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Jun. 15th, 2017 08:36 am
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I was simply charmed by Copenhagen (København to the locals). This is a capital signal that has a laid-back feel that I haven't found to be the case in other cities. It is an old city, with all the grace that often accompanies deeply historical places, but at the same time, this is also a thoroughly modern city, with a convenient, clean, and efficient transportation network that functions well in conjunction with the widespread use of bicycles.  Even as a newly arrived visitor, I found it simple to take advantage of the public transportation options: We used the train to get from the airport to our hotel, the train and bus to get from the hotel to the cruise port, and the bus and metro to get from the cruise port beck to the airport. The prices were reasonable, the connections easy to figure out, and the schedule reliable. We did all of this for less than the cost of a single taxi ride. Coming from the Washington, DC area, where our public transit system has been in crisis mode for the last few years and seems in danger of becoming utterly useless, it was refreshing to take advantage of such a well planned and maintained system.

As I was writing my initial entry about our arrival in Copenhagen, my wife was taking a nap.  Shortly after I posted that entry, she woke up and we ventured back out into the city for a couple more hours.  We walked along the water towards the old fort at the north end of the old part of the city. We weren't really looking for any specific landmarks, but simply enjoying the evening in a new city. Eventually, we discovered the Little Mermaid statue, one of the iconic tourist spots in this hometown of Hans Christian Anderson. Because it was late evening on a weekday, and because there was a concert elsewhere in the city as part of an ongoing music festival, the normal crowds that make this a difficult spot to visit were not in evidence, and we could linger to get photos from different angles, and appreciate the setting, on the edge of the harbor.

The Little Mermaid

We then began our walk back towards our hotel, exiting the castle area through the Churchillparken. We admired the handsome St. Alban's Anglican church here, and found a bust of Winston Churchill.  This is also the future site of a museum dedicated to the Danish resistance during WWII. This museum is being built underground (fittingly), and, from the descriptions on the signs we saw, sounds like something I will want to return someday to visit.

During our all day tour of the city on our second day here, we got a terrific overview of the city, as well as an introduction to the history.  We visited the Christianborg Palace, once home to the royal family but now serving to house Parliament, as well as Amalienborg Palace, the current home of the Danish Queen, as well as the Crown Prince and Princess. At each of these locations, I was struck by the lack of a security perimeter...In each case, the streets were open to the public right up to the buildings, and there was very little visible security presence. Granted, the ceremonial guards at Amalienborg were carrying very modern and functional rifles, and I have no doubt that each location is thoroughly covered by video surveillance, but the contrast to the bunker-style security we have put into place in Washington, DC, was stark.

Over our two days here, we saw a great deal, walking miles through the maze of streets that make up the old part of the city. Clearly, we didn't see everything that there was to see, but it was a satisfying visit, leaving me very impressed with the city and its people. I certainly hope that I'll be able to return someday so that I can spend some time exploring the many museums that fill the city.
 Today was devoted to an all day tour of Copenhagen, on foot, by canal boat, and by bicycle. As luck would have it, we were the only people to book the tour today, so we had our tour guide, the very lovely Inga Maria, all to ourselves. We saw a great deal more of the city, learned a bit about its history, and generally had a really enjoyable day. Inga Maria is originally from Iceland, but knows her adopted home well, and was an absolutely wonderful person to spend the day with.  It turns out that she is going home to Iceland tomorrow, and we may catch up with her again before this trip is over.

Early in our tour, Inga Maria pointed out the police guarding the Synagogue here.  She told us that these would likely be the only police we would see, as there is very little crime here. We also talked about the history of fires in the city, and noted that improved fire safety had served to prevent any further repeats of the runaway fires that had burned down the city from time to time.

Then, just before lunch, as we were walking in front of the Hotel d'Angleterre, a whole bunch of sirens started drawing nearer, and several fire department trucks pulled up and stopped near us. I snapped a few photos before we left the area, but as we were leaving several more trucks drove by in that general direction.

But the real excitement came as we were walking back to our hotel after the tour was finished.  We were waiting to cross Hans Christian Andersen Blvd. when we here a series of loudish pops from down the street.  Within a few minutes, there were dozens of police vehicles racing into the area from every direction. As the police closed down the street, and ambulance rushed towards the cluster of police near the side of the street.  The ambulance was only on scene for a few minutes before it rushed away towards the hospital. When I got back to the hotel, I did a search on the web and discovered that a police officer had apparently shot a man after some type of pursuit. One report indicated that the police were saying that the incident was not terrorism related.

Tomorrow, we head to the cruise port to board the ship that will be our home for the next week. I don't expect to have much internet access during the cruise, so I'll have to post about the cruise when we get home.
We left Washington yesterday afternoon, and after a brief two hour layover in Iceland in the middle of the night, arrived at the airport in Copenhagen, Denmark at about 6:00 am this morning.  Since we had cleared EU passport control in Iceland, we immediately made our way to baggage claim, where our suitcases arrived just moments after we did. After purchasing train tickets, we headed down to the train platform, below the terminal, where a train was seemingly waiting for us. Twelve minutes later the train pulled into the Copenhagen Central Station, where we began our two block walk to our hotel.  It was all quite painless and efficient.

After leaving our luggage at the hotel (where we couldn't check in until afternoon), we set out to explore the city.  As it wasn't even 8:00 yet, the city still had a sleepy feel to it, but gradually the streets began to fill with traffic and more bicycles than I've ever seen in one place before. Most of the streets have dedicated bicycle lanes, and the intersections have three distinct sets of signals: one for motor vehicles, one for bicyclists, and one for pedestrians.  We wandered over a significant portion of the old part of the city, including the colorful Nyhavn canal area before it was time to meet our scheduled tour for the day.

Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen Denmark

At 10:30 we meet our tour guide and the other 9 people on our food tour outside the entrance to the newish food market.  Over the next four hours, our guide talked to us about the history of Copenhagen and its recent food renaissance. We made several stops to sample different local foods, from local cheeses and candies, to craft beers, to the local interpretations of the hot dog. It was all delicious, and by the end of the tour we were full, and appreciating all the walking we were doing.

After the tour, we headed back to the hotel to check in, and it looks like that may be it for today.  I've been up for almost 30 hours now, and I'm trying to stay awake until evening here, just to reset my body clock, but my wife is sound asleep, and my feet need a break before tomorrow's  tour. 


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