And, it is another really rainy day. . .sigh. . .We docked at Langelinie sometime between 11:30 and noon and were able to leave the ship shortly thereafter. There are four different dock areas where cruise ships dock; we lucked out and got a close berth. We had signed up for a free walking tour that would meet at City Hall at 3 pm but given the horrible weather, decided to just take a HOHO bus instead. If the weather improved by 3, we would be in the vicinity of City Hall and could still join the tour. Though we were at the “good” dock, we were still quite a ways from the center of town. There is public transportation available but we decided to take the lazy way out and just pay for the tour.
There are two companies that run HOHO buses here; we went with City Sightseeing. They offer three routes: Mermaid, Christiania and Carlsberg. Most people chose the Mermaid Tour; it has 15 stops (1 hr. 20 min.) and covers most of the main sites. Since we have been to Copenhagen before, we decided to spend a small amount more and go with the all-inclusive so we could see more of the area. Normally the HOHO buses are open top but because of the rain covers had been added. Unfortunately the cover was leaky so I kept getting dripped on. Also, the windows were all fogged up so as we listened to the commentary, we were not able to actually see any of the places that we were hearing about. I kept wiping down the window to try to remove the fog but it didn’t work very well.
We passed through a neighborhood of former Royal Navy housing. The commentary talked about how the women would put statues of dogs in the windows. If the dogs created a heart-shape it meant one thing; if the dogs were facing the other way, it meant something else (I think it meant they had a gentleman caller other than their husband!). We also passed the barracks of the Royal Lifeguards. I was thinking swimming, but actually these are the guards for the royal family. Swimming is very popular here. As a matter of fact, Copenhagen’s harbor and canals are so clean that people do swim in them regularly during the warm summer months.
There are tons of bicycle commuters here. Copenhagen has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025 so people here live a “green” lifestyle.
Copenhagen is known for its beer. Historically, women were thought to be the best brewers. When this was an agrarian society, the landowners that brewed the best beer attracted the best workers and of course, it was the wives that did the brewing. The beer consumption here is 80 liters per person per year!
We passed by Rosenberg castle. Between the movement of the bus, the rain, and the foggy windows, it was impossible to take pictures of anything from the bus. We had intended to ride the entire bus route and then switch to the next one but we were all dropped off near Tivoli Gardens (just past City Hall) and told to get on the next bus (not sure why). We visited Tivoli on our previous trip; it is charming and well worth a visit. I am not sure how much fun it would be to visit on a day like today, however! Since we had to wait for another bus we decided to switch to the Christiana tour. We waited about 15 minutes for the bus to pick us up; fortunately, there was an overhang on the building we were waiting by so we didn’t get soaked through.
The Christiana tour took 50 minutes and began by driving us past the train station. Actually, this is the central station for trains, buses and trams. Our first stop (though no one chose to get off the bus) was the Fisketorvet Mall. This used to be a fish market (therefore the name) but was converted to a large, modern shopping mall. There is a large sculpture inside made up of 5000 metal fish in homage to the mall’s roots. The mall is located in the Vesterbro part of town which used to be the drug-infested red light district. Vesterbro means “western gate”; it was the western gate of the moat that protected the city. Now, Vesterbro has been ranked in the top ten most hipster areas in the world.
Copenhagen has been expanding rapidly; the plan is for it to grow in a palm-shaped manner. The palm is the heart of the city. The pinkie of the hand is the northern suburbs. This is where the wealthy of Copenhagen live. The ring figure is N/NW of the city and is where the middle class live. The middle finger is the NW suburbs and is an industrial area. The index finger is west of the city and is where the lower middle class and poorer families live. The thumb is on the coast and is SW of the city. This is where the low-income housing projects are located. The spaces between the “fingers” are green belts.
We passed by Christiansborg Palace and the Stock Exchange. The Stock Exchange building has a unique spire and is easily identified by the spire. King Christian had this building constructed to attract trade. Each trader had his own door to the building. The stock exchange never really took off, but the building remains.
There is a building known as the Black Diamond that we drove past. It is a landmark here and connects new architecture to old (the building spans over the road). The building is constructed of black quartz and has a highly reflective surface. Copenhagen is known for its architects and modern designers.
We drove past Our Savior’s church which is famous for its 400-step “stairway to heaven” spire that can be climbed. From the bus it looked like any other church; later in the tour we could actually see the spire off in the distance. The tower is 90 meters tall and has a sphere at the top that represents the earth; the figure below is Jesus. The church is located in a part of town known as Christianshavn. The buildings here have a Dutch influence.
We were now headed across the canal to Christiana Freetown, a hippie enclave in the heart of Copenhagen. In 1971 the military left the area and hippies moved in. The main street here is known as Pusher Street. There are 900 people that live here currently; 180 are children. Marijuana is used openly; hashish used to be but is no longer openly sold. Hard drugs are not allowed here.
We drove onto an island that used to house the Danish Navy. It is now open to tourists and contains many schools and institutes. The Copenhagen Opera House is located here.
In the distance a smokestack is visible. It is attached to a recycling plant. A former mayor decided it the smokestacks were too ugly so built a ski ramp on top. Really. It was hard to get a picture of but from a distance you can easily see the shape of the slope. Unfortunately, Copenhagen doesn’t get much snow in the winter so the ski slope never really took off. The mayor was not re-elected.
We passed by an area of “allotment gardens”. The government provides these small patches of land to residents to grow whatever they like. Many have also constructed tiny houses on their allotments.
Our last stop on the tour was the Copenhagen Casino (the only one in town). We continued on to where we started the tour near Tivoli. We hopped off the bus and waited until the Mermaid route bus picked us up. We didn’t take it but there is also a free shuttle bus that stops here to take people to the Carlsberg brewery. We rode the bus to the Gammel Strand/Strøget area and hopped off to wander around. There was an interesting photo display from a Danish magazine. Let’s just say they had some very unique photographs. . .
We intended to walk to Nyhavn to catch the bus but had no idea which direction we were heading so ended up wandering the area where the high-end shops were located. If not for our waterproof Northface jackets we would’ve been soaked to the skin. We decided to just walk back to where the bus had dropped us off and ride back to the port. We had seen Nyhavn when it was sunny and it wasn’t worth getting any wetter than we already were to take a picture of it in the rain. We backtracked to find the bus stop; it was about a 15 minute wait for the next bus.
We usually sit up top on the double-decker HOHO buses but by now had given up on even trying to take a picture so sat downstairs. We did pass by Nyhavn which is normally a bustling part of town but due to the inclement weather, it was practically deserted. We continued on past the Amalienborg Palace (I believe this is the summer palace for the royal family) and the Gelion Fountain. I quickly hopped off the bus to take a picture of the statue while people were loading.
The bus stopped at the Little Mermaid for ten minutes, allowing everyone the opportunity to take a quick picture without having to wait for the next bus to pick you up. I was really happy about that; I wasn’t willing to wait out in the rain for up to 30 minutes until the next bus came along just to get a picture.
We were now back to Langelinie; we were dropped off right in front of the ship. The Europa 2 was docked in front of the Jade.
It was another frustrating touring day, mainly due to the weather. I guess we have been spoiled on our past cruises; we have not been as affected by poor weather on those trips. We will be at sea tomorrow and then will be heading on to Hamburg. It will probably by rainy in Hamburg as well. Here’s hoping the weather conditions improve!