June 28 – Copenhagen
A roaming day. A day to explore Copenhagen. It was a great day to be on the feet and roaming the streets, nooks and crannies of the city, with the sun shining, the wind had downgraded itself from howling to breezy and it was warm and fabulous.
We set off towards the water and strolled through Nyhavn, with its stunning coloured houses lining the water. This was also the first of our literary stops for the day. Hans Christian Andersen lived here while he was writing his fairytales and the last house he lived in and the one in which he wrote The Little Mermaid is in this area.
We then walked just down the road to say G’day to Our Mary. We couldn’t be here without popping by to say G’day to Mary, Fred and the kids. Before Crown Princess Mary of Denmark was Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, she was Mary Donaldson from Hobart, Tasmania. Mary met Prince Frederik in a pub during the Sydney Olympics, they got along rather well and before long Mary found herself speed reading Danish for Down Unders and learning how to balance a crown. As such a notable Tasmanian export and Tasmanian royalty, she henceforth became known to us simply and fondly as Our Mary. So, here we were, in Mary’s adopted country and city, so we thought we’d better pop along, give a wave and say a Tasmanian hello to our famous former resident of our small island.
Continuing our day with Hans Christian Andersen, we took a stroll up the river to see the famous statue of The Little Mermaid, created as a monument to one of Hans’ most famous fairytales.
On we strolled, beside the lakes, with the sun shining and locals enjoying a chat under the trees, a snack on a bench or just soaking up the sun’s rays.
There were dog walkers about and there’s something else I’ve noticed here that’s different, another feature that I think speaks to the relaxed vibe in Denmark, and that’s how people walk their dogs. Usually when you see someone walking a dog and the dog stops to sniff something, the dog walker gives a little tug on the lead to hurry the pooch along and the dog reluctantly leaves whatever scents had grabbed its attention and toddles off behind the ankles of its owner. Not so here. More than once I have seen someone walking a dog, the dog stops and the person stands and waits for the dog to take all the time it needs to gather whatever useful information it had discovered in the aroma of the nearby shrub, tree or post. Today I saw it again. A young man was walking his dog, it was a warm day and the dog had taken itself up the bank from the path and sat under a tree in the shade. The young man was still down on the path, holding the lead, with the dog sitting up the bank under the tree and the young man just stood there. I saw them from a distance, I passed by, continued walking, looked back and that young man had not moved. The dog was just sitting, having a break from the walk and the heat of the sun and its owner was just standing there, looking at the dog, waiting and waiting as patiently as you like for the moment when that pooch might feel ready to move along again. It’s something that’s lovely to see. Relaxed. Unhurried. There’s almost a mutual respect for the wishes and needs of the dog as much as there might be for a person. This young man was saying, by his patient stance, “You’re right mate, take all the time you need, you just sit there if that’s what you feel like doing, I can wait.” We walked the full length of a very, very sizeable lake and I kept looking back and that dog was still quietly sitting, looking out at the water and the young man was quietly standing looking at the dog. Not so much dog owner and dog, as a mate just waiting for another mate to feel like continuing on. Nice.
We stopped to get some elevenses and then walked into Assistens Cemetery. This is an actual cemetery with old and new headstones, but it is used like a park, with people walking, riding their bikes, running, sun baking or just sitting and enjoying a picnic beside the headstones or on the graves themselves. It was actually really lovely. I had read about this different approach to cemeteries here and it was really nice to see how these spaces are used. Rather than it being treated as a sombre place, it is a place where people enjoy spending time, so there is an atmosphere that is very respectful but also very positive. We sat on a bench for elevenses and then as we were leaving I saw a lovely sight. A group of three people were sitting on top of a fairly recent grave, talking and enjoying a picnic. It looked so nice, to see what could have been family or friends, still spending time with a loved one in such a lovely, special way.
Continuing our literary theme, this is also the cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen is buried, so we paid a visit to his grave. “Thanks for the stories Hans,” I said, thinking of The Tinder Box, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl and so many stories I loved in childhood and beyond.
We roamed through some back streets, through different neighbourhoods and then back towards the centre of the city. We passed the Rathaus (City Hall), strolling through the open public square beside it. There was a man with a variety of string bubble wands, making the most amazing sea of bubbles, that kids were running through and playing in and we stopped to watch the cloud of bubbles fill the air. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, there’s something about bubbles that’s just plain fun!
Just past the square, our day of Hans continued, with a visit to his statue. Hans came to live in Copenhagen when he tried to be a ballet dancer, then an actor, but those didn’t work out for him, so he turned his hand and pen to writing fairy tales instead and aren’t we glad he did.
We strolled on, along cobbles, down lanes and streets and into a little square. We stopped at an outside table of a cafe and sat looking out at the square, with its central fountain. A busker playing classical guitar provided the perfect musical accompaniment to our time to just “be”, while enjoying some lunch and simply sitting back, people watching and enjoying the peace of the square and the sunshine on such a glorious day.
As a final literary stop, we called into Paludan Bog and Cafe for a cup of tea. This is a book store and cafe, with different levels and upstairs is a beautiful, old style room, with ceiling to floor bookshelves, couches, tables, chairs and nooks to sit and read or enjoy something to eat or drink. I loved it. Give me a cup of tea and books and I’m happy as happy.
A final roam back towards the water, looking this way and that as we crossed roads to be on the lookout for cyclists, because this is Copenhagen and there are an awful lot of them and you can’t hear them coming and they go really fast! It’s great to see all the people on bikes, young and old, from kids to mums and dads, students and business people, getting around on two wheels.
We strolled back through Nyhavn, soaking up the atmosphere with a band playing, people gathering in the riverside bars and cafes and it was a lovely, relaxed, casual space, in a wonderful laid back city.
What a top day. What a great city Copenhagen is. It is yet another of those cities that doesn’t feel rushed, hurried, busy or noisy. It has beautiful spaces, squares, parks and gardens. It has little cobbled laneways and back streets to explore and escape to. It has a very relaxed, unhurried feel and pace and it was a wonderful place to roam and explore. Tomorrow is another day to continue our roaming, to take on a gentler pace, not needing to be anywhere or do anything, just simply enjoy the time in a fabulous place. Tomorrow, we think, will be a day to simply “be”, as we find parts of the city to blend into and be a part of. We shall roam, we shall stroll, we shall explore and discover…what, we don’t know, but we’re looking forward to the surprise!
Distance ridden: 0 km
Distance roamed: 13.6 km
Weather: sunny, warm, a bit breezy, 24C