A March 2002 trip
to Copenhagen by Scubabartek
Quote: Located on the island of Zealand, Copenhagen offers a taste of the old, the new, the exciting and the unusual to the visitor. Its low skyline hides many wonderful sites, for the inquisitive, adventurous or simply wanting to unwind. This eco-friendly gateway to Scandinavia is a wonderful place to visit.
If you start out at the central train station on foot, you will indivertibly end up on Strøget, Europe's longest pedestrian-only street. It's a great, although a bit touristy, introduction to Copenhagen with its plethora of gift shops, clubs and interesting museums (Museum Erotica, Believe it Or Not Museum!, Guinness World of Records Museum). Dozens of side streets sprawl out, hiding magnificent restaurants like Peder Oxe and nightlife (think Copenhagen JazzHouse).
A visit to Copenhagen's castles is a must. Watch the changing of the guards at Amalienborg, and then migrate to Christiansborg to let the magnificent Queen's tapestries take your breath away. If you start out early enough in a day, you can take the local train to picturesque Helsingør and enjoy strolling around renaissance Kronborg castle, its scary casemates and its maritime museum.
For a fun and relaxing break, you can take a stroll through Tivoli gardens (but only during the warm season) or hang out at Nyhavn where you can take a canal tour around Copenhagen's waterways.
A note on the weather: don't believe the "mild climate" stuff that many travel guides claim. I've been to Denmark twice now, once in early spring and once in autumn and both times I was glad that I brought a warm sweater and a thick jacket. The weather can be very deceiving. One minute you're walking between two buildings, sun shining on your face, feeling "life is beautiful because I'm warm", when suddenly a gust of arctic wind blows up your skirt (or kilt), making you feel like you're sightseeing in Siberia. After all, Denmark is very flat, with no mountains blocking out the cold winds.
Astoria is rated *** (3 stars) according to the plaque near the entrance (EU standards), which would probably qualify for a ** (2 star, tourist class) rating in the USA. It provides everything that a leisure tourist would need: a clean room with a private bathroom, cable and pay TV, a mini-bar and good service, but not some of the conveniences that a business traveler would expect like fast internet access or a large desk for office work. Front desk, open 24 hours per day, offers currency exchange, more extensive selection of liquors and other guest services.
Breakfast is buffet style and substantial, consisting of breads, cheeses, cold cuts, yoghurt, cereals and hot or cold drinks. Attached to the hotel is the Astor Deep Pan Pizza restaurant (Vesterbrogade 7) offering and all you can eat pizza and salad buffet for 49DKK (59DKK after 1700 - 5PM) which is quite a good deal in the city where dining can be expensive.
Bearing in mind how expensive hotels in Copenhagen can get, Astoria offers a good value for the money with an exceptional location for the tourists. Rates vary according between about 100€-150€ depending on the room size and season.
For more information on the hotel, check out Arp Hansen's homepage. You can also e-mail the hotel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 22, 2002
Restaurant | "Restaurant Lurblæseren"
A rare gem in the Strøget area (which is filled mostly with pizza buffets, lousy takeout and fast food chains) Lurblæseren offers a taste of real Scandinavia with a minimal damage to a wallet. For lunch (before 5PM), you can feast on smørrebrød (open face sandwiches), that vary from an ordinary egg and tomato or roast beef sandwich to Scandinavian favorites like herring and crispy capers or egg and shrimp sandwich. You’ll definitely scarf down at least two of these beauties. After 5PM, the restaurant serves a variety of soups as well as Scandinavian and continental entrées (fillet of ground beef with mushroom sauce and poached egg is magnificent!). Prices are very affordable. Most smørrebrød cost between 20 and 50 DKK (Danish Kroner), while a dinner entrée ranges between 70 and 200 DKK. Considering dining costs in Copenhagen, this restaurant will definitely not leave a hole in your wallet.
Atmosphere is wonderful: dark wood paneling and low lighting give this cozy restaurant a romantic feeling. A full bar awaits the drinkers, with a wide selection of Scandinavian aquavits and other hard liquors as well as a small assortment of tap and bottled beers (Tuborg and alike). Coffee is outstanding here (but it would be difficult to find bad coffee anywhere in Scandinavia) and finishes off a meal beautifully. The restaurant can accomodate sixty to seventy people and is open all day! Åbent alle dage! No need to rush your coffee here…
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 25, 2002
Copenhagen, Denmark 1459
+45 3311 7627
That was my introduction to the ingenious and quite unique Meet The Danes homedinner program, which matches up a visitor to Copenhagen with a local host family for an evening of native Danish food and more importantly, a chance to get to know some of the people you rub shoulders with during the day.
Since summer 2001, "Meet The Danes" program has been providing a slightly more personal touch of Copenhagen to the visitors and journalists. The program offers much more than just home dinners. From walking and biking tours to cultural lectures and accommodations, the program is a great starting point for those who have little or no knowledge of Copenhagen and needing or wanting a little of the personal touch.
But the home dinners are definitely the standout of "Meet The Danes". How else would you ever have the opportunity to dine with the locals in a real Danish home? I was booked for a dinner at Sara's and Mads' house, a young couple from Copenhagen. I didn't quite know what to expect from the evening, so I armed myself with an open mind. What I got, was a wonderful dinner (mmm... I still want that recipe for pork roast, Sara) and an atmosphere of hanging out in a friendly shack with old friends (even though we've just met). The closest analogy I can find is like being an exchange student for one evening.
Since the program counts on a pool of volunteer hosts, the experiences will surely be different for everyone. Nonetheless, I cannot think of a better way to spend an evening in Copenhagen than enjoying a home cooked meal and "meeting the Danes".
Thanks Sara and Mads! See you in Seattle someday, I hope.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 23, 2002
Meet The Danes
Ravnsborggade 2, 2 floor
Copenhagen, Denmark 2200
+45 33 46 46 46
I have to be honest that I was somewhat disappointed by the Centre. Not that it wasn’t interesting; on the contrary, it was fascinating, especially for a person interested in design. The centre is simply much too small for its reputation. Being on the top of my list of things to see in Copenhagen, I was done with it in less than thirty minutes. Not exactly a great deal for 20 Danish kroner (that’s with 10 kroner discount with the Copenhagen Card.
It’s not just that Centre itself is small, it is also uses the space very inefficiently (in my humble opinion). The gift shop and the café take up half of the ground floor, leaving only half of the floor, a small basement and a small balcony for the exhibitions. The visit to the centre was saved by the temporary exhibition on Arne Jacobsen’s designs (he would have celebrated his one hundredths birthday in 2002), which was informative and well laid out (but once again, very small).
There are a couple permanent and a couple rotating exhibitions on display at a time at the Centre. For more information visit their web-site at www.ddc.dk.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 14, 2002
Danish Design Centre
Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard 27
Attraction | "Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum"
Ripley’s is basically the younger cousin of the Guinness World Records Museum, although it focuses less on the world records and more on the freakish and the unusual. You can see real shrunken heads here or a well-crafted joke by a taxidermist of old: a fish with fur. There are also many strategically placed TV monitors replaying odd videos of "stupid dog tricks", strange human behaviors and other bizarre events witnessed and recorded by Ripley himself.
The museum has some interactive features like the "electronic harp" or "spinning room" (nauseating: the round walls of this room spin around, tricking your brain into thinking that the floor is moving instead… I was holding the handrails while walking through it and only after about three minutes of concentrating very hard I was able to control the head-spinning). These are doubtlessly fun for the kids, and even adults can enjoy them if they let their "inner child" out. The adjoining extension, The Mystic Exploratorium, adds even more hands-on fun with delights like the "electric chair", the "ghost handshake" and many others that would make any hunted house proud.
If you plan to visit the Guinness museum as well, ask about a SMARTPASS which will save you 35% on the entrance fees to the museums. And of course if you buy the
Copenhagen Card, then the entrance to all three places is free.
Check out these useful links for more information:
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum – www.ripleys.dk
Mystic Exploratorium – www.exploratorium.dk
Guinness World Records Museum – http://www.guinness.dk
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 12, 2002
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Copenhagen V, Denmark
+45 33 91 89 91
Attraction | "Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst"
I’m not a big fan of modern art, but have to admit that the trip to Louisiana made for a perfect and relaxing morning. The museum is located in an old park on a top of a sloping cliff that rolls directly towards Øresund. Swedish coastline is visible from here even on a cloudy day. Louisiana is housed in a complex of very logically arranged (unlike the Louvre) one or two story buildings connected through a series of indoor and outdoor walkways. Collections and pieces by twentieth century artists like Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti are splattered around the museum and special exhibitions (recently in March 2002, by Georgia O’Keeffe) are held several times a year.
Somewhere near the middle of your journey into the world of modern art, the lovely Museum Café is waiting for you, serving a variety of hot and cold drinks, pastries, sandwiches as well as more significant hot dishes (dinner entrées are served here on Wednesdays). There are tables outside as well, serving to those who bring brown-bag lunch with them.
Museum is open daily from 10AM to 5PM with the exception of Wednesdays when it is open until 10PM. Entrance costs 68DKK, but you can get a discount of 5DKK with your Copenhagen Card.
For more information go to Louisiana Museum’s web-site or call them at: +45 4919 0719.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 26, 2002
Humlebæk, Denmark 3050
+45 49 19 07 19
Attraction | "Strøget"
Strøget is a mecca full of souvenir stores, fast and take-out food, pubs, bars, clubs, museums of all kinds of stores way too expensive to shop in like Hermes or Bang & Olufsen. But Strøget is more than just a walking street, it's also a place of history. A large square, Kongens Nytorv is located near its middle which happens to be the location of the Royal Theater. Also located nearby is the Copenhagen Cathedral (Vor Frue Kirke), a beautiful neo-classical church rebuilt in the 1800's by one of Denmark's most famous architects, C.F. Hansen.
Back at the Strøget, among the lousy pizza restaurants we can find some great dining as well. Restaurant Lurblæseren and Peder Oxe offer some of the best Danish fare I had in Copenhagen.
Plenty of strange museums are located nearby as well. Museum Erotica, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum and Guinness World of Records Museum are just some of the more interesting (or unusual) ones to see. And of course there is the nightlife: Club Absalon offers titillating fun and the world famous Copenhagen JazzHouse, located in one of the side streets, offers a relaxing, albeit a bit smoky atmosphere, where you can just kick back, relax and have a Tuborg.
If there is a downside to Strøget, it's its overexposure and touristy feel. Thousands swarm here during the days and nights. And although it is so centrally located and a big draw to tourists, everything closes early here with the exceptions of clubs, pubs and restaurants. So in a nutshell: Strøget is fun for a couple hours while soaking in the local atmosphere (or for sightseeing), but don't linger. There is so much more in Copenhagen to see.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 2, 2002
Stroget Pedestrian Shopping Area
Center of Copenhaten
Attraction | "Christiansborg and Queen's Gobelins"
Christiansborg, as it is today, was built in the beginning of the last century by a then famous architect Thorvald Jørgensen. It’s an example of rather drab neo-baroque building style with two striking features: a tall tower located in the middle wing of the palace and patina-green roofs. If style is somewhat lacking on the outside it is more then made up by the interiors of the palace. The ceiling of the main entry hall is held by four giants: sculptures serving as pillar supports for the roof. Reception rooms are beautifully decorated, but without a doubt the highlight of the palace tour must be the Great Hall with its magnificent tapestries.
The Queen has ordered the Gobelins (as they are also known) in 1990 to replace the aging ones that previously hung in the hall. Work on these tapestries took almost a decade and they were finally presented to the Queen in the year 2000 for her sixtieth birthday. The tapestries, designed by Bjørn Nørgaard, depict the Danish history from the Viking era until the present. What is truly amazing about these tapestries is that they not only contain figures, events and symbols from an appropriate time period, but they are weaved using the style appropriate to the era. Henceforth the "Viking Era" tapestry lacks clearly defined perspective and utilizes simple geometrical shapes, the "Gothic Era" tapestry makes great use of arches famous to that period, and "Today’s Era" uses both realistic-looking (almost photo-quality) elements as well as more abstract symbolism. Let me say in no uncertain terms that viewing these tapestries has been by itself worth the trip to Denmark.
For more information on the Queen’s Gobelins, visit their web-site.
Guided tours in English and German are available at Christiansborg daily.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2002
Prins Jørgens Gård 1
(45) 33 92 64 92
Just how convenient train travel is here becomes apparent right after landing at Kastrup airport (Copenhagen International). 21 kroner (less than $3) and 20 minutes later, you're at the Copenhagen Central Station. Or if you choose, you can go the other way, and in 30 minutes wander the streets of lovely Malmö in Sweden. Local trains run very frequently here: some as often as every 5 minutes but always at least once an hour. They span a dense network around the greater Copenhagen area, making travel effortless.
For travel to further parts of Denmark or Scandinavia, InterCity trains are the most excellent way to travel. You can reserve your seats in advance in either smoking or non-smoking cabins, or even the low-noise or rest wagons (no cell phones or loud noises allowed in those). Trains are quick and very clean and zoom at comfortable speeds of about 100 mph. Bread, coffee, tea, juice and bottled water are provided at no charge, but a large selection of snacks and drinks are available for purchase. Travel time to anywhere in Denmark does not exceed 6 hours, due to the small size of the country.
Copenhagen's main train station is located very conveniently right at the center of the city. Several hotels are located adjacent to the station, among them Hotel Astoria, Golden Tulip Imperial Hotel and Sofitel Plaza Copenhagen. Many tourist attractions are also nearby: Tivoli gardens are located right behind the station, Hard Rock Cafe is one block over and Stroget, Copenhagen's famous pedestrian-only street is a 5-minute walk from the station.
Copenhagen Card allows free and unlimited travel on all local trains around Copenhagen with the exception of Copenhagen Central Station (København H St.) - Airport (Københavns Lufthavn Kastrup).
Q:Okay... but what is it for?
A:Copenhagen Card gives the holder unlimited and free rides on the local trains and busses in Copenhagen, free entrance to many museums, galleries and tourist attractions and discounted entrance to many more. For example, if you find yourself in Helsingør, you can take a half-priced ferry ride to Helsinborg in Sweden. Or you can see Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum for free! Or you can get a 5 DKK discount for visiting the Louisiana Museum for moderne kunst (modern art)... Offers are endless and will satisfy any visitor, whether you're looking for art, history, design or relaxation.
Copenhagen Card comes in a variety of flavors and is valid for the number of hours indicated on the card: 24, 48 or 72. There are discounted cards available for children under 15. Prices range from 95 DKK (for a 24 hour child card) to 495 DKK (for a 72 hour adult card). Card is valid from the moment when it is first used (you will have to fill in the hour yourself).
You can purchase Copenhagen Card at the Wonderful Copenhagen Tourist Information located on Bernstorffsgade 1; at the Copenhagen International Airport (Information at Terminal 3) as well as major hotels and central train station.
For more information click on the link Things To See & Do on Wonderful Copenhagen's web-site or pick up a Copenhagen Card brochure at your hotel or tourist information bureau.