Posted by: Michelle | December 26, 2011

A Danish Working Vacation

Guess I’d better hurry up and blog about Copenhagen. As they say, I’m not getting any younger and like the old gray mare, the ol’ memory ain’t what it used to be!

Once again, I’m headed overseas. This time I’m headed east to Demark, a rather small Scandinavian country I hadn’t visited before. Never to miss an opportunity, I book my travel to include a few “off” days (and I use that term loosely) to enjoy the city and see what she has to offer.

First, let me get the work stuff out of the way. Actually, no. Suffice to say, I worked. Hard. For three days. Then I stopped working and started having fun. And I have 100 acres of swamp land in Florida for sale. Because the reality is, even though I had a few days “off,” I was still working in the evenings [conference calls and emails]. Story of my life – but will be rewriting this chapter next year. It’s time to realign expectations with those in charge so I can enjoy my time off. We’ll save that for another post.

I was excited to be going to Copenhagen because I hadn’t been there before [and I was not disappointed]. Tuesday afternoon, I headed into the city from the Bella Sky convention centre and hotel and checked into the Ascot, located just off H.C. Andersen Blvd [the only street with an English name], close to many of the sites I wanted to visit, thanks to a recent episode of The Amazing Race where the contestants went through Copenhagen.

After tossing my bags in my room, I quickly donned layers and headed out before the sun set [3:45 local time]. The predicted rain didn’t materialize so I had sun for a few brief hours. My first purchase was the Copenhagen Card, good for 72 hours. It costs around $90 USD but gives you access to many museums, attractions, canal tours, metro, buses and discounts at several restaurants. I didn’t have a lot of daylight to burn so I walked around to get acclimated to my surroundings. After the sun set, I ducked into a small café for a quick bite and to determine where I was going and when over the two days.

The next morning, I started the day on the canal tour. It was a brisk morning and I resembled a frozen Popsicle shortly after leaving the dock despite the layers, scarf and two hoods. Not to be deterred by a little cold, I enjoyed the view from the boat as we cruised through the harbor and canals. Fortunately, they gave us 10 minutes to hop off and take pictures of the famous Little Mermaid statue. On foot, it would have been quite a walk from my location. Back on the boat, I enjoyed visiting with a lively family from Italy. After completing the loop, I needed coffee in the worst way. I decided to give Baresso , a local coffee chain, a try. It wasn’t hard to settle on a latte with dark chocolate. The chocolate comes on a swizzle stick that melts when you stir. It took awhile but I finally started to feel warm again but once I walked back out I was immediately cold again. This made my next stop easy to choose; the national museum. I particularly enjoyed the prehistoric and Viking eras. After wandering around for two hours, I was ready to brave the outdoors only to find that it was now raining. Fortunately, everything is fairly close in Copenhagen making it a short brisk walk to Christiansborg Slot. One must wear surgical covers to prevent scratching the parquet floors. Thinking I was alone, I couldn’t resist sliding on the ballroom floor. Naturally, I realized afterwards that there was a guard who didn’t look too pleased with my performance. Oops! Feeling a little contrite, I lowered my head and hurried into the next room. Unfortunately, I realized I was being watched closely by other guards as I continued my tour. I did not run into any of the Danish royal family. Since I seemed to wear out my welcome, I felt it was time to move on. The sun was breaking through the clouds and I decided I had time to walk the mile or so to Vor Frelsers Kirke [Our Saviour’s Church]. To be honest, I was inspired by an episode of The Amazing Race that aired shortly before I left for Denmark. The first place the teams went to retrieve their first clue was a church with a spiral staircase. There was no doubt in my mind I had to climb those stairs. And climb them I did. All one million of them. Okay, obviously there wasn’t that many. But after a day of walking, I was pretty tired and I felt all 400 steps. Because it was getting late, I was the only person climbing up and I only passed three coming down. It was rather eerie as I ascended whilst the sun was descending into the horizon. The guy selling tickets told me I had about 30 minutes, plenty of time as long as I didn’t “nest” up there. As if I would. With the sun rapidly disappearing, the temperature was dropping as well. When I came out the door at the first level, I made a quick circle but knew I needed to keep moving. As I started moving up the spiral staircase outside, my equilibrium was a bit off. I am not afraid of height however the narrow, wet stairs gradually getting smaller combined with a rather flimsy looking railing that afforded a good view to the ground below made me pause, albeit briefly, to consider if the view would be any different from the top. Then, of all things, I hear in my head “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” so I just kept moving. Looking upwards, it still felt like my equilibrium was off but I didn’t come this far to give up so I preserved. The view was amazing as I watched the sun set over the city. The wind and approaching rain reminded me that I needed to head back down. The view walking down the stairs wasn’t much better but I made it down in record time. The man was surprised I made it to the top and back in less than 30 minutes. Little did he know I do not dilly dally. I don’t have patience for that. He was grateful as he was able to lock up and head for home as I was the last one out. It did make me hopeful should I ever be a contestant on The Amazing Race that I could climb a church steeple to get a clue rather quickly. After that I was pretty tired so I slowly made my way back to my hotel, about 2 miles away.

Day two of sightseeing started early. First stop was Rundetaarn [The Round Tower], one of the more popular sites. Always a sucker for a view, I climbed the winding walk happy that I wasn’t navigating narrow stairs. Of course, to get to the observation level you had to use the stairs. There was a class of 5th year students, running around and three very harried looking adults trying to reign them in. I never saw one of them actually look at the view but they did enjoy hiding and jumping out at each other on the way down. Next was the Rosenborg Slot, which was about a hop, skip and a jump away. It wasn’t quite open yet. If the weather was nicer I might have enjoyed the park, but as it was, I had to keep moving at a good clip to avoid hyperthermia. Once the clock struck 10AM I was happy to duck inside. I had an advantage being the first tourist of the day; no lines and plenty of leisure time to enjoy the Danish crown jewels [not quite as impressive as the British ones but then again, I didn’t have an armed guard telling me to “move along, do not dawdle”]. There were several floors for viewing and I resisted the urge to test out the wooden floor of this castle. One thing I did learn whilst touring in Denmark was to ensure I could take pictures. Several places charged extra for taking pictures; interesting concept that wasn’t covered by the Copenhagen Card. Unfortunately I started feeling a bit puny [sore throat, congestion, etc.] that zapped my energy. I spent the reminder of my time in Copenhagen making my way slowly back to the hotel to rest a bit before hitting Tivoli in the evening.

After resting, I headed out one more time around 4PM to enjoy Tivoli at night. The park was adorned with lights and other Christmas decorations. Despite feeling run down, it was a beautiful sight. The rides were open and there were many wooden sheds selling gifts, decorations, hot cider, waffles and other treats. There were many families with prams and groups of teenagers throughout the park. I did notice that all were well behaved. I ordered a latte and sat watched Father Christmas, dressed in blue velvet, sitting on a sleigh at the outdoor theatre. There were more adults waiting in line than children. It was fascinating to watch adult after adult go sit next to him for a chat, a photo and a treat. I only wish I could have heard [and understood] the conversations.

Then it was time to do the dreaded packing. I was careful not to purchase a lot but had to hand carry 1,300 paper assessments back in my luggage (to the tune of 450 Krone in excess baggage charges) so there wasn’t a lot room to spare.

I was ready to head home as I had a lot of travel left before the holidays but enjoyed my week in Denmark. Hopefully my next visit will be in the spring or summer with extended daylight hours and warmer temperatures. As the plane departed Copenhagen, I had my last view of Øresundsbron Bridge that links Denmark to Sweden. The road literally comes out of the middle of the water before the bridge. It is quite an impressive sight from the air. So if you ever fly into Copenhagen, you know you need to have a window seat and hope you are on the right side as you approach the runway.

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