Saturday, June 25, 2016

Copenhagen tourist trail to Palaces, a mermaid and gentrified fishing port

It was another incredibly hot day in Copenhagen. Every night we were kept up by people partying while others rummaged around in garbage bins for cans and bottles to recycle for money so they could continue partying. We saw many people searching in rubbish bins for recycling while we were in Copenhagen. While some seemed to be down-and-out, for others it looked like regular employment. We weren't sure what to make of this. We saw many street people including some with apparent mental health issues.

We had a quick continental breakfast outside before touring the sites of Copenhagen. Our first stop was the grand Christiansborg Palace, on the tiny island of Slotsholmen. It contains the Danish Parliament Folketinget, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State. Parts of the palace are used by the Royal Family for various functions and events. The Royal Reception Rooms include The Tower Room and The Oval Throne Room where foreign ambassadors to Denmark are received by the Queen.

From here we went to Nyhavn. The last time I was there I stayed in the newly opened Nyhvn hotel in a converted warehouse. A quiet walk to catch the bus usually involved avoiding passed out sailors in doorways. It was an area with character. Today we found Nyhavn totally overcrowded with lots of locals and tourists having lunch or waiting to board river cruise boats. The small hotel was now shrouded in plastic for renovations and was four times the size I remembered.

We had planned to have lunch here but instead walked along the river to the Amalienborg Palace, considered one of the greatest works of Danish Rococco architecture. Constructed in the 1700s, it is made up of four identical buildings: Christian VII’s Palace used as a guest residence, Christian VIII’s Palace used as guest palace for Prince Joachim and Princess Benedikte, Frederik VIII’s Palace, home of the Crown Prince's family and Christian IX’s Palace, home of the Queen and Prince Consort. In the middle of the palace square there is a 1771 statue of King Frederik V. There are no visible links between the residences. Seamus leaned up against one of the buildings to read his map in the shade and got yelled at by a guard.

We took the bus to see the sculpture of The Little Mermaid. Unveiled on 23 August 1913, The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen. The sculpture is made of bronze and granite and was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince. Every morning and evening she swims to the surface from the bottom of the sea and, perched on her rock in the water, she stares longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince. Carl Jacobsen fell in love with the character after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. The brewer was so captivated by both the fairy tale and the ballet that he commissioned the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create a sculpture of the mermaid.

Later we walked a little way along the high-end part of Copenhagen's largest shopping area around Strøget in the heart of the city. Strøget is one of Europe's longest pedestrian streets. Of course it was Sunday and all the shops were shut. This was quite incredible as the street was jammed with people.

By now it was late in the afternoon and we hadn't eaten. We stopped at an outdoor restaurant and had a very welcome beer and local fish with dill sauce. As big fans of Scandi-noir it would have been nice to take a bus trip across to Malmö in Sweden across "the Bridge”. But there were no busses running on Sunday, and the train runs under the main bridge deck and would not have given the same views.

In the evening, another movie, this time enjoying George Clooney and Julia Roberts in Money Monster.

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