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Trip Report My whirlwind day in Copenhagen

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A warning for those of you who enjoy lingering and relaxing when you travel, I had the opportunity to spend 1.5 days in Copenhagen on a layover and took the opportunity to browse the area as much as possible. It was my first time in Denmark, so everything was new. I'm a 50+ female who likes architecture, history, nature, and distinctive local culture. I'm a budget traveler.

I flew in from Helsinki arriving at around 7pm on Friday night and left on Sunday 2pm. I could have volunteered to be bumped each way for a 1.5 hr delay in and a 5 hr delay out for 300Euro voucher each way good for one year on SAS/Blue1 or cash in for half value. Why don't bump opportunities ever present themselves at a convenient time instead of after you have already been traveling for 12 hours or you have to be somewhere for work?

I purchased the 24-hr Copenhagen card at the CPH Information Desk to enable me to visit as many of the participating sights as I wanted without bothering with how much each admission cost vs. the time I would have. I activated the card to use on the Metro, got some kroners out of the teller, and caught the next Metro to the Forum station, walking 2-3 blocks to my budget hotel CabInn Scandinavia. Smooth and easy.

Most all the moderate hotels were fully booked a month ago when I started planning because the world cycling championship was being held in the city. I found a few $200-600 rooms and beds in shared dormitory rooms in hostels--neither attractive to me--before I found the CabInn (two locations near Forum Metro) with singles starting just under $100. I splurged for the commodore (2 beds + bunk for around $135) because the rooms are tiny, but found the additional space is taken up by additional bed, so single would have done as well. The room is tiny and I can't image it with 3 people unless they all remain in bed. The shower/toilet/sink room is slightly larger than a shower stall. But, it was clean, quiet, safe and friendly, so I was satisfied. After a good night's sleep and an OK breakfast at the hotel, I was ready to hit the tourist center by 8-9am.

I enjoyed the Rathus from the outside--great architecture. The shopping streets seemed typical for such cities with a mix of McDonalds, fashion stores, cafes, etc. Not very quaint in my eye. There seem to be many public sculptures and statues that I stumbled upon in squares and parks. I liked that.

I walked by Nyhavn, but the light on the buildings was better later in the day than at that time. I wandered through a small flea market setting up nearby, then on to Rosenborg Castle. I would rate the visit as "OK." I always enjoy seeing how people live, but I think you need more tour info than my guidebook provided to truly understand what you are seeing. Some neat clocks. Some amazing crown jewels, etc. so OK for a short visit. I saw the guards getting ready to march to the other palace, but decided to proceed them with a stop at the marble church where I sat resting my feet and enjoying the dome. When I left the church, the guards were marching toward me and I followed them one block to the castle, leaving them to their work as I proceeded to the Danish Design Museum.

I took a route along the waterfront (nice) and ended up at the Resistance Museum instead, so I stopped in. It too was interesting and different from the one I visited in Oslo. My husband would have enjoyed the old radios and other equipment. I could have spent longer here than I expected. I found the Design Museum and thought it OK, but not quite what I expected. It was more of a history of design, including Denmark, rather than all about Denmark. Still, it had some lovely examples of furniture designs.

I thought I'd give my feet a rest on a bus to the Christiansborg, but I discovered the street was one way the wrong way and by the time I met up with the correct bus route I had walked half way, so on I went. I thought about taking the next canal boat trip from near Chirstiansborg to rest my feet and I ended up wandered the castle complex (by accident, I followed some other tourists) before finding the boat dock. They were running later trips than advertised that day, so I decided to wait until after 5pm when the museums closed. I stepped into the 7-11 for a ham/cheese croissant and a yogurt drink and picnicked with many others by the canal, giving my feet that promised rest.

I had read that you needed the 3pm tour to really enjoy Christiansborg, but it was only maybe 2:30pm, so I decided to put on my booties (looked great over my hiking shoes) and follow my guidebook and return at 3pm as person at desk suggested. So, I took the small bag of candies the queen had obviously packaged just for my visit, and started up the stairs. I really enjoyed Christiansborg. My guidebook and the information provided in the castle was enough to explain the history and the functions that take place. The furnishings were as one were expect except I was surprised by the modern tapestries that were commissioned to replace the old ones from the other castle. Reminded me of the royal portraits in Oslo. I made a stop in the toilets, but I don't think those are the ones the visiting ambassadors and other dignitaries use. I made a quick stop in the royal carriage/stable area as I left. OK.

It was only a couple of blocks to the National Museum. Jackpot! This museum and the Christiansborg made my day. I think this is the best national culture museum I have experienced. The iron age artifacts are amazing. Those peat bogs can really preserve people, offerings, animals, and anything else that falls or is thrown in. I liked the way they presented each later age in context of how people lived, their houses, furniture, belongings, etc. with some explanation of society at the time. Unfortunately, they made an announcement that the museum was closing early that day, so I did not make it to the Inuit section that I had read about. Any history buffs should put this museum at the top of their list!

Being thrown out of the National Museum before 4:30pm meant I walked the couple of blocks to the Ny Carlsburg. The staff made sure the other person arriving and I knew the museum was closing in 30 minutes before I put my purse (OK in some museums, not in others) in a 20kr locker and proceeded to have difficulty following the map. I loved the wintergarden and could have relaxed there for some time, but instead browsed the sculptures (quite nice) and then visited the Impressionists (a few pieces but not too impressive, but there was a visiting show as well).

Are you tired? I was. After a rest, I will tell you about my evening. I wasn't done yet!

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    Unfortunately, I considered the adventure (and reward) of being bumped, but did not volunteer in the end. I was already spending 5 hrs in HEL and didn't want to stay longer + arrive in a new city at 9+pm. Returning I would have done it, but I would have had 5 hrs at CPH (with a meal voucher, he promised) arrive at HEL at 10+pm and have to be working at 9am next morning. So, although it would fit my style, I decided to be practical rather than cheap.

    Well, back to Copenhagen.
    I sat on the bench outside the museum at 5pm chatting about our next destinations with the Chinese lady who had entered at the same time as I. She was considering Nyhavn and I was ready for my canal boat tour, but from the closer Christiansborg, so we parted ways. I got on the next to last boat of the day at close to 6pm after a quick stop in the 7-11 for snack and drink. I wasn't disappointed, but I wasn't expecting much. The only places I saw from the boat that I hadn't seen on land were the Little Mermaid (I hadn't gone based on comments I'd seen) and some naval island buildings that had been redeveloped into housing. We did not go on the normal route because high water made it impassable for the covered boat. We started out on an uncovered boat, but then we docked at Nyhavn, were told to climb into a covered boat (because it was getting cold, she said) and sat for 10-15 minutes waiting for others to join the boat from the dock further up. I think they just didn't have many people riding at that time, so they wanted to consolidate two small boatloads of people from the two locations. So, I'd rate the canal ride as relatively boring, but restful for my feet.

    By now it was getting dark and my Copenhagen Card would be running out in 1 hour. What to do? My feet said use the card to take a bus to the hotel. My traveler's brain said go to Trivoli Gardens. The brain won out (Trivoli was enroute to hotel). So, I surrendered my card for its final swipe and entered the amusement park where a pantomime was in progress on the stage. What fun! A crowd was watching and the children really cheered at the end. Then a rock and roll trio started their show across the path. After a couple of songs, I thought I should explore the rest of the park and maybe find some food. I was more tired than hungry, so I didn't want a sit-down dinner. I almost purchased a hamburger and fries (something I never eat at home), but instead passed and picked up a sandwich outside the park. Instead, I walked among the rides and arcades, enjoyed the lights, and just enjoyed the atmosphere before returning to the theater for a seat to watch the first couple of dances of the ballet show. Then I had to pack it in and head to the hotel. No fireworks for me.

    I forgot how its always a longer distance to return when you are tired, it is dark, and you are in a new city. I did drag myself into the hotel and got another, but not as good night's sleep. My legs ached! But it was worth it.

    Next morning I moved slowly out of the hotel, back to the Metro, back to the airport for check-in 4-5 hours before flight. I caught a local bus to Dragor for a short look around. I had read a couple of trip reports from people who had gone there to walk around the yellow buildings and harbor as a contrast to the big city. This is the only part of the trip I had barely glanced out because I didn't know if I would even go there. Well, my poor planning told me which bus, but not what stop. I thought it would be obvious, but it wasn't to me. I saw on the return that my bus made a turn off the main road for the proper stop, so one doesn't see the buildings and the sign to harbor from the bus. Instead it just looks like a side street transfer point (at least to me). So I rode on a ways, then realized we were leaving town, so I chose the next stop that I knew was a transfer point offering two routes back to the airport. It wasn't what I intended, but it was charming. I was in a rural community with church, horse farms, yellow farm houses, antique shops, and newer subdivisions. I just walked down the side road looking at houses with thatched roofs as well as the modern subdivision. Families on bicycles and riders on horseback passed me. I chatted with the antique shop owner for a few minutes as she set up her outdoor signs to attract customers. An hour later I caught the bus (same driver on his loop), passed through Dragor (saw the town center this time), and arrived back at CPH with time for a salad before my flight, using up the few coins I had left and charging the rest of the bill.

    So, I had a great time in Copenhagen. I browsed the sights and identified ones I'd like to return to for a longer visit and noted others I didn't have time for. I don't care for crowds or traffic and as you see I don't care about food or shopping (I did buy a souvenir picture book and a magnet), so my interest in cities is the architecture and the museums. There were LOTS of tourists, but not too crowded anywhere (I did not go to the cycling venue). I saw pickpocket warning signs everywhere, but not see anyone having any problems except some young people kept trying to ride the Metro without paying. The city was average in terms of cleanliness. The mass transit seemed to work well. The service workers were helpful. The prices are expensive. I thought I was back in Norway.

    BTW, I mentioned my hiking shoes. I almost didn't bring my hiking shoes or athletic shoes on this trip because I would only be in the cities and only a few days of recreation. Am I glad I did! With all the cobblestones and walking I would have had difficulty even in my rubber soled closed leather slip on casual shoes. I felt overdressed because the most common form of dress on tourists in Copenhagen appeared to be jeans of all varieties paired with various types of athletic shoes (including white). (These were not American tourists.) Basketball shoes appear to be popular among the young folks. Once back in Finland, I saw many more people in city black clothes and winter leather boots, but not on tourists in Copenhagen on a Saturday.

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