LAST DAYS IN ECO-NAVIA… – by Trevor Leeden

by Patty Ryan posted on 18 May 2014

LAST DAYS IN ECO-NAVIA…
….so we’re on the 11A bus waiting to turn left and head to Experimentarium City, a children’s scientific centre, when the driver clearly loses his bearings and turns RIGHT! There goes that plan, but Copenhagen isn’t very big and so after a 30 minute ride around the streets of the city we alight back in the middle of town and make our way up past the Town Hall to Stroget. It’s the collective name given to the ‘pedestrian only’ streets of the Old Latin Quarter and the main area for fashion and designer stores etc (luckily it’s a public holiday!), as well as the world’s best named book store!
Town Hall
Town Hall

IMG_1537

Groovy name for a bookshop!
Groovy name for a bookshop!

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.

Round Tower - could you tell?
Round Tower – could you tell?

IMG_1567

The Oresund Bridge can be seen in the distance
The Oresund Bridge can be seen in the distance

IMG_1542   IMG_1543 IMG_1546 IMG_1545

IMG_1548
Unusual religious artifacts
Unusual religious artifacts
The pose
The pose

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.

Tycho Brahe Planetarium
Tycho Brahe Planetarium
We have afternoon tea at Café Norden; it’s been recommended to us and it doesn’t disappoint. The coffee is good and the cakes are scrumptious!
Strawberry cheesecake
Strawberry cheesecake
Strawberry cheesecake
Strawberry cheesecake
Dulcinea's low fat (NOT!) selection
Dulcinea’s low fat (NOT!) selection
carrot and lime cake - mmm mmm, and an excellent coffee
carrot and lime cake – mmm mmm, and an excellent coffee
Yummy choc-vanilla shakes
Yummy choc-vanilla shakes
The kids fighting over the last strawberry
The kids fighting over the last strawberry

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. IMG_0954

IMG_0955
IMG_1579
Very brave fish is all I can say!
Very brave fish is all I can say!

IMG_1580 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.

Decisions, decisions...
Decisions, decisions…
Whaddya expect - it's Easter after all!
Whaddya expect – it’s Easter after all!

IMG_1631 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! IMG_1602

Climb that? I don't think so!
Climb that? I don’t think so!

IMG_1600 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!!

The gateway to Cliché Central
The gateway to Cliché Central
Humbug and hrmph...
Humbug and hrmph…

IMG_1604

IMG_1607

IMG_1608

IMG_1610

IMG_1613

IMG_1614

IMG_1615

The gateway back to reality
The gateway back to reality

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 pleaseNO, that will make them dry (duh!)….sadly the service and coffee did not do the man’s name justice.

Cold cross bun and revolting coffee
Cold cross bun and revolting coffee
Hans would be appalled at the luck of customer focus
Hans would be appalled at the luck of customer focus

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.

oresund2

oresund3

IMG_1627
IMG_1629
Happy train traveller...
Happy train traveller…
...sorry, travellers
…sorry, travellers
A sleep in, sumptuous breakfast, and time for stroll around the nearby stores – H&M’s flagship outlet and the Bjorn Borg undies shop – before we’re airport bound again and heading back to Iberia. It’s been a short visit, a small taste of Scandinavia. Both Stockholm and Copenhagen are very pretty places, but in a vastly different way to the grandeur of the major cities further south. Here there is an unhurried feeling, and of communities genuinely trying to address the planet’s environmental issues; eco-management is noticeable everywhere (although it’s hard to marry the concept with the endless cigarette butts lying on the ground!). Due to the weather extremes, tourism is highly seasonal and we’ve just caught the start of it, so many things weren’t operating.
IMG_1632
As previously stated, Sweden and Denmark are at the forefront of environmentalism. This really impressed us in Copenhagen – drinks are served in plastic cups and you are charged an extra 50 cents (sounds a bit like South Australia). But here’s the cool bit – there are machines where you simply place the used cup in the hole and bingo, you get your 50 cents back – brilliant! The only downside is that it almost turned Buzzy and Aimee into rubbish scavengers as they sought out easy money!
Cup recycling machine with Scrooge McLeeden
Cup recycling machine with Scrooge McLeeden

IMG_1431

IMG_1432

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.

IMG_1159

Travel Tip: When in Copenhagen, be careful when saying the word ‘finish’ out loud!!

IMG_1596

IMG_1595

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!!

Adios mi sombrero fieles :(
Adios mi sombrero fieles 🙁
Hej Hej amigos……..