Our final day in Copenhagen would be a busy one. We’d watched the weather forecasts carefully and aware that rain was on its way scheduled outdoor activities for Sunday (Boat Tour) and Monday (Cemetery and Christiania) leaving a couple of indoor options for a rainy Tuesday.
Once again, Bev and I made our way from the station at Vedbaek to Norreport, then on the bus to Simone’s apartment for one last breakfast with she and Dillon. We enjoyed another relaxed meal sitting around the table, finishing off the leftovers from Sunday and a new batch of Simone’s amazing homemade muffins.
Properly fueled up we took trusty bus number 5 back to the station and then walked a few blocks to our first stop of the day, Rosenborg Castle. Built by King Christian IV in the early 1600’s as a summer residence, it was his favorite home and where he chose to die. Open to the public since 1838, it houses the Danish crown jewels and 500 years of royal knickknacks. While its interior is a bit dark and not as immediately impressive as many of Europe’s later Baroque masterpieces, it has a certain lived-in charm and gives each visitor a close up look at the personality of the fascinating Christian IV.
We started out on the ground floor of the castle in the wood-paneled Winter Room with a bust of Christian with his fashionable braid. He was a hard drinker, hard lover (two wives, three mistresses and twenty-five children), energetic statesman and warrior king. During his reign Copenhagen doubled in size. This room was used for social gatherings and features panels in the tile floor that could be removed to let the music performed by the band in the basement waft in.
From there we entered Christian’s bedroom, where he would die at the age of seventy. In a glass case in the room are the clothes he wore during a navel battle against Sweden in 1644. As he stood directing the action an explosion ripped across the deck sending him sprawling and riddling him with shrapnel.
Unfazed, the 67-year old bounced back up and kept going, inspiring his men to carry on the fight. The shrapnel put out his eye and with a penchant for heroic stunts, he had the bits removed from his eye and forehead and made into earrings as a gift for his mistress. Those same earrings hang in the case along with the blood stained clothing.
The rest of the castle contains porcelain, Delft China and other pieces from the royal collection. We made our way to the third floor Throne Room, known as the Long Hall, considered one of the best-preserved Baroque rooms in Europe. At one end of the room are the King’s (made of narwhal tusk) and Queen’s (made of hammered silver) thrones, celebrating two centuries of absolute monarchs.
We descended to the ground floor, exited the castle and entered it again in the basement to view the Royal Danish Treasury. The castle was a royal residence for a century and has been the royal vault until this day. Here sits Christian IV’s coronation crown from 1596, made of seven pounds of gold and precious stones and considered to be the finest Renaissance crown in Europe.
Also on display are two modern crowns from 1670, practical and lighter, along with the crown jewels, still worn by the queen on special occasions several times a year. Closing out the display are tiny oval silver boxes that contain the royal children’s umbilical cords and a pendant with a 19-carat diamond cut in the 58-facet brilliant style for maximum reflection.
Finished with the castle, we walked towards the center of town and stopped not far from Norreport station at a sandwich shop, Smagsløget, to grab some food as Dillon and Simone were both hungry.
As the portion size was huge, they got one to split and after receiving it we stopped in at a coffee shop nearby for a cup to go with the sandwich.
From there we passed the famous Tivoli Gardens amusement park on our way to the National Museum of Denmark which traces Danish civilization from its ancient beginnings. With free admission, we didn’t feel the need to spend hours upon hours here, which is good as there is so much to see and spaced out over a large area, it would take days to cover it all.
I spent some time in the Prehistory and Stone Age sections, stopping to look at the Egtved Girl, a Nordic Bronze Age female whose well-preserved remains were discovered outside Egtved, Denmark in 1921. Aged 16–18 at death, she was slim, a little over five feet tall, had short, blond hair and well-trimmed nails; her burial has been dated to 1370 BC. I also spent some time examining the Gundestrup cauldron, a decorated silver vessel, thought to date between 200 BC and 300 AD, and to be of Celtic origin.
Soon enough I needed to return to the main lobby to join the others at the appointed rendezvous time. Simone and Dillon walked us back to the Norreport station, for the me last time I’d use it, and it was there that I bade the two of them farewell, as I wouldn’t see them again before my flight back home the next morning. Arriving back in Vedbaek, Bev and I rode the bus to the stop near the house, then walked that last quarter mile home.
Dinner that night would be one more variation of pork and potatoes, this time with a sweet brown gravy perfect for pouring over meat and starch. One last evening passed in conversation and an early tuck-in as my flight the next morning was pretty early. Gorm had volunteered to give me a ride to the airport saving me the trouble of dealing with the train, a good thing as it turned out that the return portion of my ticket had not been properly updated when I changed to this flight from an even earlier one.
He and Bev waited patiently for me as the customer service agent spend a good twenty minutes getting it all straightened out, proving the value of the advice to arrive a couple of hours early for an international flight. Ticket in hand I said my goodby to Gorm, thanking him for his generous hospitality and gave Bev a big hug, yet another fine trip with her accomplished.
Having been home now for a bit of time, when asked about the trip I’ve found that certain themes come to mind. The first was how good it was to meet up with Francois in Paris. In the past I’ve seen him only rarely, perhaps once every five to six years on average. To have seen him so much last year and then to follow up again so soon made this one was a true bonus.
The other observation I have is that for the first in a very long time, I wasn’t in charge of the effort. Generally, Joanna and I are out front, planning activities, researching locations, handling the map as we navigate a city, and reading the guidebook as we tour some spot. This time around I followed any number of folks as they showed me the city. While nice, it meant that I didn’t really connect with Copenhagen as I’ve done with so many other places. Even now I’ll look at a picture I took and not recall what the building was, or where it might have been located.
So Copenhagen will, for now, remain a fond memory but not a place I feel I came to know very well, with the exception of the Norreport train station. Whether I get back there anytime in the future remains to be seen, but if I do I’ll take a bit more ownership of my time there. I now understand its how I connect to and get a feel for a place, creating a distinct place for them in my memories. And that is the way I like it.
Rosenborg Castle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenborg_Castle
King Christian IV: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_IV_of_Denmark
Tivoli Gardens: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tivoli_Gardens
National Museum of Denmark: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_Denmark