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In Pursuit of Vikings, Fjords and Cooler Weather, thursdaysd Goes North

In Pursuit of Vikings, Fjords and Cooler Weather, thursdaysd Goes North

Old Aug 6th, 2015, 03:56 PM
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Glad to hear T-Mobile worked well elsewhere. I have to say it has been great for us.
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 04:57 PM
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Despite having visited Germany many times, I've never been to Potsdam. I think I'll need to check your TR again before I go back next year.

I don't find Berlin charming, but I've always found it interesting, perhaps because I've read and studied a lot about WWII. And I speak German, though not as well as I would like.

I've stayed a couple of times at the Motel One near the Frankfurt Airport. I like the fact that it's not expensive. However, I wish food other than breakfast were available there. One can get a sort of sandwich if one is desperate, but I've never liked the sandwich, which is called a "Toast."
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 05:55 PM
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Sorry, but I started to post a compliment on your trip report, but got sidetracked and didn't actually post the compliment. Anyway, I enjoyed your trip report thus far.
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 01:03 PM
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Peg - I think you would like Potsdam - we did, though we only stayed one night [two would be better]. Truly the Sanssouci is well worth seeing, but there are several other places that we would have liked to see but didn't have the time for.

thursdaysd - perhaps there are still some 5 star establishments which haven't heard of TA!
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Old Aug 10th, 2015, 11:52 PM
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Sorry for the long hiatus. I just finished five nights in Stockholm, and I stayed busy. Plus, I don't have the stamina I used to, and by the time I've finished dinner I don't have the energy to write. However, I am now at Arlanda airport, waiting to board my flight to Bergen and there is free wifi. There is also a slick high-speed train connecting Stockholm's central train station with Arlanda. If only DC, or New York....

<b>July 31, 2015: Sighting Vikings in Roskilde</b>

Further back than I like to think, I learned history in an English secondary school - European history, that is, mostly. As I remember, we started with the Hittites and the Assyrians, and other assorted Mesopotamians, followed by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who took rather longer. So we arrived at the Dark Ages, a sad saga of invasions. First the Angles and the Saxons, who drove the Celts westwards, and amalgamated to form the Anglo-Saxons. Then the Danes, in the south, who were sometimes bought off with Danegeld, and eventually settled in the Danelaw. And, worst of all, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ironically), the Vikings, who mostly attacked to the north, and settled such cities as York and Dublin (a check of wikipedia puts York in the Danelaw, so much for my memory). Finally, the Normans (who were originally Vikings) brought the age of invasions to an end in 1066.

So I never thought of Danes as Vikings. On the other side of the North Sea, however, the picture is different. I titled this report "In Pursuit of Vikings, Fjords and Cooler Weather". The cooler weather duly arrived in northern Germany, no hope of fjords before Norway, but now I had my first encounter with Vikings in Roskilde, a short train ride west of Copenhagen. The Danes, I learned, had no doubts that they had been Vikings, too. The museum I had come to see is called the Vikingeskibsmuseet, and the ships it had been built to shelter and celebrate were Viking ships that had been sunk at Skuldelev near Roskilde as a defense against invasion nearly a thousand years ago.

The Viking Ship Hall holds the reassembled remains of the ships, some more complete, some less. Not all Viking ships were warships, carrying an invasion force. There is a warship here, but there are also coastal trading ships. And outside, in the harbor, are reconstructions, although I have to say, they were looking a little the worse for wear to me. Another was being built on site, and you could even pay extra to go for a sail in one, but the weather was grey and cold, and I had recently been reminded that I get bored on boats.

The boats looked singularly uncomfortable vehicles for a long journey, especially a sea journey, with no protection for the occupants. My respect for the Vikings, especially those who crossed the seas, as opposed to the coastal traders, rose higher. Descriptive displays accompany the boats, and if you arrive in the right season there are people practicing the associated crafts. There is also a cafe, where I ate an excellent flat bread sandwich with pork, cabbage and salad.

The museum is at the other end of town from the train station, and although there is a bus, it only runs twice an hour (on weekdays). With my usual lack of bus luck, I just missed one on the way back. Going to the museum I had set out on foot for for the T.I., in the center of town. The red brick cathedral was almost next door, so I had a look before continuing. I enjoyed the soaring white nave, and was seriously impressed by the huge gilded altarpiece, but couldn't rouse much interest in the royal tombs, being unfamiliar with the occupants, and the museum wasn't worth the trek upstairs.

I rather liked Roskilde, which seemed a pleasant small town, a whole lot quieter than Copenhagen, and might make a base for visiting Copenhagen itself, rather than staying in the city.
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 02:47 AM
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There are several upmarket suburbs to the north of Copenhagen which are very nice to stay in as an alternative to staying in the city centre. Klampenborg, Charlottenlund, Hellerup to mention a couple. The coastal road North of the city towards Helsingoer has very nice areas to stay, some by the beach. I would recommend those as a base.
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 04:46 AM
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thursdaysd - the only time I have come across much to do with Vikings [pronounced with a short I as in Wick, which always sounds funny to me] apart from those self-same history lessons, was in Iceland, where we saw one of those tiny boats that they used to get to and fro the island, and no sea-sickness tablets to hand.

So far as the occupants thereof were concerned, the National Museum of Iceland had the results of some fascinating research that had been done into the mitochondrial DNA of Icelanders - it turns out that the men were Scandanavian, but the women were Celts - Irish and Scots.

So all those tales of rape and pillage were completely true!
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 05:59 AM
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Thanks for the info, Odin, and also annhig.

I didn't think there was much doubt about the rape and pillage, the efforts at rehabilitating the Vikings seem to be concentrated on the ones who stayed at home. Of course, the prospect of rape and pillage might have been the only thing pesuading men to make a sea voyage in one of those boats.
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Yes, me too on the history lessons! What always surprised me was that the Vikings founded the state of Kievan Rus. They certainly got about.
Good to hear the weather has improved. I do know what you mean about writing a trip report after a heavy day of sightseeing: it turns into a bit of a chore rather than fun reflections
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Old Aug 11th, 2015, 04:55 PM
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IIRC, there was a side chapel in Roskilde's cathedral that had held so many small sarcophagi that I stopped to look, and was stunned that they almost all had the same name and each had birth and death dates that were either the same or very nearly so; as a set, there was about one a year. What a reminder of how precarious the survival of an infant was in those days! I remember that image very clearly, but can't swear that it was from Roskilde....

We'll take your trip report whenever you choose to share it, thursdaysd! Like gertie, hoping you find a way to make it fun.
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 12:09 AM
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I was in Roskilde about a month before you and like you I find it charming.

I stayed in Berlin in just after the wall came down with the head of the Canal system who was one of 20 East German families allowed to live in West Germany (but in East German housing, so the lights sparked ). I didn't find it charming, just too big, too commercial and with poverty so close. Still one great museum with Babylonian bits that would have been "Bushed" into powder if not seized by Imperial archaeologists.

I've seen a few too many ethnographic museums East of the Elbe to be entirely comfortable, too much measuring of skull size, shape and linking intelligence to male white people for me, the one in Sighisoara is especially concerning.
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 02:06 AM
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Such an interesting trip. Take your time, we'll wait
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 07:09 AM
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<b>July 30 - August 3, 2014: Crowded Copenhagen</b>

Getting from Lubeck to Copenhagen was a bit more trying than I expected. Some of that was my own fault. I had checked my train ticket the night before, and had it firmly fixed in my mind that my train left at 10:18. I was dismayed to discover, when my bus arrived at the station, that it actually left at 10:06! Good thing I had allowed plenty of time - I was even able to buy a sandwich for lunch. Not that I couldn't have bought lunch on the ferry, but this was easier. Yes, just like the train I took at the other end of Europe to get to Sicily, this one was loaded onto a ferry to reach Denmark. Unfortunately, due to rough seas, we had a long wait for the ferry to arrive and disgorge the Germany-bound train. The crossing mostly presented a vista of grey seas and grey skies - not very exciting.

The train grew more and more crowded - we arrived in Copenhagen with passengers sitting on the floor. Definitely buy a reservation for this route! My seat-mate was an 82 year-old resident of Stockholm, (he had started his journey in Basel, and would connect to another train in Copenhagen) but he said that he was unable to offer any sightseeing suggestions as he didn't sightsee in his own town - a response I entirely understand, as I once lived in London and never visited the tourist sights until I returned with Americans in tow.

I eventually located an ATM in the big Copenhagen central station, and a very nice T.I. just outside. I could have settled in with wifi and coffee, but instead I picked up a map and bought a transport pass and a welcome card with museum admissions. The woman helping me, who had a pronounced Australian accent, pointed me in the direction of the bus I needed to reach the Wake Up Copenhagen Borgergade. Even more minimalist - if more expensive - than the Motel Ones, this was the cheapest central place I could find with AC, but proved an excellent choice.

The guidebooks had all raved about the former wharf district, Nyhavn, and since it was very close I started my Copenhagen visit there. What a disappointment! Perhaps I would enjoy it at another time of year, or perhaps a few years ago, but not now in high season. The prettier, sunnier side of the canal was a mob scene. The lower story of the buildings was obscured by the umbrellas for the cafes and restaurants that occupied seemingly every building. Between the tables and the water a continuous river of people promenaded up and down. I retreated to a lone cafe on the shady side where I was able to admire what I could see of the brightly painted buildings opposite in relative peace.

Tivoli, the famed amusement park, was a similar mob scene, and even louder. I visited Saturday evening, with some thoughts of sticking around until 23:45 for the fireworks, but gave up much earlier. When I entered I was immediately assaulted by a loud pop concert, and once I was out of range of that I was in range of the screams of the riders on the assorted gravity-defying attractions. The park offered few places to sit if you didn't want to pay for food or drink, and I was a lot less impressed than I expected with the evening lights.

Some of the crowds were no doubt attributable to cruise ships. Finding myself fairly close to the Little Mermaid statue one afternoon, after visiting the Design Museum, I set out in that direction. A friend had mentioned that the area offered a peaceful walk. Not when I was there. I rounded a corner to be confronted by a huge Azamara cruise ship, and another river of people headed for the statue. I settled for a rear view from a canal tour boat.

The crowds of pedestrians were a particular problem in Copenhagen because of the construction of the streets. They were cobbled, which made for difficult walking, especially with a stroller or rolling case, so there were three thin strips of smooth pavement set into the cobbles. Most people wanted to walk on the pavement....
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 12:47 PM
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You know, I have a feeling you are going to say exactly the same as I did when I got back from London last week: never go in summer again! Is it me or is Europe getting more crowded? Something to do with people having more money available for travel, it's easy to get about in Europe these days, and especially in northern Europe, you have to take your chance in the good weather!!
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 01:45 PM
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I won't tell DH about your sad experiences in Copenhagen. He often talks fondly of the trip he made there before we met and I don't want to destroy those memories.
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 03:04 PM
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I do understand not wanting to be in places where there are hordes of people. I'm hoping things will pick up for you.
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 04:30 PM
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"Finding myself fairly close to the Little Mermaid statue one afternoon ... I set out in that direction. A friend had mentioned that the area offered a peaceful walk. Not when I was there. I rounded a corner to be confronted by a huge Azamara cruise ship, and another river of people headed for the statue. I settled for a rear view from a canal tour boat."

Sounds like you made a wise choice! I was very fortunate to have a few moments alone with her, but that was MANY moons ago.
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 04:51 PM
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Oh cruise ships. Don't get me started...
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Old Aug 12th, 2015, 08:05 PM
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I can't stand crowds either.We were in Copenhagen a few years ago in Sept and it was fine. Those huge cruise ships ruin it for everyone else.
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 07:38 AM
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Cruise ships are certainly a big problem - and river cruise ships are starting to become a problem. Traveling in the off season doesn't necessarily help all that much. I was in Vienna in November last year - before the Christmas market season - and inside the Ringstrasse the place was wall to wall people.

Of course, I am typing this on a cruise ship, of a sort. We are onboard the Hurtigruten's Kong Harald, waiting to get into our cabin.
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