A Winter Fairy Tale in Copenhagen
Ever since I read Ken Follett's Hornet Flight I really wanted to visit Denmark. Specially Copenhagen. I wanted to experience for myself all the places I've read on the book (even though it was a Second World War related novel, which for a history nerd like me was a huge plus). For only two and a half days in the capital (we arrived in the afternoon) I was not able to visit everything I've planned, as many museums and castles were closed, as we went for the New Year's Eve, but I'm actually very happy with everything we got to see.
Being short in time I didn't want to waste any extra time in transportation, so we stayed at Vesterbro - at the old Astoria hotel just outside the Central Train Station. It's not a luxurious hotel and the room was quite small, but it was a great choice not because of its location. There are two more particular reasons I loved staying there - first, it had a free wine hour every day at 5 p.m. and second, it has the oldest swing door in Copenhagen - since 1935. How cool is that?
So, after we checked in and enjoyed a glass of wine, we were ready to explore the neighbourhood. I mean the Tivoli Gardens which were just 2 minutes walk away. Christmas was over already, but inside the beautifully decorated gardens the Christmas spirit was still very present. I was definitely like a kid inside a candy store. Wanted to snap every corner, to touch every single fake snowflake... Basically, I didn't want to leave. EVER! For someone like me who's in love with Christmas (I have 5, yes 5! Christmas trees in our two-bedroom apartment) I simply have found paradise.
We had dinner at the "Hjulkøbing" which interior represents a train station. They offer a traditional (at least we think it is) danish sandwich of pork meat and pickle. Not bad for trying it once.
The next day we hopped on a train to Hillerød to visit the Frederiksborg castle - one of the very few open at that time of the year. The trip was around 40 minutes and both the train ticket and the entrance ticket for the castle were included in the Copenhagen card we bought. Frederiksborg castle was built in the early 17th century by King Cristian IV as a royal residency and nowadays hosts the National History Museum. It also has beautiful gardens, perfect for some chill walks, but unfortunately we were not very lucky with the weather, so had no chance to enjoy them.
After enjoying the wine hour back at the hotel, we headed to Strøget for dinner. We were determined to try some of Copenhagen's food markets and went to the Glass market but by the time we arrived, it was closing. Apparently, food markets are a great option for lunch, and not for dinner (or at least not for a dinner after 8 p.m.). That's ok. We found a great restaurant called Hoppes - their pesto pasta was super yummy! After dinner we hopped in a pub near by and got to observe Copenhagen's night life. There's a lot of beer involved, believe me. And sometimes some sleeping on the table, literally. But the atmosphere was nice and cosy. Even I got to drink a few beers (and I'm more of a cocktails gal).
Our third day we spent mostly outdoors and our first stop was the Round Tower. Built between 1637-1642 by King Christian IV as an astronomical observatory, it offers great views to the city and te climb to its top is totally worth, even in bad weather.
Strøget's pedestrian zone (Amager Torv square) is just a few streets from the Round Tower. It rewards its visitors with beautifully decorated shops, either of Danish or worldwide brands. Southeast from there is the beautiful Christiansborg Palace. There are several rooms of it that can be visited - I was specially keen on getting into the Royal Reception Rooms, but being December 31st, they were all closed. Actually, many museum have wrapped the year at December 22nd.
From Christiansborg we continued North on the search of Copenhagen most iconic image - Nyhavn. The capital's old commercial port used be packed with sailors and pubs, while nowadays it's an area full of tourists, fancy restaurants and boat tours. The red building at number 20 is where Hans Christian Andersen wrote "The Princess and the Pea" as well as "The Tinderbox" and "Little Claus and Big Claus".
The last spot we wanted to visit before heading back to the hotel and getting ready for the New Year's Eve dinner at the Tivoli Gardens, was the statue of the Little Mermaid. It's only around 20 minutes walk from Nyhavn and we decided that we had enough time to find it. Halfway through, we found ourselves in front of the Ameliensborg Palace - the residency of the royal family. The square in front of it was already getting packed with heavy trucks full of tv transmission equipment - the Queen gives her annual speech at 6 p.m. on December 31st.
Behind Ameliensborg Palace is the gorgeous Marble Church, which of course, was also closed.
The bronze statue of the Little Mermaid was unveiled on August 23, 1913 at Langelinje Pier and is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy-tale. It was a gift to the city of Copenhagen by the Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen who fell in love with the character after watching the ballet performance of the fairy-tale at the Royal Danish Theatre. He then commissioned the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create the sculpture of the mermaid, whose looks were inspired by the ballerina Ellen Price. Though, she would not pose naked to the craftsman, his own wife, Eline Erisken was the one who actually posed for the sculpture of the Little Mermaid.
Our last day in Denmark's capital was January 1st (our flight back home was early in the morning on January 2nd) and as everything was closed and we've seen big part of what we wanted to see within the city, we hopped on a train to Malmö, Sweden. It was way too calm, compared to Copenhagen, so we changed our plans of having dinner there and after a short stroll around its city centre, we headed back to Copenhagen. We ended our time here with a delicious, light dinner at Vivaldi Café right in front of the Tivoli Gardens central entrance.
Copenhagen is a beautiful and very outdoors-friendly city, even in winter time. We got rain every day, some wet snow in the morning but the temperatures were always positive, so it was all good and we were able to enjoy the city always on foot. Even though, I was hoping for some snow, the fake snow in the Tivoli Gardens made me happy enough. Still, I'm curious to see more of this country that surprised me so much, hopefully in a warmer and greener season next time. In the meantime - Denmark, you have a piece of my heart ❤️
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