Posts Tagged With: Denmark

Last Day in Copenhagen


Brooke enjoying some wine in ole 4026Our wonderfully relaxing and easy-living nine day Baltic Sea cruise has come to an end. The time has come to leave the boat. We started the day with one final delicious breakfast buffet at our favorite spot on Deck 11 of ye olde Norwegian Sun. And, for the last time, walked away from the table without worrying about  settling a check or removing a single dish. After docking in Copenhagen, Brooke and I attempted to remain onboard as long as we could but around 9:00 AM the crew pulled us off kicking and screaming. It was quite a scene that disturbed some of the older passengers. In all seriousness, we’ve enjoyed the cruise but we’re ready for what’s next.

Copenhagen's most famous art musemSo, we find ourselves back in Copenhagen for one last day before we close the book on our Northern European leg. Now off the boat and away from the all-English all-accomodating lifestyle, we’re back to the little things being a touch more difficult and occasionally frustrating. Today’s particular challenge was our attempt to spend some time in the local library. We figured a Copenhagen “bibliotek” would be a good place to cool our heels for a few hours, flip through some travel books and hop online. We were able to pinpoint the location, determine walking directions, and check the hours. But what the Danish language website did not make clear is that this funky library is open on Sunday only to library card holders who must swipe their way in via key card. See? Frustrating. Also, please don’t alert the Copenhagen Transit Authorities, but due to issues with the ticket machine, we managed to take a pair of rides on the local trains without forking over a single dime.

Philospohical Phil!We did manage to make a visit to the renowned Glyptotek museum in central Copenhagen. The museum offers free admissions on Sundays and boasts an impressive art collection started in 1882 by beer baron Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg fame (see our post mentioning Carlsberg here). Jacobsen also donated, among others, the sea-side dwelling Little Mermaid statue that is forever associated with Copenhagen. We strolled through a handful of the galleries, enjoyed some of the architectural features of the museum building as much as the art and took in some great paintings and sculptures. There was art by Degas, Manet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rodin, Gaughin and two dozen other European artists and painters I should probably know but have already forgotten. The sculpture gallery was loaded with marble and bronze creations and was positively great, although I wouldn’t want to be there at night. My personal favorite was a sculpture of Perseus severing Medusa’s head in action. We were kind of thrilled when we saw that the museum was the home of Rodin’s iconic “The Thinker” as part of a comprehensive Rodin gallery. But that was until we learned that there are like twenty other “original” casts of the statue throughout the world. Maybe not as special, but the Glypoteck is still a great museum.

Amazing lunchOf course, for lunch, we couldn’t resist one last hot dog. This time we asked around for the best hot dog in the city. We went gourmet with arguably the best deluxe wiener in town from Nimb. These dogs were a bit more expensive, but they delivered the goods. Gourmet taste-bud satisfaction from one end of the bun to the other.

Final impressions of Copenhagen? It’s kind of a great city. Locals give off a vibe of general contentment – they seem especially merry whilst mounted on bicycles. The town is sophisticated, forward thinking and awash in eye-brow raising design. Highbrow, but accessible. Expensive, but doable. The town even managed to surge my own bit of creativity. Growing up, my friends and I used to watch a lot of professional wrestling. We were always coming up with ideas for new gimmicks for the wrestlers to use in the rings. I now have a fantastic concept: The Angry Dane. He’s big, he’s blonde and he rides a bicycle to the ring which he locks to the ringpost once he arrives. During his match, The Angry Dane illegally uses the Bicycle as a weapon against his opponent. The announcers will call that move the “Twelve Speed.” Pure gold. Someone get me Vince McMahon on the phone.

The Denmark Airport Bids Adieu

Now, we’re off to Romania and Bulgaria as we open the door on our Eastern European segment. We start by visiting yet two more nations that we know virtually nothing about. (As always, we’re open to suggestions!) A pair of flights from Copenhagen to Vienna and then Vienna to Bucharest and yet another quick time change where we jump ahead two hours. We selected a landing spot in Bucharest in part because of it’s Eastern European location in relation to points Westward and in part because, well, it sounded like an interesting place to visit. It’s so cool that this trip has allowed us to point to a strange, new location on a map and just go. By tomorrow, we should have some new insight into yet another town that seems to be begging to be discovered. We’ve already begun reading up on Romania to prep a bit for our visit by taking a sneak peek at the culture, food and airport taxi scams.

For the next month, our schedule gives us much more flexibility on where to go and when. Our next scheduled flight isn’t until Mid-October. Little by little, I’m discovering that the world is such a big place, but it is also a finite place as well. Who knows what we’ll see, but the odds are that it will be worth sharing.


Brooke studying a painting in the Glyptotek’s French Impressionist wing.


Our final dinner in the Norwegian Sun! Ah, we’ll miss meals like this.

Another look at the outstanding sculpture gallery in the Denmark museum.

Our exceptional bartender Maxwell from the Windjammer of the Norwegian Sun. He took good care of us many nights.

Categories: City Visits, Copenhagen, Destinations, Differences, Eating, Europe, Flights, Museums, Unusual Experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Carlsberg, Christiana, and Copenhagen

Hello again from Copenhagen! We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy three full days of absorbing Danish culture, food, sights, fun and history. And now that we get into these older European town, there is more than enough history to go around. In keeping with one of the goals of this trip, we continue to see, learn and grow just a bit more each day. For example, we know now that the Danish flag employs one of the oldest flag designs in the world. And, finally, we’re back in a part of the world that has paper towels in the bathroom. Also, I’m slowly becoming able to sort out the distinct differences between the three Scandavian countries: Denmark, Sweeden and Norway. Until now, all three unfortunately ran a bit together like a jumbled mess in my mind.

Since day one, we’ve been resting our head in a variety of different hotels and hostels, but we’ve also had some terrific luck trying out Air BnB- a handy webstie that helps travelers find paid homestays. Currenty, we’re hosted by an incredibly gracious and friendly Dane named Thais who lives a short bus ride from central Copenhagen. We’re staying in his small, airplane-themed flat for three days; Thais has been a stellar host. His dream is to live in an old airplane, but since he is currently unable to do that, he brought the airplane to his apartment. Complete with a safety card that has important information, genuine airplane seats and an overhead compartment for storage, it is clear that he is a bit obsessed with airplanes. It is certainly the biggest theme home we’ve seen in a long time, but it works really well for him! In part, because he is a writer for several European flight magazines, reviewing aircraft, airports and all things aeronautics related. Thais has provided directions, suggestions and even pointed us to a nearby park, Utterslev Mose, where we were run in the morning. Our stay at “The Aerohotel” here has been great and we are glad the weather is finally cool enough (55-65 degrees) for us to run again.

Today we began with a tour of the Carlsberg Brewhouse and Museum. Until about a week ago, I though that Carlsberg (along with Heineken) was a Netherlands based beer. Wrong again, Phil. Turns out that not only is Carsberg one of Denmark’s biggest exports and industries, they are also the world’s 4th largest brewing company with over 500 brands including acquisitions of other European beers. While not that big in America, bottles and tap heads were common throughout Asia. The self-guided eleven dollar tour of Carlsberg (the etymology of the beer’s name is the combination of the name of the owner’s son and the Danish word for hill) was well worth it. The fact that the price of admission included a few beers didn’t hurt. While most of the main brewing facilities have been moved to the Jutland area of Denmark (just don’t ask us to point it out on the map), the company headquarters go back over a hundred years with plenty of well-perserved buildings that show off an interesting history.

I found some of the exhibits on the well-organized Carlsberg tour more interesting than some at the National Museum. The tour took us through that stables that are home to the company’s remaining Jutland Horses. This stout, large and somewhat rare breed, which resemble the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, were historically used to pull beer carts throughout the city and are still used in ceremonies today. The museum also houses a collection of 22,000 unopened beer bottles from the last couple of hundred years! 22,000 glass bottles, many donated from one Dane’s private collection, placed carefully on glass shelves in one room! Good thing we’re not in an area prone to earthquakes. They also really have kept their original buildings in wonderful shape to illustrate the brewing life back around 1900. The trip out there was worth it alone to see the entry gates complete with giant elephants and to watch the modern day brewing of small batch Jacobsen’s Ale while perched from an upstairs bar.

From Carlsberg, we took a trip to the famous Freetown Christiana: an area of Copenhagen that has been occupied by squatters on an old set of military barracks for more than 40 years. Christiana is intended to be an open commune where anyone can live and designed to encourage artists and foster free thought. But our reality was that it looked more like a bunch of burned out hippies sitting among sub-par graffiti art splattered across random buildings. The central draw is the Greenlight district or Pusher Street where they sell weed- lots of weed – openly. Just don’t take out your camera while nearby. Christiana residents declare themselves as not part of the E.U and eschew taxes, but they still receive city services such as mail, electricity and water. It has a long, complicated history and apparently the city officials conduct pre-announced raids from time to time. But for the most part, everyone is allowed to just occupy this space without much resistance. Visitors are welcome and a happy community of about 900 live carefree and proud of their little neck of the woods. It’s…odd. After a worthwhile visit, we left with more quetions then answers. We have determined that squatting is handy when you have an entire complex of well kept old buildings to live in and no one is going to kick you out, but even with understanding some of the turbulent past and issues, were still surprised that this large chunk of land is just allowed to be occupied unpaid by a collective mass.

As we wrap up Denmark for now, note that starting tomorrow Brooke and I are embarking on the most luxurious and relaxing part of our round the world trip- a nine-day Baltic Capitals cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Whilst we sail the open seas, we’ll have considerably limited internet access. For the next little bit, our blog posts may be intermittent as wifi becomes available. Off to Germany, Estonia, Russisa and beyond courtesy of the Norwegian Sun!


So many bottles at Carlsberg!

Another photo from Thais’ Aerohotel!

Phil is showing his Denmark Pride (on Flag Day, nonetheless)

Categories: Beer, City Visits, Copenhagen, Differences, Hotels, Museums | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Discovering Copenhagen

Colorful Buildings along the canalThere is no mistaking it…we are NOT in Asia anymore.  From the moment we stepped off the plane and every moment since then, it has been quite clear we are in an old European city.  But even more than that, it is clear we are in Denmark.  Everywhere we look there are beautiful blondes riding bicycles (very politely, I might add).

After a short morning run, we truly began to explore Copenhagen.  Going off recommendations, we started our day with a canal cruise.  This hour-long cruise through the winding canal system was a great way for us to see several different areas of the city so we could then determine what we really wanted to visit. When the tour-guide began speaking German, we were afraid we had gotten on the wrong boat.  We checked to make sure the tour would be in English, but she definitely wasn’t speaking English.  As it turned out, she gave all the information in three different languages–Danish, German and English.  We were relieved we would be able to understand, and again felt awful about the fact that we seem to be the only people in the world who only speak one language.  As for the tour, we especially love looking at the architecture of the city.  They really take pride in their old buildings, some of them date back hundreds of years.  However, they also have a lot of new construction, including an opera house right on the water which was built less than ten years ago.  Because of this, the newer buildings really have to be spectacular so they can stand the test of time.  Unlike Tokyo or Hong Kong, there is no race for the tallest towers or highest buildings.  In fact, there are very few skyscrapers in sight.  As we walked the streets, we kept saying that it all looks so European–old, grand, brick buildings lining the street, some with huge squares in front where people gather.  It is exactly what we pictured before we got here.

CopenhagenThe riverboat cruise inspired us to head to the National Museum so we could understand a bit more about Danish history.  As we walked over there, we saw a crowd gathered outside an old church.  Today was Flag Day or Soldier’s Day, so there were lots of celebrations and officials about town.  There were clearly secret service types outside of the church, so we thought we might glimpse the prime minister.  As it turns out, they were waiting for the Queen (Queen Margaret) to come out.  Apparently this was her private church and she was inside.  The royal family here seems to be fairly accessible to the people.  Of course, they are guarded, but people can walk the palace grounds and the royals are often spotted about town.  We waited for a bit to see Queen Margaret, but as it seemed like she wasn’t coming out anytime soon, we continued on through the Parliament grounds and over to the museum.

Not real!The National Museum (Nationalmuseet) has a completely free admission and is rather large, consisting of exhibits from the beginning of time through the year 2000.  That seemed a bit overwhelming to us, so we started with Danish pre-history through the Viking era.  Intermingled with the exhibits discussing burial rituals and ancient tools were art pieces that provide a “modern interpretation” of history.  Clearly the Lego version of the Deathstar from Star Wars was a piece of art.  Unfortunately, they were not all so clear and we found ourselves incredibly confused about what was real and what was art.  We questioned the exhibit showing the grave of the “bog witch” who boiled diseased children creating a dense fog over the bog. However, it was the mermaid that really made us confused.  Laying in a case are the bones of a mermaid with the story of a man who dug her up while tilling his farmland.  We looked at each other, completely unsure of what was happening.  We know mermaids aren’t real, but was the story real?  Had someone placed bones together to make it look like a mermaid and trick the farmer?  We backtracked down to the information desk to figure out what was happening.  The woman working at the museum was not at all surprised by our questions and confusion.  She cleared it up…kind of.  Bog witch–fake.  Mermaid–fake.  However, they are next to other very real graves which are genuine museum exhibits.  She told us these artists are “interpreting history in a modern way to push the limits of our thinking.”  I think that is complete garbage and they should say instead they are creating mythology to go along with the history.  It is far too confusing to figure out what is real and what is made up.  If a seven year old kid walked through there, he would walk out thinking Mermaids are real.  I don’t think that’s what they are going for.

After feeling completely confused and like I had just wasted an hour, we scrapped Danish prehistory and learned about more modern times.  It was interesting to learn of their history with Sweden and Norway as well as the other countries in the region.  There is so much history and it was all jammed so closely together that it got to be a bit overwhelming and we found ourselves skimming through parts.  In more modern times, the history is quite similar to the America– Industrial revolution, child labor laws, women’s rights, etc.  With all of this culture and history under our belts, it was time to learn what Copenhagen was really all about and we figured the best way to do that was to find a good bar.

Awesome Bar

Amid the cutesy cafes and upscale bars in a rather touristy part of town, we managed to find Lord Nelson, a basement bar specializing in craft beer filled with locals and regulars.  Our friendly brother-sister bartending team, Morton and Ricki, were awesome.  Not only did they let us try every beer they had on tap, they  encouraged us to branch out our tastes and go with beers we might not normally drink.  We both enjoyed the Kiss Me Hardy, a delicious hoppy beer named after Lord Nelson’s final words to his First Officer.  Through this discussion of beer, we also learned a bit about Morton’s favorite places in Copenhagen and a little bit about life here.  We also talked for a long time with Perm, an older gentleman who has traveled the world and was excited to talk to us about all the different places he’s been.  We asked lots of questions about the relationship between Denmark and other countries and truly learned as much there as we did at the museum.  Lord Nelson is exactly the kind of bar we’ve been looking for and we were happy to spend a couple of hours resting after touring Copenhagen.

Beautiful, but not worth itWe managed to drag ourselves away from the bar so we could head to Tivoli, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, known for its beautiful lights and gardens.  We know it for being a huge disappointment.  We had to pay to get in, which we figured since it is an amusement park.  However, we had to also pay to do anything inside.  Rides, restaurants, games–everything cost additional money.  We walked around, unimpressed, and left thinking we could have spent our money much more wisely.  Oh well.  We were tired and ready to head home anyway.

Our first day in Copenhagen was a roaring success and we can’t wait for tomorrow.  We plan to hit the Carlsberg Brewery, Christiana and eat lots of delicious pastries.  We look forward to sharing what we find!


At Lord Nelson's

Morton, our awesome bartender at Lord Nelson’s, showing off his tattoo from his time in the Queen’s military.

Don't drink and drive boats

Here’s a bar right on the canal where boats can pull up to have a drink.


Royal Guard lining up for Flag Day events.

A typical example of the beautiful buildings that remind us we are in Europe.

Categories: Bars, City Visits, Copenhagen, Destinations, Diversions, Europe, Exploring, Museums, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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