Saturday, November 6, 2010

Trains, Boats and Wine Gums...Hamburg Bound

No, I'm not dead,

It's been a hectic few days, our time in Copenhagen was really too short, it's definitely on our short list of places to return. The bicycles, buildings, people, food, shopping and the museums, need much more time than 4 days to really appreciate.

Upon arrival in Copenhagen I did some quick research (i.e. typed, "what to do when bored in Copenhagen" in google) and the result of that research was a short list of 3 must experience things while here. #1 was The Little Mermaid statue that resides in the harbour by the citadel to the north of downtown. #2 was a hippy commune called Freetown and #3 was visit the Carlsberg brewery. Fearing that I'd be branded even more of a drunk by my family members (thanks Haiden) I decided to skip the brewery and opted to wander aimlessly.

On our second day (first morning) we were out for a walk looking for coffee and some baked goods when we stumbled upon a very interesting church with a spiralled steeple. You can go inside and tour and climb the steeple, but it's expensive, so we opted to take a few pictures and move on. Turning the corner from here we passed a highschool when some graffiti caught my eye. We turned down to take a look and found ourself staring at no camera signs and some very bohemian looking types. Not wanting to cause any fuss, we stuffed the cameras in our sacks and wondered through there midst. Now from what my research taught me, was that Freetown is essentially a hippie commune, it's run by a committee, has it's own economy of trade and goods (some of this includes the sale of soft narcotics) and is a squatter's paradise. The land occupied was once an abandoned military base that has since been "renovated": old buildings have been modernized, new buildings have been built. Some are lovingly built and maintained and others resemble the Weasley's home in Harry Potter (Liz: There is NOTHING wrong with the Weasley homestead!) To get your mind in the right area, think of Kensington market in Toronto; now take that atmosphere of the colour and people and the madness of it all and move it out to Toronto Island to all those small funky homes. That sort of is what Freetown was like.

After Freetown, we walked down past the harbour and back into the core of downtown. There is a shopping mall like the Eaton Centre, but outdoors. We wondered for a while and stumbled on the Round Tower. I'm not sure of the exact date it was built, but I recall the 17th century. The building is composed of a church and a hollow tower. You are able to climb the tower, but there are no stairs, just a ramp that spirals up and up and up. We had the pleasure of sitting and listing to what sounded like an avalanche falling, but turned out to be a gaggle of young school children having a great time running in circles...Liz and I tried that too. Once at the top of the tower you can climb out onto a platform and gaze at the city around you. Beautiful, the first thing that strikes you from up in the air is that the city doesn't have many high rises, nothing is much taller than 5 stories, so you can see all the way to the horizon on all sides. The only thing that interrupts the view is the occasional church steeple. The building also contains an observatory that is open to the public every night at this time of year, and a library that is now a gallery.

We finished off the day with a sit in a cafe and some people watching in the square by the amusement park that sits dead centre of the city. Tivoli Gardens it's called, and unfortunately it is closed until mid November as they are preparing for the Christmas season.

Day 3 brought a another lovely walk, we ended up at the citadel with plans to see the Little Mermaid statue. upon arrival we found a note stating that the statue had been loaned to the worlds fair in Shanghai and wouldn't be back until month's end. We did see the rock it sits on and took pictures of that.

After the statue we wandered around a bit more, and came upon the King's Palace where the crown jewels are kept. It was under construction so we walked on past and walked through the gardens for a bit. Even in fall (autumn) you can tell the care that goes into the garden, everything is cropped and trimmed perfectly square, even the tops of the trees. Definitely a place to see in late spring or early summer.

We finished of the day with a stop in one of the local museums, and we were given quite the treat, I have never seen so many statues, art, and historical artifacts in my life, the building was immense, after 3 hours we gave up. Too much to see, it was already close to 6 and my head hurt from trying to take it all in.

Needlessly to say, this was just one of the many museums in Copenhagen and another one of the reasons why we will definitely have to come back.

I suppose that brings us to today, we packed up, grabbed coffee and baked goods at the bakery next door to the hostel and headed for the train station, another amazing building, apparently the 3rd one that was built. It was built from what I recall in the early 1900's and upon entering it you are struck with the open airiness of a steel beam'd be wrong, it's all wood, every last bit of it, wood. Amazing, it deserves a post of its own.

We boarded a train headed for Hamburg at 11 am and the journey began. This is how traveling should be. 2 hours into the trip and we arrived at the edge of the land, the train slowed, and boarded a ferry for Germany. Onboard the ferry was a bar, laundromat, cafe as well as a dutyfree shop. We took a quick look through and Liz had to shoo me out of the candy section. 3kg box of Quality St candy for $15 CAD. I had to settle with a 1/2kg box of stomach hurts now.

That brings us to know, we found our hotel, settled in and are just turning in for the night. Off to see the sights of Hamburg tomorrow.

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