denmark,  europe,  travel

Bidding ‘farvel’ to Scandinavia – Day 13


It was a beautiful sunny day to cap off the end of my time in Scandinavia. I wanted to see if, by any small miracle, the cake shop (Conditori La Glace) was open, so we walked over to Strøget. Unfortunately, it was closed, perhaps unsurprisingly, given that it was Easter Sunday. As the wifi wasn’t working at our hotel again, we picked up some pastries and coffee at a nearby café that I knew to have wifi to get in our morning fix of the interwebs. Just around the corner I noticed that the Canal Tour boats were still operating, so I thought it might be nice to take one of the tours. We opted for a hop-on/hop-off boat tour, as we had planned to check-out a few sights on our own.

When the boat arrived, we picked up our headphones and headed for seats at the back of the boat, which were in the open-air section. Each seat had a little box that you could plug your headphones into and listen to an audio guide, with your choice of language. Unfortunately, mine was stuck on French, so D and I shared his headphones. We started off and, as the boat picked up speed, that cool air off the water started to become quite chilly. We passed by the highly modern Copenhagen Opera House as well as what looked to be a naval military compound before reaching our stop at The Little Mermaid statue. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, it is a small rather unassuming statue, which had a good-sized number of tourists queuing up to take their pictures with it. It’s a cute little statue, but we were happy to take a look and then move on.

We ambled along the boardwalk until we came to Gefion Fountain next to St. Alban’s Anglican Church. Gefion Fountain features large oxen being driven by the Norse goddess Gefion, who’s associated with the story of the creation of the island Zealand on which Copenhagen is located. Easter Sunday mass was just letting out, so we weren’t able to get a look inside the church. The exterior of the 19th century church had handsome stonework and sat perched on the edge of the moat that surrounded Kastellet. Kastellet is a star fortress, constructed in the 17th century, with bastions at each of its corners. It’s used by the Danish Defence Ministry but its grounds are open to the public. The buildings on the grounds are brightly coloured, mostly red and yellow. D and I took a leisurely walk up along the ramparts, which seemed to be a popular route for joggers.

From there, we made our way to the near by Marmorkirken or Frederik’s Church, an impressive structure with a massive dome (apparently the largest in Scandinavia) with gilded embellishments. We headed inside and were treated to a gorgeous interior, with a soaring, beautifully ornate ceiling. I’m not a religious person, but I love that sense of hushed reverence that comes over me when I enter a beautiful church. Perhaps because such places demand (near) silence from everyone, including tourists, so they’re usually very peaceful places to visit. D and I marveled for a time and realized that we were in time for a tour of the dome (which they only allow once or twice a day). Our extremely exuberant guide led us up 250+ stairs, up probably some of the narrowest staircases I’d ever been up (at one point we were climbing inside a pillar). Sufferers of claustrophobia need not apply, let’s just say that. Slightly winded and also slightly concerned of how high we were, I emerged to breathtaking views of the city. Unlike the Round Tower (which apparently could fit inside this church), the railing was surprisingly low, about waist height. This made for great photo-taking opportunities, though I was slightly nervous and moved around carefully.

After we’d had our fill of the sun-soaked skyline, we carefully made our way down the winding stairs and out of the church. After stopping briefly on the church steps to scarf down a previously-purchased pastry, we meandered our way passed Amalienborg Palace to the waterfront. D was interested in checking out the other location of Coffee Collective, so we walked down through Nyhavn to find the bus. After some confusion as to the correct bus stop and the right directionality of the bus, we hopped on the bus and headed across the bridge to Nørrebro. We got off in a distinctly grittier part of town and walked over to the shop. It was a tiny little shop located in a pseudo-basement suite, as they seem to be so fond of here. One of the more unique characteristics of this café is that instead of the bar that you’d walk up to and place your order, it had an “open kitchen”, so there was no barrier between the customer and the baristas. D first ordered an aeropress along with my requisite hot chocolate. We heard the strains of American English and noticed the barista making D’s coffee was American. Hilariously enough, when D asked where he was from, he hailed from Chicago. D settled in for his cup of coffee, which he declared to super high-quality (they really know how to do aeropress in this part of the world). It was a little bit sour, super fruity and light-bodied and lively. We grabbed another double espresso, and we chatted for a time with the Chicago barista (who actually only used to work there and had just come in for a coffee but had helped out because they got so busy) about living in Copenhagen vs. Chicago.

We’d originally planned to finish the rest of our canal tour, and even went down to Nyhavn to look at the boat times. But, as we’d just missed one boat, D and I decided it’d be fine to just head back to the hotel, in the end. We were both pretty beat, and I had an early flight to catch tomorrow morning. So we lounged at the hotel, having crackers, cheese and apples, for a relaxing end to my whirlwind tour of Scandinavia. D would be staying on for another week for his conference in Lund (the actual motivation for this trip), but I was on an 8 am flight back to Chicago. It had been a great couple of weeks, filled with beautiful sights, brightly-coloured buildings, great food (and coffee) and a little snow. Now, if only I can recreate those Swedish meatballs with lingonberries, I’ll be set!

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