Copenhagen, Denmark - Wednesday, September 03, 2003

While Norway hands down had the coolest topography and scenery, it was just a bit sleepier than Denmark. Fewer homes, smaller towns. Though Oslo was quite the happening city, Copenhagen is almost 3X its size. Bicycles ruled the road, picturesque, colorful buildings lined the streets and canals, and everyone seemed to be milling around on the street day and night. Copenhagen just felt more cosmopolitan. For sure the food was better and less expensive as well.

We spent three days hanging out with Kim (Danish) and Anne (Austinite), new friends of ours introduced through Dave´s friend Joe. Joe and Kim met randomly in Denmark several years ago and have remained good friends ever since. So, Joe hooked us up for our short visit. Thanks Joe!

We were treated to some good home cooking our 1st night in town and got a chance to hang out with some of Kim & Anne's friends. We started out at the homemade bar in their basement and then proceeded to hit a bar in town. Fun night..especially for D since Kim made him sample the local licorice vodka. Vicious stuff!

After sleeping late, we got right on our sightseeing duties... Kim drove us all out to Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, a town where Denmark is closest to Sweden (2.5 miles). Shakespeare's play, "Hamlet" takes place in this Danish castle. Originally built in 1420, its purpose was to help collect the excise and other taxes and fees from foreign ships wanting to sail through. For centuries, Sweden was the prime enemy of Denmark, which accounts for the strength of Kronborg at the time of construction - it was in its time the most powerful fortress in the Nordic countries, and housed a large garrison. We took a tour of the castle - through both the old residence (very ornate for their time) and the soldiers´ quarters in the basement of the castle (dark, dank, and cold).

We then drove back to Copenhagen to check out one of the most famous touristy sites - The Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid was a present from brewer Carl Jacobsen (The Carlsberg Breweries) to Copenhagen. The story goes....

The Little Mermaid tells the story of a mermaid who fell in love with a prince from land, and often came up to the edge of the water to look for her love. The sculpture pictures her as she sits and looks out over the water, after having married the prince, and reminiscing over her lost childhood in the sea, as a mermaid. The story of The Little Mermaid is not a very happy one - she does get her loved one, by visiting a witch and agreeing to give the witch her tongue, in exchange for legs to replace her fish tail. And every step she took on her legs, hurt like she was walking on swords. So in order to get her love, she became a mute and was in pain with every step she took. The things you do for love...

Nothing like a hard day being touristy! We found a dark, Danish hole of a restaurant and ordered up a feast of traditional Danish food. It's all about potatoes and some sort of meat. YUMMY!!! Good bye Norway! For dessert and a stroll, we checked out Tivoli Gardens. Check out a little history on this amazing amusement park which opened in 1843.

Our next day consisted of a visit to counter-culture Christiania, a commune style enclave a short walk from the Parliament Building. This "free city" was established in 1971 with an original group of 700 people claiming squatters rights on an abandoned military base. This group of hippies, druggies, anarchists, and alternative lifestyle seekers founded this peace and freedom loving society that just started paying taxes in the last few years. Christiania has become a hot political topic for various reasons including the police turning an eye towards soft drugs (pot, hash, mushrooms) and the prospects of turning this valuable real estate into some sort of development much like the surrounding area.

Other places visited on our whirlwind tour included the Queens Residence, Nyhaven (the original sailors quarters, Hans Christian Andersen lived and wrote his first stories here), the Stroget (pedestrian walking mall) and the Nazi Resistance Museum.

Many thanks to our generous hosts, Kim and Anne, who donated their time generously for our entire stay. Thanks for the home cooking, good conversation, comfy bed and fabulous tour guiding skills.

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