We spent two days in Copenhagen as the second part of a Sweden/Denmark long weekend. It was my second visit to the city, so a combination of past favourites and things I’d missed first time round. Copenhagen certainly warrants further exploring, but if you only have two days, I would still recommend using one for the 30 mile trip up the coast to Helsingør and Kronborg Castle. It’s also worth noting that Amager Strandpark is well worth a visit, even if you don’t intend to run round it.
|Day 1||Day Trip to Helsingør|
Karen Blixen Musuem
|Day 2||Parkrun at Amager Strandpark|
The Little Mermaid
|3||Karen Blixen Museum|
|6||The Little Mermaid|
Once we have arrived in Denmark, we check into our hotel; SleepCPH. As the name suggests, it’s a place to sleep, but that’s about it. I feel like I’m in a 30 year time warp and back in student halls. The room contains a bed, table and clothes rail. At the end of the corridor are a communal kitchen and bathroom. And this basic provision, three miles from the centre of town, costs £92 a night. The hotel’s main selling point – its proximity to parkrun. The receptionist says many of their guests are parkrunners. In fact, in the kitchen is a three metre long photo of the route for guests to visually feast on.
It’s another scorcher of a day, so I hobble to the shop to buy drinks. There are signs around the hotel stating that no alcohol is allowed on the premises. The only decoration in my sparse yet expensive room is a Warholesque picture of James Dean. I ask myself ‘what would James do?’ And I buy beer.
In the evening, the old man takes a walk into town. I opt for a more leisurely evening. My knee has managed eight miles today, which is more than I’ve covered in the past two weeks altogether. So I take it easy watching tennis on my phone (£92 a night doesn’t get you a TV).
Copenhagen Day 1
Day Trip to Helsingør
Today, we’re taking a trip up the Zealand coast to Helsingør, home of Kronborg castle, setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
First, we need to purchase 24 hour travel cards from the ticket machine. The old man requests two tickets plus a receipt and the machine issues two cards; one ticket and one ticket with a receipt. However, he is convinced he has been issued with one ticket and one receipt. He calls the helpline to complain that he has paid for two tickets and only received one. Eventually, a lady who had been waiting patiently in the queue steps in and clears up the confusion.
Once we have ascertained that we do, in fact, have two tickets, we catch a train to Helsingør. It’s a pretty town from the offset as we disembark at the striking red brick station adorned with sculptures. From here, we walk along the harbourside.
There are some interesting sculptures, including Han, The Little Merman and a thought provoking fish made with rubbish from the harbour.
We continue across a bridge to the spectacular 15th Century Kronborg Castle with its green spires standing proud above the fortified walls and surrounding moat.
We’re too tight to pay the £35 to go inside, so make do with a circuit around the edge taking photos, followed by a trip to the gift shop.
Then we take a walk through the quaint town centre of Helsingør, buy provisions and picnic by the waterfront, which is pleasant apart from two facts; 1) we are relentlessly circled by an enormous seagull and 2) it’s so windy I keep accidentally eating my own hair.
We return towards Copenhagen by bus because Lonely Planet recommends the bus, as it runs along the coast and is, therefore more scenic, than the train. They’re not kidding – if we were any nearer the coast we’d need snorkels and flippers. And nose-clips; in places the smell of sewage is overpowering.
Karen Blixen Museum
We alight in Rungsted to visit the home of Karen Blixen; (Think Meryl Streep and “I had a house in Africa…”). You can take an audio guide of the home where she (Blixen, not Streep) lived as a child and where she came to die after Robert Redford gave her syphilis. You can also visit her grave in the garden.
After visiting the grave, which is a ten minute walk from the house, I notice a short cut to the station. But we still have our audio guides. So the old man takes pity on me and returns to the museum while I hobble off towards the station.
We return to our hotel room, which is just as we left it; £93 a night doesn’t get you housekeeping. It’s probably just as well. The stairs to the fire escape have already been transformed into an obstacle course by bags of laundry. I dread to think what it would look like if they changed the sheets regularly. Never mind, we check out tomorrow – unless there’s a fire, which will probably lead to the ultimate check out.
Copenhagen Day 2
Parkrun at Amager Strandpark
It’s Saturday, AKA parkrun day, and we are going to Amager Strandpark. The run starts at 9 am, but we are awake by 5 thanks to a group of tourists replicating stormtroopers in the corridor. It’s raining heavily and my waterproof is in a car park near Stansted, so I am going to get rather wet.
The Strandpark is on a small Island in the Øresund; the strait which separates Denmark and Sweden. We walk the mile to the start, then hide out in a shelter as long as possible.
The route consists two laps along the island, across a bridge, along the prom and back across another bridge. To complicate matters, the first lap is anti-clockwise and the second lap is clockwise. Luckily, I don’t get lost despite being too slow to see the next slowest runner. I fight my way through the wind and rain and the pain in my knee to finish in 37 minutes, which I consider a triumph.
We return to the hotel and, once suitably clean and fed, check out. Another thing you don’t get for £93 a night is a manned reception. We finally locate a staff member and explain that we are checking out, but would like to leave our bags until this evening.
We set off for Copenhagen. It’s not our normal sightseeing routine of hours of aimless wandering. We buy a travel card and take buses between locations to spare my knee, which has already had a hard day.
We start with a walk along the quayside, where there are plenty of interesting sculptures to peruse. There’s the Genetically Modified Little Mermaid, some rather phallic offerings resembling a worm with a large penis smoking a cigar. And my personal favourite, a steampunk style man, deep in contemplation; Zinkglobal
The Little Mermaid
We continue, predictably to The Little Mermaid.
I’m surprised by the throng of tourists round the little mermaid. Last time I was here, 30 years ago, we had the place to ourselves and were able to clamour over the rocks to the statue. Now, bus loads of tourists are disgorging onto the quayside every few seconds.
We stop for a while to admire the Gefion Fountain, a huge tiered fountain depicting a Norse goddess and some cattle.
Onwards to the star shaped Kastellet, before boarding another bus to the Glyptotek.
The Glyptotek is the private art collection of the founder of Carlsberg, who made a few quid flogging beer. There bulk of the collection is sculptures, mainly ancient statues with no noses. But there are also paintings; most of the big European names are represented; Van Gough, Degas, Monet, Picasso, Cezanne..
Much of the gallery is dedicated to The Changing Collection – currently the work of Pierre Bonnard. It’s not my cup of tea and it feels slightly offensive to read his narrative on searching for the perfect colour, considering that it was WWII and most people had much more pressing matters to contend with. So we head instead for the roof, from where there are great views across the city.
We had intended to go to 19th Century them park, Tivoli Gardens. But we have run out of time, so have to make do with a glimpse and a couple of photos from the exterior.
We return to SleepCPH to collect our bags. The entrance is locked and we have a plane to catch. After a stressful few minutes wondering what the hell to do next, we discover the bags hidden behind a chair in the hallway. Luckily, our passports are still there. After a classy picnic in the park by the tube station, we depart for the airport.
Trip Taken: June 2019
Updated: October 2022
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