Before our Baltic cruise, Byron and I spent two days in Copenhagen. I was captivated by its combination of old world fairy-tale charm and chic design vibe.
Getting our bearings
As cliché as it may sound, starting the day with some delicious Danish pastries was a sweet indulgence. Lagkagehuset, a local chain of bakeries has some of the best ones.
We decided to get oriented with an hour-long narrated canal tour in an open-top sightseeing boat. It was a lovely narrated float past churches, castles, landmarks old and new, and of course the famous (but underwhelming) Little Mermaid sculpture.
Next we headed over to the Stroget (pedestrian street) and browsed Danish Design at Hay House and Illums Bolighus. And Lego's only only retail store on home soil is also on the Stroget so we had to take a look at their displays.
It was time to fortify ourselves, which with did with a hearty lunch of smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) washed down with aquavit -- the spirit of choice in Denmark. Our server at Restaurant Schoenemann -- a classic spot for traditional Danish food -- had just the right amount of sass to make the experience a most enjoyable one.
Fairy tale finds
Climbing to the top of the 17th century Rundetarn Observatory earned us panoramic views of the city. Rosenborg Slot -- Copenhagen's most famous castle -- delivered views of another kind. We gawked at the Danish crown jewels on display in the Royal Treasury and admired beautiful painted ceilings, tapestries, and lots of marble, gold and silver.
We ended our first day with a walk by the magical Tivoli Gardens, the 170-year-old amusement park that inspired Walt Disney. We caught a glimpse of the thousands of lights coming to life just after sunset.
Day 2: Monuments and museums
The Gefion Fountain is Copenhagen's largest. Unveiled in in 1908, it features a team of oxen being driven by its namesake Norse goddess. The legend says that, after the King promised her as much land as she could plow in one day, she turned her sons into oxen to complete the task. So powerful were they, that they pulled the island of Zealand up out of the sea.
Less than a 10 minute walk south of the fountain we found the imposing Marble Church (Marmorkirken in Danish). Its massive dome is one of the largest in Europe and offers great views from the top.
Heading towards the waterfront, we came to Amalienborg Palace, home of the Danish royal family since 1794. Of the four connected mansions surrounding the courtyard, one is open to visitors. There is a ceremonial changing of the guard at noon, but our timing wasn't quite right to catch it. We did manage to catch some moody lighting as storm clouds rolled in.
The Nationalmuseet was next, for a look at Danish history through the ages. Of course the star attractions were the Viking artefacts and weaponry.
Then it was over to Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek to view their large collection of 18th and 19thcentury European paintings and sculptures. There were works by Gaugin, Rodin, Monet and Van Gogh as well as antiquities from Egypt, Rome and Greece.
After a rest and change at our hotel, we splurged on a leisurely dinner. We could get into Michelin-starred Noma, the Nordic-Italian fusion at Relae was quite divine.
Day 3: Neat neighbourhoods
The 17th century Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Saviour's Church) had a baroque altar and elaborately carved pipe organ. The real attraction for us though was the 95 metre-high spiral tower with its 33-bell carillon. The last few spirals of the 400-step staircase wind around the outside of the tower. We had to brave getting blown straight off by the wind currents whipping around our heads to scale it, but we were rewarded with panoramic views of Copenhagen, and even across to Sweden.
The church is located in the free-spirited Christianshavn neighbourhood. It was once a hippie commune, and still has a very bohemian feel.
Feet aching from our three days of walking, it was time for a canal-side beer, as the locals do. We grabbed a couple of chilled cans from a corner store and sat ourselves down by the canal, feet dangling over the edge. The sun shone brightly and the cyclists whirred by. We waved to the tourists in canal-tour boats. Even though we had done the very same thing only two days earlier, we felt practically Danish after our 72-hour whirlwind exportation of Copenhagen.