November 2018

Wednesday 28 November 2018

We arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at around 8.45am. It is extremely quiet at the SAS baggage drop-off desk. There is no one in ahead of us. We walk through the security check, which is very thorough today. After that we drink coffee at Starbucks and go to gate C07 for our SAS flight to Copenhagen. The flight leaves on time and is far from full. We arrive in Copenhagen on time. It is a long walk to the baggage claim area. We wait for 5 minutes for our suitcases and then continue towards the metro station. The unmanned metro leaves fairly quickly and within 15 minutes we are at Nørreport station in the middle of the city. There we get on the bus to our apartment in Nørrebro, just outside the center, opposite the Rigshospitalet (University Medical Center).

Our Airbnb apartment is larger than expected and well furnished. We immediately go shopping at a small Irma supermarket inearby. Then we have lunch at the apartment. After lunch and a short break, we take the bus and metro to Kongens Nytorv. From the metro we end up in the Magasin du Nord department store. This 150 year old shoppers' paradise exudes luxury. Literally because the facade is completely decorated with string lights. From there we walk towards the harbor and the Royal Library. A modern extension was built to the Library in 1999, designed by architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen. It is a black cube-shaped building covered with granite slabs. Hence the nickname the Black Diamond. We drink coffee in the café øieblikket (the moment) and then look around in the new building and the old building. The new building is divided into two by an atrium with a stairwell that leads to the level where a bridge connects to the old building. On the right is an auditorium, Dronningens Sale. On the left are reading and study rooms, which get daylight through the atrium. There is also a photo museum and a cartoon museum.

After the library we walk through Christiansborg, the government center into the old city. It is also known from the television series Borgen. We walk across a Christmas market and then arrive at Illums department store. Also a luxury buying paradise, but something more modern than Magasin du Nord.

Then we walk on to the Købmagergade, which crosses Valkendorfsgade. The latter is a part of Strøget, the first pedestrian shopping street in Denmark. We pass the round tower (we save for tomorrow) and arrive at Nørreport. There we buy bread at the bakery and continue to the Torvehallerne (Market Halls). These halls, designed by the Danish architect Hans Peter Hagens (ApS), were first opened in 2011. They are two halls with an open air market in between where the vegetable market once was. Exclusive foods are sold and eaten in the halls. We eat delicious smørrebrød (with salmon and herring respectively). Later in the evening we go out to The Barking Dog, a cozy cocktail bar in the neighborhood.

Weather: dry, slightly cloudy with sunny periods. 4 ° C

Thursday 29 November 2018

We get up fairly early, around 7.45. It's raining outside. After breakfast we walk along the Lake Sortedam in the full wind and rain to the  Lagkagehus, a branch of a coffee shop, bakery and pastry chain. We  get a little bit drenched. We dry up over a large coffee and when we leave the shop again, it there is still a light drizzle. We cross the Queen Louise bridge and take bus 5C to the Town Hall Square. We take a look at  Copenhagen City Hall. The enormous building with its characteristic tower is an example of the National Romantic style, which was popular in Scandinavia at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Architect was Martin Nyrop. The building was completed after 9 years of construction in 1905. Behind the entrance you enter a large hall lined with Danish flags. On the second floor is a arched gallery and below  historical Copenhagen events are written in mosaic. On the second floor there is also a party room, but unfortunately it is not accessible today. After the town hall we continue on Strøget. This is Denmark's first pedestrian shopping street. Actually, it is a chain of streets. We pass a Lego Flagship store and then at the store for Royal Copenhagen (ceramics and crockery). It is all beautiful, but also very expensive. We continue and after a coffee stop at the beautiful café Norden we arrive at the Round tower (Rundetårn), which was completed in 1642 by order of King Christian IV by the Dutch architect Hans van Steenwinkel de Jonge. The tower is 42 meters high and functions as a church tower and observatory. The way up is not by staircase, but a ramp that turns 7.5 times around its axis. Peter the Great visited the tower on horseback in 1716. In 1902 a car drove up (and back again) for the first time. Once up we are in the full wind and it is freezing cold (wind chill factor -4 °). The view over the city is beautiful. Few high-rise buildings and the skyline is dominated by church towers. For example the one of the Vår Frelserkirke with the stairs on the outside of the spire. Downstairs we eat an organic and ecologically correct Danish Hotdog from Døp. We then walk to Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady's Church), the cathedral church of Copenhagen. The neo-classical church was completed in 1829 on the site where the main church of Denmark had stood for centuries, but which had been set on fire by the British in the Napoleonic War in 1807. It is a sober church, but very stylish with a neo-Greek / Roman facade of columns. Inside, attention is drawn to the blessing Christ in the Apse by Bertel Thorvaldsen. He also did the 12 apostles who are placed on both sides of the church.

After the church visit we walk to the bus stop and ride back to the apartment. We have lunch and in the afternoon we head off to Ny Carlsbergs Glyptotek, a museum that originated from the art collection of Carlsberg brewer Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914). From 1882 Jacobsen opened his collection to the public at home, but in 1888 the collection became so extensive that a special building was needed. Jacobsen handed over part of his collection to the city and the state, provided that a special building had to be built to house it. It was opened in 1897. An extension followed in 1906. The collection consists of an enormous number of Greek and Roman statues and especially busts. Furthermore, Danish paintings from the Danish Golden Age from the late 18th century to the second half of the 19th century. A large number of works from that period are on the second floor. We see many landscapes by  painters unknown to us from realism to impressionism. Also a large amount of French painters and bronze sculptures by Degas on the top floor. The museum is situated around a glass roofed winter garden. After the museum visit we go back and we eat "at home".
In the evening we go out to visit some Gay bars. We start at Centralhjørnet, the oldest existing gay bar in Denmark and perhaps in the world. It is packed. Very noisy and people still smoke here. After a 15 minutes we have had enough and walk on to Oscar, a trendy and friendly bar that fittingly situated at the Regnbuepladsen (Rainbow Square). There is no smoking here, the music is played at a pleasant volume and the atmosphere is calm.
Then we take bus 6A back to Nørrebro, where our apartment is located.

Weather: rain and strong breeze, 2 ° C

Friday 30 November 2018

After breakfast we take a Bycyklen rental bike from the stand at Rigshospitalet.  We head for the old center. We join the morning rush hour and it is very busy on the (wide) bicycle lanes. The cyclists in Copenhagen ride fast and have an assertive cycling style. Everyone overtakes everyone - even the delivery bikes. We are going for cake and pastry at conditori La Glace. It has a beautiful classic ambiance (since 1870) and the cake is delicious. From there we cycle to Nyhavn. We walk around this old harbor with the beautiful houses, where fairy tale writer HC Andersen once lived. The colorful facades around the 17th century harbor are picture perfect and a real tourist attraction. That has not always been the case. In the 70s and 80s of the last century, Nyhavn descended into a red-light district with seedy brothels and  bars. From that time there is just one left. The contrast with the atmosphere of today could not be greater. There is a Christmas market on one of the quays. We continue to Amalienborg the palace of the royal family in winter time. The complex  consists of four identical buildings, symmetrically arranged around an equestrian statue. They were built in 1750 for four noble families. The royal family expropriated the houses in 1794 when their own palace, Christiansborg burned down . The standard of both the queen and the crown prince is in top, which means that they are at home. One of the palace buildings have been turned into a museum. At 12 o'clock the changing of the guard begins. That is when it also starts to rain. The ceremony is a time-consuming thing, but the guards with their bears' hats is a beautiful sight. After the ceremony we walk to Ida Davidsen, but this smørrebrød restaurant is fully booked. We end up at Amadeus, where we also eat a delicious smørrebrød.

Then we walk to the Designmuseum. A lot of furniture there, especially chairs of Danish make. Also fashion and utensils. We get back on the bike, now to the Little Mermaid or Lille Havnfrue. The little statue of the mermaid from Andersen's fairy tale. Many tourists take their picture with it. The statue has been here since 1913 and was a gift by Carlsberg to the city. It was decapitated a few times as a bad joke, but fortunately restored again. We cycle further to the statue of the alternative mermaid. It is on its own island in front of the Pakhuskaj and is part of the "Genetically Modified Paradise" by artist Bjørn Nørgaard.

In the evening we eat at 108 in Christianshavn. The chef learned his trade at Noma - one of the best restaurants in the world - and has cooked one star of Michelin together. We have a delicious 8 course dinner with matching wines. The restaurant is not fancy, but it is good. After dinner we take a taxi home.

Weather: cold and wind. 2 degrees.

Saturday 1 December 2018

We take the bus and the S-tog (train) to Vesterport station. From there we walk a short distance to Sixt car rental. We get an upgrade from an Opel Corsa to a BMW 1-series. We buy a return ticket for the Øresund bridge online and drive towards Sweden through the long tunnel and over the bridge over the Sound. The tunnel was opened in the year 2000 and has since formed the permanent link between Denmark and Sweden. The total route is 8km long. The train runs underneath the car bridge. At the toll booth on the Swedish side of the bridge we take the green lane and can continue to passport control, which Sweden (temporarily) has set up during the 2015 refugee crisis. In Malmö we first visit the Lilla Torg, the small market square, where we drink a cup of coffee at Café Pronto between half-timbered houses. We walk to the large market square (Stortorget). This square was the largest square in Northern Europe in the 16th century. The town hall from the 18th century with a Dutch Renaissance façade is on the East side of the square. We also see the Lejonet pharmacy here. The building dates from 1896 and was built in the new renaissance style. Teschska palatset as the building is officially called was built by order of pharmacist John Tesch. The architects were Lindvall and Boklund. It was one of the largest pharmacies in Europe at the time. We continue to the St Petrikerk, which is unfortunately closed. The church was inaugurated in the beginning of the 14th century and was expanded a number of times. We walk through the center of the city and buy some clothing accessories at Åhlén . We cross the big Gustaf Adolf torg, where a Christmas market has been set up. Then walk back through the city to the Saluhall. This market hall has been located in a former railway warehouse since 2014, which had been vacant since 1955. Here we have an Italian lunch. In a new housing estate on the banks of the Sound, the 190 meter high residential tower Turning Torso has been present since 2005. It is a slender, twisted tower designed by the Spanish architect Calatrava. Its form is based on a sculpture by Calatrava, whose shoulders are turned relative to the base.

Then we drive to Lund, about 19km north of Malmö. It is an old university town (1666) with 39,000 students and a 12th century cathedral. We also visit the market hall here and drink coffee accompanied by a Swedish delicacy at Konditori Ramklints at the Mårtenstorget. Around 15.30 we drive back to the bridge. We cross the bridge again into Denmark and drive back to the apartment.

In the evening we bring the car back to Sixt and we go for a cocktail at Curfew in Vesterbro. It is a beautiful bar with the theme of the period of the Prohibition in the US, when alcohol was illegal and bars were in the hands of organized crime. Then we eat in the Kødbyen, the former meat district. Many of the abattoirs and sheds in this district have been converted into restaurants and bars. The Paté Paté restaurant is packed, but the bistro food (small dishes) tastes excellent. Then back home by train and bus.

Weather: 5 ° and very cloudy. In the afternoon some rain during the ride to Lund

Sunday 2 December 2018

The downstairs neighbors celebrate a birthday party and that involves a lot of noise. Loud music, lots of shouting. At 2 o'clock in the morning I am fed up with it and go downstairs to demand that the music is turned off. I threaten to call the police if they don't. And wonder to wonder, after a few minutes the music is off and after five minutes it is completely silent. We can finally get some sleep.
The next morning after breakfast we take the bus and metro to the Christianshavn district. We drink coffee at the Lagkagehuset (Cake building). A coffee shop in the building of the same name. The modernist building from 1930 derives its name from the resemblance with a layered cake. The bakery and coffee shop now has outlets in many places in Copenhagen and even in other Danish cities under that name. After the coffee we walk past the docks and canals of Christianshavn. The resemblance with Amsterdam and the Netherlands is no coincidence, because a Dutch land surveyor and engineer, Johan Semp, was commissioned by Christian IV for the design of this 17th century city district on reclaimed land. In 1625 the district was completed and Semp (or Sems) left for his native Groningen. We walk past the Vor Frelser Kirke. This church is special because of the spiral staircase on the outside of the spire. It was built at the end of the 17th century under Christian V, the first absolute ruler of Denmark. We walk on and come along the Nordatlantens Brygge, where we see 108, the restaurant where we ate the day before yesterday. It is located in a former warehouse. We cross a bridge and walk past even more former warehouses and a naval base. The neofuturistic opera house was built on the former naval grounds in 2005 after a design by Henning Larssen. It is one of the most modern, but also most expensive (more than 500,000 euros) in the world. The building was financed by the culture foundation of A.P. Møller, the founder of the shipping company Mærsk, the largest shipping company in the world. The opera house is perfectly aligned with the marble church and the royal palace Amalienborg on the other side of the harbor. It is a beautiful location. From the opera we take the water bus to the Circle Bridge by the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. It consists of three connected circles, each with a sailing mast. The bridge is for cyclists and pedestrians, who have to make a circular movement to cross the bridge.

We walk through the pouring rain to the metro and take it to Nørreport and from there the bus to Georg Brandes Plads near the Park Museums. We walk to the Rosenborg castle. This fairytale castle, with Dutch bell gables, was built in the 17th century as a summer residence for Christian IV and remained a royal residence until 1838 when it was opened to the public. The main attraction are the Danish crown jewels, which are displayed in the cellar vault. In the palace itself, the art treasures, dinnerware, clothing and much more of the royal family are exhibited. On the top floor is the long hall with the Danish throne, which is used for coronations of incoming Danish monarchs. The palace is very dark. There is little light coming in, especially with this gloomy weather and there is also little artificial light in order to protect the collection from the effects of light. It is so dark here and there that at times you hardly see what you're looking at. Access is strictly regulated with time slots before entering. In front of the palace and the treasury, real Danish armed soldiers are on guard.
After the visit to Rosenborg we return to the apartment and have lunch. We rest a bit and go to the airport by bus and metro around 3 pm. We drop off our suitcases, go through the security check and then take some food. The offer is overwhelming. Many restaurants and shops in the departure halls. We suddenly see that the seats we had reserved were not the same as on our boarding cards, which we got when we dropped off the baggage. We complain at the gate and do get our desired seats at the exit row. The aircraft (scheduled departure 18.05) has to wait 45 minutes to leave, because no landing slot is available at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. In the end, we are only 30 minutes late. The train arrives on time and at Rotterdam Central the Uber taxi is waiting for us. Half past ten we are back at home.

Weather: 5 ° C rain.

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