Just a typical Copenhagen Saturday: some naked guy, a 5:00am rave party & Danish pastries for breakfast
Evening blogaholics. How was your Saturday? Ours went something like this:
Staying next door to Copenhagen’s Red Light District caused us no issues last night – we heard not a peep from any of “ladies of the night” or clubs and bars…until they shut at 5:00am this morning. At which point a group of excited youngsters, ejected from their favourite nightspot, decided to take the party to the streets. So we were woken up by the not-so-gentle sounds of thumping rave music and the cat calls of ridiculously drunk people at about 5:10am this morning. It’s a scary way to awaken, let me tell you. We tried in vain to get back to sleep, but *DUSH* *DUSH *DUSH* at about 1,000,000 decibels is not conducive to slumber. We finally gave up trying to sleep and got up properly at about 6:30am, at which point the little shits decided it was time to go to bed and left. *SIGH*
To further brighten our morning, we then got severely mooned by some ugly naked guy in the building across the road. Obviously our friendly neighbourhood ravers had woken him up to, but rather than put some clothes on and go to his window, he thought it would be far better for everyone involved if he stood there naked instead. Very not good first thing in the morning; put us off the idea of breakfast that did. But by this stage we were dressed and ready to go, so we headed out anyway, with the bile still fresh in the back of our throats from ugly naked guy’s antics.
The only thing that was going to help restore us back to any semblance of humanity, we decided, was a good coffee and some Danish pastries. This is where Danish pastries were invented, so we figured we HAD TO do the right thing and give them a go. Luckily for us one of Copenhagen’s best bakeries, Andersen’s (named in honour of that much-loved Danish children’s author: Hans Christian Andersen), is just around the corner. Four pastries and two of the best coffees we’ve ever had later, the trauma of our morning had faded and we were ready to truly face the day…
Well caffeinated we decided to walk all the way along Copenhagen’s main waterfront promenade, all the way from our ‘hood to the Little Mermaid statue and back. A good 8km walk to help us get more of a feel for what Copenhagen is really about. Our first destination was Nyhavn (translation = new harbour). This historical district was developed in the late 17th century to accommodate the growing number of trade ships visiting Copenhagen at the time. Most of the buildings lining the main harbour and canal in Nyhavn are original 17th century structures, making it a very popular spot for tourists (like us) to take photos. Most of the buildings are now restaurants and cafes and there’s a a very merry vibe about the place – especially when most of the cafes started serving “breakfast beers” at 10:00am!
Copenhagen is located on the Eastern shore of the island of Zealand, partly on the main island and partly on the island of Amager. The city is criss-crossed by canals and and characterised by lots of waterfront promenades, which made for wonderful walking. We walked all the way up the main waterfront promenade, up through Vesterbro (our neighbourhood), to Nyhavn and then to Indra By (translation = Inner City). Indra By is the historic, geographic and political heart of present-day Copenhagen (it used to be the entire city of Copenhagen, up until the 1700s). Here we stopped to admire Amalienborg, the winter home of the Danish royal family, which consists of four identical palaces around an octagonal courtyard. Amalienborg was originally built by 4 separate noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burnt down in 1794, the royal family bought the palaces and moved in. Over the years various kings and their families have resided in the four different palaces, with Crown Prince Fredrik, his Aussie wife and little ‘uns using one of the palaces as their winter home, and Queen Margarethe and Prince Henrik using one of the others for their winter abode. We could only admire them from the outside.
Originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the 15th century. During the 17th century, under the reign of King Christian IV, it became a significant regional centre and expanded significantly. Due to its location between England, Germany/mainland Europe and Scandinavia, Denmark’s history is peppered with war and territorial disputes, with Copenhagen often the focal point for these battles. Denmark colonised parts of Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Iceland, Greenland and The Faroe Islands and has been described as “a small country that often punched well above its weight”. As a consequence of its naval prowess and territorial conquests, Denmark has been quite a wealthy nation for many centuries, the legacy of which includes lots of palaces, museums, fountains, statues and lovely old buildings. Including these…
We stopped for lunch just around the corner from Frederiks Kirke and Shane even got to enjoy a Carlsberg (of course – what else would you drink in Denmark?!) with his lunch, now that we’re back in a reasonably priced country! We then spent a couple of hours exploring Rosenborg Palace and its grounds. Built in 1606, this was designed as the Danish royal family’s summer home. In 1838, however, it was opened to the public as a museum and houses many of the royal family’s works of art, historical heirlooms and Denmark’s Crown Jewels. We couldn’t take photos inside the palace, but you can rest assured there was lots of “ooohing” and “ahhhhing” as we saw all the intricately carved ivory pieces, the porcelain collection, the crowns, the fancy swords, the amazing old clocks, the antique jewellery, and the Danish throne (which is made from narwhal tusks, of all things!).
From there we sought out Kastellet, one of the best preserved star-shaped fortresses in Northern Europe. Constructed in 1663, the fort is built in the form of a pentagram and still functions as a military base today. They open the grounds to the public though and as long as you don’t step off the path (they seem very strict about that), you can enjoy what’s left of the fortress. We walked around the perimeter and were suitably impressed by their old canons and fortifications. There was even an old windmill on the grounds, a remnant from when it was designed to be a self-sufficient fortress.
Finally, having been well and truly baked by the sun, we headed home via the Strogt, a pedestrian-only, open-air mall that runs almost the entire length of Indra By. It was packed with tourists, locals, touters, street performers and the odd dodgy-looking character (there are signs everywhere warning about pick pockets), which made for great people watching and an interesting stroll back to hotel room. All in all, a very pleasant day of touristing, despite our rather traumatising start to the day (bad ugly naked guy, bad!). Tomorrow we continue our exploration of Copenhagen with a trip to Christisanhavn, so farvel until then!