The horrible realisation hit us on the morning of the third day in Copenhagen:
We’d been in Denmark for 40 hours, and not eaten a single danish!
Luckily, this was a situation that could be easily rectified: we rushed to our local Lagkagehuset (a bakery chain that produces goods above and beyond what you’d expect for something of its ilk), where I scoffed down a cinnamon pastry, and a truly delicious chocolate rye ball.*
*we managed to discover that the rye balls will last several days without any major changes to their composition. So if anyone’s in Denmark and wants to post me a few…
Our plans for the day were somewhat grand- we were taking a train to the north, where we would visit Hamlet’s Castle at Helsingor. Then we would ride across the ‘sea’ to Sweden, have a look around, travel back down the Swedish coast and train across the Swedish-Danish bridge.
Coming from Australia, where our borders are pretty well defined, I found the whole ‘ferry to another country’ rather amusing. But more on that later.
This is in the north, but it’s not the castle.
Europeans sure know how to do their train stations in style.
The city was smaller and ‘quainter’ that I’d expected- although part of that was due to it being a Sunday- most things were closed, but at least not ‘German closed’. When we arrived we realised that the sunny ‘Copenhagen weather’ of the day before clearly didn’t apply to Helsingor. So we rushed into the nearest store and bought the warmest woolliest tights we could find, and (I) shamelessly put them on in the middle of the street.
That super fancy modern building in the background is actually a library- one of the most beautiful, alluring, functional libraries I’ve ever seen.
Let’s take a peak inside:
The ground floor had a reception, and a cafe area, with extremely artsy chairs, perhaps not the most pleasing for those with a delicate bum.
But the first floor was just amazing. It was all of the children and young adult stuff. They had this capsule reading room, giant hippos to sit on, and tons of wonderful places for kids to lounge around.
The first and second floors had the adult sections, with all the books you can imagine, plus magazines and newspapers, reading nooks, a stunning view over the harbour and this:
Do you remember Funny Face? I’m pretending to be Hepburn. Except that I’m actually pulling a ‘funny face’ because I put the camera on timer, and about two seconds before it went off someone walked in front of me trying to work out why the girl was clinging to the ladder posing and aiming a pose at a bookshelf.
Speaking of posing:
They also had their own version of the little mermaid. Perhaps they thought it was sexist that a woman was getting all the attention back in Copenhagen?
We headed to the castle, keeping an eye out for William.
The history of the place is quite amazing, even if you’re not that into Shakespeare.
Through the positioning of this castle, and a twin on the other side of the sea in what is now Sweden, the Danish kings were able to control passage of all ships into the Baltic sea. Initially they charged a fee per ship, but then realised they could charge a percentage of the worth of the goods, and the money started rolling in. Of course, the ship owners at first tried to massively undervalue their cargo, but they soon found that if they tried that, the king would buy their goods for the lower price, and then on-sell it, keeping the profit for himself.
This all ended when an American ship refused to pay for passage, but they had a pretty good run of it. And the wealth is reflected in the castle halls, but also in the tails of great feasts lasting for weeks, with eating of too much food, and the respective disgustingness of having to rapidly rid oneself of the food.
One of these actions involved the top end, and an Ostrich feather used to tickle the throat.
The other required lots of hay.
I’ll be honest, hearing about the parties was enough to make me claustrophobic. Plus the stories were coupled to ‘fairytales’ of the 30-40 year old king, and his blissful marriage to a 14 year old (who of course, for the purpose of the tourists, was very much in love with him, so you know, that totally makes the statutory rape ok).
Of course it would be rude to the memory of our beloved Bill to not make at least something of the location:
Who do you think is the most convincing?
We took an energising piece of cake and made an executive decision to sail for greener pastures.
The ferry was like a tiny shopping mall, with food court, duty free shop and supermarket. I guess because the alcohol is more regulated in Sweden than Denmark, everyone was taking their chance to buy cartons of Carlsberg before they got off.
All up the trip took about 20 minutes. Which, as I’ve mentioned before, is ridiculous. When we were on the walking tour we heard about a man who was working for the resistance in Denmark during the war (II). To get the information to the right people he had to get out of Denmark. The first time he practically made a working plane from scraps. The second time, he waited until it was a bit chilly, and walked across the sea to Sweden.
Having taken the ferry, I find the story somewhat more believable.
Although, it should be noted that you ARE going into another country:
We had a bit of a wander around Helsingor’s sister city, Helsingborg.
… And then, seeing as we were now in Sweden, we feasted on open sandwiches.
This next shot is for my father, who keeps making comments about Andy’s ‘stunned bunny’ look in photos.
We then took the train down to Malmo- which roughly lines up with Copenhagen latitudinally.
After dinner in Sweden, we took the train over the bridge back to Denmark. This, say it with me now, is clearly ridiculous!
While discussing this with a German at work, she noted that near her birthplace, you can stand on the spot that marks the corner of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
It is now my singular life goal to go to there!
Check out how hip these Swedish underground stations are. There is one drawback though: