While we waited for the new passengers to board the Emerald Princess, we took a walking tour of Copenhagen. The sea was almost always within view. Denmark has 4,000 miles of coastline and no part of the country is more than thirty miles from the coast. Our walk began at the Little Mermaid statue, the symbol of Denmark and the main character of one of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales. This small unassuming piece of art has been vandalized so often, a cast has been made so replacement parts can easily be regenerated.
As we walked the guide spun tales beginning in the 12th century. The Danes and their Swedish and Norwegian neighbors fought, made peace, and fought again, sometimes banding together to fight off the British. The royal families intermarried and built palaces. Until fairly recently many buildings were were constructed out of wood in the half timbered style. They were close together and often caught on fire. The Danes finally learned their lesson and started constructing important buildings out of stone. These are the ones still standing for us to admire today. Some major squares downtown were not very attractive. The locals are in the middle of a five year plan to build additional subway lines and stations and there were cranes and building sites spoiled the view. The guide recommended that we buy post cards to see how beautiful they used to be and will be in a few years.
Some of the more modern notable buildings were built with Carlsberg Brewery funds. Danes pay very high taxes and the brewery folks volunteered to built the new opera house if they could avoid paying the 70% tax on all the money their delicious beers had generated. The Maersk shipping company whose container ships we see at nearly everywhere port we’ve visited in the world, is also a major employer and benefactor here.
Nyhaven is a small man-made fjord dug by Swedish prisoners captured during one of the wars they lost to Denmark. It was built so that the king could sail right up to his Rosenborg Castle. Back in the day it was the spot that sailors would come to drink, carouse and enjoy the ladies. Today the place throbs with tourists who sit in front of the colorful buildings dining al fresco. Canal boats tied up here, offer tours of the city from the vantage of the water.
The Stroget is a one mile long pedestrian mall, but nearly all the stores were closed today because it was Sunday.
We plan to stay in Copenhagen a few days after the cruise ships brings us back and look forward to lingering a bit and going inside some of the attractive buildings we passed by today. Some shopping might also be on the to do list.