Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Copenhagen - Day 12

Sunday, September 20, 2015
We disembarked our Regent Cruise ship the Voyager at 9 am and easily caught a cab to the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel, our home for the next two nights. Since our room was not ready, we decided to get on one of the red "hop on, hop off" buses that stopped in front of our hotel. There are lots of these buses, but be sure to get the one associated with Gray Line. It included two different city tours and one boat tour, unlimited times for 48 hours, for less than $40 per person. As soon as we got on, it started to rain, which was just fine. We were dry and inside, getting a "lay of the land," and the opportunity to do it all again when the air cleared. No photos at this time.
Back at the hotel at noon, we checked in and headed to our "room with a view." We had guaranteed a water view, which we received. However, it is now a construction site, with some kind of building going up to our right and a large tanker in front being refurbished. Strangely, we didn't really care. It was too cold to leave the window open anyway, but something to check on in the future.
The rain had stopped and we headed out to lunch. Along the way we crossed Nyhavn, the most photographed scene in the city and very near our hotel.
Nyhavn is a 17th century waterfront, canal and entertainment district. However, we did not eat at one of the cute cafes because it was too chilly and they were very crowded. Instead, armed with Rick Steve's recommendations, we went to Holberg 19 (my grandmother's maiden name). It was the tiniest restaurant (which we later learned is the norm) and hard to believe he would recommend it.
It only seats about 15 people and maybe 10 outside on a sunny day. Two women work the whole place, and it took forever to get our food. However, it was lovely.
Since the weather had cleared, we walked to Hojbro Plads (plaza) where the tours begin. Since we had taken the red line this morning, we took the purple line this afternoon. This one goes on some of the other islands away from the city center. We didn't get off and on, but we liked just seeing the sights. Although Copenhagen is a big walking city, it is still spread out.
Copenhagen survived WWII pretty much intact because the Germans and the Allies didn't bomb it. The Germans needed it to get to support bases in Finland (remember, they sided with the Germans) so they just kind of came in one day and said we're here! Contrary to other countries, the Germans let the Danes' institutions function somewhat normally until 1943 when the Germans ramped up their influence. The Germans claimed they were protecting them from an attack by the British. Gotta love those German lies.  The point is that today Copenhagen has a wonderful mixture of old and new architecture -- some of it dating back to the 17th century and much from the 21st century.
Some of the areas we saw on this tour were the Town Square with the Town Hall (on the right), and the Dragon's Leap Fountain in the foreground,
the 1619 Dutch Renaissance Stock Exchange (on the right)
and the railway station.
On this tour our bus went to Christianshavn, on Amager Island. This area still has buildings from the 1600s because it escaped the fires of the center city. 
From here we drove past Christiania. I had planned for us to do a walking tour of it at 3, but upon reaching it, decided against it.
Christiania is a former 19th century military base that was abandoned. In 1971 a group of alternative thinkers ("hippies") moved in and squatted. In those 44 years, about 850 people of all ages, cultures and income levels have converted the barracks, workshops and powder magazines into places they can live and work. Just passing it was a sensory overload.
The walls of the buildings are painted with graffiti and the houses painted vibrant colors. Lots of organic gardening goes on here. Strangely, some of the best restaurants in the city are located here and we found out that the 2-star Michelin restaurant Noma is moving here. 
As we journeyed further on this island, we discovered another interesting lifestyle  phenomenon -- "allotment gardens," which have been around since 1891. Similar to "community gardens" that we have in the US, these plots are usually a little bigger.
The land is owned by the municipality and managed by an association that rents space to its members. Over the years, people have added pavilions, then tiny houses. Many are so fond of these that they spend their summers here, although they cannot live here the entire year.
After this tour, we decided to repeat our morning tour, without the rain. We rode past the 3 major palaces, Amalienburg, Christiansburg and Rosenburg, but we did not get off. Think we've had enough palaces for one trip.
Then we walked back to the hotel and discovered, upon chatting with the receptionist, that Tivoli closes TONIGHT! We wasted no time getting there since the best part is seeing it both by daylight and dark. We discovered that it is only open from the end of April to September 20!
I had been to Tivoli 45 years ago and was mesmerized then as now. Opened in 1843, it offers a mix of entertainment pavilions and rides, gardens and restaurants. Walt Disney was inspired to create Disneyland after a visit to this park. It is named after an Italian Villa near Rome that is famous for its fountains that Ed and I visited in 2012. Built on 20 acres, Tivoli comes alive at night with more than 100,000 lights.

After purchasing our $15 tickets, we began with a walk-through of the park before it got dark.

Love this little park tram.
Then we checked out some possible restaurants. Several were high end and already booked. We did find seating at the Groften, which was quite large and full of festive, well-dressed people (for an amusement park). House wine here.
Afterwards, we walked around, watching the lights come on.

We had coffee in an area overlooking a lake and had fun watching one of the rides turn people upside down. Not for us. The air was cool, but not cold and lots of families were enjoying the last night of the park. What a lovely way to spend the day!

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