Mermaids and Vikings - what's not to love!
30.08.2013 - 03.09.2013 15 °C
Our flight with Norwegian Air had been surprisingly good and we landed around 18.30 and got straight onto a train into central Copenhagen which only took about 15 minutes. As usual we were armed with maps and directions and it was easy to find - to be fair you couldn't miss it as DanHostel http://www.danhostel.dk/en/hostel/danhostel-copenhagen-city Copenhagen City is the largest hostel in Europe. We checked in and were pleasantly surprised when we walked into a 6 bed dorm with en-suite as we had booked a 10 bed dorm! Sadly the rest of the hostel did not quite meet expectations as most of the common areas were pretty grim feeling more like the communal areas you would see in a prison (especially as they were in the basement!). Instead of our usual Pesto and pasta we decided we couldn't be bothered to cook (well I didn't want to) we had tuna sandwiches instead, we called it a night as it had been a long and emotional day!
Next morning and we were up and making breakfast in the ridiculously small and crowded kitchen before waiting to be picked up for yet another free walking tour. This one was another one run by Sandeman's New Europe which we have done a number of now and while waiting we got chatting to some of our fellow travellers who were also taking the tour. Campbell like most Australians seemed to have spent most of his life travelling and was on his way from Russia through Scandinavia down into Europe and gave us loads of tips and advice for both Russia and Australia. Julia was Canadian and was also on her way down from Sweden and was heading to Berlin next (so we got to give her some tips), Silvia was Italian and just visiting for a long weekend and Travis was the rather stereotypical (but nice) American "doing" Europe.
The tour got underway with our very camp, British guide, Jake, who slightly worryingly had only lived in Copenhagen for 3 months but we stuck with it as he showed us around the city seeing the Old Town Hall, Copenhagen old stock exchange, Nyhavn Harbour and the Royal Palace where Queen Margaret (apparently the coolest monarch according to our guide). Half way we stopped at a cool river side bar and had beef stew with mash potato half price thanks to being on the tour, it was at this moment the heavens opened but luckily we were inside and also luckily it stopped when we had finished. Our guide also showed us where the Royal Yacht is normally docked saying we had to use our imaginations and it was around this point that we started to loose faith in him. He soon started repeating himself making comments like "and lots of other stuff" or "don't ask me because I can't remember". By the end it was actually quite a disappointing tour, so we did not tip him. Whether this is because we have done so many now (all of which have been really good) I don't know. At least we had a better understanding of the city and it had given us some ideas on where else we could go and given us a cheap meal of traditional beef stew!
We all decided we needed to see the famous little mermaid statue, which was erected as a homage to Hans Christian Anderson who wrote the fairy tale (before Walt) and lived in Copenhagen. The Mermaid was not as easy to find as we thought and we ended up going round an old fort by accident which was actually quiet nice. Eventually we came across a massive crowd of tourists and figured that must be the spot. I must admit I was a little disappointed firstly she was a lot smaller then I thought she would be and then she wasn't half fish, half lady, it was only her toes that were fishy. She was also really closed to shore meaning people could climb onto her to have their photo taken! From here we split up some of us heading back to the hostel and some going off on other tours or meeting friends.
Once back at the hostel we arranged to met up with Julia and Campbell again to go out for food. We ended up going out to a district which was supposed to be a quirky arty district with lots of bars and restaurants, which to be fair it did but all of us being on a budget we ended up a kebab/pizza place with the whole menu in Danish so decided to guess at one. Campbell went for the easy choice an XXL cheese burger, Julia went for number 62 which ended up being a prawn pizza (she said she wasn't that fond of them but ate it anyway) and we went fro number 1 which was a mushroom, sweetcorn and kebab meat pizza, that was actually really nice. Bellies full we started to walk home and ended up coming across a random music festival taking place on one of the many bridges which had been closed down especially. I think the boys were willing to stay out and watch it as it was free but Julia and I were freezing as the temperature had dropped a lot. So we ended up heading back, so us girls could go to bed and the boys stayed up having a beer.
Next morning and Nick and I headed for the Nationalmuseet http://natmus.dk/en/the-national-museum-of-denmark/exhibitions/temporary-exhibitions/viking-2013/ (which is free). For once our timing was spot on as they were holding a temporary Viking exhibit - apparently the largest one they have ever held. It was fascinating - neither of us realised quite how far they had explored, making it all the way to northern Africa! It being Denmark the exhibit was all state of the art with iPads as information boards next to each display! We explored a little more of the museum looking at the Toy exhibit which had some pretty amazing dolls houses and then a really interesting exhibit with a history of Denmark showing how politics fashions, technologies etc had all moved on. We stupidly decided to stop for coffee (and cake) at the Museum Cafe which is always an expensive idea, but in Copenhagen even more so - £18! - and it wasn't even that great being served in cardboard cups!!
After that we decided to take a walk over to Christianhavn Island to get a closer look at the Church of Our Saviour with it's famous external spiral staircase forming its steeple. The interior of the church was really pretty and surprisingly modern looking, but the climb up the spire was just too expensive, so had to admire it from below. From there we took the short walk to Christiania which we had heard about on our walking tour the day before. Basically during the 1970s, the army moved out of some old barracks and a bunch of squatters moved in and have never left. It is now a recognised separate state having it's own laws, most famously (and perhaps not surprisingly) that cannabis is legalised there. We took a very quick walk as it looked really dodgy and wasn't that exciting to look at really as now it attracts tourist they have huge signs everywhere saying "No Photos" but have a souvenir shop near the exit.
On our last full day we woke up to heavy rain and both feeling really tired we decided to stay in bed a little long and have a slow morning getting ready before going down to the prison like kitchen to have breakfast and make lunch. Here we met a lovely Australian lady and started chatting about life, politics and Vegemite. Realising the time we said goodbye as we had to make our way to the train station to get our ticket for the next day to Båstad, Sweden. We really wanted to make the most of the day and it was already 12:00, but the day before we asked for ideas on day trips and the hostel suggested Helsingør and to visit "Hamlet's Castle". The train would only take an hour, so we decided to go for it - we are so glad we did! The town was lovely and the castle was huge and again using the latest technology (if you had your bluetooth switched on an english audio guide downloaded to your mobile and you could play them as you went from room to room) - very fancy! The best part of the castle though was the Casements deep below the castle and made from sandstone caves and tunnels. It is slightly strange we both enjoyed it so much as I'm scared of the dark and Nick is claustrophobic, so probably not the best idea for both of us to descend into dark caves under the castle but it was great and thanks to a torch app on Nick's phone not too scary. After the castle we took a short walk around the castle wall and watched the crashing waves before heading back to the station with the rain holding off. Once back in Copenhagen we decided to be naughty and eat out. I had been craving Chinese food for weeks and there was a Wagamama's next to the station so that ended up being dinner for that night.
Our train to Båstad was not until later that afternoon, so we checked out, dumped our bags (having to pay for the privilege!) and walked over to Rosenburg Castle, close to the centre of the city. The castle was more of a fort/tower and was very pretty surrounded by a small moat and manicured gardens. It is also where they house the Danish Crown Jewels for which they charge a ridiculous amount to see, so we had to admire from the outside, making the most of the nice weather (Nick was happy the sun was shining again) to enjoy our sandwiches on a bench. After this we wandered back towards our hostel, stopping for coffee in the student area (slightly cheaper, but not by much!) before collecting our bags and catching our train to Sweden to stay with our friend Annika.