Copenhagen, the Grand City of the Little Mermaid
16 July 2015 • Copenhagen. I cannot count how many times I have been here. Now, for the first time I joined a cruise excursion. Our ship, the VOYAGER, was berthed along the Langlinie Quay just behind the luxury sailing cruise ship SEA CLOUD 2. This berth is simply the best one because it is so close to the city. The Little Mermaid is only a 10-minute walk.
Our small group didn’t have to walk though, as the bus was waiting just next to the ship. Much to our surprise we were greeted by our guide in Flemish. Ilse Schoutteten, who is a fellow Belgian, lives since ten years happily in the Danish Capital.
A short stop to the Little Mermaid is mandatory when you are in Copenhagen. Much to my delight it was raining briefly but heavily, making the otherwise rather insignificant statue the star of the scene, especially when seen through the forest of colourful Chinese umbrellas.
A tip if you ever go there: watch the people rather than the Mermaid. The spectacle of the continuous flow of excited tourists is a feast for the eyes.
Next stop (only minutes away, we could have walked) was Amalienborg, the most Royal of all places in Copenhagen because the Palace is the Royal Family’s main residence. I should say Palaces, because the plaza is surrounded by four similar palaces, all protected by the Royal Life Guards standing in front of their cute red guardhouses with little hearts on the side. The hearts are, together with blue lions, part of the national coat of arms of Denmark.
I really loved the open space with the beautiful fountain, the statue of King Frederik V on his horse, and the magnificent green-roofed Marble Church.
We crossed the Toldbodgade towards the Amaliehaven, to watch the modern Copenhagen Opera House on the other side of the harbour. Our guide Ilse explained that the famous Danish shipping company Maersk sponsored the building entirely.
From the bus we saw Nyhavn, the National Bank (designed by Arne Jacobsen), the Carslberg Glyptotek, the Tivoli Gardens, etc… Our guide was probably the best I have ever had. Because she lived in Copenhagen she could tell much more than the usual historical facts. As a Belgian she explained the cultural differences, the habits, interesting economical and political facts, and this with lots of enthusiasm. She was humorous too. Our group was delighted.Nyhavn
She made the bus stop at the Copenhagen Domkirke, a splendid Protestant church with fantastic, almost sacred daylight softly illuminating the interior. One of the passengers, a musician, said the acoustics were perfect too.
Last --but not least—stop was the Cristiansborg Palace, which was the former main residence of the Danish monarchs, until 1794. The Queen still uses the outstanding halls for official events. Guest for these occasions do probably not have to wear the blue plastic shoe covers we had to put on.
Every single room was lavishly decorated. My absolute favourite was the Great Hall with modern tapestries from Bjørn Nørgaard, depicting Denmark’s history.One of the tapestries from Bjørn Nørgaard with this one depicting the 20th century.
Véronique discovered on her own. What follows is the story of her day.
You can feel it right away; this city boasts creativity. Everywhere you look you can see funny winks. For example they put flowers in their waste baskets, the little red houses of the guards have hearts in it, on many occasions you can see the sticker 'It's only love give it away'... The stickers were first handmade in 2000 by Sebastian Dragelykke. A Danish clothing company picked up the idea and used it on their package tape. Now in 2015 you can still see the stickers everywhere spreading the love.
In this city you can see a nice mix of old and modern buildings standing happily together.
Copenhagen ranks very high on international surveys about the quality of life. I can see why, this is simply a city to enjoy life. That’s what you see when you stroll through the city. Around the waterfront you can discover many terraces, either alternative, beachy or sophisticated. Next to the prominent role of the water in the city, you will find many parks and bike lanes.
Denmark is working hard to be a green and sustainable country. Copenhagen with its bike lanes, green rooftops, waste management and other initiatives are an inspiration for other cities around the world. Near the library you can see the Dome of Visions. It was a challenge for the construction industry how to create a building that is sustainable in the broadest sense and at the same time energy-optimized.
In the morning it was raining for a while. No problem in this city, you can head to one of the excellent cosy coffee houses, have a Danish pastry, shop till you drop in Strøget street (major shopping street), a department store or go for a smørrebrød. I loved coffee at Heritage Coffee and Bikes, the design section and food court of department store Magasin du Nord, smørrebrød at organic bakery Emmerys and strawberry pie at Almanak.
Christianshavn on the other side of the harbour is a haven of peace and quiet. I loved walking along the canals. It was interesting to see freetown Christiania. Once an area taken over by squatters, it is still an autonomous part. Drugs is sold in Pusher Street (no pictures allowed) by salespeople wearing sunglasses and scarfs. There are food stalls and handicraft is sold. A strange mix of weed smell, hippies, stoned people, tourists and kids. I still don’t know what to think of it. Let me think about it...
I bumped into the COPENHAGEN STREET FOOD FESTIVAL on Paper Island in the harbour. I’m a big fan of this kind of initiatives. I already saw many of them but this one is my favourite up to date. Cosy inside when it was raining, even with a fire to sit around and later in the sun converted containers, tables and loungers to enjoy the food and the sun. Whether you wanted to eat organic, vegetarian, Mexican, Turkish, Colombian or Danish…all is possible. An excellent example how to use an empty warehouse for a beautiful initiative that makes lots of people happy.
A day full of surprises, lots of walking, sunshine and food. It was a good day.
We are travelling on board VOYAGER with Belgian cruise tour operator All-Ways, discovering the Baltic Sea and St-Petersburg. Mike often joins the excursion, while I mainly go explore myself. In the evening we gather our stories and share on the blog the things we loved most.