited beer. He never won the Nobel Prize again.

The group took a break at a little coffee shop. I don't drink coffee, so we walked to the nearest convenience store and grabbed some beers. All that beer history had made me thirsty.

One of the girls in our tour group told everyone she was from Seattle but when we said we're from St. Louis the truth came out. She was also from St. Louis. I guess she went to school with one of Lydia's cousins. Small world.

I thought this was really cool. Many of the trashcans in Copenhagen had little spots that you could put a recyclable bottle or can so that a hobo could collect it.

Our guide did a quick explanation of hygge, the Danish concept of coziness. It's how these northerners keep their spirits up during what I assume are horrendous winters.

Next we headed to Amalienborg Palace to see the changing of the guard. It seems to me that I rarely see the guard guarding anything, but they are always changing.

There were a ton of tourists here for the show. Magnus snorted that there wasn't even a whole lot to see because the Queen doesn't stay at this palace in summer.

Upper right is the butt of an equestrian statue of King Frederik V.

Once we were released from the thrall of the tour group we headed towards the water.

We could tell we were headed in the right direction to see Copenhagen's iconic Little Mermaid statue by the throngs of slackjaws crowded around her.

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Little Mermaid. I've seen a few references to him around. He wrote a little travel verse that I enjoy:

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, 
To gain all while you give, 
To roam the roads of lands remote, 
To travel is to live.”

For lunch we walked back to Magasin du Nord. It's a really fancy department store, reminding me very much of Harrods in London. Particularly we were after some of the famous open faced sandwiches called smørre­brød.

I assume these were named Shrimp Mountain.

"Egg and shrimps: Eggs, hand-peeled shrimps, mayonnaise, zest and cress."

LEGO is Danish so I felt obligated to visit the LEGO Store we passed.

I think our guide said that not only is LEGO the world's largest toy manufacturer but also the world's largest tire manufacturer. From the tiny toy cars.

Copenhagen had little coffee shops that were built like miniature palaces.

We popped into UNESCO World Heritage Site Kronborg, which was immortalized as Elsinore in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

To Drink

Or not to Drink

At this point in our journey we've seen a fancy palace or two. Luckily Kronborg kicked it up a notch with some live action Hamlet taking place in the various rooms of the castle. 

You killed my daddy!! It was hard to take this too seriously when Prince Hamlet was clearly being played by Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Banquets in the Great Ballroom

Guests at the many parties were seated along the sides of the ballroom at opulent banqueting tables overflowing with food.

A typical banquet could consist of up to 24 heavily spiced dishes, including crayfish in aspic, massive joints of venison, oysters with costly lemons, and pates of swan, hare, and lobster. Along with this came the banquet's dazzling centerpieces in the form of wild boar heads and stuffed peacocks with outspread tails. Each feast was accompanied by vast amounts of wine, and the festivities often lasted for several days at a time. When the festivities were over and the guests had gone home, the hall was used as a storage space for everything from vegetables, nuts and fruit to extra table leaves, dried fish and building materials.

These violent delights had violent ends. Then we went to the giftshop.

Holger the Dane sleeps below Kronborg until Denmark needs him again. Holger was apparently not too concerned with that whole Nazi thing.

We all agreed that we were bored, hadn't done anything today, and were in dire need of amusement. So I drove us to Dyrehavsbakken, the world's oldest operating theme park.

Bakken "opened" in 1583 when a natural spring was discovered here. I guess Copenhagen had poor water quality at the time so people came here for a sip and to be healed. The crowds of aquaphiles attracted entertainers and hucksters which led the the theme park that stands here today.

What's more fun that peddling a giant swan around on a track?


I couldn't resist this fabulous statue so we had fish and chips for dinner.

For some reason we were tired and so returned to Copenhagen.

7-Eleven had Danish rum balls known as romkugler.

And then I had one. Rummy.

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