Thankfully I rarely need to learn a lesson twice. The morning is spent in research, guide book and map in hand until my inner Hermione’s need for order is quelled. I pick through the sights, Chris studies the map. Teamwork at last, we will wander aimlessly and be lost no more.
It’s another perfect day, just the thing for a full day’s agenda. Bikes out, it’s back to main square, the Radhuspladsen, first up to see the Radhus interiors that were closed yesterday. It’s a grand Town Hall, opened in 1905, lavishly decorated with mosaics, intricate brickwork and decorated ceilings at every turn. A wedding is underway, the bride and groom happily posing for photos on the staircase. I learn that the World Clock we saw yesterday will provide a calendar for the next 570,000 years.
It’s then on to the King’s Garden where Copenhagen is out in force enjoying the sun. The gardens are a lush, green oasis in the fast pace of the city, with the Rosenborg Slot set at the centre. The rose garden is in flower, there’s no sign of autumn here, with the exception of the autumn fashions being modelled – there’s a magazineshoot in progress. Many assistants fluff about as a 12 year old tries to assume an expression that excudes nonchalance and conveys she can “like, totally” afford the outfit she’s wearing. Love fashion, but the industry does love to play on our fears and mess with our heads.
Rosenborg Slot beckons. I faithfully promise Chris that this could quite possibly be the last castle I drag him to, and off we go. From the outside, Rosenborg looks the very image of a fairytale castle. Very tall, lots of towers, but quite petite overall. It’s the castle Goldilocks might chose as “just right”.
Built in 1606 in Dutch Renaissance Style as a summer residence, its highly orante interior culminate on the top floor, in the Long Hall. The King’s and Queen’s thrones, narwal and silver respectively are guarded by three life-sized lions, prepared to pounce. Meow! Hiss!
The castle was used until the early 18th century and is fully furnished. It displays endless collections of royal seals, china, portraits, ornate plaster stucco – it’s full to the brim with thousands of royal objects . We also tour the royal Treasury where sparkly things live along with the royal crowns, a military display and a very upsetting room full of carved ivory pieces. I wonder if they ever considered the elephants who died for it. Unusually, we’re allowed to photograph inside the Treasury. I really fancy the emerald pieces….yes please.
Castle toured and a quick waltz around the gardens for another sniff of the roses (actually stopping to smell the roses… check) it’s back on the bikes to see Den Lille Havfrue, The Little Mermaid. Immortalised by Hans Christian Andersen, she sits just offshore in North Copenhagen, recently moved to protect her from vandals. They say you can’t really say you’ve visited Copenhagen until you’ve seen her, and it seems true judging by the boats and buses that arrive regularly.
I’m a sucker for an underdog: the Little Mermaid was one of my favourite fairytales. I always thought she struck a poor deal for her legs and an even worse one to regain her voice and tail. She’s elegantly beautiful, sitting on her rock, below her waist betwixt tail and legs, caught forever in the agony of choice. It takes me a while but I eventually get the shot I want, her wistful gaze out to sea, without anyone else in shot.
Nyhavn is next on the list, the source of our frustration getting lost yesterday. No matter which way we turned, we seemed to get further away from it each time. Today though, it’s plain sailing. The harbour, another of Copenhagen’s most photographed scenes, is lit up in the late afternoon sun. Colourful houses dating from the 1600s line the harbour. Once brothels, they are now apartments above, resturants below. The lighting is utterly perfect, I could not have asked for better conditions to take pictures.
It’s still a bit early for dinner, so we cycle across the bridge to check out the street food market on the South Copenhagen shore. The buzz emanating from it can be heard across the harbour.
Crossing the bridge is a lesson in engineering, a lifting two way bridge connects the land masses and we, along with a hundred other cyclists get caught in a lift as boats sail through. Much more fun getting caught in a traffic jam on a bike. On the other side we pull up a couple of deck chairs on the harbour, grab drinks and chill. The street food market offers a wide range of global treats: it’s very popular. It’s day’s end and everyone is down to party. On the way back to Newhaven, the vibe is decidedly upbeat. The bridges are up again and a few people are a little wobbly on their bikes. No drink riding rules, I’m guessing.
We have a delicious waterfront dinner at Nyhavn, serenaded by an acoustic guitarist as the sun sets. I try Aquavit, a local drink. Potent, but very good.
We cycle back to the main square just as it’s getting dark, passing the Opera House, the Gefion Springvsndet fountain, the Citadel and Swedish church along the day.
It’s a perfect time to see the Tivoli, which is lighting up as we arrive. The sneak preview we saw last night was true to form, thousands of fairy lights light up to create a magical setting. With over 30 rides, 30 restaurants, feature gardens, shops and cafes, Tivoli is a Willy Wonka amusement Park experience with a history going back to 1843.
We both utterly love it, despite not going on a single ride. Not for lack of trying. Chris tries to get me on a loopy nightmare called the Daemon; he’s only dissuaded when he finds out he’s not allowed to wear his glasses on it. I could happily spend a few more hours wandering about, Tivoli is enormous, but it’s late and time to ride home.
It’s been an utterly magical, perfect day.