Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Copenhagen: we dodge partyers and visit Hamlet's castle

Just over a week ago we arrived in Copenhagen, a city I hadn't been to for a very long time. When we arrived there were hordes of people walking and cycling down the street. What was going on? We found out that there were four nights of music festivals being held in various parts of the city and tonight was the district we were staying in. Later, when we sat outside having dinner the hordes kept coming and coming. There was a fair bit of drinking going on but no one was really unruly. Several people were sitting in boxes attached to the fronts of bikes. Often the boxes would have three or four people in them. There was a huge amount of litter and cigarette butts everywhere.

The next morning we woke up to a beautiful, hot sunny day so we decided to take the train to Elsinore. The trip on the train was lovely as it ran parallel to the sea. As we passed through little towns and villages we couldn't help but notice the homes with their high, sharp sloping roofs and lovely gardens. In fact everything was a lovely green.

Once we arrived in Elsinore we decided to wander around its many charming pedestrian streets and find lunch. There were lots of interesting little shops. We settled for lunch outdoors at a restaurant full of locals. We opted for a platter with three open faced sandwiches: smoked salmon with dill; small shrimps; and breaded fish with a delicious mustard sauce. A glass of white wine completed the delicious meal.

Now it was time to roam back along the marina to Kronberg Castle, probably the most famous Danish castle, known worldwide from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet's spirit is still roaming the hallways of Kronborg, and today we encountered actors performing scenes from Hamlet in and around the courtyard.

Frederik II's Kronborg is at once an elegant castle and a monumental military fortress surrounded by considerable fortifications. It has not been inhabited by the royal family since the late 1600s. The castle houses collections of Renaissance and Baroque furnishings, and among the main attractions is the 62-metre ballroom, the very well-preserved chapel and the royal apartments. We found them all quite austere compared to royal living quarters in other parts of Europe.

Beneath Kronberg are the gloomy Casemates, which served as soldiers' quarters during times of war. These dark and damp rooms accommodated up to 1,000 men with enough supplies to withstand a six-week siege. We could see the large stone vessels used for supplies. Still down in the Casemates, we saw the statue  of Denmark's legendary hero, Holger the Dane, who sits dormant but ready to stir into action the minute the Kingdom of Denmark is threatened by an enemy.

Finally, we visited the Hamlet exhibition, which displayed photos of the many actors who had played Hamlet on stage and screen over the years. Back in the courtyard I had time to have my picture taken with Polonius, chief counselor of the king.

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