Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Copenhagen - I'm lovin' it!

Sunday, I hooked up with a friend of mine from Chicago (who moved here recently) for a day-long guided tour of Copenhagen. While we didn't really get started until about noon, I managed to cram an awful lot of the city into a single day. So let's go!

First stop was the central square. First thing you notice is the number of green roofs on various towers. Sure, I've seen the green patina form on copper structural forms before, but never like I've seen it here. Seriously, it's like every other roof has the copper roof with the green patina. The other thing one noticed in the main square is the amount of advertising on the buildings. If you click on this picture and look closely, you'll even see "McDonald's - I'm Lovin' It!" on one of them. Sigh...



Then we wandered down a little pedestrian area. It's an interesting thing about European cities - they've all had a little area in the city center that acts more like an outdoor shopping mall than a street. But here was another one, again full of musicians and people walking around. Honestly, I love it and I'm going to miss it when I get back home. Sure, lots of people are walking around North Michigan Ave, but it's not the same really. Also - note more of the green patina rooftops? See? I *told* you so...



Then we got to another little square that I think was called the King's Square (only, you know, in Danish) where I saw the old Opera House. Like the opera house in Hanover, it was beautiful. Unlike the one in Hanover, it was no longer the actual opera house. But more on that in a minute.



Just another shot of more architecture with the green patina roof....



Eventually, we had worked our way though thte city down to the harbor front, where T introduced me to the "new" opera house, which was apparently funded almost entirely by Copenhagen's richest man. Obviously an eccentric, the design of the building is quite modern in comparison to the old one. So much so that when T. pointed it out to me, he referred to it as "the building with the Samurai hat".



Across the harbor from the Samurai Building is the home of the Danish Royal family, including Queen Margarethe. Here's a view looking from the harbor up through the palace. Notice the big domed building (again with the patina, see?), it's not a part of the palace but we'll get to it in a bit.



Denmark has it's own version of the famous palace guards in England. They come complete with the big beaver hats. As T was quick to point out though, the Danish version isn't obliged to do the whole "stoneface" routine like the Brits are - if you mess with the Danes, they'll just arrest you. Seemed like good advice, so I just took my shot from a distance...



Here's the Queen's house. It's identical to two others that are located right next to it. that form a little circle o'identical houses. We weren't quite sure why they were all built exactly the same, but the best theory we could come up with was it's a way to fight terrorism.



After walking through the Queen's front driveway, we made our way over to the big domed building from the earlier photograph. It's a big church called Fredrick's Church, or "The Marble Church". The largest dome in Scandinavia, it's pretty darn big.



A little video clip of the inside:



Next up was the old fortifications known as the Kastellet ("Citadel"). These are intact old fortifications on the north side of the city proper. While the military value of the fort is a little questionable, it's still held by the Danish military and used as a home for the Home Guard, Judge Advocate's offices, and some other administrative functions. Soldiers still live in some of the buildings, but the grounds around it are known more as being a big park that is open to the public during the day and where people bring dogs to run along the ramparts.



Just outside of the Kastellet is the famous statue of The Little Mermaid. Yes, it's much smaller than you'd think. Yes, it's very popular with Asian tour groups. And yes, it was still in possession of its head that day.



Just a little ways up from the little mermaid was a little monument. Leaning in to examine the plaque on it, I was a little shocked to see that it was a memorial/fundraising tool for raising money for "Aged Seaman and Seamen Widows".



Why was I shocked? Simple, take a look at what the memorial is made from. That's right, it's a defused mine - the exact thing that probably turned some of those women into widows to begin with. Irony anyone?



Another picture of the area around the Kastellet. Is it any wonder people walk their dogs there?



After touring the Kastellet, we walked over to the "King's Park" where we saw the king's "old place". I mean, after seeing *this* dump, who *wouldn't* want to move into three of four identical houses on their own cul-de-sac? Sheesh...



Conveniently enough, fairly close to the old castle is a grave full of famous Danes! No, not Hamlet, but just about everyone else including Neils Bohr, Hans Christian Andersen, and Kirkegaard! So, obviously, a picture of at least one of those is pretty much obligatory:



After checking out the cemetery, we made our way to an area of Copenhagen called Christiana. This is another former military base that was abandoned by the military and taken over by squatters in the 1970's. Since then, it has essentially functioned as an independent geopolitical entity within the borders of Copenhagen. The people there live basically in a hippie society with their own metalsmith, bike repair shop, and a few booths selling tchotchkes to tourists. Of course, it's most famous economic engine was the hash trade, which pretty much functioned in the same open air market for decades. But of course, that attracted the uncomfortable attention of the police who cracked down until they agreed to take the hash trade underground (see the entire history of Christiana here). Of course, the people of Christiana don't take kindly to strangers with cameras taking pictures, so I don't have any of the area. But it was really fascinating. Like a combination Grateful Dead theme park, abandoned neighborhood, hippie commune, and that part of the playground where the "misunderstood" kids hung out.

After walking around the area for a while, we pulled into a little live music venue where there was a blues jam session going on. Who would have thought that everyone in Christiana was a blues musician? But apparently, they are as the signup sheet was about a mile long. We listened over beers for a while and then headed back into the city.



This is one of the most well-known churches in Copenhagen - the Von Frelsers Church. That spiral around the spire is a staircase with 400 steps that goes all the way up to the top. Unfortunately, it was closed on this day, so I had to figure out a different way to see Copenhagen from up high...

Hello, Tivoli Gardens! Fortunately, they have a ride (much like the Kite-Eating Tree at the old Camp Snoopy in the Mall of America - only about 250/300 feet tall) which helped me satiate my love of things up high.



Of course, this video is *highly* taboo according to the rules of the ride. But I was subtle about it so I escaped!

The rest of Tivoli Gardens was an odd combination of Disney World and Central Paris. It felt old, but still had a bunch of entertaining and modern rides. And good food. So it was a great place for my day in Copenhagen to wrap up, over beer, tapas, and good conversation catching up with a good friend. Yay!

More pictures of Tivoli Gardens:




The last thing we did there was watch a little bit of the final concert of the Tivoli season, featuring "Nephew" which is a band that really wants to be Duran Duran plus the Police. Only the lead singer plays key-tar. They weren't terrible. Kind of poppy - sort of the boy band of Denmark.



Finally, on the way out, I passed by the Hard Rock Cafe. Yup, just walked by. It's amazing that those are so blahse now that they are ubiquitous. I remember being in junior high and beign *so* healous when one of my friends woudl come back from vacation with s Hard Rock t-shirt. Now I couldn't take one if they were free.



Of course, it didn't help that it is located right next to a "Build-a-Bear workshop". Yeah, honey. I went to Copenhagen and I got you a Hard Rock t-shirt and a Build-a-Bear. *That* will score you points...

2 comments:

towwas said...

Wow, that's a fantastic day o' sightseeing! Really interesting about the hippie neighborhood.

Jennifer said...

hey! was that tom and tone you ended up meeting up with? grammatical froot loops aside, glad it worked out if it did... see you soon, neighbor! xoxo jenn

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