Our destination is Europe’s oldest operating observatory, the Rundetarn or Round Tower. It was built in 1637 and, like Seville’s La Giralda, it has no stairs, instead it has a helical corridorthat makes 7.5 turns as it snakes its way up to the top where from 35 metres above the ground there are uninterrupted views of the city. Numerous odd events have occurred within the tower –Czar Peter The Great rode up it on horseback whilst his wife Catherine followed in a horse drawn carriage, cars have driven up it, and there have been bicycle races up and down it, from unicycles to penny farthings.
Denmark is, of course, renowned for its astronomy links courtesy of the 16th century astronomer Tycho Brahe, and we later walk past the planetarium named after him. His contribution to astronomy was such that a crater on the moon bears his name, and he was also famous for his contribution to medicine, indeed his herbal medicines were still in use as late as the 1970s.
We stroll along in light drizzle and come across ‘Fish Kiss’. In we go and before you know it, los ninos have been downstairs, had their feet washed, and are now dangling them in tanks containing hundreds of tiny fish sucking and nibbling the dead skin off their feet, giving a delightful tickling sensation. The Garra Rufa fish is also called ‘Doctor Fish’ and originates from Turkey where this exfoliating treatment has been practised for 400 years. The proprietor asks if I want to have a go, but I advise him he would need a new batch of fish if they got near my size tens! We wind up our night at a local burger joint where the lass serving us says ‘hello’, thus providing the best customer service we have had in Copenhagen.
Friday and we’re catching the fast train (which takes 5 hours) back to Stockholm at 2:30pm, so we have time to catch the bus to the island of Christanshavn. Here we find Lagkagehuset,the revered Danish bakery – I leave it to las chicas to fight their way in and procure some treats.
We stroll around the corner and past the extraordinary baroque church Vor Freiser’s Kirke dating back to 1696. The spire is amazing; it’s 90 metres high and built of oak, there are 400 steps, the last 150 of which wind around the outside. The globe on top is 2.5 metres in diameter and can hold 12 men, whilst the Christ statue is 3 metres tall. As the Great Wall is to the Chinese, climbing the tower and touching the globe is a Danish test of manhood, as the whole spire shakes in the wind giving a ‘sinking’ feeling. Suffice to say that Don L is NOT a viking warrior!
Next corner we come to Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous commune, and there are warnings everywhere that ban photography, principally because of the ubiquitous use of cannabisby its 850 residents, which is still illegal in Denmark. Wandering through the area the unmistakable odour wafts around everywhere. Don L finds it all a little contrived and cynical. It is, quite simply, a slum that should be shut down, but it is the fourth largest tourist attraction in Copenhagen ( half a million visitors annually), and abroad it is a well-known “brand” for the supposedly progressive and liberated Danish lifestyle. Many Danish businesses and organizations also use Christiania as a “show place” for foreign friends and guests, the purpose being to show something Danish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. As I said, excuse my cynicism!!
Time for a quick bite so we whip in to Andersen’s Bakery. We walked past here when we first arrived and Dulcinea saw hot cross buns in the window and was determined to try them. We asked for 3 and drew blank stares from the staff, despite a full tray being on display, so pointed to them. This only gets better – can you toast them please? NO, that will make them dry (duh!)….sadly the service and coffee did not do the man’s name justice.
We’re on the fast train travelling across the 8km long Oresund Bridge and 4km tunnel, the longest rail and road bridge in Europe, that links Denmark to Sweden. There are wind farms that are erected in the sea. The train is extremely comfortable and flashes through some beautiful scenery, and a lot of trees. We eventually arrive in Stockholm once again and check into our new hotel, and the Scandic Sergel Plaza restores faith in Sweden’s hotel industry.
Travel Tip: check attraction websites beforehand because they could well be closed. It’s doubtful we’ll be back, but we’ve enjoyed it.
Travel Tip: Stockholm and Copenhagen are both very expensive, even by European standards. Like the UK, Scandinavian countries are part of the EU but retain their own currency, the krone (Swedish and Danish versions are different currencies). They also accept credit cards everywhere and for any amount as they endeavour to move to a cashless society – I fully concur.
Travel Observation: Some Swedish obviously have a slight speech impediment as they stutter a little.
Travel Tip: When in Copenhagen, be careful when saying the word ‘finish’ out loud!!
And finally, here for posterity is the last foto of Don L’s trusted Akubra Bogart. Sadly, it is sitting on the luggage rack of the Arlanda Express where I accidently left it…vale my faithful companion!!