It was pitch dark and the city was yet not up from its beauty sleep. Totally unplanned backpacking from Germany, I reached at the central station of COPENHAGEN in small hours around 5.00 am. As a travel photographer by vocation, I adore my mornings. I couldn’t resist myself from exploring the beautiful uninterrupted Good morning hours of Copenhagen.
When I mentioned uninterrupted, I also meant hands off my luggage strollers and backpack. I quickly took to the manned desk and luggage boxes at the station to store my belongings. With just my camera bag on my back and wallet, I took off to explore Copenhagen.
My first morning stop was right down the station hall at this Danish pastry shop Lagkagehuset. Even before you step in, the aroma of spices and freshly baked bread just gets into you. I couldn’t resist just peeking but quickly grabbed a morning coffee, luscious lip smacking Danish pastries and cinnamon roll. After my sinful satisfying and drool leaking breakfast, I was all set to sight the first impression of the city and its people.
Copenhagen has this cozy, intimate feel to its character. Walking by the cobblestone streets witnessing the rich architectural design and heritage is captivatingly subtle. One such iconic beauty was the Little Mermaid sculpture down on the Langeline promenade. The morning here was breathtakingly beautiful as she sits calm by the sea. This 101 years old ballerina sculpture was created by the Danish-Icelandic sculpture Edward Erikson and is inspired by the famous fairytale of a mermaid looking for love. As I Watched the morning sun by the shore with her longing to meet her prince just like the city of Copenhagen.
The Botanical Gardens
Amidst the usual bustling city, The Botanical Gardens is a beautiful green oasis in the heart of Copenhagen. Also, the history of this garden goes way back to 1600 when the first garden was opened at the University of Copenhagen. The botanical garden is dedicated to the study of plant life and fungi that are home to 9000 different species of plants from around the world. The entry was free and the morning was definitely the best time to wander around the luscious greenhouses and grass paths. It was a morning walk for the eco-friendly green eyed ‘me’ in the city.
The next best I witnessed or couldn’t miss is the prolific bike culture of Copenhagen. Nearly every soul in Copenhagen loves to ride a bike. Be it school children, men &women going to work, grannies and housewives running errands or politicians riding their way to parliaments. Bike riding is a huge part of Danish culture in Copenhagen. I decided to be one of them ( locals) and showed them that I can ride. With well-planned crossways and friendly bridges, biking in Copenhagen makes crisscrossing the city a jiff.
Amager Beach Park
Riding all around in the city, I was exhausted by now. I decided to take a break at Amager Beach Park. The beach park constitutes a 2 Km long artificial island forming a lagoon on one side and sandy beach with dunes on the other. I saw the active peeps of Copenhagen running, skating and surfing their way on the beach. I took a bench to enjoy the splendid view of a windmill across. It was quite a serene escape from the bustling city.
They say Copenhagen is home to the happiest people on earth. With so much to do & little time in hand, I’ll have to wind up my last morning stop at Nyhavn Harbour. Of all the pictures of places one see of Copenhagen, is that of Nyhavn. The old, beautiful colourful houses are childishly attractive. Originally a place for many ships to dock from different countries is now a place to do some candid photography for people like me. With plenty of pictures to click and plenty of cafes to ease my hunger pangs, Nyhavn is undoubtedly a perfect place to be. I couldn’t have asked for more from the beautiful Copenhagen.
In Denmark, you want nothing less of a Viking, and the most delightful way of going about is sailing into the world of Viking ship Museum. Viking ships were a marine vessel of unique design, built by the Vikings. They were designed to sail the rivers, fjords and coastal waters. Viking ship museum is the only place in the world where you would find the ruins of 1000 years old Viking ships and the five Skuldelev ships. Skuldelev ships are a term used for five original Viking ships recovered from the waters of Skuldelev. In the 60’s the remains of the submerged ships were excavated in the short course of four months at Roskilde. Roskilde was once the epicenter for a growing Viking kingdom later known as Denmark. The recovered pieces comprise five types of Viking ships that have been dated to the 11th century. All the ships were numbered 1 to 5 Skuldelev. These Skuldelev ships were allegedly blockshiped from the sea. (A blockship is a ship deliberately sunk to prevent a river, channel, from being used by a navy defending the waterway to prevent the ingress of attacking enemy forces).
So Viking ship museum in Roskilde officially became the place of origin for the reconstruction of the five Skuldelev ships. And since then museum is not only a place for ships on display but a marine historical centre with its own ships yard and harbour hosting many kinds of ships.
Keeping up the curiosity tacked let me now take you on a trip to the world of Vikings.
Plan your Journey
The Viking Ship Museum is open all year round.
Summer opening hours: 10:00AM – 17:00PM
Winter Opening Hours: 10:00AM – 16:00PM
(Entrance fees vary according to the time of year and level of activity.)
Cars: There’s parking facility just by the museum, a large free park for the private cars.
Trains: Most of the regional and inter- city trains stop at Roskilde station.(my Personal Choice)
Bus: Direct buses from the Roskilde train stations to the Museums
The Viking Ship -The Museum
The Museum Island contains the Harbour, the Boatyard and Tunet.
Harbour and the Hall: The Viking Ship Hall, is designed by Professor Erik Christian Sorensen, and is beautifully located on to Roskilde Fjord. This is where you witness the Viking ships found in Roskilde Fjord. The Museum Harbour stands tall and magnificent with the collection of traditional Nordic wooden boats and the reconstructed Viking ships, and 5 Skuldelev which were used by the locals for war, trading and fishing. It’s an overwhelming sight witnessing of how the original ships looked 1,000 years ago.
The Hall is beautifully placed on Roskilde Harbour, with a huge window and sweeping views over the fjord that are connecting the ships to the water. Interesting Part: The East Room at the Viking Ship Hall is a two -floor models of cargo and war ships. Best place for kids and parents to amuse themselves by wearing various costumes, hold a sword like a Viking and posing for pictures. Let your imagination set your limit. The experience is undisturbed and gives room for immersion and fantasy.
BoatYard: The Boatyard exhibits the craftsmanship and boat-building culture of the Viking Age. One can step into an active boatyard and follow the boat-builders up close. The permanent display constitutes the five Skuldelev ships and tells the history of the ships as well as the history of the Nordic maritime adventure during the Viking Age.
Tunet: The Tunet forms the basis for the summer activities and workshops. I went ahead and interacted with the craftsmen in open workshops. I tried my hand at the rope walk, carved my name in the runes, hit the nail on the head and made my own basket of willow. The workshops are suitable for adults and children from 8 years and older.
Lunch Break At The Viking Ship Museum
At the Viking Ship Museum, you can enjoy the amazing weather on the Museum Island and the views of the Roskilde Fjord both at a restaurant and in the open by the island.Take a grab of the freshly made sandwiches and salads, homemade cakes, ice cream, tea, coffee and organic soft drinks and beer at Café Knarr (opening 10:00- 16:00) or at the popular restaurant named Snekken(Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 )over Roskilde Fjord. The open kitchen shows a glimpse of the chefs at work and it serves fresh seasonal mains, weekend brunch, and an exclusive exhibition-inspired menu.
But I’m the ones who love being outdoors, soaking up the sun bring my own food and use the picnic tables on the Museum island and laze around, eating in the park opposite the Viking Ship Hall.
Viking Museum Shop
The museum shop has a wide range of books, jewellery and souvenirs for both adults and children.
The book section carries literature about the Viking Age and the ships. The books are available both in Danish and in English. The museum shop also has a range of replicating jewellery inspired by the style and materials of Scandinavia and the Viking era. While For the souvenir collectors and friends back home there are a huge collection of decorations inspired by the Viking Age, such as Frankish drinking glasses, Viking games, ceramics, bronze and plaster casts of Nordic gods and heroes.
Viking Guided tours and Rides
The Viking Ship Museum offers daily, free guided tours during the summer season and selected holidays. The guided tours are conducted by history and archaeology students. With an advance booking in hand enjoy the Viking ship rides with a guide will take you into the history of Viking Age.
Feel the presence of history when you stand before the original Viking ships that bear witness to war, trade and sea voyage to distant places.Denmark is home to many enriching attractions and culture and is one of Viking’s most desirable.
Image Credits: Visit Denmark
I am a sucker for medieval age castles and Europe is the perfect place to find them. Located in the town of Helsingor, the Kronborg castle made Denmark a super power of the Baltic Sea. Along with the fortress at Helsingborg, it allowed the Danish king control over the entrance to the Baltic Sea. This castle is also the place where Shakespeare set his famous drama Hamlet in. He called the castle Elsinore which is now the English name for the town it is located in. The castle is now one of UNESCO’s heritage sites.
The castle first origins can be traced to an early 15th century fortress built by Eric of Pomerania. Frederick II had it made into a magnificent castle from 1574-85. The Kronborg Castle is a showcase of the power and architecture of medieval Europe. With strong ramparts and bastions, the imposing structure of the castle is divided into three wings. The 1629 fire destroyed much of the castle. It was followed by the capture of the Fort by Swedish King Carl Gustaf in 1658 but it has been restored to it’s former glory since then.
What to see?
It houses the largest Ballroom in Northern Europe with a size of more than 60 metres. A canopy of purple would overhang the king with gold and silver threads while wood cravings and brass chandeliers adorned the walls. Frederick II ordered a series of tapestries to be woven
depicting the life of the Kings of Denmark. 7 out of the 43 tapestries can now be found in the Little Hall. These royal tapestries used to drape the walls of the Ballroom when the King used to hold his events. A statue of mythical hero Holger Danske also is found in the castle. The statue depicts the typical Viking lineage of the country. Broad shouldered, long haired, bearded with a sword resting on his lap. There is nothing as majestic as this.
What to do?
The castle hosts three guided tours. The first one The Casemate takes you through the dank bowels of the castle. In Hamlet’s Footsteps is a recreation of the Bard’s famous play as Horatio becomes your guide and takes you through a 45 minute tour. The glory of medieval Europe is displayed to it’s truest form. A dreamy sequence that you will remember for a lifetime. A Day for the Royal Housekeeper showcases the best of the Nordic culture of that era. The Castle also hosted a Renaissance fair from Oct 16-22 and will host a winter market in early December.
How to get there?
The castle is about an hour’s drive along the Danish Riviera’s coast from the capital city Copenhagen. You can also take a train from Copenhagen Central Station or a ferry from Sweden’s Helsingor Castle
Ticket prices are for 90 DKK for Adults
Timings: 10AM-5:30PM in summers and from 11AM-4PM in autumns and winters.
Image Credits: Visit Denmark, Explore Kronborg Castle, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
While travelling from Copenhagen, do check out Cafe Flottenheimer.
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The food capital of Scandinavia, Copenhagen houses one of the world’s favourite restaurants, Noma. But still Danish food is something that is very scarcely known to Indian travelers. Firstly, its the different climatic conditions which make for a different type of food and secondly the subtlety of the Scandinavian cuisine deflects off the Indian palate. But as we have discovered, the Scandinavian cuisine specially the Danish cuisine has some real gems in it. We tell you the dishes that you must try out on your visit to Denmark.
This open sandwich made of rye bread has been a staple for many, many years. The dish has had a multitude of forms ranging from those eaten by the working class to the ones of the ruling class. The rye bread gives it an distinctive taste. But chefs in Denmark are now experimenting with the Smorrebrod creating a range of flavours your palate hasn’t tasted before. You can pile up any kind of meat ranging from herring to pork and make it a delicious meal.
The sweet taste of eel is combined with onions, salt and pepper and served chilled with potatoes. It is a dish where the actual taste of the fish meat shines through against the carbohydrate just seasoned with salt and pepper. You can try this dish out at Veno Inn in Struer.
Sausages and Sun Eggs
South Jutland is a place for the best sausages in Denmark specially the cabbage sausages. The Sun Eggs are another deal altogether. The eggs are cooked in onion husks and then left in brine. The yolk is then replaced with Tabasco, oil, vinegar and mustard for an explosion of flavours on your palate.
Before you start wondering, Hot Dogs are indeed an Scandinavian specialty an Denmark has been having them for nearly a century. Do not miss any of the roadside vendors for a quick bit of the sausage filled bread. Do add some roasted onions for sweetness and mustard for it’s sharp taste.
Herring is cooked in a variety of ways in Denmark. It can be on top of the Smorrebrod or you can also try it out as a salt-herring fried. After soaking in brine, the herring is cooked in pork fat after dipping in flour.
Everybody loves a Danish pastry but did you know that these sweet sticky delights are actually Viennese. They were made for the first time in the Danish capital by Viennese bakers and it spread from there. They were actually called Viennese Bread. But as a century went, the name got dropped and they became famous as Danish Pastry. Well, the Danes are not complaining 😉
Denmark also has a plethora of Michelin starred restaurants which we will be covering in another post. As you will see, the essential flavours of Denmark are based on the taste of the underlying meat to wonder your palate. Do tell us your favourite.
All images are courtesy of Visit Denmark.
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