Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Exploring Copenhagen on Foot

Bill and the Little Mermaid
After the wedding and post-wedding festivities, I now return to the retelling of the Enrichment Voyage we took from June 1-15 while for a month I enjoy the normalcy of home life in Newcastle with the new couple. This will be a total of four posts. We embarked in Stockholm, Sweden, and our first stop was Copenhagen, Denmark. During the one day at sea between the two cities, we attended seminars on the architecture, economy, and history of Copenhagen.

Copenhagen's Happy Wall
We did not join any of the excursion tours because we were feeling a bit adventurous. Besides, we wanted to take in more of the city rather than what is in its outskirts. Neither of us had been to Copenhagen and Bill’s favorite mentor/boss/friend Ben came from Denmark. So we just took the shuttle from the ship’s berth to Tivoli Gardens where we can boarrd the bus again later in the day to go back to the ship. With a map, we ventured fearlessly on our own, on foot.

a hint of the bridge
Copenhagen is the capital and most populated city of Denmark, with a metropolitan population of around 2 M. Originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century. During the 17th century, under the reign of Christian IV, it developed into an important regional centre, consolidating its position as capital of Denmark and Norway.  Copenhagen was third in the ranking of the richest cities in the world in terms of gross earnings in 2010, dropping from first place in the previous year.

the offshore windturbines of Copenhagen
The city has become more integrated with Scandinavia and the rest of Western Europe when the Øresund Bridge, a bridge-tunnel connecting the Swedish coast to the artificial island of Peberholm lying in the middle of the Øresund Strait for 2.5 miles. The remainder of the link is a 2.5 mile tunnel from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager. It is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. We saw a tiny bit of it from one of the viewing decks of the MV Explorer. As we entered the Copenhagen waters, we also saw, for the first time, off shore wind turbines. Before this we thought they were all onshore (that’s the way they are in America)!
Christianborg Palace,  only building in the world
 housing three banches of government

Walking from Tivoli Gardens, first we encountered the Christianborg Palace which dates back to 1167. It is the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. Also, several parts of the palace are used by the monarchy, including the Royal Reception Rooms, the Palace Chapel and the Royal Stables. Thus it is the only building in the world housing all three supreme powers of a government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial.

Nyhavn, 17th century waterfront of Copenhagen
Next we wanted to relax in the famous Nyhavn, a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district. On the way we were helped by a pretty young lady who also worked in another cruise ship. Along the route she taught us to use, we chanced upon a large sign of Happy in Copenhagen! Nyhavn is a true must-see. Lined by brightly colored 17th and early 18th century townhouses and bars, cafes and restaurants on both sides, the canal has many historical wooden ships. Bill and I sat at a sidewalk café; he savoring his Irish coffee served the traditional way while I thumped at my laptop, grabbing the first chance to visit the web since boarding in Stockholm..

the Marble Church of Copenhagen

We then trekked to the Amalienborg Palace, the winter home of the Danish royal family. It consists of four identical palaces with classic façades and rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard. In the centre of the square is the equestrian statue of Amalienborg's founder, King Frederick V.  The four palaces were originally built for four noble families but when Christiansborg Palace burned down in 1794, the royal family bought the property. Amalienborg lies on a short axis, one end of which is the Marble Church also known as Marble Church and at the other is the Amalienhaven overlooking the Copenhagen Opera House. 

Copenhagen Opera House
an illusion
From there we went back to the ship through a leisurely walk along Strogert, the main shopping alley that runs through the center of the city. Many artists dotted the street with their unique acts for donations of coins. After Stroget we came across the City Hall completed on 1905, one of the tallest buildings in the generally low city of Copenhagen due to its tall, slim clock tower of over 105 meters. Then it was a ssort walk to Tivoli Gardens, a theme park, for the bus back to our ship docked at Langelinie Pier. . 

City Hall
Near where MV Explorer was docked is an iconic little statue we couldn't miss. So though it was drizzling, we braved a short walk to the Little Mermaid. The statue was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, first published in 1837, that tells of how she gave up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince. The statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, and unveiled in 1913 by the sculptor Edward Eriksen whose wife Eline was the model. Though she has been severely vandalized several times since then, her mystique remains.


Jimmy Nairn
We were back on board the ship on time, an hour before sailing. We had a sumptuous dinner buffet and the show of the Scot Jimmy Nairn who wowed the crowd with his virtuoso performance on the clarinet, saxophonem and bagpipes to introduce us to our next port, the Shetland Islands. and the seminars on Scotland and this archipelago and its capital, Lerwick, the following day at sea.