A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8: Last Day in Copenhagen

a charming fishing village, beautiful gardens, and expensive? food

semi-overcast 67 °F

Maureen and I spent the equivalent of ~$85 each on dinner last night. That’s kinda high for what we had, but it got me to thinkin’. The cost of food here and in Iceland is higher than in the US true, but we Americans are damn spoiled. We spend less on food (as a percentage of all expenditures) than any other country in the world. That means sticker shock for us when a ½ sandwich and a 10 OZ Tuborg for lunch costs $20. (It was a very good ½ sandwich, by the way). I think some perspective is called for. We flew all the way here and hired a private guide, I think it is a bit hypocritical to worry about food costing 10% more than what we’re used to. So I don’t. So there.

A bit more touring today, first stop: the little fishing village of Dragor. Dragor has been around for hundreds of years, but the buildings now standing were built in the 1800s. Today it is blocks and blocks of cobblestone cuteness with an honorable past. It was from here that many of the 7000 Jews who were smuggled to Sweden during the war were transported in whatever floating vessel the Danes could find. They are proud of this chapter of their history and while listening to the story, I too was moved.
Fishing Village of Dragor

Fishing Village of Dragor

Marina at Dragor

Marina at Dragor

After wandering around there for a bit, we piled into the bus and headed for Amalienborg Museum which contains rooms furnished as they were when various royals inhabited the palace. We flew through there to keep on schedule. That was fine with me. All I really recall was so much clutter of pictures and books and too many pieces of furniture. I think the royals were hoarders.

The last stop was Tivoli Gardens. I had heard of it but had no idea what was in store for me. Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park in beautiful gardens. Amusement parks are not my thing (any more), but the gardens were unbelievable. Janet, Carol and I wandered around for a few hours and had a passable lunch at a beer garden.
Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens


Since the sun was out, we went back to our rooms to shed a layer and an umbrella and took off again to wander the streets of Copenhagen. We put in about six miles walking all over the town. Not all of that was intentional as we were a bit lost on the way back to the hotel. One thing for sure, it is Pride Week here, culminating in the Pride parade tomorrow. The streets are packed, stages are going up in the plazas, and rainbow flags are everywhere. I am so sorry to have to miss that.
Along a Copenhagen Canal

Along a Copenhagen Canal

We had a big dinner at a French restaurant this evening. I am not at all sure that I will fit in the clothes I brought if I keep this up. For one thing, I’ve been eating heavy meals, but for another – I’m in Denmark, hello! Ever heard of Danish pastries?

Packing up tonight to go to Oslo in the morning. I’m tired but it has to be done.

Posted by Follow Carol 13:34 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Day 7: Getting to Know Copenhagen

Royalty, Pride, and Mermaids

overcast 64 °F

Just some thoughts before I get started with the events of the day. As does always happen when a group of travel enthusiasts get together over a meal, last night the conversation turned to favorite places, etc. We tend to ask each other things like, “which trip is your favorite so far?” I am never able to answer that because most of them are my favorites. Yeah, some are more favorite than others. For instance, I don’t ever need to return to San Antonio TX, and I don’t miss Berlin. But if I had a chance, I’d go back to India, London, Cape Town, Morocco, Iceland and DC in a heartbeat. A pretty diverse list of loves, huh?

The most difficult question is one that was posed to me months ago by one of the managers of the travel group, ”If you knew it was your last trip, and money was no object, where would you go?” Well, for one thing, if I knew it was my last trip, you can bet your ass money would be no object. That aside, this question is difficult because it throws mortality in my face. It reminds me that THIS could be my last trip. I do have a long list of places I want to see and stuff I want to do, and an equally long list of things I want to do/see again. But I think if I knew that time was running out, I’d try to get back to New Orleans, just one more time. OK, too maudlin. . . .move on, Carol.

Today we toured the city. This involved palaces and canals. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe can trace her lineage back 1000 years, making hers the oldest monarchy ruling today. Most of her ancestral grandparents (Kings) were either “Christian” or “Frederik” and we joked about that a few times today since we have the Bushes and the Clintons and perhaps the Obamas (go Michelle!). We visited Rosenborg Castle, the summer home of Christian IV and we visited Christiansborg Palace which burned to the ground at least twice and upon reconstruction, both Frederiks and Christians lived there. I am sorry but palaces are fun to look at but they all look alike after a while. Thankfully our guide “Ursula” got is through the high points at a nice pace. I saw the splendor and learned some history. . . .groovy.
The Throne Room of Rosenborg Palace

The Throne Room of Rosenborg Palace

It started getting pretty cool this afternoon. It’s not as cold as Iceland, but I thought we’d enjoy some sun today . . . . not. I was prepared for cool weather thankfully, but was very happy when the rainfall was short and very light, because next we embarked on a canal cruise. Yes, we saw important buildings but what I will remember is the low bridges we floated under and interesting afternoon life that we could see the citizens were living. This is more informative to me than palaces. I love cruising around seeing the neighborhoods. And on a canal cruise, some of the neighbors live in very interesting houseboats.
IMG_5257

IMG_5257

Of course we had to stop to view The Little Mermaid. To be honest, I was not aware that this was an important tourist attraction. Yeah, I’d heard of her, but had no idea. The story is sweet, she is staring out to try to catch a glimpse of her (human) prince. As it turns out, I kinda liked her.

OH! It’s Pride Week here now. So everywhere we go there are rainbow flags. Even rainbow stanchions!
The city gets ready for Pride Week

The city gets ready for Pride Week

This evening most of the group went to dinner at a restaurant favored by the locals. It was good food but the thing that made it memorable was the giant meal that Maureen and I shared. Maureen is the Bird Woman from the Africa trip, and one of the most enthusiastic travelers I have ever met – in fact, she is one of the most enthusiastic humans I have ever met. She is a “live big” and “live for the day” girl and I love being around her. So we decided to share the giant rib-eye dinner and a wonderful bottle of Merlot. It came out from the kitchen like a slab of (med rare) beef which was a bit stunning (we both should have known better, but what the hell). We shared the vegetables and french fries that went with it with the others, and gave away as much beef as we could, and then gave our darling Danish waiter the rest, which he gratefully accepted. It was a fun night.

Posted by Follow Carol 13:34 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Day 6: On to Copenhagen

culture shock

sunny 65 °F

Disaster was narrowly averted this morning. We had to checkout very early in order to get to the Reykjavik airport in plenty of time for our 8:20AM flight to Copenhagen. I set my alarm for 4:00 and Carol set hers for 4:15. When hers went off first I was confused until I discovered that I had set mine for 4:00PM! Oh my gawd. It’s not the first time that I have done something stupid like that and probably won’t be the last.

The flight was three hours long and uneventful. Upon landing, we were immediately transported to our hotel and then Carol, Leslie and I went out to scout around the town. It was kind of a culture shock. We were just in a country with a population of 333k and now we’re in a city with a population of 1.3MM. You can tell the difference. Copenhagen is the buzzing cultural and economic center of Denmark. Interestingly, Denmark is frequently ranked as the happiest country in the world with its strong emphasis on education and healthcare and its low level of income inequality. We saw a lot of rainbow flags during our stroll and discovered that we’re in the middle of Gay Pride Week here. This isn’t particularly controversial in Denmark. The country as a whole has had “registered partnership” laws since 1989 and since 2012 they have had gender-neutral marriage. This is a very progressive country. (Don’t think Donald would get too far here.)

When we arrived at the hotel we united with those of us who are actually beginning their trip here. (the Iceland excursion was an add-on). So we are now sixteen. This evening we had dinner at a low-keyed restaurant that serves typical Danish food (fish and pork mostly).

Time to call it a day.

Posted by Follow Carol 12:51 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Day 5: Circling Back to Reykjavik

Seeing a bit more of Iceland and then onward to Denmark

overcast 55 °F

I just realized that I keep spelling Reykjavik wrong. You’d think by now I would get that right.

Are you familiar with puffins? They are the cutest little critters. I first ran into them when I was in Nova Scotia, but they weren’t on the menu there as they are here. They eat a lot of puffin here, but very little chicken. The owner of the hotel told a small group of us that he was 18 before he realized that chickens were edible. I replied to him that I was 64 before I realized that puffins were. Anyway, I ate puffin last night. It was actually pretty good but I have to admit, it’s hard to eat anything that cute. (OK, OK, OK. Calves and lambs are cute too. So I’m a hypocrite).

Well, today’s plans did get changed, but I am not sure the issue is weather related. Marus learned that we can certainly catch the ferry to the island but there is no guaranty that they’ll be running a return ferry at a reasonable time. So, that got nixed. We checked out of the Hella hotel and en route back to Reykjavik we stopped to see things along the way.

The first stop was a tiny theater which showed a twenty-minute film about the Eyjafjallajokull (I think I lost my yogurt) volcano which erupted in May 2010 and wreaked havoc with air traffic throughout Europe because volcanic ash isn’t good for airplanes. The film was produced by a family that owns a beautiful little ranch situated right under the glacier that is atop the volcano. It recounts the tremendous damage done by the volcano and the impact on the family business. When a glacier sits on top of a volcano, all that lava melts a whole lotta ice and flooding happens, then you have a thick layer of ash all over everything. The actual family portrays themselves, as does the volcano (parts are like a newsreel). Pretty cool.

The next stop was a Fakasel Horse Park. I am not a fan of horses. In fact, I do not like them at all and have been afraid of them all my life. . . .even afraid of the ponies in kiddie parks. So when Marus announced a visit to a horse park, I silently rolled my eyes and settled in for a boring time. HOWEVER! Once again, travel changed my life. I actual like and admire Icelandic horses now. They are small, shaggy, strong and cute and every horse in Iceland is of the Icelandic breed. They do not allow any horses to enter the country ever, so the breed is pure. I will admit that I was more enamored of the three friendly dogs that hang out in the stables and the show ring, but the horses were friendly too.

There were a couple other minor stops and then we were back in Reykjavik, back to our first hotel. I am sure that as I write, some of the ladies are out combing the streets for a suitable gift for themselves. Carol (my roomie) and I will head out early to meet everyone at the “suggested” restaurant so we can stroll the streets for a short bit before dinner. I do wish I had a day (or even a ½ day) to wander this charming town, (I like self gifting!) but I don’t. Tomorrow we leave for Copenhagen. But I’ll be back here again I hope.

Posted by Follow Carol 13:13 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Day 4: The Golden Circle

Discovering more of Iceland in the rain

The weather did not cooperate today, so Rosemary and Marus (our driver, pronounced mar-ooos) put their heads together and came up with alternate plans. Today we were supposed to take a ferry to Vestmannaeyjarr Island (see, I told you that the language is difficult) and then take a boat cruise while there. It’s raining. . .not a good day for cruising. So we substituted tomorrow’s itinerary for today’s. Not sure how that’s gonna work out if it rains tomorrow, but I’ll let Rosemary and Marus worry about that.

One of our first stops was a huge hothouse tomato operation. It was amazing. They pipe geothermal (boiling) water through PVC pipe, thoroughout out the acres of tomato plants all year long to keep the hothouses at the optimal temperature, they supply the perfect number of bumble bees, add some extra CO2 and voila! You have one ton of vine ripened tomatoes supplied to Reykjavic every day.
Giant Hothouse tomato vines

Giant Hothouse tomato vines

The next stop was the Golden Waterfall. I don’t know where it falls on the scale of waterfall wonderfulness but it was quite impressive. Pursuing the perfect photograph of a giant waterfall in Iceland on a cloudy day is a cold, misty business. I was pretty bundled up but even so, after a few snapshots I did not hang out and enjoy the majesty for very long. I was not the first one back on the bus, but close.
Golden Waterfall

Golden Waterfall

They have geysers here. Not a big surprise, but with all the underground activity, you’d think there’d be more than one. Alas there isn’t, so we visited the one and had lunch in the tourist trap cafeteria adjoining the tourist trap shop on site. It was actually a fine trap and we had a fine lunch. . . .but I did not buy a thing, not even that beautiful sheepskin I want to adorn my couch. A girl’s gotta make sacrifices, after all.

Next stop, Pingvellir. This is an interesting stop. It may be the only place in the world where the drifting of two major tectonic plates can easily be seen. Plus, it is the historic site where the governing of Iceland began in 930 AD. It was raining so not enough attention was paid to the importance of this site. Not anyone‘s fault (pardon pun). I‘ll pay more attention next time I‘m here.

Final stop, Kerid Crater Lake. Much like Crater Lake Oregon, this is a volcanic lake. A very interesting, deep blue, round phenomenon. It is pretty but we were wet and tired, so we looked at it and then left.

When we finally got back to the hotel, it took all of ten minutes for me to shed my travel crap and get to the bar. I met some nice people travelling with the Smithsonian Travel Group and they bragged that they had a local artist as a guide and a volcanologist along with them to explain the volcanic activity. OK, I’m jealous. But I am travelling with 10 fine women rather than twelve unknown couples and we have the ability to influence travel plans and, and, and. . . . . .we have wi-fi, so all our questions are answered!

Posted by Follow Carol 14:24 Comments (0)

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